(NEWSWEEK) – Under President Donald Trump, the number of visas granted to extended family members of legal immigrants dropped to the lowest level in more than a decade—and he is calling on Congress to stop such “chain migration,” claiming it presents a national security threat.
The number of approvals for family-based visas in the first nine months of 2017 fell to 406,000 from 530,000 in the same period a year prior, a drop of nearly a quarter, according to a Reuters review of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. A similar amount of applications were submitted for both periods.
Trump recently criticized chain migration, blaming it for allowing one immigrant “to bring in dozens of increasingly distant relations” with “no real selection criteria.”
The president pointed to a Bangladeshi man who detonated a pipe bomb in a New York City transportation hub last month as an example of how the system can compromise national security.
Approvals of family-based visas, called I-130s, for people who were not immediate family members in the first nine months of 2017 dipped 70 percent to 32,500 from 108,000 during the same period the previous year, according to Reuters.
The fiscal year 2017 had the lowest number of extended family visa approvals since 2000.