Pervaiz LodhieHispanic communities are a key to a positive future for the United States, if only we would see them that way. As I’ve seen among my own employees, Hispanic immigrants are hardworking, diligent, and loyal. They are one of the main reasons my Southern California-based company has survived through all the economic changes since 1983. Long-term, loyal employees are one of the greatest strengths of any company – certainly of my company. And when employees are happy, they are productive. And many of my longest-serving, most loyal employees are Mexican-Americans.

Immigrants are the solution, not the problem. If all the Hispanics suddenly decided to leave, this country would shut down. My home state of California shows this very clearly.

It’s no accident that California remains the leader in the economic growth of the United States as a whole, and that California’s historic background is Hispanic. There are families of Hispanic background living in California going back many generations. Many of them are highly educated, very active in the state’s political system, and deeply involved not only in agriculture and service industries, but in other sectors of the economy.

This state is set up to welcome and encourage immigrants. The most striking thing about the social environment of Southern California is its diversity, with immigrant communities from throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America living and working together in remarkable harmony. It’s not perfect, but – having lived here myself, as an immigrant, for almost 50 years – I can say that the communities of Southern California really do show a great appreciation for each other, far more than in most other states. This mutual respect brings out the best of what America is about, and the results show in the state’s resilient economy.

And this matters to the country as a whole, because California is a bellwether. Immigrants really do play the major driving role in California’s economic health, and the health of California – recently back up to sixth place in rankings of world economies – is important in turn to America’s health. And there is no immigrant community more important to California’s health than the Hispanic community.

Hispanic people are very family-oriented, and Hispanic families in California have links across multiple generations to their countries of origin in Latin America. Breaking those family links is a recipe for disaster. The strength of a family is a key to the strength of a state or nation and its economy, because a happy family will be very productive. In addition, Hispanics spend a greater percentage of their income into the American economy than other communities do.

Shame on people who want to build a wall between this country and Latin America, or to make Hispanic families live in fear of being deported. Hispanic immigrants contribute a great deal to the economic, political and social health of this country – far more than the rest of us know or appreciate.

Pervaiz Lodhie is founder and CEO of LEDtronics, a pioneering LED lighting company based in Torrance, California. He is currently writing an autobiography, Lighting the Way: An Innovator’s Journey in Pakistan and America.