4/18/2012

Lifting the Lamp beside the Golden Door

In the middle of the night Friday night/ Saturday morning, I woke remembering the lines from the poem by Emma Lazarus, "Give me your poor..." I had just come from a very challenging talk and conversation about immigrant workers and global economics and was wondering just how we are doing as a place ready to receive. 

Here is the poem:

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

Here's the question: How well do you think we are doing on lifting the Lamp?

7 comments:

  1. Not well at all. Except for Literacy Volunteers of America through ESL classes, which they no longer call ESL because many immigrants already speak more than one language, just not English yet. And in the basement of a Hungarian Reformed Church in South Norwalk, those of us who are having a ball working with day laborers, men and women, who want to learn to speak English.

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  2. Deacon CHarlie Perrin18/4/12 1:59 PM

    I think today that the torch would best be replaced by a sign that says on of the following: "Sorry. Full.", "Go Away!" or (my personal favorite) "No Trespassing. Violaters will be prosecuted."

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  3. I am reminded of the story - perhaps apocryphal - of the opening words of Eleanor Roosevelt's address to the DAR: My fellow immigrants.

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  4. Alabama flat-out doesn't want immigrants. It has the strictest and meanest anti-immigration law--worse than Arizona's.

    And the Republican legislature and the Republican governor are bent on making it even harsher.

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  5. Hmmmm.... not so well... it seems we do better at exclusion than inclusion. --and exclusion any way we can. You should have seen Joel trying to get his new South Dakota driver's license --standing there with his Certificate of Citizenship (born of USA citizens who happened to be living in Canada), and the clerks at the desk saying they couldn't issue him a driver's license because they weren't trained to accept these types of certificates.

    And then she says --this happens all the time --especially to the Native Americans who have so little documentation as to citizenship...

    That didn't help at all....

    At. All....

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  6. First time I've read Lazarus's poem in toto. Thanks for posting it.

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  7. I'm reminded of Shrek the Third and Prince Charming's new version of the Far, Far Away City sign:

    GO, GO Away.

    ReplyDelete

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