Family Ties Take Back Seat For Some Senators

Currently, approximately two-thirds of permanent legal immigration to the U.S. is based on family ties and 15 percent is based on employment, but this could change with the coming immigration bill. According to the Associated Press, Senator Lindsey Graham, who recently joined the bipartisan group to draft a new bill, argues that more green cards should be reserved for employment-based immigration to help boost the economy. This has already sparked debate from groups encouraging the preservation of family ties, but senators involved in the decision stress that nothing is set in stone.

Proponents of the switch say green cards should be reserved for only the nuclear family, and not for adult children and grandparents. In 2007, Democrats and the Roman Catholic Church objected to similar provisions that would have reduced the number of family visas. The Washington Post reported that two dozen members of the House Asian Pacific American caucus wrote a letter to the senators noting that it would only slightly increase the number of available visas, but further hardships for U.S. citizens and their families.

“What the senator’s not taking into account is the social costs for not preserving families in the immigration system, which is not as tangible or measurable as an economic benefit, maybe, but immigrant families do strengthen our social fabric,” Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Associated Press (AP).

This is the most attention this debate has gotten since the core focus of immigration has been on border security and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. Appleby told AP that the best solution would be for senators to create more green cards available for families, high-skilled workers and low-skilled workers.