US immigration reform: Siblings have Skype, what need for a visa?

internet map

We live in an increasingly networked world

Immigration reform is on the minds of many right now, and not just in the US, where the first real overhaul in 30 years was proposed last week by the so-called ‘Gang of Eight’. The proposed reform is being parsed all around the world, particularly in countries like India where H1B visas matter hugely.

Obviously, it can never be all-good for everyone but the bi-partisan group of senators (five of whom are Republican) that wrote the proposal has thrown together a host of rather good suggestions. Many  make eminently good sense and stand a fair chance of being supported by anyone half-way reasonable. Some of these include a start-up visa for those with cash or competence (or both) to invest in the US. The UK and Chile already have thriving start-up visa schemes and Canada followed suit just last month.

Another rather sensible, but possibly fraught, suggestion is the elimination of 70,000 green cards reserved for brothers, sisters and adult married children of US residents. Some might call it hard-hearted but surely merit-based green cards are more appropriate than extended family reunification schemes in our increasingly networked world? After all, we no longer live in the age that saw Hans tearfully leaving Lindau for the New World, never to be heard of again, until he sent for Brother Johann and Sister Heidi to join him in Wisconsin?  Today, even remote Bangladeshi villages can be reached by grameen mobile.

Asian Law Caucus

The wait time for a US citizen to reunite with a sibling in Mexico is 163 years according to the Asian Law Caucus

In any case, the US immigrant visa backlog is so great that according to the Asian Law Caucus’s rather interesting graphic (pictured), the average wait time for a US citizen to reunite with a sibling in Mexico is now 163 years.

What’s the point? Why not try Skype, Facebook, iMessage, Facetime or email instead?