HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The financial impact that immigrants have throughout the United States, and especially in Houston, can't be ignored.
A non-partisan thinktank called New American Economy used data from the 2016 census to see the impact immigrants have on the Houston economy.
"More than 130,000 of them have started businesses," said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of New American Economy. "They have more than $38 billion in spending power and they put in more than $12 billion in their taxes."
The study shows more than 50 percent of construction workers in Houston are foreign-born.
"I remember seeing dead bodies on the way to school, said Maria Rios. "I mean what kind of life is that."
At the age of 13, Rios and her family left war-torn El Salvador for the U.S.
When she arrived to the U.S., Rios didn't speak English.
While attending the University of Houston, Rios developed a business plan for the waste sector.
"When I see waste, I see opportunity, so why not?" asked Rios. She started with two trucks and a line of credit.
Now, Rios runs the first Hispanic-owned waste removal company in the U.S. Her multi-million dollar company, Nation Waste Incorporated, supplies portable toilets and waste removal for every major event in Houston including Super Bowl LI and the Houston Astros victory parade.
The study by New American Economy finds immigrants are 50 percent more likely to start their own business than people born in the U.S.
"The kind of person that's going to leave El Salvador, like Maria, and travel to another country and not speak English and not know anyone, she's a risk taker," said Robbins.