Some of the nation’s leading economists want Congress to keep in mind that immigration is good for the economy.

In the past three days, some 150 economists from the left and the right have electronically signed a letter to President Bush and Congress stating that immigration is a net gain for America and that only a small percentage of “native-born Americans” in low-skilled jobs may be harmed by it. The letter, bouncing around the Internet, was written by Alex Tabarrok, research director at The Independent Institute, a California-based policy think tank. Ben Powell, director of the Institute’s Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation, said, “There’s really a consensus among economists…like free trade, immigration brings net-economic gains to the society.”

Among those who have signed: Berkeley’s Brad Delong; former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Greg Mankiw, now at Harvard; Nobel laureate Vernon L. Smith and Tyler Cowen, both at George Mason; and Cornell’s Alfred Kahn. –Shearon Roberts