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‘Chain Migration’ Is Actually a Core Part of American History

Feb 19, 2019 | Immigration

When people land on our shores and start a new life, they want to bring their loved ones to join them. They tell wonderful stories of our great country, the United States of America, to their relatives and friends, and encourage them to come to this country. And when these new migrants come to the U.S., they have family and friends to support them while they assimilate – this is actually a requirement under the existing laws. The new migrants must be financially sponsored; they are not a burden on our society.

Chain migration, officially called family-based immigration, is a natural outcome of being human. Historically, when people moved from place to place, they brought their family and friends. All of us simply want to be near our families.

But the Trump administration is using “chain migration” as a derogatory catch phrase to dehumanize millions of people to prevent them from entering our country. All Muslims are effectively shunned as terrorism suspects – we must keep them out! All Hispanics are effectively castigated as belonging to gangs and bringing drugs into the U.S. – we must keep them out, too! The result of this hateful policy is that U.S. citizens who are Muslims, Hispanics, Africans, and others are now denied the right to bring their loved ones into the country. Trump only extended a welcome to people from Norway!

Then, what about this “chain migration?” Under our current system, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident cannot petition for an aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, in-law relative or grandparent to come to the United States. (A U.S. Citizen over 21 CAN petition for parents, brothers, or sisters) Again, we already have these laws in place since 1965.

So, what is bad about “chain migration?” Nothing. Family-based immigration is a well-founded program, and to politicize and sensationalize extremely rare incidents, which President Trump has said were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration, is a gross distortion of the facts. In fact, he’s concocted lies about the family reunification program. Sadly, this divisive rhetoric is being used by too many politicians merely to get votes. Shame on them.

This issue is personal to me. My grandfather escaped to the U.S. from a Greek island under the control of the Ottoman Empire in 1912. In 1926, his wife and three children joined him. He was soon followed by a sister, brother-in-laws, friends, and two son-in-laws. His first-born son landed at Normandy in WWII; the other sons served in the U.S. military. His descendants are now lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, business people, patent holders, craft workers and housewives – all U.S. citizens.

This is the reality of “chain migration.”

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