By: Louise Mucino
“THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THE FOLLOWING COMMENTARY ARE SOLELY THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT PURPORT TO BE THOSE OF THE FOGLE LAW FIRM.”
Recently, certain prominent officials in the public eye made some statements to support the idea of restricting Family-based immigration (along with the visa lottery). This official’s statement was somewhere along the line of saying that a single immigrant can bring in “unlimited” numbers of family, to include distant relatives. It is now being referred to as chain migration, as though a single person could bring a large group of people over a short period of time.
This is not true. It is a misleading and quite derogatory statement. A person who comes legally to the United States is fairly limited as to who he can petition for once he lives here.
Let’s start with those who have completed the first step of becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident, or a green card holder. A person who has a green card can only petition for his spouse and child. The waiting period for a green card holder’s spouse is approximately 2 years, depending on what country she is from. The waiting period for an adult, unmarried child of a green card holder from Mexico? Try about twenty years before a visa becomes available.
When our green card holder finally becomes a United States Citizen, there are a few more eligible family members. He can now also petition for his parents and siblings. While the wait time for parents is almost non-existent, it is not so for siblings. A US Citizen’s sibling from the Philippines will have to wait nearly twenty-four years just to become eligible for a green card!
My husband, who is a naturalized U.S. Citizen, is able to petition for his parents and two brothers. Unfortunately, his oldest brother would be past 60 before he would get his green card. Furthermore, we can’t petition for his aunt Federica, his niece Bibi, or his cousin Ludovico. If any of them wants to come to the US to live and work permanently, they will have to find another route.
FAMILY REUNIFICATION, not chain migration, was designed with the nuclear family in mind. It is to keep families together, legally, in the United States. While many changes are desperately needed to update our archaic immigration system, and to ease the burden of our border patrol and immigration officials, preventing reunification of families through legitimate means is certainly not one of them.