by Sam Ruth – Communications Manager for First Year Experience
“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!”
These words by Emma Lazarus in her poem that adorns the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor have been an inspiration to immigrants seeking a new life in America for many years. She greeted them as they sailed into New York harbor with open arms, America was proud to be a destination for those running from oppression and death.
In more recent times, the New York Harbor has turned into the border with Mexico in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California as the most frequent place for immigration in the United States. These new generations of would-be Americans are not greeted with a loving statue welcoming them to America; they are greeted by border patrol, fences, cameras, dogs, minute men, and farmers with guns. America has lost it desire to be a beacon of light in the darkness and has chosen instead, to be a place of hate and discrimination. A place where Senators declare that illegal immigrants should be hunted and shot like wild pigs and most of our country believes the Dream Act, a real road to citizenship, is a waste of time and should be overturned.
I believe in an America that cares about more than just its own citizens. I believe that people who risk life and limb and everything they have to breathe our air should be welcomed with the same opportunity to make a better life that we enjoy as American citizens. A country founded on illegal immigration and, in many cases, forced immigration should feel more of a responsibility to care for all comers. America should encourage the paths to citizenship, but allow those who cannot afford it an opportunity to succeed.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants currently live in America, or about 4% of the total population. The majority of these are normal, hardworking people who want only to provide for their families. Many people claim they are stealing American jobs, and bringing down the economy. But I challenge that as a very narrow minded view. If America would allow these people to work honestly and pay taxes, it would not be missing a chance to improve the economy. The last point I would make is not to think of immigrants as job stealing invaders, but as human beings, just like us, who deserve the best this life has to offer.