Eshhaq Rafiq's parents fled Afghanistan for the United States during the Soviet occupation of that country. Mei Xu left China after the university student was assigned to warehouse work for re-education after the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Juan Barbaran came to America from Peru, seeking new opportunities after the promising soccer player broke his leg in a match.
The three, who came from different places and different circumstances, all wound up opening businesses to pursue the American Dream. They are among many foreign-born entrepreneurs in Maryland and nationwide who are creating jobs and boosting the economy.
Immigrants were almost twice as likely to start a company as U.S.-born citizens in 2014, according the Kauffman Foundation. In that year, immigrants started nearly a third of all new companies in the country. And nearly all of the new jobs in the United States were hires made by companies less than five years old, said Jason Wiens, policy director at Kauffman.