What is 'chain migration' and how does it work?

ABC News' Amna Nawaz explains the history and rules of family reunification immigration.
3:00 | 02/14/18

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Transcript for What is 'chain migration' and how does it work?
There's really a few things that are up for debate. In this week's conversation. With the senate there there's a couple of things you hear about again and again right finding a resolution. For the nearly 800000 doctor recipients and coming to an agreement when it comes to border security there's two other thing here. And you heard senator Menendez try to refocus on those two specific issues. And he lets that these other two issues aside but those other two issues are so highly politicized. They are worth talking about one if the idea. A chain migration as term. That has come up recently highly politicized basically we've been calling it family reunification for decades and decades and decades in America entered the pillar. Of our immigration system dating all the way back to 1924 either we had a system of quotas and to 1965. Alas they immigration reform with the heart valor act family reunification keeping families together. Has always been at the heart of some of the things we do as part of immigration here in America what it questions we got Atlantic strike at rates and pull it up here. Cherilus asking you please explain house sponsorship works many here seem to think it means you can bring hordes of relatives. Over set we went to. He citizenship and immigration services website. Because that's where the rules are all laid out and yes if you are a US citizen you can and petition to have family members. Giving a preferential treatment for there v.s. To come to the US and then they would have to go to the same process of getting a green card of applying for citizenship ex senator ex that are at. Back can take years and years and years you heard senator Menendez they're seeing some people wait up to twenty years. To be able to join family members who are. To the government hasn't really helpful this year. If fury US it is and these are the types or relatives for whom you may petition. Your spouse your children if their unmarried and under the age of 21 sons and daughters. Were married and over. And or 21 or over your parents if your twenty Weiner over. Your siblings. And then you can also petition for a fiance for a specific kind of visa that the fiance these. And it looks like. Spouse and children of spouse listed there again if it again for specific. Kinds. These so. Like everything else there are rules regulating a lot of these. These issues and specific kinds of V says that you have to apply for. Hope that answers your question to some degree it's not in a limited number of people you can petition for an everyone has to go through the same process. Again and again. I get any care from a number different senators out on the floor I think we got together some of their tweet sent people and a previewing the argument that they were gonna be laying out. As they came to the well there we have some of the streets we can put them up now does he get a preview what you're about to see that. This is basically where they're breaking down along partisan lines right the Democrats want to find a solution to dock at activity ended the week we have to provide some kind of resolution of these nearly 800000 people. Some other Republicans are split at a C one to be able to find a path forward on on undock as well the council to make sure border securities written into whatever bill they come up with. And they want to try to address the diversity visa lottery that the president said he wants and it. Or this issue of him they reunification which they like to call chain migration now ice each senator and protection of retreat from earlier. He talked already down on the floor lets you lastly hat here. Senator text humorous thing they want a bipartisan bill that can pass the senate to protect the dreamers. That is their goal here that's the focus for Democrats they want an answer for the dreamers by the end of this week. Senator Chris coups they're saying I'm hopeful we'll get a vote today on my bipartisan immigration bell was Senator John McCain we should be voting on are different proposals listening to each other. And trying to find a way forward. That's how the senate it's supposed to work just reminder this open debate that you're seeing it this is not how things usually work and their simultaneously. A behind closed doors bipartisan commission trying to put some deet tails. To this bill because they added that lineup Friday unless they break into their recess next week. And they're trying to get to an answer now I let's step back and see that this thing with an atlas.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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