Implementation for Public Policy

Introduction

            Immigration to the US is a sophisticated demographic phenomenon, which has been a major cause of cultural change and population growth (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). The social, political and economic aspects of immigration have resulted in controversy concerning economic benefits, ethnicity, settlement patterns, jobs for non-immigrants, effect on upward social mobility, voting behavior and crime rates. In 2006, the US received more legal immigrants as its permanent residents than any other nation in the world. Over one million individuals have also been naturalized as US citizens  since 2008. The top nations of origin of immigrants to the US are India, Mexico, China and Philippines. Approximately 14 million immigrants crossed borders to the US from 2000 to 2010 (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012). However, some unlawful immigrants in the US hoping to become US citizens are about to have their dreams crushed since the US government is to adopt a bipartisan bill in the near future.. This bill could soon illegalize immigrants who recently arrived in the US from receiving lawful status. According to US Commission on Immigration Reform (1997), the legislation that is anticipated to be introduced in the senate would ban all undocumented immigrants who arrived after December 31, 2011from receiving legal status. In order to regulate the number of immigrants entering the US, the government has introduced various immigration policies. The family reunification policy is one of the most popular policies in the US (Steigner, 2007). In this regard, this paper discusses the above policy.

Purpose of Family Reunification Policy

            The major purpose of this policy is to provide an avenue through which individuals become eligible for admission and obtain status of legal permanent US residents. According to Immigration and Naturalization Service (2002), family reunification in the US is a key factor for immigration to the United States. This policy is governed by the terms of the Immigration and Nationality. Historically, the emphasis on family reunification in American Statutes began by allotting 74 per cent of all new immigrants allowed into the US to family reunification visas (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012). The immigrants included unmarried adult children of US citizen, unmarried children of permanent resident aliens and spouses, married children of US citizens, and brothers and sisters aged over 21. Permanent residents and citizens of the US might sponsor relatives for immigration to the US in various ways (Steigner, 2007). The family reunification policy is meant to allow citizens of any age to sponsor their heterosexual spouses and children. However, only citizens who have reached the age of 21 might sponsor parents and siblings. The policy also permits permanent residents to sponsor only unmarried children and spouses (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997).

In all the scenarios, the sponsor must show the ability to support his/her relatives financially at 125 per cent of the level of poverty, and present a proof of their relationship status. According to Immigration and Naturalization Service (2002), immediate relatives of US citizens, who includes parents, spouses, and unmarried children aged less than 21 are automatically qualified to immigrate upon the authorization of their application. Another purpose of the policy is to ensure that the rightful or eligible people, who intend to immigrate through a family member, are given a chance to become US residents (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012). The policy clearly specifies these people as siblings, parents and children. All other people who require a family member support must wait for a place in the preference system. Permanent US residents cannot sponsor uncles, aunts, nieces, cousins and grandchildren. However, in some cases such relations might enjoy derivative status (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997).

Stakeholders Who Benefit from Family Reunification Policy

            The stakeholders benefiting from this policy can be divided into two categories (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). The first category comprises of individuals who are granted visas without regard to the numerical quotas. These individuals are outside the preference category framework used in awarding visas. Individuals belonging to this particular category might obtain their visas within a year, if there are administrative delays (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997). The second category of individuals benefiting from the adoption of this policy is subjected to control of the preference system. This second category is further divided into four classes that include first preference, second preference, third preference and fourth preference.

The first preference comprises of unmarried adult children of US citizens (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). About 23400 unmarried children of US citizens and other individuals not required for fourth preference benefit from the adoption of this policy. The second preference comprises of unmarried children and spouses of legal permanent residents. According to US Commission on Immigration Reform (1997), 114200 spouses and children of lawful residents benefit from the adoption of family reunification policy. In addition, any number of individuals by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226000 also benefit from this policy under the second preference (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). The third preference comprises of married daughters and sons of US citizens. About 23400 married sons and daughters of United States citizens, and any other individuals not falling under the first and second preference benefit from the adoption of family reunification immigration policy. The fourth preference includes siblings of US citizens. According to US Commission on Immigration Reform (1997), 65000 and other individuals not included in the first three preferences benefit are awarded visas to become legal and permanent citizen of the US.

