Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 7-1-2016

Abstract

At first glance, the U.S. immigration system seems very family-friendly. The majority of lawful immigration occurs through family petitions, reflecting family reunification as one of the core principles of immigration policy. However, a closer look at the immigration system calls into question the idea that immigration law is family-friendly. Immigration law's definition of who fits within family relationships and thus deserves sponsorship to join a relative in the U.S. does not include relationships that, in many other parts of the world, are valued (such as grandparents, cousins, and, in some cases, siblings). More importantly, the immigration system's heavy-handed enforcement mechanisms only serve to separate well-functioning families by detaining and deporting thousands of people each year.

This article seeks to answer the question of whether immigration law is family-friendly by pointing to certain policies that seem family-friendly but that, once examined further, reveal that they serve to keep families apart. The same can be said for the immigration policies of the Obama administration, which has made strides towards implementing more family-friendly immigration laws, but also has maintained a system that tears families apart.

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