A White House Chart on ‘Chain Migration’ Has Numbers That Add Up, But it Lacks Context

The White House issued an interesting chart on “chain migration,” which refers to the practice of immigrants bringing other members of their families to the United States. The Trump administration argues that immigration should be based less on family ties and more on economic merit.

Under U.S. law, there is a preference for relatives of those already living in the United States. A U.S. citizen can petition for a green card for spouses, children, parents or siblings. So, for example, a sibling of a U.S. citizen could come to the United States, bringing along a spouse and minor children.

We thought we’d run through the numbers and provide some context. But first some disclosure: We on The Fact Checker team all have immigrant roots, like many Americans, so here’s our story.

Glenn Kessler’s parents emigrated from the Netherlands, arriving by ship in New York on March 1, 1954, according to Ellis Island records. They were married at the time and came from Dutch families who can trace their ancestors to the 1300s. His father had been recruited by Procter & Gamble to work as a chemical engineer. However, none of their siblings came after them, with the exception of a sister whose husband worked for the United Nations and the World Bank for a few years before they returned to Holland. Kessler has 27 cousins, but only one lives in the United States (and is married to a Russian native).

Salvador Rizzo’s father is from Mexico, descended from European immigrants. He worked in Mexico even after marrying Rizzo’s American mother and remained a Mexican citizen, visiting his wife and children on weekends on the U.S. side of the border. Three of his father’s sisters and some cousins did immigrate and live in South Texas with their families. His mother’s side of the family is descended from Texas pioneers, settlers who were in the state before 1886. They came from Spain sometime between 1762 and 1809 and settled in Texas before it became a U.S. state in 1845.

By Glenn Kessler for THE WASHINGTON POST
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