Family Reunification Policy

            According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (2002), family reunification has been a cornerstone of American law. Many early migrants to the US, especially those fleeing political or religious persecution in their homeland, migrated to the US as families. Before 1965, the timeliness of family reunification in the United States largely relied on how long it took the first family member to find job and shelter. The 1965 Immigration Act eradicated the State origin quota system, which had helped immigrants from Europe. This 1965 Immigration Act also excluded those other parts of the world. However, the system was substituted by the “family preference” quota framework, which systemized the relatives’ sponsorship by legal immigrants. From 1965, approximately fifty to seventy percent of immigrant visas are given to legal permanent residents and family members of US Citizens annually. Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth (2012) mentioned that the yearly ceilings limit the number of visas that can be allotted, both by preference and country of origin.

Presently, family immigration accounts for most of the immigration visas and petitions filed yearly (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). Therefore, orderliness, timeliness and fairness of the family immigration significantly contribute to failure of the US immigration policy. Minor children and spouses of citizens of US, as well as the parents of adult US citizens, are awarded visas without concern to numerical quotas. This implies that they are out of preference framework.  These particular applicants might be allowed to immigrate within a year of the filing of the immigrant petition by their US citizen parent, adult child or spouse (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997). This can only be possible if everything goes smoothly during the processing and there are no administrative delays. On the contrary, those applicants, who fall under the authority of the preference category framework, experience much longer wait. The period of waiting can differ based on the country of origin and category of relationship (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012).

The policy stipulates two significant processes that include application and approval processes (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). In relation to the application process, legal permanent or US citizen residents initiate the sponsorship of their legit member of family by filing an immigrant visa petition on their behalf. They file the petitions by mail with the suitable Service Center of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The USCIS can theoretically approve the visa petition within few months if all the necessary documents and fees are correctly filed with the application (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997). Nevertheless, long delays are usual due to the massive backlogs, administrative messes, and inadequate staffing. The Citizenship and Immigration Service Ombudsman reported that over one million immigration petitions based on family are pending with the USCIS. This leaves many customers frustrated. According to Steigner (2007), most of these petitions have been pending for several years and might not be adjudicated for several forthcoming years. Unfortunately, the policy does not provide sufficient means to resolve the issue of delays.

Approval process is only the first step, however, long it might take. The approval notice is usually issued once the petition has been processed fully (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). The date of issuing of the notice becomes the prospective priority of the immigrant. Since the number of applicants in every category yearly far supersedes the available quotas, an increasing backlog has grown to unbelievable proportions in every category. By 1997, which is the last year for which dependable figures were found, backlogs were approximately 3.5 million cases of approved family-based petitions (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012).

According to Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth (2012), the State Department posts an updated Visa Bulletin that shows the priority date for every applicant category for which visa numbers are available. By checking the Bulletin for a single month, lawful permanent residents may get the impression that it is likely to take 5 years before their minor children or spouses could be issued with visas to lawfully join them in the US (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997). Nevertheless, contrasting some of the visa availability chart dates reveals more discouraging, though accurate, estimate of length of the waiting time. The waiting time for Mexicans is even longer.

Many legal permanent residents send money constantly to family members at home, besides paying their living costs in the United States. In addition, maintaining family ties from a distance seems to be very expensive (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). Relatively high costs are related to telephoning home. According to Immigration and Naturalization Service (2002), family emergencies might also require costly flights to the homeland and, perhaps, even lead to the loss of employment. Infant children at the time the permanent resident emigrated might become teenagers before the visas become available or expire. According to the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future, these children then enter another family category referred to as adult children of legal permanent residents, which is backlogged (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012). Besides being inhuman, such waits imply that a large percentage of productive working years of these individuals, which make immigration a good investment, would have past (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002).

Therefore, the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future is one of the administrative bodies tasked with implementing this policy (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997). According to the Independent Task Force and America’s Future, various shortcomings of the present family reunification system have resulted in the loss of integrity in legal immigration processes. These drawbacks contribute to illegal migration when families choose unlawful immigration instead of waiting unreasonable periods for legal permission. Statistics on immigration have supported the observation of the task force (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012). A considerable portion of the approximated 11 million illegal immigrants to the US is primarily children and spouses of legal permanent residents who have been approved for family-based visas, but are caught in the long preference category.

