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Immigration reform: a bid to attract workers who will boost the economy (+video)

Immigration reform is foremost a social issue, but it has big economic implications. Exhibit A is a measure that, looking forward, aims to attract immigrants whose skills mesh with the US needs.

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As a bipartisan group of US senators and President Obama lead a push to enact sweeping immigration reform this year, they are boosting the idea with a rationale that is economic as well as social.

Reform isn’t just about reuniting families, better securing the border, or dealing pragmatically with immigrants who have been in the country for years but lack legal status, they say. It’s also, importantly, about helping the US economy continue to prosper in the years ahead.

It’s an argument that many economists support. 

In fact, some policy experts say that welcoming more immigrants with advanced degrees ranks high on the list of ways to boost long-term job creation.

"Improving the system regulating high-skilled immigration needs to be a key focus of any immigration reform bill," economist Robert Atkinson said Tuesday, in a statement released by the research group he heads, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in Washington. "We cannot continue to fall behind other nations in attracting the highly skilled individuals to our shores.”

Separately from the broad immigration-reform proposals, a bipartisan group of senators led by Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah and Amy Klobuchar (D) of Minnesota introduced an Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 bill Tuesday, designed to boost the number of high-skill foreign workers.

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