Let’s not shut the door on immigrants
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:20AM
Boy, I definitely sound like an old-timer when I say that celebrating 4th of July is different these days! Funny how as time passes, the phrases you used to criticize when your parents used them suddenly slip out of your own mouth and feel so appropriate. It’s almost as if the brain says ‘No, no, don’t use that old cliché!” but it just fits the situation so much you can’t hold it back, much as you might like to.
Now, some Independence Day celebrations are still much the same. Parades, BBQs, fireworks, families and friends sharing our nation’s birthday with food, fun and patriotism. But I think much has subtly changed, and it makes me uncomfortable.
The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the illegal immigrant laws and actions in Arizona have me on edge. No doubt we have a conundrum on our hands, with so many immigrants trying to enter the country in hopes of the better life that America has always stood for. And the yin to that yang is the taxing of our socio-governmental system and diminished job opportunities for U.S. citizens as they vie with those immigrants for a smaller employment market.
I just keep going back to what our illustrious Lady, symbol of our nation’s mission statement, the Statue of Liberty, says about immigrants. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….I lift my lamp beside the Golden door”. I think she was trying to say that our doors are open to anyone who strives to better their life, and feels they must leave their homeland and come here to do so. And I don’t think she meant to have an expiration date on that statement.
The family history of every one of us, with the exception of Native Americans (that’s another whole 4th of July issue for me), confirms that the golden door opened for our ancestral predecessors, and if it hadn’t, most of our life stories would be very different. How can we now deny those same opportunities to today’s eager immigrants? After all, our world is not all sunshine and rainbows. People live in danger, in hunger, under threat and in squalid conditions all over the globe. If they undertake the dangerous journey to try and find a better life, shouldn’t we try to figure out a way to help and welcome them?
Certainly we need to take care of our own first and foremost. But I don’t believe that means we must shut the door to others who are trying to do the very same thing our great grandparents did. If that’s the only alternative we can come up with, we should sail our Lady of Liberty back across the pond to France, because we wouldn’t deserve to have her, or what she stands for, anymore. Let’s please find a way that’s fair to all, and honor our country’s reason for existence. To me, that’s the real meaning of July 4th .
Send email to Pat Lenhoff at: firstname.lastname@example.org .