Immigration Multipliers: Trends in Chain Migration

New immigrants brought an average of 3.45 relatives

By CIS on September 27, 2017

Washington, D.C. (September 27, 2017) – A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies examines the scale of chain migration across different groups of immigrants and the impact on the size of the immigrant population arising from a possible amnesty of the beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA). Chain migration – the sponsoring of relatives – is a major source of U.S. immigration, allowing in parents, spouses and their children, and adult sons and daughters.
Studies have found that recent new immigrants brought an average of 3.45 additional relatives to the United States, which is more than 30 percent higher than the chain migration rate of the early 1980s. The top four sending countries for immigrants overall had chain migration multipliers well above the average. Each new immigrant from Mexico eventually sponsored 6.38 relatives; China, 6.24; India, 5.11; Philippines, 5.07.
Jessica Vaughan, the Center's director of policy studies, said "Lawmakers must understand that without adjustments to chain migration categories, an amnesty for DACA beneficiaries virtually guarantees perhaps twice as many additional relatives will receive green cards within 20 years in addition to the original amnesty beneficiaries. The largest number of these would be the parents of the DACA recipients. Congress should mitigate this impact by eliminating and/or scaling back the three main categories of chain migration - parents, adult sons and daughters, and siblings of naturalized immigrants, and by curbing new immigration, such as the visa lottery."
View the entire report at:
Additional findings: 

  • Over the last 35 years, chain migration has exceeded new immigration. Out of 33 million immigrants admitted to the United States from 1981 to 2016, about 20 million were chain migration immigrants (61 percent).
  • Approximately 1,125,000 legal immigrants were approved for admission in 2016, which is about 7 percent higher than 2015, and one of the highest numbers in the last decade.
  • The largest categories of chain migration are spouses and parents of naturalized U.S. citizens, because admissions in these categories are unlimited by law.
  • Chain migration is contributing to the aging of the immigration stream. In the early 1980s, only about 17 percent of family migrants were age 50 or over. In recent years, about 21 percent of family migrants were age 50 or older — a rate that is 24 percent higher. This trend has implications for the fiscal consequences of immigration.