Most immigrants come to the United States in search of a better life for their family, but sometimes, it comes with an unintended consequence: separation. Many consider the U.S. immigration system to be broken, as complex laws and judicial processes break families apart, according to an April 2013 report by the Urban Institute.
The report explains that a myriad of elements make it difficult for families to stick together. First, there are a limited number of visas allocated to family members of legal permanent residents. These relatives receive the second highest preference for visas, behind non-immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and that number is capped at 114,200 per year.
Long waiting lines for visas have also been a problem. As recently as February 2013, children and spouses of Mexican or Filipino legal permanent residents face an average waiting period of 2.3 years.
As a result, immigrant children are often forced to deal with a parent missing in their household. Furthermore, some must live without either of their parents at home. About 72 percent of foreign-born children are the biological children of the adult they live with compared to 83 percent of native children.
The broken family dynamic could have negative ramifications on economic status and educational and developmental outcomes for the children, the report states.
The Urban Institute is a think tank that educates the public through social policy research, analysis of contemporary social problems, and evaluation of social programs.