Source:excerpts from book “The American Citizens Handbook on Immigration- A Candid Conversation from a Concerned Citizen” due to be published in August 2020.
Chain migration became the driving force behind immigration to the United States in 1965, with the passage of the current version of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The 1965 legislation changed the objective of U.S. immigration policy. Rather than admitting immigrants who were likely to assimilate to our culture and succeed in the United States, American immigration policy shifted its focus to an extremely broad concept of “family reunification.” This placed the integrity of immigrant families above the economic, national security, and public safety interests of the American public. As a result, the pool of immigrants eligible to come to the United States became largely self-selecting.
Chain Migration starts with a foreign citizen chosen by our government to be admitted on the basis of what he/she is supposed to offer in our national interest. The Original Immigrant is allowed to bring in his/her nuclear family consisting of a spouse and minor children. After that, the chain begins. Once the Original Immigrant and his/her spouse becomes a U.S. citizen, they can petition for their parents, adult sons/daughters and their spouses and children, and their adult siblings.
In order to grasp how the concept works, sometimes an analogy crystallizes the thought: see the following excerpt from – Operation Immigration Blues from the The Center of Immigration Studies– March 22nd, 2019
Take that exchange and substitute “legacy admissions” for “chain migration”, and imagine how it would work. Some portion of the candidates for the Class of 2023 at a school, say Stanford University, would be picked by the parents, children, spouses, and siblings of those candidates who happen to be alumni.
How big a portion of the incoming Class of 2023 at Stanford University would we really be talking about? About 61 percent of the class, if the 35 years of immigration admissions between 1981 and 2016 were a guide, as my colleague Jessica Vaughan explained in a September 2017 Backgrounder. U.S. News and World Report in its 2019 edition of “Best Colleges” states that Stanford “has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,062.” Dividing by four (and rounding up to the next whole numbers), and assuming that admission trend follows, 1,077 of the 1,766 students in the incoming class would be “chain admissions”.
Of course, certain visa categories are not capped, so they allow an unlimited number of admissions, as Vaughan has noted:
Two categories, spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, are not subject to numerical limits. Admissions in these categories, which are primarily chain migration, have fluctuated at certain times, but in general have been on an upward trajectory at least since the mid-1980s. The number of admissions of spouses and parents today is approximately double the number that it was in 1986.
So, there is no guarantee that the incoming class of 2023 at Stanford University will consist of 1,766 students. Maybe more, maybe fewer. Probably more.
This is not to suggest that this unquantifiable number of chain admittees would not be “Stanford caliber”. It is possible that they performed as well or better in school, have the same or better test scores, and bring the same or better skills and abilities to Stanford University that their chain alumni family members do; there is just no guarantee of that fact. Chances are they wouldn’t, particularly if the same nonexistent screening process for talent, skills, and ability were applied to the theoretical Stanford admissions process as is applied to the chain-migration admissions process.
And of course, once you graduate (or in certain instances, matriculate), you can then help your other relatives gain admission to Stanford. And they can help theirs. How likely is it that as a result of this process the aptitude of the student body will remain the same or increase? Good question, but there are no guarantees. Again, there would be no screening for skills or abilities. Class rank would not be considered, nor would SAT or ACT scores, the challenges that the incoming candidates overcame to achieve, or the quality of their high school educations. Relationships would be everything.
All of this would be parody, if the stakes were not so high. Again, simply being admitted to Stanford is no guarantee that you will graduate, or that you will ultimately be successful in your career goals. Being admitted as a lawful permanent resident to the United States, on the other hand, guarantees you increased economic opportunities, ideally ensures a better way of life and better health care, includes a likelihood that you will become a citizen, and provides that at some point you will have the right to claim public benefits and entitlements, including the ability to get more of your relatives into the United States.
Obviously, neither Stanford nor any other college would let its alumni choose 61 percent of its incoming classes — so why should we do this with immigration, where the stakes are much higher than they are in college admissions? Don’t expect an FBI investigation into “Operation Immigration Blues.” It is all legal, even if it does not make much sense.
Because there are limits on the number of green cards immigrants from any one country can receive, the expected wait time varies. Immigrants from countries that tend to have high immigration levels, like China, Mexico, India, and the Philippines, have long wait times to obtain a green card. For example, the number of green cards available in a given year for adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens is 23,400. The current wait time for a green card for applicants in this category from Mexico exceeds 20 years, compared to around seven years for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration.
This aspect of immigration has become unsustainable to say the least. One way to get this under control would to limit chain migration to the immediate family going forward while grandfathering those who are in line. This would take decades to obtain the desired effect, but is a fair solution.
As citizens of this great country, we need to make a stand. Contact your congressperson or Senator and demand constructive reorganization of immigration laws. This website makes it easy. Go to “for more info” at the right of this page. The link will take you to all 50 states congress and senate contact information. It includes phone numbers addresses as well as social media, and put them on notice. If you are using a tablet or smart phone that link is at the bottom of the blog.
Thank you for being a part of this conversation. God Bless America and Godspeed.