American Dreamers: 45 Foreign-Born Billionaires Who Got Rich in the U.S.

On Tuesday, more than 60 tech entrepreneurs including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of President Obama’s (currently frozen) executive actions that would temporarily protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally in the U.S. The move was not surprising in that Zuckerberg has been a vocal supporter of immigration reform personally and also through the advocacy group, which he helped set up in 2013 along with people like Marissa Mayer and Bill Gates.

In stark contrast, real-estate billionaire and current GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has gotten a lot of attention for his ideas on immigration reform, which include building a wall across the southern border (that Mexico would pay for) and a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

No doubt immigration is a polarizing and critical issue these days, both from a political standpoint and from a social one, as the number of refugees around the world top more than 15 million, its highest level in 20 years. In that context it is important to remember that some of America’s most successful entrepreneurs and business owners are actually foreign-born.

Both Zuckerberg and Trump may have been born in the U.S. (although Zuckerberg’s in-laws are immigrants as is Trump’s wife), but FORBES found 45 foreign-born billionaires in the country. They hail from 27 countries, and they have all made their fortunes in America. Representing every single “liveable” continent, most of them come from Israel and India, followed by China (see full list below).

Led by Russian-born Sergey Brin with a net worth of $34.4 billion, the list includes George Soros, an impoverished Hungarian immigrant turned business magnate; Elon Musk, the South African-native behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX; and Jan Koum, the co-founder of popular messaging platform WhatsApp, whose success is a tale of rags-to-riches from Ukraine.

While these are the biggest success stories, one in four of all technology and engineering companies created in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010 were founded by foreign-born entrepreneurs, according to the Kauffman Foundation.  Among the 25% is WeWork, which provides a shared workspace for other up-and-coming entrepreneurs. WeWork was co-founded in New York City in 2010 by Israeli Adam Neumann, who was raised on a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip. The company is now valued at $10 billion, and he is worth an estimated $1.5 billion.

One other notable immigrant who has had success in the U.S. is Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish founder of the popular Greek yogurt, Chobani, now the 3rd biggest yogurt brand in the U.S. Ulukaya is not only making a name in the food aisles, but he’s also trying to make a difference for refugees. His company tries to welcome refugees who legally come to America, looking for safety and more opportunities. Chobani offers translations in 11 different languages at its plants and supports language classes in English. Ulukaya has also traveled to Lesbos, Greece and Hamburg, Germany to meet with refugees and visit housing centers, as well as entrepreneurs looking at innovative approaches to helping refugees.

The future of immigration in the U.S. is up in the air, but foreign born billionaires have already lived out their American dreams.

Below is the full list of foreign-born billionaires in the U.S:

  1.   Sergey Brin, Russia, $34.4 billion
  2.   George Soros, Hungary, $24.9 billion
  3.   Len Blavatnik, Ukraine, $15.3 billion
  4.   Patrick Soon-Shiong, South Africa, $11.9 billion
  5.   Thomas Peterffy, Hungary, $11.1 billion
  6.   Elon Musk, South Africa, $10.7 billion
  7.   Rupert Murdoch, Australia, $10.6 billion
  8.   Jan Koum, Ukraine, $8.6 billion
  9.   Pierre Omidyar, France, $7.2 billion
  10.   Hansjoerg Wyss, Switzerland, $6.1 billion
  11.   Shahid Khan, Pakistan, $5.9 billion
  12.   David Sun, Taiwan, $4.5 billion
  13.   John Tu, China, $4.5 billion
  14.   Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, Korea, $4 billion
  15.   Jeffrey Skoll, Canada, $3.9 billion
  16.   Steven Udvar-Hazy, Hungary, $3.5 billion
  17.   Hoang Kieu, Vietnam, $3.5 billion
  18.   Isaac Perlmutter, Israel, $3.5 billion
  19.   Haim Saban, Egypt, $3.5 billion
  20.   Igor Olenicoff, Russia, $3.5 billion
  21.   John Catsimatidis, Greece, $3.4 billion
  22.   Andreas von Bechtolsheim, Germany, $3.3 billion
  23.   Tom Gores, Israel, $3.3 billion
  24.   Jorge Perez, Argentina, $3 billion
  25.   Romesh T. Wadhwani, India, $2.8 billion
  26.   Peggy and Andrew Cherng, Burma and China, $2.7 billion
  27.   Peter Thiel, Germany, $2.7 billion
  28.   Michael Moritz, U.K., $2.6 billion
  29.   Bharat Desai and Neerja Sethi, Kenya, $2.5 billion
  30.   Mortimer Zuckerman, Canada, $2.5 billion
  31.   Douglas Leone, Italy, $2.4 billion
  32.   C. Dean Metropoulos, Greece, $2.4 billion
  33.   Min Kao, Taiwan, $2.2 billion
  34.   Alec Gores, Israel, $2.1 billion
  35.   John Kapoor, India, $2 billion
  36.   Kavitark Ram Shriram, India, $1.8 billion
  37.   Marc Lasry, Morocco, $1.7 billion
  38.   John Farber, Romania, $1.5 billion
  39.   Adam Neumann, Israel, $1.5 billion
  40.   Jerry Yang, Taiwan, $1.5 billion
  41.   Hamdi Ulukaya, Turkey, $1.5 billion
  42.   Vinod Khosla, India, $1.5 billion
  43.   Fayez Sarofim, Egypt, $1.4 billion
  44.   Thomas Sandell, Sweden, $1.3 billion
  45.   David Hindawi, Iraq, $1 billion

*Net worths as of February 12 when FORBES locked in numbers for the 2016 World’s Billionaires Rankings.

