Center for Immigration Studies hypes chain migration to fit narrative

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an anti-immigrant hate group, relentlessly attempts to discourage immigration with scare tactics.

Its latest strategy is gaining traction with the Trump administration as CIS moves into a greater sphere of influence.

Amnesty for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, CIS claims in its most recent report, would result in an increase in chain migration (the immigration of relatives after the initiating immigrant gains legal permanent status). Author Jessica Vaughn believes an additional 700,000 immigrants would arrive via chain migration, as DACA recipients would be able to sponsor a visa for their parent, child or spouse. Vaughn arrives at this number on the assumption that all 700,000 DACA recipients would file a petition for a parent. This is false.

DACA recipients do not currently have a path to obtain legal permanent resident status. If undocumented immigrant youth were to be granted amnesty, they would still have to wait at least eight years to become permanent residents, during that time they would not be able to sponsor any relatives. Even after gaining legal permanent resident status, they would only be able to sponsor spouses, minor children and unmarried adult children — not parents — under the Dream Act, RAC Act, and SUCCEED Act. Moreover, long backlogs for visa applicants would add, on average, seven years of wait time.

Vaughn claims that Mexico has the highest rate of chain migration. This analysis is based on outdated data from 1996 through 2000. In fact, Mexican immigrants encompass the largest percentage of Dreamers and would face the longest wait times. U.S. citizens petitioning for a visa for an adult child from Mexico, on average, wait at least 18 years. The National Foundation on American Policy additionally determined that if a U.S. citizen filed a petition for a child from Mexico in 1992, it would take 41 years for the child to be granted entry. In addition, the State Department reported a waitlist of more than 4 million close relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful residents as of November 2016. This is 3.75 million more than the available number of visas for family reunification. Chain migration, especially for Dreamers, is a myth.

Vaughn attempts to stigmatize family reunification by referring to these immigrants as “not path breakers.” However, immigrants arriving through chain migration have as much of a right to immigrate as the initiating immigrant. The goal here is two-fold: keep families apart, and prevent the latest legislation to get Dreamers a pathway to citizenship.

Chain migration, or family reunification, is based on a preferential system. Preference is first given to children, spouses, parents and finally siblings. Vaughn claims these are unlimited categories, however, they are actually capped cumulatively at less then 250,000 visas a year. For frame of reference, less than 70,000 people immigrate through the sibling category and they comprise only 6% of documented immigrants, or 0.02% of the U.S. population.

This argument is not about the numbers. It is about keeping families apart. CIS founder John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist turned population control alarmist, founded CIS and the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1979. In a 1993 memo that revealed Tanton’s worldview he wrote, "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that." Similarly, Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, regularly laments that today’s immigrants look different than those from 100 years ago. CIS policy analyst, Stephen Steinlight, added in 2005, while speaking to the Inter Press Service New Agency, that immigration threatens “the American people as a whole and the future of Western civilization.” Hyping the impact of chain migration fits CIS’s narrative that unintelligent and unassimilable non-white immigrants are invading the United States.

CIS’s most recent attempt to advance anti-immigrant legislation such as the RAISE Act, which would eliminate green card categories for siblings and adult children, is completely aligned with its historical anti-immigrant stance. Vaughn says, “The most effective way to mitigate this surge in chain migration is to eliminate entire categories of immigrant visas and green cards that are now reserved for the extended family members of prior immigrants (siblings and adults sons and daughter).” Krikorian made an almost identical proposal in 2003, claiming, “the only way to construct a transparent system which admits fewer immigrants is to eliminate entire categories … Thus, family immigration should be limited to the spouses and unmarried minor children of Americans.”

CIS has been lobbying to keep families separated for years. They will continue to campaign against immigration and family reunification, like in their push to cut immigration of children of Filipino World War II Veterans and their advocacy against admitting prospective immigrants who have been waiting for years on visa backlogs.