Background Information for Writing Letters to CongressPDF Version
KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER: PASS COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
Family is the bedrock of U.S. society and is critical in the development of healthy individuals and strong communities. Separating families for long periods of time can create severe emotional and financial hardship. But the current family-based immigration system in the United States was created in 1965 and it has not been updated. This outdated immigration system forces legal immigrants to wait years, even decades, to reunite with their close family members in the United States. The broken immigration system is tearing families apart.
Immigrants who arrive with family-based visas, particularly women, play a dynamic role in the U.S. economy as entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized businesses, which are an important driving force behind urban revitalization and job growth in every major city. What’s more, the average immigrant sponsors only one or two dependents in a lifetime, and they are required by law to be able to support any family members they bring over. When family members are able to be together, they support one another in integrating and learning the language, systems, and processes of a new country.
At FCNL, we also regularly hear about families that have been forced apart because of the broken immigration system. The Pew Research Center reports that 4 million U.S. citizen children in the United States have at least one undocumented parent; these children face the tremendous risk of being forced into foster care if their parent is detained or deported. We maintain that it is morally wrong to separate parents from their children, and we urge Congress to create safeguards to protect family unity.
Family unity should be a top priority within comprehensive immigration reform. By allowing family members to reunite in an orderly and timely way, Congress can alleviate pressure on U.S. borders, enable immigrants to use legal channels of immigration, and help foster the development of strong individuals and vibrant communities.