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President Trump’s in-laws benefited from chain migration

Roundup
tags: citizenship, immigration, Trump, Melania Trump, chain migration, Viktor Knavs, Amalija Knavs



Walter D. Kamphoefner has worked extensively with German immigrant letters and teaches American immigration history from the colonial era to the present at Texas A&M University.

President Trump has long railed against “chain migration” and continues to threaten to end family-preference immigration visas, despite the fact that his in-laws Viktor and Amalija Knavs were granted U.S. citizenship through the first lady’s sponsorship.

But Trump did not originate attacks on chain migration. The anti-immigration lobby with the mendacious acronym FAIR (Federation of American Immigration Reform) has been denouncing chain migration on its website for more than a decade, arguing that current policy has made U.S. immigration less meritocratic, because “most migrants receive a green card simply because they are the relative of an earlier migrant, not because of what they can contribute to American society.” 

Whether through ignorance or intent, FAIR unfairly stigmatizes what has been a normal feature of migration to the United States and around the world for centuries. Chain migration was the predominant form of immigration long before there were visa policies favoring it, and it played a vital role in easing culture shock and promoting acculturation across the centuries.

The first two immigrants to Missouri from my ancestral home in Germany arrived in 1832, attracted by a guidebook that touted the virtues of the young state. It took just one year for the first chain migrants to follow. Within two decades, this settlement had grown to about 150 families of the same origins. As a result of this chain migration, they built two villages six miles apart named after towns just 20 miles apart in Germany.

Although a scholar of an earlier generation characterized immigrants as “The Uprooted,” testimony from their correspondence paints a much different picture. One immigrant who arrived in Missouri in 1860 wrote home: “The visiting lasted the whole night through. . . . It was as if the Prodigal Son had returned to his father, that’s how we celebrated.” Such reunions were a common refrain in letters immigrants wrote back to the “Old Country” announcing their safe arrival. ...


Read entire article at The Washington Post

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