For months on end, Congress and the President have been involved in a back-and-forth on a pathway to citizenship for the DACA recipients--younger illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and granted protections under President Obama. But any deal that legalizes those DACA recipients would have far-reaching repercussions for the nation's immigration system, thanks to current U.S. policy. "Right now, we have about a half a million people a year who are admitted to the U.S. because they were sponsored by a relative---we call this chain migration," says Jessica Vaughan with theCenter for Immigration Studies. "Immigration today is really kind of like a buy-one-get-two-free program because of this multiplier effect."
Based on chain migration, all of those new American citizens will have a chance to sponsor one or more relatives, meaning the actual number of new citizens would be far more than just the so-called "dreamers." "We admit immigrants and then they are allowed to sponsor family members, some of them in unlimited numbers," says Vaughan. "So if we were to enact an amnesty for people who have DACA now, we can expect that amnesty would bring in twice the number of people who originally had DACA." Or as a recent Breitbart analysis put it, a DACA amnesty could ultimately result in a new foreign population twice the size of Los Angeles.
For his part, President Trump has insisted that any deal on DACA also includes an end to chain migration. Vaughan believes there are other changes necessary, as well. "To make it serve our national interests, we need to focus our legal immigration system more on skills-based immigration rather than family chain migration," she says.