family-based immigration / family reunificationLast updated
Family-based immigration refers to members of a family who immigrate to a country once another member has already established social ties there. In the United States, green card holders or legal residents can petition to have their spouses, parents, and minor children (under the age of 21 and unmarried) join them. This is also known as “family reunification.”
People and groups who want to restrict immigration argue that family-based immigration results in a single immigrant bringing in dozens of family members, potentially taking jobs from Americans or threatening national security. There is a wealth of research that contradicts this viewpoint, demonstrating that immigrants do not take jobs away from citizens. A 2020 Pew poll found that a majority of respondents said immigrants mostly fill jobs Americans do not want.
Family-based immigration is also sometimes called “chain migration,” though this term is often used in coded racist ways and thus may be best restricted to direct quotes, with some explanation given. It was coined as an academic term in the 1960s but it has been co-opted more recently by white nationalists; then-President Donald Trump also used the phrase in his 2018 State of the Union.
- What “chain migration” really means — and why Donald Trump hates it so much (Vox)
- Explaining ‘Chain Migration’ (NPR)
- US Family Reunification (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
The term “family-based immigration” refers to a type of immigration that is based on family ties. It is also sometimes called “chain migration,” though this term is often used in coded racist ways and thus may be best restricted to direct quotes, with some explanation given.