Family unification has long been the foundation of the U.S. legal immigration system. This reflects our American values of keeping families united and strong. The HMA Law Firm therefore applauds the Senate’s efforts to decrease the backlogs in the family-based immigration system. Current backlogs keep U.S. citizen parents apart from their adult children for, on average, about seven years, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens apart for about 12 years. The bill proposes to eliminate, over 10 years, a backlog of 4.7 million immigrants who have been been waiting for their green cards based on their relationship to U.S. citizen relatives.

However, here at The HMA Law Firm, we are concerned with the bill’s proposal to eliminate the family-based visa category for siblings of U.S. citizens. The purpose of eliminating this category is to free up additional green card for other categories, including employment based green cards. The Senators proposing this legislation evidently think that the U.S. cannot increase employment-based immigration without decreasing family-based immigration. However, this is a wrong-headed notion, based on the faulty assumption that the U.S. can only absorb a fixed number of immigrants at a given time, even though, as history suggests, our nation’s demand for immigrants is constantly in flux. Further the bill’s writers seemed to have forgotten that family-based immigration supports the goals of employment-based immigration. Research shows that “close family relationships facilitate entrepreneurship because family members can support in caring for children and working in family-based businesses.” Getting rid of the sibling visa category will reduce the amount of family support that U.S. citizen entrepreneurs need to successfully run their businesses.

The Senators working on the Senate immigration bill, called the “gang-of-eight,” do not need to make this false choice between increasing employment-based immigration or supporting continued family-based immigration. Instead, they can increase skilled, employment-based immigration, while at the same time maintaining the same family-based sibling category that has been proven to spur on entrepreneurship in immigrant communities. We hope that as the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to make changes to its immigration bill, it will restore the sibling family based immigration category. It must do so to uphold our American values of fairness and inclusion. 

Carly Stadum-Liang, Esq.

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