Family-based petitions may soon end as US President Donald Trump said he wanted to rein in "chain migration," the ability of legal immigrants to bring a wide-ranging number of family members into the country.
During his State of the Union Address to US Congress on Tuesday, Trump bared the four pillars of immigration reforms that he said should be supported by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives," Trump said.
Under US immigration laws, a US citizen can file an immigrant visa petition for spouse, children, parent or siblings. A permanent resident or a greencard holder on the other hand, can file for immigrant visa petition for spouse and or unmarried son or daughter.
Under his administration’s plan, Trump said they will now only focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children only.
Breaking chain migration is under Trump's fourth pillar.
The first pillar to his immigration reform package "generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants" brought by their parents at a young age.
"Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements and show good moral character would be able to become full citizens of the United States over a 12-year period," Trump said.
The second pillar tightens border security while the third pillar ends the visa lottery which Trump described as "a program that randomly hands out greencards without any regard for skill, merit or the safety of American people."
"This vital reform is necessary not just for our economy, but for our security and for the future of America. In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford. It is time to reform," he said.
Trump has long advocated for a "merit-based system" and not allow immigrants to bring their extended families.
In September, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected young people from deportation who had been brought to the United States illegally as children, and gave Congress until March to devise a long-term solution.
TRUMP'S MIGRATION HISTORY
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that Trump's family benefited from chain migration.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a known Filipino undocumented immigrant, also tweeted Trump's migration history as well as that of other people working under his administration.
Vargas said in an earlier tweet that "chain migration" is "a hate-group slur" and that "family-based migration is and always has been a cornerstone of American history."
Sean Tan of Coalition for Humane Immigration Reform in Los Angeles said Trump failed to mention the many contributions of immigrants to the country.
"A lot of what President Trump has said missed the point. He made allusions to how America is great but then he forgot to mention immigrants. And immigrant countries all around the states have made great contributions to this country. And he’s failing to acknowledge that," he said.
Tan is a Filipino Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. He is one of the dreamers protected by DACA since 2012.
"What’s come up is breaking up families, taking out family reunification processes and there’s no real deal that’s going on. We already have a solution and we’ve been fighting for that solution and what we want is a Dream Act and we want a clean Dream Act. We have support from both houses of government," added Tan.
Jerry Clarito, co-convenor of the Filipino-American Human Rights Alliance, said immigration is a main sticking point among Americans now.
"Trump is actually destroying that historical experience because we’re talking about your titos, titas, lolos...they can no longer come if the new immigration law will be based on merit,” Clarito said.
He pointed out that breaking the family would create more problems.
“So the idea of the immigration history of the US is always to bring the family because it's already been proven that when you have the whole family they can more function as a family and as regular workers and they contribute more to society,” he said. With reports from Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau and ANC