This background paper was produced as part of the League's two-year (2006-2008) study of Immigration aimed at helping communities understand the implications of immigration at the local, state, and federal level. At the bottom of each paper is a link to a downloadable PDF version. "...“Family reunification has long been a cornerstone of both American law and INS practice,” notes Doris Meissner, former Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Many early immigrants to America, particularly those fleeing religious or political persecution in their homelands, migrated here as families. In subsequent centuries, a head of household often came first to “test the waters” of the new land. Prior to 1965, the timeliness of family reunification in the U.S. depended almost entirely on how long it took for this first family member to secure a job and shelter, and save funds for passage to the United States for spouse and children. ..."