Immigration discrimination


“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!”

The New Colossus,” a poem written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 to raise funds for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. It was later mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.

“Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

Ken Cuccinelli, August 12, 2019, Donald Trump’s acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

For 133 years Emma Lazarus’ poem represented the United States of America’s welcome to the world. Then Donald Trump came along and appointed someone who suggests a re-write of Lazarus’ inspirational words.

Cuccinelli told the world that our evaluation of who is welcomed will revolve around the immigrant’s education, income and credit rating. They also have to promise not to ever use any public assistance. And oh yeah, according to Cuccinelli, the original poem was only directed toward Europeans.

He added that footnote about Europeans because it got to be uncomfortable for him to explain to reporters how his ancestors got into the United States from Italy.

Have we come to a point, two years and seven months into the Trump administration, when we might consider that the type of BS emanating from Trump and his appointees is not unusual; to let things like Cuccinelli’s re-write go without comment or condemnation? That would be a mistake.

Cuccinelli’s scurrilous words should make someone take a moment to think about what he said and reflect on how un-American his words were.

How nice for the decedent of an Italian immigrant to offer up after-the-fact qualifiers for immigrants from past generations. Cuccinelli’s ancestors evidently arrived in America with tens of thousands of dollars in their pockets, along with a gold American Express card and an 800 point credit rating.

Western New York, it is safe to say, is a community of immigrants and their descendants. There are some Native Americans among us. The rest of us can trace our lineage back to the “old country,” wherever that is. Many Americans’ ancestors came here involuntarily as slaves from Africa. Others came from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Italy, Greece, Russia, India or China, or dozens of other countries where political or religious persecution, violence, or simply the opportunity to pursue a dream made men, women and children take all sorts of risks to come here.

Many of us have heard the stories of how our ancestors made that journey. They came with ten dollars in their pockets, or maybe not that much. They may have had skills but their formal education was limited. They didn’t always have a job waiting for them. They lived in substandard housing. They came to find a better life. If you have forgotten the story of their struggles ask your parents or grandparents to tell you again.

Most of the previous waves of immigrants to this country experienced all sorts of discrimination and attacks about the clothes they wore, the food they cooked, or the way they spoke. But they pressed on.

No one suggests at this time that there should not be some controls over how immigration is handled. We all want to keep the country safe. But the same goes for dealing with domestic terrorists who have become emboldened to commit heinous acts because the country’s leadership winks and nods at words and deeds that harm or kill people who are targeted by “America First” folks.

Changes in immigration laws are not a simple proposition, but planting the flag of discrimination at the country’s doorstep is certainly not what America is all about. I’ll close with the lyrics of a Frank Sinatra song.

“The House I Live In, That’s America To Me”

What is America to me
A name, a map, or a flag I see
A certain word, democracy
What is America to me

The house I live in
A plot of earth, the street
The grocer and the butcher
Or the people that I meet
The children in the playground
The faces that I see
All races and religions
That’s America to me

The place I work in
The worker by my side
The little town the city
Where my people lived and died
The howdy and the handshake
The air a feeling free
And the right to speak your mind out
That’s America to me

The things I see about me
The big things and the small
That little corner newsstand
Or the house a mile tall
The wedding and the churchyard
The laughter and the tears
The dream that’s been a growing
For more than two hundred years

The town I live in
The street, the house, the room
The pavement of the city
Or a garden all in bloom
The church the school the clubhouse
The millions lights I see
Especially the people
That’s America to me

One thought on “Immigration discrimination

  1. The Russians realized race was something that was festering below the surface. Then they found a useful idiot to exploit it. They did the same thing in England resulting in brexit.
    My hope is we as a nation begin to act like siblings. We can argue and fight among ourselves but when an outsider threatens, we rise as one.


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