Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York and rumored presidential hopeful, is pushing to reframe the debate on immigration to label anyone opposed to chain migration is a racist.
Gillibrand visited “The View” on Monday to allege the phrase change migration is a “racial slur,” a move seemingly aimed at shutting down conversation about the policy.
“Let’s be very clear, when someone uses the phrase chain migration … it is intentional in trying to demonize families. Literally trying to demonize families and make it a racial slur,” Gillibrand said. “It’s not right.
“And so we have to change the debate,” she insisted. “These are people, these are families, and as elected leaders the way I look at it I’m going to fight for your child and these children as much as I’m going to fight for my own. That is our job as elected leaders, to fight for these kids.”
Chain migration, one of several areas of the current immigration system the Trump administration wants to reform, is a term that’s been used for a long time, and it doesn’t have anything to do with race.
One of the earliest references to chain migration came from John S. MacDonald and Leatrice D. MacDonald, in a scholarly journal 1964 article titled “Chain Migration Ethnic Neighborhood Formation and Social Networks.”
“Chain migration can be defined as that movement in which prospective migrants learn of opportunities, are provided with transportation, and have initial accommodation and employment arranged by means of primary social relationships with previous migrants,” they wrote.
In other words, chain migration involves individuals moving to the country with the help of other family members, regardless of their race.
Gillibrand’s comments come just days after Trump proposed a plan last week that aims to overhaul the country’s immigration system by developing a path to citizenship for those brought to the country as youth, commonly known as Dreamers, building a large wall on the southern border, “prompt removal of illegal border crossers,” and changes to chain migration, KIRO reports.
The proposal would limited sponsorship for chain migration to the nuclear family, while ending the practice for extended family members. It would also allow for those currently in the application process to proceed.
Gillibrand’s comments, apparently, are part of a broader strategy by Democrats to paint anyone who uses the phrase chain migration as a racist.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said Trump’s proposed immigration changes aim to “Make America white again,” a play on the president’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
Others including U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut are taking to Twitter and other social media to sway the public.
Reminder: “chain migration” is a made up term by the hardline anti-immigration crowd. Its purpose is to dehumanize immigrants. If you’re using that word, you’re declaring a side.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 27, 2018
“Reminder: ‘chain migration’ is a made up term by the hardline anti-immigrant crowd,” Murphy tweeted Saturday. “Its purpose is to dehumanize immigrants. If you’re using that word, you’re declaring a side.”
Murphy seemingly did not even bother to Google “chain migration” before making the proclamation.
The Washington Examiner points to a 1982 article in The New York Times about families moving from Michigan to the Southwest.
“’Chain migration’ is what demographers have called the process; it helped settle the country and now it is helping the country rearrange its demographic center of gravity, pushing it south and west,” according to the NYT.
The Times also published an article about Arab immigrants in 1978 that referenced chain migration.
“They were followed by Yemenites, Iraqis. Syrians and others, each following in the footsteps of a brother, an uncle or a father who had gone ahead, setting up what anthropologists call ‘chain migration,’” the Times reported at the time.
There’s also a 2008 article in the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education by Patricia Perez, subtitled “A Social Capital and Chain Migration Analysis,” the Examiner reports.