Immigration improvement discussion thread

So…yeah., version 1.28 has not really fixed immigration. The problem is that with a booming economy immigration is… just too darned high, given that setting every anti-immigration policy to maximum still does not stop it. What to do???

Here are my initial thoughts:

The actual structure of the simulation is wrong. We have all this stuff that affects immigration, and encourages it or dissuades it based on the relative attractiveness of the country to immigrants…THEN we have border controls & rules… THEN we bolted on refugees and illegal immigration separately.
Its a mess!

Here is how I think it should be fixed:

We add a new simulation variable (blue bubble) called ‘Immigration Demand’ which represents all the positives and negatives of your country as viewed by an immigrant. For example:

  • High GDP++
  • High Health++
  • Low Crime++
  • Racial Tension–
  • Ghettos–
  • Nationalism–
  • CitizenshipTests–

That blue bubble then drives actual immigration, which has all the current impacts such as higher unemployment, more ethnic minorities, higher healthcare demand etc…
The extent to which immigration demand drives actual immigration is Totally controlled by Immigration Rules. Setting these to maximum will reduce immigration TO ZERO.

meanwhile illegal immigration has a similar input from the same ‘immigration demand’ bubble, and its effects are impacted by the actual anti-illegal-immigration policies such as:

  • Border Wall
  • Border Navy
  • Border Controls

The output of illegal immigration just gets redirected to immigration, as its immigration by another method. It also has the capability at a high level to also trigger the ‘too much illegal immigration’ situation

Refugee policy is totally separate. As is currently the case, it affects illegal immigration and immigration depending on the setting.

This involves a bunch of changes, and adds an extra simulation value (Immigration Demand) but I think it actually makes the flow of things much simpler, and it can be explained like this:

Various factors raise or lower immigration demand, the input to actual immigration, which can be controlled by immigration rules. Illegal immigration will arise if immigration rules and refugee policies are very tough. Illegal immigration can be fought by various other means

To what extent is this better and makes sense? Is ‘immigration demand’ really the best name I can think of for this intermediary step?


Immigration Demand could perhaps be called Immigration Appeal/ National Appeal or something along those lines, in order to fit in with the more casual wording of a lot of the policy/ statistic labels.

I think this is a good idea though. Would I be correct in assuming that Immigration Demand would be, hypothetically, a sum of 1-100. And then Actual Immigration would be how much Immigration Demand exists below the Immigration Laws? As in, Citizenship Tests and Immigration Laws would form a figure that is also from 1-100, and if their combined score is only 20, whereas there’s a Demand of 80, only 20 Actual Immigration will get in, and the remaining 60 (80-20) will attempt to access through Illegal Immigration, which has it’s own various factors that decrease the number getting in?

EDIT: Suggestion - We could also see an Immigration Enforcement Agency added, as many mods have, which will help reduce Illegal Immigration, but with obvious public relations and racial tensions impact.

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Border Controls, Border Wall and Border Navy have identical effects and could be merged to the same policy slider.

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Fair point, but the idea is that border wall/navy is seen as a much more nationalist, extreme version of normal border controls, so there is resistance to introducing it, whereas normal border control policy can often be adjusted up/down without as much controversy

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Will immigration laws be able to eliminate illegal immigration by legalizing it?

Good question. At the extreme ‘no limits’ level, I guess immigration rules should totally kill illegal immigration.


I once thought about a mod to expand and clarify D4’s understanding of energy with simulation nodes for a market supply, demand, and price level. I trashed the idea after I realized that I didn’t have nearly enough ideas for policies (on top of what the game already has) to make working with energy policy all by itself interesting…

… but I did come to appreciate that aggregation nodes like those could make a lot of sense in the game. They do clutter the main screen so you have to be really thrifty with them, but they can definitely help make the most messily connected subgraphs easier to make sense of. And hopefully easier to balance, too.

For the new node’s name, I’m going to throw “Immigration pull” into the pot. It’s the first one of the terms mentioned so far that I can just google for without quotes, and find a search result page full of articles on the correct topic.

