Tyler Cowen asks, “Should immigration be family based?” (link). I have mentioned before that the proposed senate comprehensive immigration reform bill will change immigration from family based to skill based immigration. I was and continue to be ambivalent about this change.
From a nationalistic perspective, skilled immigrants are desirable will impart more benefits than unskilled immigrants on the US, but physical proximity to family members also has value, although those benefits will accrue mainly to the immigrants instead of the country at large.
My current feeling is that while skill based immigration will give extra economic benefits, family based immigration could give social benefits and it certainly improves the welfare of immigrants to be able to move their family close to them, so immigration policy should try to recognize the value in both family ties and in skills. The proposed point system does incorporate extended family ties to a small extent (10% of the points) (link to point system and discussion), but the weighting seems low to me.