After the December 11 attack in New York City that was perpetrated by a Bangladeshi immigrant, the president and current administration have gone on the offensive, arguing loudly about the evils of what is being called “chain migration.” They allege that chain migration, also called ‘extended chain migration,’ is a lax policy that permits too many immigrants into the U.S. without proper vetting.
While numerous experts have debunked such claims as manifestly paranoid, it is important to understand the legal arguments surrounding this issue, especially since the authority of the Oval Office may be turned arbitrarily on this aspect of U.S. immigration policy if nothing changes.
A Long and Complex Path
The perpetrator of the December attack in New York was a Bangladeshi immigrant who is not a U.S. citizen, but attained permanent residency after entering the country on an F43 visa. This is a visa granted to a child of an F1 visa holder, who is in turn the adult brother or sister of a U.S. citizen. This led the president to argue that ‘extended family chain migration,’ which is a term that had no meaning until a December 12 statement gave it one, “is incompatible with national security.” This is alleged because one family member who achieves U.S. citizen status can, in theory, sponsor several family members to come to the United States as well.
Contrary to the popular perception of one “long line” for immigrants to enter the United States, in reality, there are several long lines, all with their own requirements, checks and waiting periods. As with so many other statements he has made on immigration policy, the president appears to labor under a mistaken belief that the barest tie to the United States somehow gives one a pass through the lines, when this is simply erroneous. Every potential immigrant applying on family-based grounds faces the same background checks, fingerprinting and interviewing, with some subject to even more depending on their country of origin. Only the United Nations conducts more thorough checks.
The Wait is Too Long
Even after such vetting has occurred, the wait for some visa categories is years, if not decades long. F4 visa applicants have, in recent decades, waited as long as 23 years before being granted access—hardly a surefire way to gain entrance for the purpose of committing terrorist acts. This is in addition to however long that the F1 visa holder waited to receive their own visa before they were able to apply for their family members to join them. There is simply no way to guarantee that every single immigrant granted a visa will never break any kind of law, but making people wait so long is at least somewhat effective.
If you are a U.S. citizen, and you are able to apply to bring your family members over, you already are required to provide an affidavit of support (showing that your family member will not become a public charge), as well as attestations to their character and proof of a clean criminal record. These are required in addition to a fingerprint check and interview—there is very little further vetting that can be instituted that would not be a simple redundancy. This may not stop those in power, but at the same time, all one can do is be as informed as possible.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
At least for now, family based immigration is still in operation in the same manner it always has been. If you have questions or concerns regarding helping your family immigrate, contacting a knowledgeable attorney can be of great help. The Chicago immigration lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to try and assist you with your case. Contact our office today to set up an initial appointment.
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