1. Statement
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

The Myth of “Chain Migration” and the Importance of Family Unity

December 12, 2017


President Trump has renewed calls to toughen immigration laws, including ending so-called “chain migration” after the attack in New York on December 11. FCNL rejects limiting family-based visas and urges Congress to stand strong against such proposals.

“The president is aggressively going to continue to push forth responsible immigration reform, and ending chain migration would certainly be a part of that process.” – Sarah Huckabee Sanders to the White House Press Corps on December 11, 2017

President Trump’s proposal to “end chain migration” is an effort to cut the number of family-based visas. This limits people’s opportunity to unify with their family through the U.S. immigration system. Various proposals include excluding immigrants from being able to sponsor their spouses, siblings, adult children, or elderly parents. This is not responsible immigration reform.

“Chain migration” is an imagined threat. For many immigrants, it is actually an incredibly difficult and lengthy process to reunite with family members. Adding even more barriers to family unification is unnecessary and distracts from critical efforts to offer Dreamers a pathway to citizenship and stabilize generations of American families to come.

Family unity is the basis of a values-driven immigration system. Our immigration system should recognize and support the importance of familial relationship – both immediate and extended – on the individual and community levels. We must cut through the rhetoric and be clear about what “ending chain migration” is actually about – prohibiting immigrants from reuniting with their family members.

Legislative proposals that insert barriers for family unification are not in line with our vision for a compassionate, humane immigration system that proactively keeps families together. See a faith letter that FCNL signed in opposition to proposed legislation that the White House endorsed. The RAISE Act would cut family visas by upwards of 70% percent, deleting more than four million individuals’ applications for eliminated family visas. It would also eliminate the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their siblings and make it nearly impossible for them to sponsor their parents.

Congress should reject the RAISE Act and similar proposals to limit family unification.