The latest terrorist attack on the U.S. was carried out by another immigrant who entered our country through the program of “chain migration.” Akayed Ullah entered the U.S. along with other family members from Bangladesh. Chain migration is in effect immigration gone wild. In fact 70% or more of current immigrants are entering not as the primary applicant but as a relative of the immigrant (or a relative of a relative ad infinitum). In 2015 alone over 1 million immigrants were granted lawful resident status. “Immigration on steroids” began with the passage in 1965 of the current version of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This law shifted the entire focus from that of individual immigration to that of “family” immigration. The law ended the annual “cap” on the number of green cards issued so there was no limit to how many family members could be admitted. Under chain migration the number of family admissions has gone from 32,714 in 1965 to 465,068 in 2015. Caps on other types of immigration have remained in place leading some to falsely claim family connections and leaving some legitimate immigrants to go elsewhere. Opening the door to anyone with a real or claimed family tie is also opening the door to potential terrorist and other “bad actors.” We have now witnessed the ill effects of a poor law and the policy it generated.
Appropriate screening of those wishing to enter the country is difficult under the best of circumstance. When you permit unlimited immigration based on acquaintance alone, you can’t control what type of individual is entering our country. President Trump and several members of Congress are pushing for a merit-based immigration system to replace the “family reunification” system. The Raise Act was introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that would impose changes to our immigration policies focusing on skills and abilities. Priorities for applicants would include language, education and job skills. Other countries already use merit systems but America has been slow to recognize the value of merit-based immigration. Spouses and unmarried children of the primary applicant would still qualify as immediate family beneficiaries for purposes of admission. The Raise Act would supply the talent America requires in the coming years while keeping us safe from imbedded terrorists. We need to put the brakes on chain migration.