The ongoing debate in an older entry over whether or not illegal immigration is a problem in the United States reminded me of a good infographic I came across the other day that explains what is involved in immigrating legally. This is something a lot of people aren’t aware of and while I did share it on my Facebook account I didn’t get around to posting it here. So I’m correcting that now:
Click to embiggen!
It’s a big graphic so you may need to scroll around a bit to see it all. If you’re using Firefox keep in mind that your browser will auto-shrink the image to fit your screen so you may need to left click on it to make it full size and then scroll around.
At any rate, it shows that, unless you’re a big celebrity or millionaire of some sort, the process of legally immigrating to the United States is both long and has very specific requirements which exclude millions of hopefuls. If you don’t have family already here then your only hope of legally immigrating is if you have a skill set desirable enough for a company to offer you a job that’s also willing to go through the expensive process of sponsoring you. When you’re an engineer or computer programmer that’s less of a problem. When your desired skill set is standing out in a field in triple digit temperatures picking crops for minimum wages then it’s much more of a problem.
Here in the U.S. we are taught in grade school about the inscription on the book the Statue of Liberty holds which reads as follows:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can recall feeling a special kind of pride at learning this as a child. How cool are we, I used to think, that we’ll take in anyone willing to work hard to realize their dreams. Except that’s not how it works anymore and it hasn’t for a long time.
In short, the fabled story of a poor immigrant coming to the U.S. to start a new life and perhaps realize the American dream is impossible today. There once was a time when that was possible, but those days are long gone now. Unless you’ve got a good reason to be here — family, highly skilled, wealth or fame — you can forget about legally immigrating to the U.S. anytime soon.
See that chart to the left? It’s from this article at The Economist. It’s about a poll they conducted wherein they asked people if they thought the government should decrease the deficit by raising taxes or cutting spending. Cutting spending was the popular choice at 65% with only 5% saying raising taxes was the way to go. So then they asked the question over there on the left and that chart is the result.
As you can see, there wasn’t one single area that even a third of the country wanted to cut back on. Except — hold on there! Down in the middle of the table. There is one area that everyone’s willing to trim: foreign aid. Good ‘ol foreign aid. A category that, as Roger McShane dryly points out, “makes up less than 1% of America’s total spending.”
Beyond that, there were only four areas that even a quarter of the population was willing to cut: mass transit, agriculture, housing, and the environment. At a rough guess, these areas account for about 3% of the federal budget. You could slash their budgets by a third and still barely make a dent in federal spending.
So, yeah, cutting spending would be one way to reduce the deficit… if you were willing to actually cut into the programs that cost the most. It’s a shame that all the really expensive programs are the ones most folks don’t really want to cut.
Perhaps they should spend some time actually learning from this excellent infographic poster about the Federal Budget:
You can zoom in and move it around or go full screen to get a better look. That’s the creation of Jess Bachman and he’s been updating it every year since 2004. It really is worth looking at in detail to see where the money goes and you can buy a 24″ x 36″ posted of it at his WallStats website along with several other excellent infographics he’s made.
The point being: It doesn’t help if everyone thinks we should cut spending, but no one can agree on where those cuts should be made. Nobody likes higher taxes, but the only way to have your cake and eat it too is to pay for it. Even if that means using a credit card to do so, which is more or less what the deficit is tantamount to.