The United States of America (USA) is a country of immigrants. From the 16th through 19th and early 20th centuries, many millions of people immigrated to the USA. In fact, it is fair to call the USA immigrant-based, notwithstanding the fact that Native Americans are also part of what the USA is, even though they were conquered and almost wiped out by a superior military force of immigrants and their descendants.
The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor stands as a monument to the open arms that were extended to immigrants of all nations until the early to mid twentieth century, when conservatives, who were ALWAYS against immigrants, achieved enough political power to pass federal laws against the “open arms” policies of the past.
That statue was a gift from France, constructed in that country and then shipped to New York City in partially assembled pieces, where final assembly was officially completed in 1886
Inscribed on the Statue of Liberty’s foundation are, in part, the following words from poet Emma Lazarus:
“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!”
As mentioned earlier, there has always been a segment of Americans (immigrants or offspring of immigrants themselves) who have opposed further immigration into the USA. Whether based upon racism (and a lot of it was) or economic concerns, it has always been a factor that was alive and well in the USA. However, federal laws that limited the number of yearly legal immigrants into the USA didn’t actually become reality until the 1920′s.
Once these laws passed, they were brutally enforced, even against refugees escaping from NAZI brutality and death in the run-up to World War 2. Ships of Jewish refugees who rightfully feared for their lives, for example, were turned away from American shores and had to find refuge elsewhere.
Fast-forwarding to the 21st century, it has become clear that America’s immigration policies simply do not work. Even during the GW Bush administration, bipartisan members of the US congress had worked to fix this national disgrace with comprehensive immigration reform, which would recognize both the physical and economic infeasibility, as well as the moral objections, to deporting perhaps 12 million undocumented foreign immigrants from the USA.
But ultra-right wing republicans, such as the Tea party and the ultra-right base of the GOP, simply chose to ignore these factors as well as the used-to-be-traditional American creed of protecting the “wretched refuse” of other countries trying to escape their own personal hell in their native lands.
In recent months, Central American parents have been sending their children to the USA in an effort to save them from the extreme physical and economic violence of their native countries. To date, approximately 57,000 have arrived at our borders. One can only guess at how difficult it must have been for these parents to part, perhaps forever, with their own flesh and blood. But these parents did just that to save their children’s lives and provide them with a better future.
And when these kids braved violence, filth, exhaustion, insecurity, possible starvation and even rape, and arrived at the US border seeking what all children seek…safety…what did the ultra-extremist right wing do? Advocate deporting these kids back to their dangerous points of origin at best, or meeting these kids with US military action, at worst. WTF.
These are CHILDREN!!! What does it say about the this nation and its people that we would turn our backs on CHILDREN?? Even using the republican excuse that accepting these kids encourages more kids to make the trip is NO excuse for turning our backs on them.
And meanwhile, back in the good ol’ do-nothing US House of Representatives, GOP speaker John Boehner has refuse to bring a bi-partisan, US senate-passed comprehensive immigration bill up for debate and a vote, because the republican base is dead-set against any form of immigration reform that doesn’t incarcerate and deport 12 million illegal immigrants.
As a result, peaker John Boehner won’t allow the bill to come up for a vote because he KNOWS the bill would pass, and that would alienate his anti-immigrant republican base. He also knows that many republicans would join all or most of the democrats to pass this bill, and Obama would sign it into law.
With the passage of comprehesive immigration reform, much of the economic and emotional upheaval over immigration would be over, and the extremist conservative right-wing base of the republican party would HATE the result: 12 million new citizens who would probably remember what the republicans have done to them over the years, and would vote democratic.
This situation really does scream for a multiparty parliamentary political system, where coalitions MUST form to govern, or else new elections are called. But the GOP would hate it because they would probably become a fringe party…and the Tea party would become an even SMALLER fringe party…
Alas, one can dream…. :) But in the meantime, maybe we should just send the Statue of Liberty back to France… or at least cover up the inscription about the tired and a poor…