Dem Rep. Denies Reality, Claims There’s Really No Chain Migration

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal says 'people who know nothing about immigration' are trying to kill a program that should continue

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 11 Jan 2018 at 8:51 PM

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) claimed Thursday that chain migration “doesn’t, for the most part, exist” and slammed those who believe in “this idea that chain migration is real.” She made her comments during an interview on CNN’s “At This Hour.”

Jayapal, who immigrated to the U.S. from India as a teenager, urged lawmakers to avoid including chain migration limits in their proposals for how to solve their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) dilemma.

While Democratic Congress members are calling for a clean DACA fix granting amnesty to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, many GOP lawmakers insist that immigration enforcement measures, border wall funding, and chain migration provisions must be included in a compromise.

"This idea that chain migration is real, is really only something that people who know nothing about immigration will say, because chain migration doesn't, for the most part, exist," Jayapal said.

The DACA program was created by former President Barack Obama via an executive order and has to be renewed periodically. If Congress doesn't act, the program ends. President Donald Trump rescinded the DACA executive order in September 2017 and gave Congress six months to decide the program's future.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), pushed back on Jayapal's claim.

"Rep. Jayapal's claim is absurd, and I can't believe she could say that with a straight face," Vaughan told LifeZette. "Chain migration is very real. It's about half of all legal immigration every year in the amount of about half a million people every year. And it starts as soon as someone gets a green card."

Although the DACA deadline is in March of this year, lawmakers are trying to reach a deal ahead of a potential January 19 government shutdown.

Jayapal warned that including provisions limiting chain migration and a related visa lottery program would mean the end of the agreement.

"Well, look, these issues are part of the larger conversation on comprehensive immigration reform," Jayapal said. "And so now to add those two things to this discussion, I think is disingenuous and would lead to — if — if you really were taking those issues up seriously, I think that would lead to this deal falling apart."

The Democratic congresswoman argued that "family-based migration" and dealing with the "backlogs" of DACA family members seeking legalization should be included in the discussion.

"That needs to be part of comprehensive immigration reform," Jayapal said. "Putting these other issues on the table complicates things, and that's a discussion for the next day."

Related: Americans Overwhelmingly Favor End to Chain Migration, Poll Says

Vaughan wrote a CIS study in September 2017 analyzing Department of Homeland Security statistics on chain migration. In the study, Vaughan noted, "Over the last 35 years, chain migration has greatly exceeded new immigration. Out of 33 million immigrants admitted to the United States from 1981 to 2016, about 20 million were chain migration immigrants (61 percent)."

Immigrants with green cards ultimately can sponsor their spouses, children and parents. Should Congress reach a deal on DACA amnesty without reviewing the challenges of chain migration, Vaughan warned it could bring about a "net drain fiscally" for the country.

"It's a matter of tweaking our immigration system so that it works better for Americans and is not as much of a drain on public resources."

"So ending chain migration would mean that legal immigration would not be such a strain on taxpayers," Vaughan said. "The immigrants we admit would be more likely to be self-sufficient because they would be chosen for their skills or for other reasons."

"It's not just a matter of offsetting all of the new green cards that would result from a DACA amnesty. It's a matter of tweaking our immigration system so that it works better for Americans and is not as much of a drain on public resources," Vaughan added.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article images by CNN)

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