Patriots Fans React To Ties The Team And Its Billionaire Owner Have To Donald Trump

“The three F’s I call it,” New England Patriots billionaire owner Robert Kraft told FORBES in 2015, referring to the secrets of his success: “Family, faith, philanthropy.” Days before Super Bowl LI, some Patriots fans have taken to Twitter for Kraft’s third “F:” philanthropy. In an effort led by comedian Josh Gondelman, some Patriots fans pledged to donate to civil rights nonprofits after each touchdown, as a reaction to the team’s ties to President Trump.

Gondelman, a writer for John Oliver’s weekly political satire show Last Week Tonight and a lifelong Patriots fan, is the person behind the effort. The comedian, who said his grandmother was buried in a Tom Brady (the team’s quarterback) jersey, cited the Patriot’s close relationship with President Donald Trump and created the hashtag; #AGoodGame, which has reached close to two million users since February 2.

“If you have political Patriots fan ambivalence,” wrote Gondelman, “maybe pledge a little money to a good cause when they score using the hashtag: #AGoodGame.” Since Gondelman’s initial tweet, hundreds of Patriots fans have pledged to donate to organizations like American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It’s not a huge surprise that New England Patriots fans are standing up to Trump. After all, all six New England states voted for Hillary Clinton in this past election.

So what has the fans particularly riled up? The Patriots’ ties to Trump, specifically those of its owner and star quarterback. In an interview with Fox News on February 3, Kraft talked about his relationship with President Trump and shared that “Trump called him every week for a year” after his wife died. Kraft’s wife of 48 years died of ovarian cancer in 2011, and according to the Pats-owner, “that was the most difficult thing that happened” to him. At a time when he says his family thought he would not make it, Kraft received support from his old friend, Donald Trump. Kraft has known Trump for more than two decades and attended his and Melania’s wedding. In November 2016, CBS reported that the billionaire was seen entering the Trump Towers, though he did not share the details of his visit.

Vocal about his support for the Patriots, President Trump has attended games at Gillette Stadium as Kraft’s guest in the past. A day before the inauguration, Kraft attended a dinner party thrown exclusively by President Trump for donors. During his speech, Trump wished Kraft and the Patriots good luck. Although Kraft has been shying away from making political statements, he told Fox News that the president’s intent was to “to do things that can help the business environment in America.” FORBES asked the team whether Kraft would be addressing the fans’ worries, but hasn’t received a response yet.

Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback who has also been vilified for his ties to Trump, told WEEI, a Boston radio station, in September 2015 that the then presidential nominee had told Kraft to give a “Make America Great Again” hat to Brady, Trump's sometime golf buddy and good friend. During the donor’s dinner on inauguration weekend, President Trump said that Brady had given him a call and congratulated his presidency.

Kraft told FORBES in 2015 that he and his wife only disagreed once, and that was when he bought the team from James Busch Orthwein in 1994 for $172 million, the highest price ever paid for any team in the world at the time. Mrs. Kraft, who - according to her husband - preferred to solve the NYTimes crossword puzzle on Sundays, later started appreciating the game and the Patriots. It was certainly a good investment. According to FORBES, the Patriots are the second most valuable NFL team in the nation, worth $3.4 billion.

Kraft isn’t the only sports team owner with ties to Trump and his administration. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, for example, will be the ambassador to Britain under Trump, and Todd Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, will be the president’s deputy commerce secretary. President Trump’s contested nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is the daughter-in-law of billionaire Richard DeVos, who owns NBA’s Orlando Magic. So far none of these other teams fans have staged any protests or set up Twitter campaigns to raise money for nonprofits although the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan told the New York Times that he opposed President Trump's ban on refugees. With just $500 in his pocket, Khan immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan at the age of 16. 

Airbnb's Billionaire CEO Brian Chesky Criticizes Executive Order, Offers Free Housing to Refugees

Airbnb will offer free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed into the U.S. That’s according to the company’s cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky, who made the offer earlier today. “Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected,” Chesky tweeted at 8:35 pm E.T. Saturday evening.

The company’s decision comes a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that temporarily bans refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Since the order was issued, 100 to 200 people have been detained in airports around the country, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The executive order, however, has been challenged by advocacy groups and hundreds protesting at major airports. Earlier in the evening on Saturday, in response to a complaint filed by the ACLU, a federal judge in New York City granted an emergency stay to refugees and nationals of the listed countries already detained in the U.S.

Chesky, who cofounded Airbnb in 2008 and whose net worth FORBES estimates at $3.8 billion, was not the only billionaire criticizing President Trump’s recent executive order. “I'm here because I'm a refugee," Google founder Sergey Brin said at San Francisco International Airport, where he joined protesters on Saturday. Brin came to the U.S. at age 6 after his family fled Russia due to concerns about anti-Semitism. He is now the richest foreign-born billionaire in the U.S.

Uber’s billionaire founder Travis Kalanick also criticized the order on Facebook earlier on Saturday. He announced that the company was working on a compensation plan for drivers who have gone back to their home countries to visit their families and cannot reenter the United States. “This order has far broader implications as it also affects thousands of drivers who use Uber and come from the listed countries,” Kalanick said. The ride-hailing company’s cofounder, Garett Camp, is a Canadian national.

An advocate for immigration reform in the U.S., Mark Zuckerberg raised his concerns on his platform on Friday, after the president signed the executive order. “Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “Had we turned away refugees a few decades ago, Priscilla's family wouldn't be here today,” the Facebook founder added. Priscilla Chan, whose parents were refugees from China and Vietnam, is a physician and the cofounder of Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the couple's effort to improve science, health, education and more.

With his blunt remarks on immigration, real estate billionaire and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump might be leading the Republican race, but his pool of critics grow every single day - and it now includes an increasing number of fellow billionaires. Crossing bipartisan lines, billionaires like George SorosRupert MurdochLarry EllisonBill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have all voiced their support for pro-immigration action, and some have even called out Trump.