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Real World Effects of Cutting Family-Based Immigration


President Donald Trump and some conservative Republicans in Congress want to severely limit the number of family-based immigrant visas granted each year.

Legislation recently introduced by Senators Purdue and Cotton would cut the number of family-based visa petitions in half.

A recent piece in the New York Times highlighted how these proposed changes would affect the Guyanese-American community in New York City.

Over 280,000 foreign-born Guyanese live in the United States (0.9 percent of the total population).  More than half of those people live in New York City, making it the fifth-largest immigrant group in the five New York boroughs, and the second largest in the borough of Queens.

According to the piece, the Guyanese people bring in more family members through the immigration process than any other immigrant group in the city.  Thirty-seven percent entered as immediate relatives, a visa category with no numerical cap.

According to Joseph Salvo, the chief demographer for the City, Guyanese “are heavily reliant on family preferences – and reliant on categories that, under this proposal, would disappear.  There’s no question that they would be affected in a dramatic fashion.”

Trump’s bill would narrow the definition of immediate relatives – removing parents from the list and lowering the age of eligibility for children from 21 to 18. It would also eliminate the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their brothers and sisters for a visa.

While it remains unclear whether this bill will ever become law, it is very troubling for immigrants in the Guyanese community and around the country.

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