October 28, 2016

The Administrator. Credit: GES 2016/ Flickr Creative Commons

Maria Contreras-Sweet has a lot to say about jobs and immigration. As head of the Small Business Administration and an immigrant herself, she’s in a particularly good position to be talking about it. We sit down with one of Obama’s cabinet members to learn more.

Three Takeaways:

  • Contreras-Sweet is fed up with anti-immigration talk. “I wonder where that comes from. Because I do see that the same people who are concerned about immigration inflows, don’t have any comments on corporate outsourcing…. I mean some people are coming here to pick our grapes, pick our tomatoes… jobs that most people don’t want to do. And we hold them with such hostility.”  
  • Small businesses, Contreras-Sweet says, are the foundation of America. Most Americans get their first jobs through local small businesses. “It’s usually at a small business who knows them, knows them through church and has a sense of comfort with them, and then engages them.” 
  • Small business is a personal issue for Contreras-Sweet: “I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. When we got to the United States, we couldn’t speak English. We didn’t know the culture, we didn’t know the language. So for my mother to be able to provide for my family, she wasn’t going to be able to get a government or a big corporate job. The only way in which she could provide for her family was by being hired by a local small business.”

More Reading:

innovation hub, NPR, Maria Contreras-Sweet, Kara Miller, WGBH

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