Posted on December 12, 2017

Chain Migration: Burdensome and Obsolete Chain Migration from Terror-Afflicted Countries Presents a National Security Risk

Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration Studies, December 11, 2017

Washington, D.C. (December 11, 2017) – An analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies examines chain migration and the immigration background of the Port Authority bomber.  Akayed Ullah, a lawful permanent resident, is a citizen of Bangladesh who came to the United States in February 2011 on an immigrant visa in one of the chain migration categories. Ullah qualified to enter at age 20 as the nephew of a naturalized U.S. citizen. The relative who sponsored Ullah and his family reportedly entered originally under the visa lottery and became a US citizen.

Highlights on immigration to the U.S. from Bangladesh:

  • Approximately 90 percent of the immigrants from Bangladesh in the last decade have received green cards through sponsorship by a relative who immigrated earlier;
  • The number of immigrant visas issued to Bangladeshis was about 6,000 in 2000, but today is about 12,000 in 2017, illustrating the multiplier effect of chain migration.
  • There are more than 175,000 citizens of Bangladesh on the immigrant visa waiting list, of whom just over 165,000 (94 percent) are waiting in the sibling/nephew/niece category;
  • For many years citizens of Bangladesh were leading participants in the annual Visa Lottery.  In 2007, 36% of the immigrant visas issued in Bangladesh were under the lottery.  By 2012, Bangladesh was disqualified based on high annual numbers of green cards awarded.
  • In 2017, 99% of the more than 12,000 immigrant visas awarded to Bangladeshis were family-based.

View CIS articles on chain migrant charged in NYC attack:

Jessica Vaughan, the Center’s director of policy studies, writes, “Congress should modernize our immigration system by sharply trimming the obsolete chain migration categories, as recommended by the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform headed by late civil rights icon Barbara Jordan, and as required by several bills pending in Congress.”

Andrew Arthur, the Center’s resident fellow in law and policy, in addressing the multiple terrorist attacks in the U.S. writes, “These attacks demonstrate an illogical dysfunction at the heart of our immigration system. No connection whatsoever to the United States is necessary for a foreign national to apply for a visa through the visa lottery, and in fact that visa category exists primarily to benefit nationals of countries with low levels of immigration to America. And, respectfully, the nephew of a United States citizen (like Ullah) has only the most tangential of ties to this country before he arrives; even then that tie is only to the sponsoring aunt or uncle.”

Extra vetting would not have prevented this attack, but eliminating chain migration would have. The RAISE Act, S. 354, presently under consideration in the Congress, would break chain migration and shift the U.S. towards a merit-based system. Arthur commends the legislation and emphasizes that “The most important choice that a free people can make is to decide whom it will allow to share in its blessings and future success.”