Chain Migration refers to the endless chains of foreign nationals who are allowed to immigrate because citizens and lawful permanent residents are allowed to bring in their non-nuclear family members.
Chain Migration is the primary mechanism that has caused legal immigration in this country to quadruple from about 250,000 per year in the 1950s and 1960s to more than 1 million annually since 1990. As such, it is one of the chief culprits in America's current record-breaking population boom and all the attendant sprawl, congestion, and school overcrowding that damage Americans’ quality of life.
Ending Chain Migration was one of many recommendations from the Barbara Jordan Commission, the last bipartisan commission on the issue, to create a properly regulated immigration system that served in the national interest.
“Unless there is a compelling national interest to do otherwise, immigrants should be chosen on the basis of the skills they contribute to the U.S. economy. The Commission believes that admission of nuclear family members and refugees provide such a compelling national interest, even if they are low-skilled. Reunification of adult children and siblings of adult citizens solely because of their family relationship is not as compelling.” – Barbara Jordan, June 28, 1995
Chain Migration is about family reunification beyond the nuclear family. Until the late 1950s, America's immigration tradition of family unity had only included spouses and minor children. But since then, the law has been changed to enable immigrants to also send for their siblings, parents and adult children. These non-nuclear family members actually get precedence over an immigrant’s nuclear family.
This ill-conceived system also encourages illegal immigration because adult relatives of legal residents are known to overstay their visas (becoming illegal aliens) hoping to become legal immigrants.
The claim that chain migration is about “family reunification” ignores the fact that each U.S. immigrant “disunites” another family by leaving relatives behind.
While it is understandable that immigrants wish to live alongside many members of their extended families, it is simply impossible to accommodate all of them in the United States, given this country’s current high rate of unemployment and future liabilities for programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) has introduced the Nuclear Family Priority Act (H.R. 604) in the current Congress. The bill would end Chain Migration by eliminating several of the family preference visa classes that allow adult relatives to receive legal permanent residency status in the United States. Parents of U.S. citizens would be eligible for a renewable visa provided the immigrant's son or daughter can prove that they can financially support their parents and provide health insurance coverage. The Nuclear Family Priority Act nearly mirrors the recommendations put forth by the Jordan Commission.