FORGET THE HUDDLED MASSES

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Just about everyone in the United States, with the exception of the indigenous people, Native Americans, came here from somewhere else. They came here in the quest for a better life. The main exception to this are African Americans, who, for the most part, did not come here voluntarily; they were brought here in the holds of slave ships. (Recent research, however, indicates that some Blacks were already on the continent).

The statue of Liberty, situated in Upper New York Bay on Liberty Island south of Ellis Island, is a gift from France. It stands as a beacon of welcome for those coming into this country. The inscription on it bears the following words from a poem by Emma Lazarus: “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!” The United States, however, is at a crossroads regarding immigration. The current president, Donald J. Trump, has basically declared war on immigrants. His platform from the beginning of his campaign was the promise to build a wall on the southern border of the United States to keep immigrants out.

The ironic thing about Trump’s war on immigrants is that his own family is riddled with them. His current wife, his previous wife, his mom and others in his family are immigrants. Actually, at one point, Trump made it clear that all immigrants are not equal. His preference is for those who do not come from “shit-hole” countries. With that said, there is a current humanitarian crisis at the Mexican/American border. Refugees from the Honduras have walked miles and miles to the southern border. At Trump’s orders, they were met with thousands of troops and tear gas attacks aimed at women and children, among others. Most of those seeking asylum had little more than the clothes on their backs. Many were barefoot. The world watched this travesty unfolding at our doorstep.

The campaign waged against those who have come to us in need is demonstrating to the world that something has gone terribly wrong in America. Children are being taken from their parents and placed in cages. Some of these may never see their parents again, since they are very young, and no adequate identification strategies were developed. There are even reports that some immigrants, not yet confirmed, are actually being tattooed with numbers, which is reminiscent of what happened to Jewish people during World War II.

In addition to the current crisis at the southern border, people all over America are concerned about their ability to move about freely without the danger of being barred from their own homes in America. For example, a professor from Trinidad who has been employed in the United States for more than a decade, took a trip home, and ended up being stranded out of the country for more than two months due to bureaucratic red tape. The tentacles of the draconian immigration policies, therefore, are reaching far and wide. Ultimately, if nothing is done to offset this trend, it might eventually impact all Americans.

The Christian bible talks about the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Though that section of the Bible is usually thought to relate exclusively to the issue of homosexuality, the true sin of Sodom and Gomorrah for which they were destroyed was that of a lack of hospitality! The tenor of the country has been tarnished by this lack of hospitality as the schisms between race, class, and country of origin have been increasing. If hospitality is to be used as a gauge for human judgement, the “Christian” United States will come up seriously deficient. Our isolationist strategy is counter-productive and can, in the long run, prove the undoing of the United States. Immigrants bring talents and other resources which can benefit the country. Let’s hope enough people become enlightened and turn this dastardly tide to one that demonstrates more sanity and inclusion. A Luta Continua.

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