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Does immigration stimulate the economy?

In this tumultuous political season, some casual observers might wonder if they could calm the waters with common-sense proposals that don't occur to politicians. If the average person was suddenly vaulted into a position of political leadership, could they offer lasting solutions to persistent problems plaguing the nation?

Maybe. One way to test the effects your ideas on immigration would have on the nation's economy is to try out the interactive Wharton Penn Budget Model. The tool allows users to analyze the costs and benefits of different immigration policy strategies.

The tool also enables policymakers and the public to test various Social Security policy adjustments (or lack thereof) and see how the changes would affect the economy.

Let's look at what the immigration simulator tells about policy choices lawmakers and voters have. If we make no changes to current policy, the Penn Wharton model indicates U.S. population will hit about 375 million by the year 2045.

If we increase annual legal immigration by 25 percent, we'll hit 375 million five years earlier. If we increase deportations by 5 percent, we will still be just short of 375 million by 2050.

But what if we increased annual net legal immigration and also increased the share of skilled/educated immigrants to 50 percent (currently 35 percent)?

Those changes would have a profound effect on the Gross National Product, enabling the nation to hit a $30 trillion GNP by 2032, whereas if we make no changes to the status quo, we will be at $28 trillion or so in 2050 (the last year accounted for in the simulator).

Many economists argue that increasing immigration makes the nation healthier and stronger. For those foreign nationals whose dream is U.S. residency or U.S. citizenship, a skilled immigration attorney can help you get through a complex immigration system.

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