Congress for close to 90 years now has voted to numerically limit some kinds of immigration. The point is that the U.S. does not want to be overcrowded the way Egypt is.
The open borders people and greedy employers have long resisted numerical limits, and have often figured clever ways to avoid them, or to define away the limits that they cannot change. Witness the games played with H-1B ceilings in recent years.
Unfortunately, an arm of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Office of the Ombudsman, has missed the point, too.
It recently released a statement in which it openly regretted "unused family-based visas":
During FY 2009 and FY 2010, usage of family-based visas has been exceptionally low, especially among spouses and children of green card holders . . . In FY 20009 approximately 10,000 family-based visas were unused . . .
The document continues:
Despite the fact that more family members are becoming eligible, demand for family-based visas remains weak. While efforts are underway to facilitate maximum utilization, a significant number of family-based visas may again go unused in FY 2010.
Instead of leaving things alone, the Ombudsman reported that the Office has "worked alongside USCIS and the Department of State to monitor family-based visa usage in FY 2010. To enable more family-based visa applicants to become eligible for final processing, the Visa Bulletin cut-off dates have been accelerating significantly."
In short, the Ombudsman's Office is busily trying to manipulate a very complex system to make sure that every conceivable family visa is issued to some potential immigrant, whether there is much demand for them or not. Unused family visas "fall down", in the jargon of the immigration business, to people in the employment-based categories, so "unused" is something of a misnomer.
The byproduct of this all this activity is to change the mix of incoming immigrants in a manner that will surely lower the average per capita income of the arriving immigrant cohorts, because studies show that people on employment visas earn more money than people on family visas, a factor not discussed in the Ombudsman's message.
While I have no problem with the government facilitating immigration along the lines set by Congress, it should not actively promote immigration, particularly of low-income people, which is exactly what this unit of USCIS is doing.