On December 29, President Trump tweeted that “there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all costs!”
DACA refers to legislation that would provide permanent protection to the 800,000 youths commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” Trump’s tweet indicated that any such bill would have to also end both what his administration has termed “chain migration” and the category of Diversity Visas under which nationals of low-immigration countries may apply each year to be chosen by lottery.
What is chain migration? It is an attempt to attach a sinister-sounding name to plain old family-based immigration. Under our immigration laws, green card holders may petition for their spouses and unmarried children. U.S. citizens may file visa petitions for their spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Once those family members immigrate and become U.S. citizens themselves, they may do the same for their spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Since these family priority categories were created in 1952, this is how families immigrate to this country.
The present administration has claimed that this system of family immigration has been exploited by terrorists to enter this country. Let’s look at an example of someone seeking to immigrate through “chain immigration” to see how that might work. Let’s say the person’s uncle enters the U.S. with a green card. The uncle would have to reside here for five years before filing an application to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. Let’s assume it then takes another year to process that application. The newly-naturalized uncle could then petition for his brother (i.e. the intending immigrant’s father) to join him. At present, the wait for such petitions is thirteen and a half years. As we can safely assume that the intending immigrant will be over 21 years old by the time his or her father gets his green card (since the process would have taken nearly 20 years by this point), the father would then have to petition for the adult son or daughter, which at present would take a little over 7 years more. Should the intending immigrant marry during the pendency of this process, another five years and two months will be added to the waiting time. Of course, by the time the intending immigrant is ready for visa processing, he or she will be subjected to extreme security vetting before being admitted to the U.S. Does that sound like a system that’s ripe for exploitation?
Yet Trump stated that he will not sign DACA legislation unless it ends the existing system that allows for family unification. He further criticized diversity visas (i.e. the lottery system referred to in his December 29 tweet), claiming that other countries use it to send us “the worst of the worst.” That is not possible, as foreign governments have no say in either who applies for the diversity visas nor who gets chosen. It is also not a good vehicle for terrorists to exploit, as applicants have an extremely slim chance of being chosen, and then must be subjected to extreme vetting before admission. According to the State Department’s own statistics, in 2015, nearly 9.4 million applications were received, covering more than 14.4 million people, including family-member derivatives. The chances of being chosen for one of the 50,000 visas are therefore one-third of one percent. Not all of those chosen are issued a visa due to failures to satisfy all of the required criteria. Again, this is hardly an efficient way for anyone to enter the country.
Back on September 5, Trump stated “I have great heart for the folks we’re talking about, a great love for them,” referring to the Dreamers. In giving Congress six months to pass legislation providing permanent relief from deportation to the group, Trump said “I can tell you in speaking to members of Congress they want to be able to do something and do it right and really we have no choice.” Two days later, Trump tweeted “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about - No action!”
To therefore tie the future of this sympathetic group to other immigration agendas based on inaccuracies seems unconscionable. Let’s hope that enough members of Congress have the integrity to reject this course of action.
Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase. All rights reserved.