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Skilled Immigrants on Why They're Leaving the ­.s.

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A number of highly skilled immigrants are preparing to leave the U.S. as the nation's economy slows. With the U.S. unemployment rate approaching double digits, job opportunities are diminishing and calls to restrict immigration have gotten louder. Those who favor tightening the rules argue that U.S. citizens should get first priority for jobs.

But the issue is tricky when it comes to the most educated and skilled immigrants. When well-paid individuals leave the country, that cuts into already depleted tax revenues for state and local governments. The departure of top talent in technology and science may also undercut the prospects for a recovery in the U.S., many economists say. These immigrants often start companies and come up with technological breakthroughs, creating new job opportunities for all.

"We benefit from a flow of really smart people coming here to work in our companies and start new ones," says David Hart, a professor of public policy at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., who co-authored a study on immigrant entrepreneurship released this month. "It's important that the U.S. remain a magnet for people who fuel innovation and growth."

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