Among the issues that will surely dominate this year’s national conversation is immigration.
According to news reports, liberals in Congress want to do away with the restrictive quota-based system that has governed U.S. immigration policy for decades. These quotas, for instance, limit migrants from Asia and Latin America. As a result, an American citizen trying to sponsor a brother or sister from the Philippines must wait up to more than 20 years for a visa. That’s because there’s an annual cap to the number of visas issued in certain family-based categories.
Conservatives, on the other hand, fear that allowing more people of color into the United States would forever transform America’s ethnic and racial composition. They want to scrap the “family reunification” model altogether and replace it with a merit-based system.
Although family reunification has enjoyed broad support since the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in 1965, it is increasingly being cast in a negative light by the Trump administration as the “enabler of chain migration.” As defined by the White House, chain migration is the process by which foreign nationals permanently resettle within the U.S. and subsequently bring over their foreign relatives, who then bring over more foreign relatives until entire extended families are resettled in the country. Trump wants this issue as a condition of any deal protecting the “Dreamers” after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) expires in March. That, plus building The Wall.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there has always been a “bipartisan view that immigration was good for society and the economy and integral to the history of the United States. But this administration has radically changed the debate.”
Filipino Americans should weigh in and participate in a vital conversation about a policy that not only affects them directly but deals with the country’s transformation into a more diverse society.