Press Releases

House Dems Introduce Family Reunification Bill to Address the “Chain Migration” Myth

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Washington, February 6, 2018 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Co-Chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform; and Congressmembers Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), and Grace Meng (NY-06) hosted a House Triangle press conference to promote family-based immigration.  They were joined by John Yang, President and Executive Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC); and Rev. Dr. Earl Trent, President of Board of Directors of Church World Service and Senior Pastor at Florida Avenue Baptist Church.  The press conference can be viewed here.

In the face of repeated misconceptions about the current family-based immigration system, including President Trump’s claim during last week’s State of the Union that individuals can bring in “virtually unlimited” relatives, Rep. Chu and her colleagues are introducing the Reuniting Families Act to address the current family visa backlog. Contrary to the president’s claims, and his use of the derisive term “chain migration,” it can currently take decades to reunite with just one family member.  By presenting this bill, members will highlight the reality of how family-based immigration works and why it is beneficial to our economy.

Rep. Roybal-Allard’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, appear below.

“It is a pleasure to be here with my co-chair of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, in support of Congresswoman Judy Chu’s bill, the Reuniting Families Act.

“It was fifty years ago that our current, more inclusive family-based immigration system was put in place to end a discriminatory system based on ethnic exclusion.  Today’s system reflects our American values and respect for family.  It recognizes the critical role a united family plays in the success of immigrants and their ability to contribute to the strength and wellbeing of our country. 

“It is tragic that the xenophobic rhetoric of this administration has distorted the facts and reality of family-based immigration to the United States.  The president’s proposed and misguided merit-based immigration system is a direct attack on the importance of the family unit, and ignores the contributions and hard work of immigrants which are at the core of American life.

“Research tells us that immigrants who come through our family migration system are more economically successful, more likely to buy a home than their American counterparts, and their US-born children are more likely to go to college.  Research also tells us that Americans who have family members by their side are happier, healthier, and better able to succeed than those distanced from their loved ones.

“Given that American families provide a supportive network to help immigrant family members integrate successfully into American society, many immigrants start businesses which create American jobs, many go into professions that teach our children and that care for our sick and elderly, and many serve in our armed services in the defense of our country.  In other words, all Americans benefit from the unification of American immigrant families. 

“Unfortunately, our system of family-based migration has not kept up with demand.  Today, there is a backlog of 4.4 million spouses, children, and their parents, who have played by the rules and have been separated from their families for years and even decades.

“The Reuniting Families Act will address this backlog.  It will provide the vital social safety net that will strengthen American immigrant families and enhance their ability to contribute even more to our country.  This will make our communities stronger and more resilient.

“By streamlining the family immigration system and eliminating the backlog, the Reuniting Families Act will encourage those wishing to join their family in the US to use legal immigration channels.  This will also enable the more efficient use of our immigration system’s resources.

“I implore my colleagues to reject the president’s proposal and all attacks on our family-based immigration system, and support the Reuniting Families Act, which reflects our American value of family, and our history as a compassionate and welcoming country of immigrants who have made our nation the greatest in the world.”

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