Multiplying Diversity: Family Unification Migration and the Regional Origins of Late-Age Immigrants, 1981-2009

Stacie Carr, Princeton University
Marta Tienda, Princeton University

We analyze administrative data about new legal permanent residents for the period 1981-2009 to investigate the mechanisms driving two unintended consequences of the 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality act: (1) the surge in Asian immigration and (2) the gradual increase in late-age migration. Using an indicator of family unification migration that allows for variation in the size of new LPR cohorts by regional origins, age and visa categories, we show that between 1981 and 1996, every 100 nonfamily immigrants from Asia directly or indirectly sponsored between 220 and 255 relatives, of whom between 46 and 51 were ages 50 and above; from 1996 through 2000, Asian family unification migration spiked such that each 100 initiating immigrants sponsored nearly 400 relatives, with one-in-four ages 50+. Regional comparisons and analyses of the top four sending countries show direct links between specific provisions of the 1965 amendments and the age composition of family unification migration.

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Presented in Session 64: International Migration and U.S. Immigration Policy