Migrants are people who move to other countries to make a better life for themselves and their children. The U.N. estimates there are 232 million of them, and it turns out they have more of a positive impact on America and other countries than you might think.

Just ask President Obama.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and that means that we’re constantly being replenished with strivers who believe in the American Dream,” says the president.

Plenty of data says the president is right:

  • Evidence published by Harvard Business School suggests migrants are more likely to register patents than native-born Americans and they make strong contributions to the economy.
  • Immigrants start nearly 3 in 10 new U.S. companies.
  • Those companies pioneered automotive innovations and created apps people use around the world. They include some you’ve heard of, like Google. And don’t forget that Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant.
Elon Musk, originally from South Africa, is an automotive pioneer with his California-based Tesla Motors. (© AP Images)

As one analyst concludes: “By enriching and diversifying the supply of labor and by sharpening competitive incentives, immigration can boost productivity across host economies.”

Not only do migrants contribute to their host economies, many send money back to family in their home countries. These “remittances” far exceed the amount of global foreign aid.

As President Obama says, the U.S. remains a land of immigrants. The most recent census data puts the U.S. immigrant population at just above 41 million. That means well over 1 in 10 of the nation’s 317 million Americans are immigrants.