Jareyah Bradley, Balestra Media

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2018
Jareyah Bradley, jareyah [at] balestramedia.com, (908) 242-4822
Camonghne Felix, camonghne.felix [at] berlinrosen.com, (646) 675-4009

New AP Guidance: Avoid Use of “Chain Migration” Language on Family Migration Following Grassroots Campaign

Petition Campaign, Led by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Color Of Change, Attracts 26,000 Signatures

As the conversation around family migration is increasingly distorted by President Trump and immigration hard-liners in Congress, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Color Of Change (COC) partnered on a campaign to address the use and proliferation of the term “chain migration,” a harmful term mischaracterizing family-based immigration. The Associated Press recently released their 2018 stylebook that includes the following guidance: “‘Chain migration’: a term applied by immigration hardliners to what the U.S. government calls family-based immigration, a longstanding program granting preference to people with relatives who already have legal residency or U.S. citizenship. Avoid the term except when used in a quotation, and explain it.”

The petition, written by Sameera Hafiz, Senior Policy Strategist at the ILRC, and amplified by Color Of Change and Church World Service, highlighted the harmful rhetoric surrounding the term “chain migration” and successfully collected nearly 26,000 signatures. It reads, in part: “We do not need a new term to describe the bonds that we all know. Family migration and family sponsorships shouldn't be turned into a derogatory buzzword to fuel hate and fear because an anti-immigrant president or policymakers want to disguise that they are anti-family too.” Media Matters documented that Fox News used the term “chain migration” 295 times in 2017, compared to zero times in 2016 and three times in 2015. Breitbart applied the tag “chain migration” to over 70 articles in 2017, compared to one article in 2016 and two articles in 2015.

View the full petition here: https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/this-is-not-normal-chain-migration-is-ugly-rhetoric

“We are heartened that the Associated Press listened to the concerns of over 26,000 people and acknowledged that this rhetoric is hurtful to many who call this country home and carries an anti-immigrant bias with the potential to disguise what is really at stake when it comes to family immigration,” said Sameera Hafiz, senior policy strategist at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Trump and immigration hard-liners are trying to popularize this dehumanizing term to confuse voters into supporting their extreme opposition to this country’s long-standing family-based immigration system. We encourage all writers to stop using “chain migration” in their news reporting, and for more newsrooms to also issue clear guidance and contain the harmful consequences of the anti-immigrant talking points.”

On March 13, 2018, the petition and a letter from Color Of Change’s Senior Campaign Director, Brandi Collins-Dexter, were sent to Gary Pruitt, President of The Associated Press. In a meeting with Color Of Change, the Associated Press confirmed their commitment to discontinue use of the term.

“As the largest online racial justice organization, we were able to activate more than 20,000 people to take action within a short time frame because the immigration issues at the heart of ILRC’s petition strike close to home. It’s important to remember that 69% of Black immigrant families come to the United States through family-based sponsorship and are more vulnerable than other communities to be deported because of criminal system entanglement,” said Brandi Collins-Dexter, Color Of Changes Senior Campaign Director of Media, Democracy, and Economic Justice. “We thank our members for holding media accountable for using harmful terms like chain migration and, in so doing, make visible the Black immigrant experience which is often erased in national immigration discourse. News agencies like Associated Press set the standards for how everyday people speak, write, and think; and we are thankful that the outlet took this stance, under the leadership of John Daniszewski. In a time of ever-increasing antagonism toward immigrants, it is more important than ever that the media set the baseline expectation that immigrant communities are spoken about with dignity—not white nationalist bullet-points. ”

“I welcome the Associated Press’ guidance calling on its writers to use more accurate and humane language describing our family-based immigration system because the words we use to describe one another other matter. Family-based immigration is a cornerstone of our nation’s prosperity and ingenuity,” said the Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service, who supported the petition. “In the past year, we have seen an intentional effort among anti-immigrant radicals to mislead and manipulate the public by popularizing the derogatory and racist term ‘chain-migration’ to describe family-based visas. From a faith perspective, family unity is a sacred value. When we read about immigrants, we are presented with facts and figures, policies, and proposals. We must always remember that at the center of the debate are human beings with families and bonds that tie them to their loved ones, but never chains.”


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities. www.ilrc.org