Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.) on Tuesday attacked the term "chain migration" as offensive to African-Americans only a month after signing onto a press release that used the term.
"Chain migration" refers to the immigration process by which immigrants are able to sponsor their immediate and extended family to join them in the United States. President Donald Trump has called for this process to be eliminated as part of a larger immigration reform plan.
"I find it obscene, the term ‘chain migration,'" Menendez told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "It is incredibly cruel to those whose ancestors were brought to this country in chains in slavery."
"It is a dehumanizing element of what is in essence family reunification, which has been the core of American immigration principle for over a century," the senator continued, "the belief that when we have families together, that ultimately they strengthen not only themselves and help each other, but they help build communities and help build our nation."
Menendez's comments characterizing the phrase "chain migration" as racist came a month after he jointly released a bipartisan statement with five other lawmakers using the term.
"President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge," read the Jan. 11 press release. "We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act—the areas outlined by the President."
One of the other Democratic senators who joined the statement was Illinois' Dick Durbin, who went on to call the term "chain migration" racist only a day later.