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Another area where immigration can be tweaked would be the links. It can be said that there are currently no negative effects from mandatory national service, happiness of everyone, & low democracy (credit for idea to Darkmark8910). Furthermore, the “Foreign nation launches airstrikes” does not drive up immigration via refugees.


Well first of all, I’ll say that I think this is a very good idea that the game really needed. Good on you Cliff.

As @Xenomorphman puts it, I would rename “Immigration Demand” to something like “Country Attractiveness” so that it’s not just here for Immigration’s sake, but could also be an important input to Tourism and boost Foreign Relations. Things like Stability should also be an input to Attractiveness btw.

And finally, could we make Population (that Immigration affects) increase the income of taxes, especially unavoidable taxes like Sales Tax? That would give a reason to not have Immigration at 0 if you’re not doing a liberal/ethnic minorities playthrough.


I would suggest that maybe the two sorts of demand are different, in terms of tourism versus immigration. For example, I’ve visited costa rica, nepal and sri lanka, and they are great places to go as a tourist, but I’m not planning on moving to any of them, because I value a high-tech society, universal healthcare etc way more as a resident than as a tourist.

What bugs me a bit about ‘immigration demand’ is that it implies the resident country is demanding immigration! There must be some other terms for it… immigration pressure maybe?

I should look into the national service thing…

I agree population is not reflected in taxes AFAIK, although I will check this. The trouble is it should really affect every policy in that case, which gets super messy,


In theory I’d support Population having wider impacts, but as you say Cliff, it is a mess to get into. Perhaps you could put out a post calling people to mod the game to add a population system, and see if anyone can work out a method that you support and can replicate in the game?

As for the name, Immigration Demand could perhaps become Migrant Appeal?


Also, what of constructive solutions to these problems? People have mentioned work visas in the past, but those are mentioned as part of the allowances of Border Controls.

The EU utilise a quota system to encourage member states to take on an equal share of immigrants or refugees, so one nation doesn’t get overloaded. Any country in the game could conceivably enter into a similar pact with their peers. There’s also the modelling of a Developing World Stability simulation, influenced by military events, nuclear & army funding, foreign aid, and other foreign policy. The more stable the developing world becomes, the lower immigration demand is, as fewer refugees and disenfranchised people wish to escape it.

Because of how relevant this topic has been to this game, I even found a weird, unprecedented solution for illegal immigration in a kind of “bounty” system, whereby illegal immigrants can declare themselves in order to receive a cash settlement and submit to the process of gaining legal citizenship, or deportation, but the point is they get paid to do it, and they get documented.

All of these make sense and could easily cost similar amounts to the punitive solutions the game possesses. If we’re gonna model that a rehabilitative prison system works, we should probably give constructive immigration prevention ideas a thought.


Most coastal countries have some kind of border navy or coast guard. Most of their assignments are inoffensive, such as rescue, fishing control, waste management control, or customs control.

Directives to deport or detain undocumented immigrants are of course more controversial.

A considered policy could be Carrier Responsibility. That would make airlines and other transportation companies legally responsible for immigrants who arrive to a country without permission to enter. The effect would be decreased legal immigration, and increased illegal immigration.

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This likely has a big unintended consequence, in that it actually creates a real market for people smuggling. If you can grab 100 frightened desperate people, bundle them into a shipping container, drop them in a foreign country with only the local-language phrase for ‘pls pay bounty’, then collect it from them when they are deported… Could get very bad.


Sure. It’s definitely a cowboy-ass solution, which I definitely found proposed by a deep south hard republican source. I won’t defend the concept, but I do think immigration can be addressed with a lighter hand.


I think that that could be a great idea to be adopted, and border navy/coast guard could be made more inoffensive.

High immigration does boost GDP but puts downward pressure on GDP per capita.

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I’m still not a fan of how immigration is modeled. It has a strong negative bias against immigration, and does not account for the potential of different compositions of immigrants having different impacts.

If for example an immigrant family show up, having already been educated by another country’s education system, open a family restaurant, hire locals to be the waiting staff, and help pay for one of their kids to go to med school, then the outputs of depressed wages, increased unemployment, and a burden on the health care system make no sense.


Well, maybe there can be country specific adjustments?

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