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

December 2015
International Migration Review

We use administrative data about new legal permanent residents to show how family unification chain migration changed both the age and regional origin of US immigrants. Between 1981 and 1995, every 100 initiating immigrants from Asia sponsored between 220 and 255 relatives, but from 1996 through 2000, each 100 initiating immigrants from Asia sponsored nearly 400 relatives, with one-in-four ages 50 and above. The family migration multiplier for Latin Americans was boosted by the legalization program: from 1996 to 2000, each of the 100 initiating migrants from Latin America sponsored between 420 and 531 family members, of which 18–21 percent were ages 50 and over.