Here’s how chain migration works. The federal government approves the admission of a foreign citizen to migrate with the assumption that the new arrival will contribute to the national interest. The original immigrant, a lawful permanent resident, can petition for his nuclear family, wife and minor children.
Then the chain begins, and it’s literally endless as non-nuclear members follow the original immigrant once that person becomes naturalized. Citizens can petition – without consideration for their ages or skills – their parents and adult sons and daughters, along with their spouses and children. Immigration scholars estimate that each recent immigrant eventually sponsors an average 3.45 family members. Chain migration is the leading driver behind a population surge that has seen legal immigration quadruple from the 250,000 annual total in the 1950s to more than a million since the 1990s.
President Trump has become increasingly adamant that any deal he may be willing to make with Democratic leadership to protect deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACAs) will have to end what he labeled in a tweet as “horrible” chain migration.
The dangers of chain migration extend beyond further burdening public schools system, health care providers and depleted municipal coffers. Criminals can easily exploit chain migration. According to multiple media reports, chain migration allowed the entry of a growing number of extended family members currently implicated in three attacks that targeted the U.S. The failed December New York City subway attacker entered through a distant relative’s sponsorship. The Egyptian who shot at Pennsylvania police came on a family-based visa, as did the Pakistani national jailed for money laundering and bank fraud to aid the Islamic State.
Moreover, family-based migration harms American workers. Each year more than a quarter of a million lifetime work permits, without a national interest purpose, are issued to chain migrants. That means that 250,000 work-authorized immigrants enter the labor pool annually, and remain year after year to compete with, or possibly displace, Americans in an increasingly tight labor market.
Immigration should serve Americans, not work against them, as chain migration does.