During the Congressional State of The Union address, Republican President Donald J. Trump took a bold stance against huddled masses of families he says openly flow into the United States — but are they really these so-called “bad hombres” of wage theft, gangs and radical jihadists the GOP loves to use as a political rallying cry?
Assuming you’re not knee-deep in the Ann Coulter fetishization of ICE deportations and her personal immigration rape fantasy she famously called the “browning of America,” you may be confused about the newest immigration buzz-term known as “chain migration.” This is an immigration provision — often negatively touted by the critics of immigration — affording both U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (people with Green Cards) to sponsor close family members for immigration to the country.
As framed in the president’s speech:
“The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security and our future.”
The policy of limiting this visa system to spouses and minors is not without merit, both in economic and philosophical terms, but there’s a problem – the image that the president conjures of one person bringing in a wave of distant relatives to America’s shores is a falsehood.
In a tweet from last December, officials over at The White House twitter account published a photo of a stick-figure family tree supposedly explaining this process to the voter. Beginning with one person — the oh-so-deadly Immigrant Zero brings in three children to the country. This continues down the line as each kid brings in their own children, repeated again and again until there’s a colored mob sure to give Miss Coulter night terrors.
And I don’t blame readers if a short-circuit is going off at first sight. Either the White House tweet exposes their fundamental misunderstanding about how the system works, or they figure that reality is secondary to political talking points. It was The Washington Post who pointed out that if these figures in the White House tweet represent children (a reasonable assumption, given that we’re talking about family members here) for this family tree structure to be accurate, “Immigrant Zero” would already have to be a great-great-grandfather — who had all of these children upon children outside of the country — before they would be relevant to a discussion about chain migration. If anyone of those figures is born in the country, they become a citizen by default.
This gives the impression that the White House is either clueless about how current policy works or that they are simply against immigrants having generational lines.
The alternative interpretation of the White House graphic is that the current administration believes that one immigrant has the direct power to grant American status to family members of previous generations whether they be close or distant relatives.
This is also false, as according to Politifact, no one immigrant can directly petition their aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, in-law relative or grandparent to come to the United States by virtue of their relation. There is a technical loophole, requiring the action of more than one immigrant, where if an offspring was able to get their parent into the country, that parent could petition for their sibling to come as well - after they have themselves become a citizen and gone through the visa waiting period of over 13 years, of course.
It looks like that uncle is going to be waiting awhile.
Additionally, permanent Green-card holders have nowhere near the family leverage afforded to them as U.S. citizens, understandably so. Even the far-left Vox were honest in their correction that Green-card holders can’t even invite their parents into the country, let alone their distant relatives.
They continued to note citizens can jump through those loopholes, but only if the United States deems siblings and fiances meet proper immigration provisions to justify their status.
This system of Chain Migration de-skills the labor force, puts downward pressure on wages, increases the deficit, and undermines national security. More: https://t.co/oNvVX4FXb1 pic.twitter.com/A3VJN27Eza— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 17, 2017
‘But oh, it’s best for national security,’ his defenders may justify, but this too is a weak pillar on which to build. Try coming from the war-torn nations of Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria — riddled with jihadist terrorism and a theocratic ideology like Islam — and see how bloody long it takes to screen one person through the vetting process.
America is hardly Germany or Sweden when it comes to opening the floodgates of immigrants and allowing actual jihadists reentry after declaring war on their states. Since 2011, only 18,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the U.S.
To get a single refugee into the country, they must submit to a lengthy two year process which begins with multiple high-level security checks from America’s intelligence agencies, a biometric screening that records all of your physical attributes from your photograph to fingerprints, eyes and signature, which is stored in their database. Then comes mandatory interviews with the Department of Homeland Security, another medical screening, as well as an Orwellian-social justice warrior sounding “cultural orientation program,” wherein refugees are taught the American way of life in securing jobs, education, housing, even personal hygiene.
And this all for just one person.
There are certainly legitimate immigration issues that need to be discussed in the United States. Obviously, as countries like Australia and Canada have proved, skills-based immigration and other such policies can be implemented without being the defacto racism many of Trump’s critics claim them to be. However, Trump does the country no favors by appealing to half-truths and pernicious myths about “chain migration,” that only serve to make his administration look clueless about the realities of U.S. immigration policy.