Analysis of the Family Reunification Policy Using the Strategic Triangle

            According to US Commission on Immigration Reform (1997), the Strategic triangle analyzes a public policy on three different accounts that include its political and legal sustainability; its substantive value in preserving the integrity of immigration process and its administrative and operational feasibility. Concerning the substantive value of family reunification policy in preserving the integrity of the immigration process, it is not deniable that the policy is a significant step in ensuring the integrity of immigration. Immigration and Naturalization Service (2002) pointed out that fraud or scandal is a primary issue affecting the integrity of immigration process. These frauds warrant the adoption of policies that require immigrants and their sponsors to demonstrate the grounds on which they are filing immigration petitions. It is justified to authenticate the grounds of people immigrating to the US. In order to comprehend the significance of family reunification policy, an individual must comprehend how fraudulent immigration system harms the nation and its economy (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012). The family reunification policy guarantees fairness of the immigration process, and prevents unjust treatment to the immigration system. Regardless of the fact, that family reunification policy limits the immigration of other people, integrity and fairness of the process are primary (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012).

Concerning political and legal sustainability of family reunification policy, restrictive nature of this policy makes them sustainable in terms of legal and political factors. It is apparent that exceptions are comprehensive. According to Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth (2012), the exceptions consider all individuals who are likely to be prevented from immigrating to the US. There are few political and legal issues making provision that family reunification policy is implemented. Only the elderly family members of a permanent US resident might be disadvantaged. (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002).

Concerning operational and administrative feasibility, it is apparent that the family reunification policy can be adopted efficiently and effectively (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2002). The policy offers various forms of issuing visas that increases the likelihood of any immigrant having at least one of them. However, there are various operational challenges associated with the policy because the permanent US resident sponsoring the immigrant should demonstrate that he or she has the capacity to sustain the immigrant financially. In addition, there are database verification procedures, such as comparing the photos. It is evident that the policy does not require formation of a new agency or body (US Commission on Immigration Reform, 1997). The policy requires restricting of the immigration procedures and process using the present agencies. Based on this, there are few operational and administrative challenges when adopting the policy. In order to implement the policy effectively, the Department of Immigration must overcome certain administrative and operational challenges (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, & Barth, 2012).

Conclusion

            The social, political and economic aspects of immigration have resulted in controversy concerning economic benefits, ethnicity, settlement patterns and jobs for non-immigrants as well as  affected upward social mobility, voting behavior and crime rates. The major purpose of this policy is to provide an avenue through which individuals become eligible for admission and legal permanent residents in the United States. Family immigration accounts for most of the immigration visas and petitions filed yearly. Therefore, orderliness, timeliness, and fairness of the family immigration have a significant effect on failure of the US immigration policy. The sponsor must show the ability to support their relatives financially at 125 per cent of the level of poverty and present a proof of their relationship status. The policy stipulates two significant processes that include application and approval processes. The Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future is one of the administrative bodies tasked with implementing this policy. The first category comprises of individuals who are granted visas without regard to the numerical quotas. These individuals are outside the preference category framework used in awarding visas. The second category of individuals benefiting from the adoption of this policy is subjected to the control of the preference system. This second category is further divided into four classes that include first preference, second preference, third preference and fourth preference. Concerning the substantive value of family reunification policy in preserving integrity of the immigration process; therefore it could not be denied that the policy is a significant step in ensuring the integrity of immigration. Concerning operational and administrative feasibility, it is apparent that the family reunification policy can be efficiently adopted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Immigration and Naturalization Service. (2002). Triennial comprehensive report on immigration. Washington DC.

Pecora, P., Whittaker, J., Maluccio, A., & Barth, R. (2012). The child welfare challenge: Policy, practice, and research. New York: Aldine Transaction.

Steigner, L. (2007). Family preservation, reunification, and out-of-home care: Informing child welfare policy. New York: ProQuest.

US Commission on Immigration Reform. (1997). Becoming an american: Immigration and immigrant policy. Washington DC.

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