Immigration law is very complex, and the majority of the public has only a vague idea of how it works, in the best of circumstances. These layers of complexity are fertile soil for fake news and, sadly, ignorant news.
Fox News is an endless source of fake news that distorts the policy and law behind every topic, generating sound bites and pejorative misnomers such as the recently highly-promoted “chain migration” term, among others.
It does not help that the President of the United States is a bigot who uses the immigration issue to divide us as a nation while promoting the darkest ideas. This was especially palpable during the State of the Union address.
“Chain migration,” for example, is a term that has no value as policy or legal concept, yet it is being promoted and distributed by right-wing media, trolls, bots, misinformation-vulnerable citizens, and Trump.
The Trump administration had the audacity to post an infographic saying the government had to re-settle people coming in on “chain migration.” All people who come need to have a financial sponsor signing the petition who is legally and financially responsible for them.
There is no “chain migration,” and what they are really referring to is family reunification.
Family reunification is legal immigration, and it is a good thing. It brings stability to the lives of many individuals. Family reunification is supposed to be supported by conservatives when they say: “I support legal immigration, not illegal immigration.”
Also, once upon a time, conservatives were the party of family values.
Trump paints “chain migration” as an out-of-control process that allows legal immigrants and citizens to “bring an unlimited number of distant relatives,” unchecked. You can see here a video of the State of the Union address in which Trump lied while some members of the audience booed.
But the outrage is not limited to the Trump administration.
The most frustrating part is when the mainstream media is complicit in the disinformation and uses not only these incorrect and offensive terms but also spreads false information without painting the complicated, full picture. Such is the case in this USA Today- Arizona Republic article that states:
“A U.S. citizen from New York City, for example, can sponsor her husband in Nepal for a green card. A green card holder from San Francisco can sponsor her daughter in Senegal. An American in Illinois can sponsor her niece in Israel.”
Immigration lawyers will cringe at this paragraph.
The first two sentences depend on the age and the marital status of the individuals, and the last sentence is a complete lie. You do not have to believe me. Just check the links in red here that take you to USCIS’ site on citizen family reunification and Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) family reunification. To that, add time and an arduous vetting process.
Family reunification exists only for immediate family members of citizens and legal residents such as spouses, parents and generally minor children. Adult children are not a priority but can be petitioned, although their wait time can extend up to 20 years. Siblings can be petitioned only by citizens, but this category is imposed with the longest waiting times, which can extend into decades.
The Trump administration had the audacity to suggest that the government deals with the relocalization of these individuals. In fact, the citizens and LPR who petition their immediate family members have to sign a commitment of financial support.
Additionally, immigrant visas for the family and employment-based immigrant preference categories are numerically limited.
Reporters in the media do a disservice to their readers and the truth when they do not do their complete homework and neglect to explain the complexity of the issues.