Link by link we forge a, well, anyway

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My people were illegal immigrants, of course. I probably don’t understand this stuff about visas and green cards. My people never saw them.

At the State of the Union address last night, Our Only President talked about what he calls chain migration:

The fourth and final pillar [of immigration reform] protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.

In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford. It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.

The program of which he speaks has previously been called family reunification. The President’s statement is simply untrue according to the Department of Homeland Security. Our current policy is that a citizen may petition for Green Cards or special visas for a spouse, children, parents and siblings. The President proposes removing the opportunity for citizens to petition to have fiancées, parents, siblings and adult children join them as legal residents of the United States, or for legal residents to petition for adult unmarried children join them. Legal noncitizen residents cannot currently petition for fiancées, siblings, parents or married adult children; those granted asylum or refuge cannot petition for fiancées, siblings, parents or any adult children married or unmarried. Those categories would remain unchanged if his proposal were to become the law.

Still, you can argue whether or not giving priority to the close families of our legal noncitizen residents is a good idea. You can argue it. I guess you can argue it. I’m not sure exactly how, though.

I mean. Let’s say Karol from Krakow is living here as a naturalized citizen, and his sister Kinga and their parents Kacper and Klaudia are back home. A family reunification (or, if you prefer, chain migration) policy lets Kinga cut ahead of a bunch of people in line, people who do not have a sibling or child legally in the US. That’s… probably unfair, I guess? In some sense? I mean, Kinga isn’t more meritorious than Zuzia, just because Karol made it across and Zymon didn’t. Zymon is Zuzia’s brother, by the way. Nice guy, a little boring, not much ambition. Anyway, Kinga cuts ahead of Zuzia in line due to the part of the law that Our Only President is proposing to change.

Here’s the thing, though. Karol is probably, right now, sending money to Kinga out of his weekly paycheck. Kinga is helping their parents, who are only in their fifties, mind you, but have little hope of finding good-paying work in Krakow with things being how they are, and a hundred bucks a month goes pretty far, there, right? And if Zuzia got a Green Card and a decent job here, she’d be sending fifty bucks a month to Zymon, too. That’s a hundred and fifty bucks a month, spent in the Krakow economy and not ours. If instead of Zuzia being the only one in her family to come over, Kinga and Kacper and Klaudia all came over to join Karol, all their money would be spent in these United States. Of course, who the heck cares about a hundred and fifty bucks a month leaving our economy? I mean, the total amount of remittances of that kind is really only, well, it’s hard to be absolutely sure, but it was recently estimated at fifty-six billion dollars. A year. Abolishing the family reunification part of the law seems like an excellent way to maximize that number.

Here’s another thing: all else being equal, do you think Kinga or Zuzia would have an easier time adjusting to life in the US? I suspect it would be the one whose brother has been living here for years (keep in mind, by the way, that we are talking about years, as I believe the visas for Kingas that are currently being processed were filed in 2004) and has a good job and no criminal history and all the things that such a visa would be vetted for. I am not, personally, devoted to the assimilation imperative, but if you place a high value on such things as English speech, western dress and adherence to American social norms, on the whole Kinga is a better bet than Zuzia, isn’t she?

Now, it’s true that the existence of this policy is potentially an incentive to immigration in the first place. Likely enough when Karol was in grade school, Kacper and Klaudia had the idea of sending him to college in the United States specifically with the thought that perhaps if he were successful he would be able to bring them over. That… seems fine to me. I mean, that seems to me to be a reason why we would want Karol here instead of Zymon in the first place. And if Karol had failed to make good in the goldene medina, then, well, the problem of reunification doesn’t present itself.

Really, the only argument I can see for abolishing the family reunification program has nothing to do with the program itself. If the argument is that neither Kinga nor Zuzia should be allowed in, and that Karol shouldn’t have been allowed in twenty years ago, then, that is a totally different argument, and probably based on racism and xenophobia. But if the objection is to the preference for Kinga over Zuzia, which is specifically what Our Only President is proposing to change, then I have no idea what the hell he is talking about.

But then, as I said, my people were illegals.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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