Limiting immigration flows has proved to be economically unsound and harmful to American families. Lengthy waits waste precious government resources and can discourage potential applicants from using legal channels to join their families in the United States.
Yet our family-based immigration system has not been updated in 20 years. Nearly 6 million people are stuck in perpetual waiting, which is both unproductive and inexcusable. Five-year separations are quite common; so are 20-year estrangements from siblings and elderly parents.
Waits are so long that families receiving visas often find that their children have to reapply as adults and go to the back of the line. These administrative backlogs disproportionately affect Asians, Latinos and women.