Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brookings Institute Releases Report Calling for Restrictions of Family-Based Immigration

Today, the Brookings Institute released a report titled "Breaking the Immigration Stalemate." The Institute claims that this report brings together people from both sides of the debate on immigration reform. Their website claims that the report identifies areas of agreement where policies could be advanced. However, in reality, the report calls for a nearly complete elimination of family-based immigration. I hope that you find this as concerning as I do.

Recommendations in the report include changing the family immigration system so that only the spouses and children under 21 of green card holders could legally immigrate. Millions of unmarried adult children of green card holders, and adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens, would no longer be eligible for visas.

The report also perpetuates incorrect myths about immigration, including the myth of chain immigration. One quote: "These are difficult and contentious policy choices which directly address critical linkages in the chain migration that results in ever-expanding family-sponsored immigrant networks." This is simply incorrect. It takes so long (between 5 and 22 years) for family members to reunite with their loved ones that it is simply not feasible for chain migration to take place on the scale described by Brookings.

It is neither good policy nor good ethics to separate families. Families are the fundamental unit of this country. Strong families make for stable communities and dynamic local economies. Strong families create support systems for individuals. The solution to the current backlogs in family-based immigration is not to cut out entire populations, making them ineligible for legal immigration -- instead, the solution lies in reforming the visa system for families in order to align it with demand. Legal immigrants in the US should be able to bring their loved ones here to join them, and including the Reuniting Families Act in comprehensive immigration reform would achieve just that.

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