In some ways, migration control and flood control have things in common.
Rain in moderation is always a good thing; levels of migration, similarly, should be in moderation. Too much of either, particularly too much too rapidly, can lead to disaster.
Usually we talk about migration in numerical terms, such as the annual arrival of one million-plus aliens, but there is another dimension, the speed of migration, that plays a hidden role.
Let’s suppose there are two arriving immigrants, both adult males: Al is admitted as a worker or refugee and Joe can come here because he married a U.S. citizen. Each of them immediately adds one more person to our crowded population, so they would seem to have an equal impact on the chain migration business.
This is, however, not the case. After five years, Al the worker can petition for naturalization, which will allow him to further petition for other aliens to come here; Joe the husband, however, can seek citizen status after three years because he is a spouse and thus can contribute to the chain migration process much more quickly than Al.
In the example, above, the newly arrived spouse can engage in chain migration more quickly than the worker because of well-established law. But can the speed of chain migration be impacted, negatively or positively, by regulation?
The answer is yes, and the Biden administration has unfortunately noticed. Earlier this month it took two separate steps to speed up international migration, neither of which has been discussed in these terms. They are all too good at such maneuvers and in describing such moves in bland and misleading words.
What did they do?
They 1) are moving to make it possible for aliens seeking to bring in relatives (i.e., engage in chain migration) to do so with a credit card instead of saved cash; and 2) they are speeding the process by which Joe and other aliens can become full-fledged green card holders, and later, citizens. In the latter case, Joe will not have an automatic interview to see if he can convert from the temporary legal status after the passage of two years; in DHS speak, he will not see a government agent (under most conditions) to remove the temporary conditions on his green card.
Given that literally billions of people would move to the U.S. if they could, we have erected a legal structure (DHS and the courts) and have hired scores of thousands of people to handle the process by which a limited number of aliens can get into the nation. The Biden administration is now speeding up the process, which will simply lead to more chain migration.
Obstacles play a positive role in the migration process, though not everyone will agree with this approach. The more obstacles, the more likely that unsuitable aliens will be detected and not admitted. One of these hurdles is the fee structure: If an alien does not have cash in hand to file a petition for the admission of a family member who is now abroad, he postpones the filing and thus the arrival of the chain migrant.
The Biden administration is making it possible for cash-less aliens to borrow money to bring in their (possibly cashless) relatives right away.
The DHS document on the credit card decision says: “There is no additional cost to file by credit card.” Does this mean, as I suspect it does, that the government will pay the credit card fee? Does, that, in turn, reduce the total amount of fees collected by DHS? Does that mean that cash-paying petitioners are paying a bit more than those using credit cards? Don’t expect the government to tell you things like that.
In the case of people like Joe the husband, the waiving of the normal mandatory interview to remove the conditions will speed up the arrival of his permanent green card (and his ability to start more chain migration). This description, of course, does not make it into government press releases that speak of “Data-Driven Strategic Approach for CPR Interviews”, with CPR standing for "conditional permanent resident".
I sense that the new rules for Joe and other migrant spouses will aid a particularly unattractive kind of migrant: those who marry citizens not for love but for the green card that the marriage can bring. As we have pointed out in the past, one of the barriers to such marital fraudsters is the automatic interview after two years of marriage; now this hurdle has been removed by the feds. (Most alien/citizen marriages are, of course, no better or worse than citizen/citizen marriages, but firm steps should be taken to prevent abuse in this field.)
To return to our opening metaphor, one of the ways to control floods is to build a series of small and inexpensive dams in the hills surrounding the flood plain. Each of the little dams, with say a six-inch pipe about halfway down the dam, will not permanently keep water out of the valley, but each will slow the flow to a rate that will prevent (or mitigate) flooding.
The Biden administration is busily blowing up such helpful little dams in the migration business.