Tempers flare over the immigration debate. Voices cry far and wide, "Scarcity! Scarcity! Bar the gates!"
There's only one voice that comes to mind, for me, when the immigration argument devolves into a slurry. For those who have not seen them firsthand, engraved in bronze within the pedestal beneath the Statue of Liberty, these are the words of Emma Lazarus.
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!"
Many would have you believe this poem was written during a different time, when we lived in a different society. Is that really the case?
We are a nation founded by misfits, wayward souls seeking a new place to rebuild. Our forefathers - yes, those of nearly every last one of us - were immigrants in this land. They left their native teeming shores and came here to build something, to create promise for their children and their children's children. Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on are the huddled masses of generations past. And it wasn't that long ago.
I have a few questions for you, o people of this great country:
Had your kinfolk been turned away, whether fifty years ago or two hundred, where would you be right now?
What fear, what sadness, what entitlement drives you to slam the golden door after your own forebears risked everything to pass through it, so that you could cultivate the benefits that lay beyond? What circumstances grant you the superiority to peer out from behind the chain-cracked door of your safe, sturdy home and deny those very same protections and opportunities to the echoes of your ancestors, reborn in a new era?
Every person that sets foot on this land is a brother, or sister, in arms. We are all related. If not by blood, then by story.