Chain migration or family reunification?

by Stacie Blake | U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 18:09 GMT

Iraqi refugee Amira Al-Qassab is reunited with her son Rami after arriving with her other children at Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus, Michigan, U.S. February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

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Lately, family based immigration has been replaced by the language of "chain migration", suggesting a burden to our communities

Do you support family values? Then you support family reunification.  It is historical fact that millions of people have come to the United States to create new lives in freedom. Immigration is the origin of our history as a country.

The bedrock of U.S growth and prosperity is immigration and for nearly thirty years the priority has been family reunification. The Immigration Act of 1990, the most comprehensive overhaul of our immigration system since 1965, was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. Under President Bush, over 475,000 refugees were welcomed and family reunification was prioritized by expanding the number of family-based visas allotted per year. Lately, family based immigration has been replaced by the language of "chain migration" as a deficit in our immigration system and a burden to our communities. In fact, family reunification is a term describing the process of allowing legal immigrants to apply for relatives abroad to come to the United States.

Family reunification has a positive impact on individuals and the communities in which they live and is a cornerstone of our country, the country built by immigrants. As a rule, families provide mutual support to their members: share culture, customs, language and traditions; provide discipline and guidance to young members and support elders or ill members in need.

According to media reports, U.S. President Donald Trump benefits from family reunification as his in-laws followed to join his wife and surely support the culture, custom and traditions of the family by living in close proximity to their daughter and grandson.

The current family-based immigration system was established by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 as an end to the national origin quotas that dated back to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and heavily favored immigrants from Northern and Western Europe.

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, a Republican of Virginia, said "Chain migration takes away from the United States the ability to choose people to come to this country based on who are most needed here and to do a better vetting process than we do now."

I believe we are indeed choosing separated family members to be reunited because family is the foundation of a strong community and country.

Family reunification policies reflect our country’s values and are the secret recipe to our success.

Immigration based on family reunification is a national asset, not a burden, and changes to this focus of the Immigration Act of 1990 are not needed. Recognizing the humanity of immigrants includes having respect for their families no matter where they are from.

Stacie Blake is the director of government and community relations for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants based in Arlington, Virginia, United States.