Chain Migration

by Aambar Agarawl

“We’re gonna end both of them. The lottery system and chain migration. We’re gonna end them. Fast,” vowed Donald Trump at a news conference on December 12, 2017. This was in response to the terror attacks that had happened in New York City. However, is ending chain migration truly the best decision for the country?

Chain migration is the right of US citizens and green card holders to bring their family into the country. Under the present immigration law, American green card holders can sponsor their spouses and unmarried children for permanent residence. US citizens are allowed to petition for residence for their parents, siblings, and married adult children. After a petition is filed and approved, the potential immigrants are given a ticket number called a priority date and can only apply for a green card when the State Department calls their number. This waiting period lasts from a few months to more than two decades. This process came to be in the 1960s. Up until then, America chose immigrants based on national origin, favoring people coming from northern and Western Europe. In the 1960s, it was finally decided to be a discriminatory policy. While changing this, the conservatives decided that merit-based immigration would lead to absolutely no control over who was entering the country, and thus led to this compromise of giving preference to people who have relatives here already. However, their plan backfired on them; the demand to move to the US was no longer coming from Europe, but Asia and Africa. Hence there led to an influx of immigrants of color.

Trump argues that chain migration only benefits terrorists and “truly evil” people; that is, he believes that this process opens the door for too many uneducated, under-qualified, and possibly dangerous immigrants to legally enter the US. Furthermore, he feels that this process takes jobs from Americans. Therefore, he wants to put an end to this “horrible” system. Instead, he desires a merit-based scheme, similar to what Canada has. It would give preference to job training, English proficiency, and education. This would help him reach his goal of cutting the number of green cards from about a million annually to half of that over a decade. Some Republicans claim that DACA is what aggravated chain migration, and they believe that limiting it to a nuclear family, a set of parents and their children, would aid the current problem. The pro-business types say that the nation needs more immigrants to maintain a healthy economy, which is entirely true. Roughly 25 million immigrants are working in the country today, and they participate in the workforce at a higher percentage than native-born Americans. Yet, they earn consistently less than native-born Americans. Thus, chain migration clearly benefits the nation.

Donald Trump says that “chain migration is a total disaster which threatens our security and our economy.” But is it really?