Jeremy Beck's picture

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  by  Jeremy Beck

In her interview with Jose Antonio Vargas this week, NPR's Rachel Martin mischaracterized separate proposals from David Frum and President Trump to reduce immigration.

MARTIN: David Frum, who is a vocal Trump critic, agrees with President Trump on this idea of getting rid of a rule that says one member of the family who immigrates to the U.S. can then bring other relatives in. Critics of this policy call it chain migration. Proponents call it family reunification. I mean, Frum says that should stop.

"Chain migration" and "family reunification" are not interchangeable terms. Nor is it accurate to suggest that immigrants would be unable to bring in any relatives under Frum's or Trump's proposals.

Chain migration was a factor in the decision of Barbara Jordan's bi-partisan commission on immigration reform to recommended ending several extended-family preference categories in the green card system. Jordan's commission explicitly prioritized nuclear family.

As the Jordan Commission recommended, the Trump-backed RAISE Act (sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue) would also continue permanent, uncapped immigration for spouses and minor children. Additionally, the RAISE Act would create a renewable, long-term non-immigrant visas for parents, provided their sponsors provide health insurance for their parents and assume financial responsibility for their well-being.

Families who couldn't meet those requirement could, of course, continue to have parents and other extended relatives come on visitor visas, as many do. Extended family who want to permanently resettle and compete for U.S. jobs would have to apply for one of the 140,000 employment-based green cards granted each year. All of the proposals to reform the preference categories are aimed at creating a more-expansive visitors system.

What Jordan, Frum and the RAISE Act propose is an immigration system in which the size and scope is dictated not by extended-family connections but by the needs of the national community.

250,000 immigrants are admitted annually under the following Chain Migration categories:

Parents of U.S. citizens: (ten-year average): 120,286
Unmarried Adult Children of U.S. Citizens and their children: 23,400
Unmarried Adult Children of LPRs: 26,300
Married Children of U.S. Citizens and their spouses and children: 23,400
Siblings of Adult U.S. Citizens and their spouses and children: 65,000

Updated: Sat, May 11th 2019 @ 5:40pm EDT

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