My father’s family came to America during the 1800’s from Germany, and my mother’s family came from The United Kingdom during the same century. They were all refugees, who wanted to begin a new and better life together in “The Land of the Free.” They were poor but shared an ambitious energy to work hard and succeed. They did succeed in working, worshipping, raising families who contributed to the beauty and economy of the nation, my father and uncles also serving during WWII in the United States Navy and the United States Army until after the war. I can’t imagine how things would have been different for all of us had there been some sort of wall to block our becoming citizens of this great nation. I wouldn’t have been a school teacher here, and the gifts of my other relatives in serving this country would have been unrealized or been fulfilled instead in Germany, Ireland, and Scotland.
It frightens me that so many refugees now coming to America are often clumped together into unfair and incorrect stereotypes of job-thieves, low-life criminals, rapists, terrorists, etc. The fear-mongering and insults about “foreigners” have been successful only in creating suspicion and terror that ignore the wider view of poor but capable, ambitious, honest people, who are not stealing our rights and privileges…but sharing them and contributing to the strength and compassion of Lady Liberty’s wide and generous embrace. The purpose of all this seems to be creating the false impression that we have a protector, who is looking after our rights as citizens of The United States of America. We need to look more carefully at that “reality” to see what motives lurk behind it. There are people like us, with the same hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their children, waiting to pass through the “Golden Door.” Not all are “worthy,” but I have the feeling that most are just like us in their quest for better, safer lives that include freedoms that we too often take for granted. I have only to read again the words of Emma Lazarus (from her poem on the Statue of Liberty) to remember that we’re somehow all in this together. JB
“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!”