Sunday, May 22, 2011


America has long been known as a haven for those seeking a better life. Right at our doorstep is the sonnet:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, 1883
The bronze plaque upon which this sonnet is engraved is mounted inside the Statue of Liberty. I chose the word “doorstep” for a particular reason. This symbol of Liberty stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor; standing as a welcome to those countless immigrants that have contributed to the greatness of America. I have a question:
Is the placement of the Statue a metaphor for our policy towards immigrants today?
America is nation of immigrants. Though there is a percentage of the population claiming the title of “Native Americans (Webster’s defines ‘native’ as ‘belonging to a particular place by birth’, I was born here thus…)”, most of those claiming the title of American can trace their arrival to a time after the creation of this great nation. In spite of this, Americans have consistently argued against continued immigration; It’s like, “I’m here, so stop!”
America has lost a principle as vital as any of those outlined in our Declaration of Independence or the Constitution: America is a place for those seeking a better life; a life promised by the principle of Liberty. An idea that a person should be judged on their abilities, not those of their forebears; that each should have opportunities based upon their willingness to work and those qualities they posses inherently. All men are not created equal, but in America all men must be judged equally.
The immigrant of today, legal or not, is not likely to see Lady Liberty as they journey to this country seeking a new life. Instead they will see fences, dogs, and armed men failing to keep them out. Illegal immigration is a crime and should be punished as such; but how can a nation founded upon the ideal of immigration not seek ways to continue this tradition? Immigrants are coming in illegally because they have little chance of coming here legally. Immigrants are not paying for the services they use because we won’t let them, not because they don’t wish to. Immigrants are not assimilating into our society because it takes generations for that assimilation to occur, our government is doing everything they can to prevent them from HAVING to assimilate, and they legally can’t assimilate.

No comments:

Post a Comment