“CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!,” he wrote, just two days after a tentative agreement was discussed between Trump and top Democrats over how to handle the young immigrants protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Chain migration is a term almost exclusively used by immigration hardliners when referring to the family reunification-based component of the US immigration system, through which US citizens or lawful permanent residents may sponsor close family members to join them in the US.
Prominent anti-immigration groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA have frequently denounced chain migration, describing it as a process that admits “indefinite” quantities of unskilled immigrants based on family connections alone and that prompts foreigners to view US immigration as a “right or entitlement.”
Immigration proponents, however, describe family-based immigration as essential in helping new immigrants assimilate into US society. The American Immigration Council argues that newcomers who are able to bring family members with them when they migrate to the US have stronger social and economic support that helps them “navigate the system.”
Furthermore, immigration hardliners’ theory that scores of newly naturalized US citizens are sponsoring endless strings of family members has been roundly criticised by immigration experts. The US’s visa and green-card backlogs alone ensure that many prospective immigrants face painstakingly long waiting periods before being admitted to the country or given permanent residency — a huge barrier in attempting to help consecutive family members migrate to the US.
Family-based immigration is not an immediate process, and it can take years, or even decades, for immigrant visas to be made available and processing to occur. Then, once the family member arrives in the US on an immigrant visa, it takes additional time to receive a green card that denotes permanent residency. After that, permanent residents typically have to wait five years before they may apply to become US citizens.
Trump’s tweet about chain migration on Friday could signal a new bump in the road for a potential immigration deal with Democrats. The bipartisan DREAM Act recently reintroduced in Congress by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham includes a pathway to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers,” whose protections under the DACA program will be phased out over the next six months.
Any pathway to citizenship offered to Dreamers would inevitably allow some to sponsor relatives, including their undocumented parents — who, in many cases, brought them to the US as children.
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