Emma Lazurus wrote this poem and it is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor:
“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.”
Our willingness to welcome immigrants has become a problem. Originally they came through Staten Island and we made records of their arrival. They were offered citizenship and were expected to assist in the costs of our government, both state and federal. They became ‘legal’ through naturalization. When I was teaching in Bryan, I sang our National Anthem and “America” at the naturalization ceremony overseen by our Federal District Judge. The usual number of ‘new citizens’ filled a courtroom. The Judge welcomed them following the singing of our National Anthem and each one saying our Pledge of Allegiance. Tears flowed as they were each given a tiny American Flag. It was truly a time of joy and celebration. These people with foreign names were Americans and that meant something to them and to those of us who witnessed the event. New citizens joined the workforce and many became business owners themselves. Everyone benefited and all was done in an orderly, legal manner. As each first of the week dawns, Falcon Ridge homeowners are serenaded by mowers and blowers as our landscape crew work very hard to beautify our yards. These men are Hispanic. Very few of them speak English and chances are, very few are legal. Things are not good, so the men from South of the Border and folks from Canada, were paid well (by cash or cash-credit-card). They were diligent in paying for ‘their’ keep and sending the remainder back to their families across the border. ‘Check Cashing’ and Western Union stores were very busy. Then came entire families and that’s what we are dealing with now. Many schools are over run and the children are my biggest concern. My experience teaching elementary music in Las Vegas proved that Hispanic children were more interested in learning than many of our own. Some way, those who are contributing to common good must be allowed to continue to do so. Perhaps some form of information gathering could be done by those who employ those who are illegal. Since they are benefiting from their labor, why not have them arrange educational sessions to teach illegal workers about America. Perhaps they could receive a business-tax credit and a grant to provide funds for the project. It seems that eating this elephant, one-bite-at-a-time is the only way we can solve the problem. Amnesty makes sense when there is an effort to naturalize immigrants. The privilege of being a citizen must bear the same cost for everyone. No free rides – No Way – No More. The ‘tired and poor’ must never make us ‘tired and poor’! The Lamp should never go out, but everyone who accepts our welcome must contribute to the fuel.
And, that’s what I get from MY box of chocolates.
AMEN or Oh My?