This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

The "Chain Migration" Effect of DREAMers Is Apt to be Small

Chain migration is a process whereby someone moves to another country, gets established, and then is able to help others make the same move. It is institutionalized in family reunification provisions in the immigration laws of the U.S. and many, if not most, other countries. Sentiment has increased in the U.S. Congress to do something about the DREAMers (young people born outside the U.S. but brought to the country when young by their undocumented immigrant parents) before the DACA provisions run out and these people run the risk of being deported, even though they've spent their lives in this country. The main objection raised to legalizing these people is the idea that it will unleash a huge chain migration as they apply for their relatives to come to the U.S. A new report by the Migration Policy Institute analyzes this claim and finds it to be very overblown.
While research shows that after obtaining legal permanent resident (LPR) status or citizenship, immigrants in past decades have sponsored an average of about 3.5 relatives each, these comparisons cannot be applied to DACA recipients and the broader population of young unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children (known as DREAMers). There are two key reasons for this, [and detailed in the report]: DREAMers have very different characteristics than most green-card holders, and their family members face constrained immigration possibilities.
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates that by the time DREAMers obtain citizenship—a process that would take at least five years—an average of 0.36 of their spouses and parents would be able to obtain a green card under the most generous of the DREAM Act-type bills introduced in Congress. Because of existing visa backlogs, it would take them another 13 years or more to sponsor 0.34 to 0.67 siblings (a number that includes the spouses and minor children of those siblings).
In other words, over a lifetime, the average legalizing DREAMer would sponsor at most about one family member—a number that is a far cry from the estimates of 3.5 to 6.4 relatives that rely on older data and cover different populations.
With any luck, enough members of Congress will get this message and not be intimidated by the made-up numbers from right-wing media such as Breitbard. 

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