Now that Republican leaders are finally addressing chain migration, Democrats and the media have decided that the very name “chain migration” is taboo.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN, “Look what they're doing with family unification, making up a fake name, chain. Chain, they like the word 'chain.' That sends tremors through people."
Both Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have claimed the term is racist against Hispanics and African-Americans. However, chain migration brings people to America from all over the world – it’s not confined to one race or even one continent. Democrats sure do hate “chain migration,” but this wasn’t the case until Republicans started talking about ending it.
In fact, Durbin himself confidently name-dropped chain migration when speaking at a Senate Judiciary Hearing last October. At that same hearing, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, – herself a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated from Japan – said the words “chain migration” while discussing her own family’s immigration experience.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called chain migration by its name in 2007, as did Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in 1996. None of their fellow Democrats so much as raised an eyebrow. In fact, in 2013, every single Senate Democrat voted in favor of a bill to end the chain migration of siblings.
Fast-forward to the current immigration debate, and Democrats now insist that chain migration is a right – all while objecting to its very name. The New York Times called chain migration a “weaponized phrase.” Politico called it a “myth,” “straight from the playbook of some hate groups.” Salon, of course, falsely claimed that it originated with the Nazis.
The term “chain migration” first appeared in academic literature in 1964, and it reappeared fairly frequently through the late 1990s. “Chain migration” is not an American invention: scholars have studied chain migration in Australia, India, Kuwait, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, to name a few examples. It’s even used in biology to describe the way that certain neural cells move in groups.
For demographers, at least, chain migration carries no pejorative connotation – but the Left wants to stop any policy discussion about chain migration before it even gets started. If we don’t talk about chain migration, we’ll never mention how the average immigrant to the United States is later joined by 3.45 more people. We won’t acknowledge the fact that chain migration accounted for more than 2 million immigrants to this country from 2011-2015.
None of these facts are necessarily problems. None of them have anything to do with race, either. They’re just facts – and the Left is still spending cultural capital to make sure they never see the light of day.
“Chain migration” is the new “illegal immigrant” – the immigration vocabulary that Democrats want to stifle and replace with softer words like “family reunification” and “undocumented” and “Dreamers.”
The very people so horrified by the words “chain migration” are the ones who wholeheartedly embrace it as policy. Democrats are trying to kill “chain migration” the term, so they can save “chain migration” the practice.
Angela Morabito (@AngelaLMorabito) writes about politics, media, ethics, and culture. She holds both a bachelor's and master's degree from Georgetown University.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.