A new report that drew from Census Bureau and Department of Homeland Security data found that in 2016’s first six months, 1.03 million legal and illegal immigrants arrived in the United States. The Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) extrapolated the 1.03 million and concluded that newly settled immigrants for all of 2016 will match the 1999 record of 1.8 million, and exceed by 53 percent the 1.1 million total in 2011, a period of lower immigration due to recession.
The extraordinary 1.8 million arrivals include legal permanent residents, unaccompanied Central American minors and other asylum seekers, refugees, students, illegal immigrants and employment-based guest worker visa holders, such as H-1B tech employees. The surge of new immigrants will further strain the overpopulated nation’s already failing public schools, its crowded hospitals, inadequate public transportation systems and overburdened social service providers.
But because of chain migration, the original 1.8 million immigrants will dramatically increase by many millions more. The author of the CIS report, Dr. Steven Camarota, said that family-based chain migration’s multiplier effect has contributed to nearly 14 million immigrants settling in the U.S. between 2006 and 2016.
Here’s how chain migration works. The federal government approves the admission of a foreign citizen to migrate with the assumption that the new arrival will contribute to the national interest. The original immigrant, a lawful permanent resident, can petition for his nuclear family, wife and minor children.
Then the chain begins, and it’s literally endless as non-nuclear members follow the original immigrant once that person becomes naturalized. Citizens can petition, without consideration for their ages or skills, their parents and adult sons and daughters, along with their spouses and children. Immigration scholars estimate that each recent immigrant eventually sponsors an average of 3.45 family members. Chain migration is the leading driver behind a population surge that has seen legal immigration quadruple from the 250,000 annual total in the 1950s to more than a million since the 1990s.
President Trump has become increasingly adamant that any deal he may be willing to make with Democratic leadership to protect deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACAs) will have to end what he labeled in a tweet as “horrible” chain migration.
The dangers of chain migration extend beyond further burdening public schools system, health care providers and depleted municipal coffers. Criminals can easily exploit chain migration. According to multiple media reports, chain migration allowed the entry of a growing number of extended family members currently implicated in three attacks that targeted the U.S. The failed December New York City subway attacker entered through a distant relative’s sponsorship. The Egyptian who shot at Pennsylvania police came on a family-based visa, as did the Pakistani national jailed for money laundering and bank fraud to aid the Islamic State.
Moreover, family-based migration harms American workers. Each year more than a quarter of a million lifetime work permits, without a national interest purpose, are issued to chain migrants. That means that 250,000 work-authorized immigrants enter the labor pool annually and remain year after year to compete with, or possibly displace, Americans in an increasingly tight labor market.
Immigration should serve Americans, not work against them, as chain migration does.