“Chain immigration can not be allowed to be part of any immigration law,” US President Donald Trump wrote on his Twitter account on September 15.

The message was repeated on Monday during the presentation of the National Security Strategy (NSS, for its acronym in English “), when he pointed out that this was the first time that a serious plan for the defense of the country was included and that he proposed to put an end to to chain immigration.

Now, what does the US president refer to when he talks about “chain immigration”?

According to a presentation published last Friday on the website of the White House, is “the process by which foreigners who settle in the United States bring their foreign relatives , who then have the opportunity to bring their foreign relatives and so until the entire extended family is established in the United States. ”

Thus, what the White House qualifies as chain immigration is nothing other than the process known as “family reunification” , provided for in US legislation since the Immigration and Nationality Law was passed in 1965.

This rule ended a system that privileged European immigrants, through a system of quotas by countries, by one that favors the arrival of foreigners who had family ties with US citizens and foreigners with permanent residence permits (the so-called green card ) in that country.


Over the years, this legislation was modified while retaining the same guiding principles.

Currently there are five categories of visas ranked according to the proximity of the family bond, whose grant is limited to a maximum of 480,000 per year for relatives of foreigners with permanent residence and without any limit for those who have links with US citizens.

There are also some five categories of work visas, but these have an annual limit of 140,000 per year. And this is part of what worries the White House.

Endless chain

“Chain immigration affects national security, by not establishing merit-based criteria to evaluate those who enter the US Instead, family ties are all that is needed to obtain a permanent residence permit and, change, become a short-lived citizen of the United States with the right to vote, with access to the social benefits of the government and the federal welfare system. ”

The above are some of the arguments on which the government of Donald Trump is based to reject this mechanism of family reunification, which they consider “an endless process”.

In addition, they claim that chain immigration is a source of low-skilled labor that “harms the most vulnerable Americans , ” by pushing down the wages of less educated workers.

According to figures from the White House, currently 65% of the residence permits that are granted each year in the United States are due to the existence of family ties. What in the last decade has meant the entry of 9.3 million people in this way.

In contrast, 1 in 15 immigrants who receive the green card was admitted to the country based on their abilities.

“It is a policy in which the wrong people are allowed to enter our country and the right people are rejected,” said Trump, referring to this phenomenon during his NSS presentation speech.

For several months, the US president has expressed his desire to have a migration system based on “merits”, more similar to Canadian, in which residence permits are given priority according to the training and professional skills of the immigrant potential.

According to the White House, more than half of all households headed by an immigrant benefit from one or more social assistance programs.

The US Treasury, they say citing a study whose authorship they do not identify, spends about US $ 300,000 million per year because of the current immigration policy.

Intangible benefits

But the proponents of family reunification say that it brings with it a series of tangible and intangible benefits for the host society.

“Immigration based on family ties has a positive impact on the development of businesses and the improvement of communities,” says the American Immigration Council (AIC), an analysis of this mechanism published on its website. English).


Immigration in chain


millions of people entered the US by family ties in the last decade.

  • 65% of residence permits are granted for family reasons.
  • 1 out of every 15residence permits for foreigners are based on the immigrant’s professional or work skills.

“Evidence found in case studies indicates that the immigration of extended families and tightly knit immigrant communities facilitates the economic assimilation of new immigrants and promotes investment in human capital in the United States as well as the formation of businesses,” he adds.

In this sense, the AIC ensures that those who have entered with family reunification visas as siblings of US citizens register a high rate of self-employment and an increase in their income higher than the rest of the immigrants due to family ties .

But immigration for family reasons also brings with it, according to the AIC, other less visible benefits such as, for example, the contribution of women who perform unpaid work in the home.

“Immigrant women who perform their work at home help to maintain the current workforce, to train the future workforce and care for the elderly and the sick, so they play a critical role for the welfare of the home” , says the organization.

He warns that although these jobs are not usually included in economic statistics, their contribution represents an important part of the Gross Domestic Product.

” Immigration through family ties and based on professional skills should not be seen as mutually exclusive, ” they say.

“In fact, if a less favorable admission policy for families were adopted, the United States could become a less attractive country for highly skilled immigrants, who also have families.”