Statistics tell a story, too
On the drive back from Denver this morning we cried. Holding hands sort of helped but then it just made my eyes water up that much more. What caused it? Was it a sudden realization that the ordeal was finally over? Can we finally begin our lives? Or does one just tear up when experiencing utter joy? Leaving the U.S. immigration office with the answer that my Italian wife would get her green card was certainly an early Christmas gift we could live with.But now that I’ve embarrassed myself with my gushy, gooey experience from this morning, I’d ask you to chew on this in regard to Ross Palmer’s column from last week, “Why we’re leaving U.S.” In it he lists a plethora of shortcomings of the U.S. and pluses for New Zealand, and essentially said it is time for him and his family to get the heck out of this crappy excuse for a country. You know, Ross, I have looked into these “I’m leaving this crappy country!” stories again and again and have found an interesting phenomena which repeats itself for essentially every country in the world you can find immigration statistics on. Even though Ross and family are bailing on the U.S., there are a heck of a lot more Kiwis bailing out on New Zealand, headed for the old USA.If you look at the most recent U.S. Yearbook of immigration statistics 2004 at http://uscis.gov/graphics/shared/statistics/ there were a little over 1,000 New Zealand immigrants admitted to the United States in each of the past four years. Immigration statistics for Americans, such as the Palmers hopping a plane to New Zealand, are a little more difficult to find, with the most recent numbers available from New Zealand’s Trends in Residence Approvals 2002-03 at http://www.immigration.govt.nz/ On page 31, the U.S. doesn’t even show up on New Zealand’s list of top 10 immigrating countries. I could only deduce numbers from their most recent report.In it we find that in 10th place is Malaysia, with 2 percent of the total 48,538 new immigrants to New Zealand, or roughly 970 in 2002. Now let’s be conservative and say the U.S. was in 11th place (which we don’t really know). And let’s say the U.S. was exactly below Malaysia with 969 immigrants moving to New Zealand (just to be conservative). Not only would there be more absolute numbers of Kiwis saying “goodbye” to New Zealand for America than vice versa. But if you figure New Zealand with a population of 4 million and the U.S. with 296 million, it gets even more pathetic.Based on population sizes (and my conservative numbers), those Kiwis are immigrating to the U.S. not at twice the rate, not 10 times the rate, not even 50 times the rate, but 74 times the rate of bitter Americans. Hmmm. It looks like once the Palmers get to Auckland, they’ll be reading some “Why we’re leaving New Zealand” commentaries.But I want to thank Ross Palmer for giving me (and everyone else here in Vail) a name of someone who finally left (and a bitter American at that). Of course, each single one of us in this valley can probably name tens if not hundreds of people we each come across daily that have just recently immigrated in. Recent arrivals from Poland, Russia, Chile, Austria, Germany, France, New Zealand, England (hi Alan), Argentina, Australia and don’t leave out the No. 1 welfare state of all, those sauna freaks the Swedes! What were all these people thinking coming to this “evil” country we call the U.S.? Aren’t they aware of these greedy corporations? Don’t they miss their health care? For crying out loud, don’t they know what Ross knows? Sure they do. And after experiencing both their home countries and now the USA for years, they still continue to stay. Hmmm, makes you wonder if the same will be said of the Palmer family a few years from now.Chris Ratzlaff is a resident of Vail.Vail, colorado
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