Give us your tired…
By Terry Miller
In the over-the-top $1.7m Trump celebration of freedom in Washington last week, the very thing we cherish most is that which citizens of oppressed nations so desperately seek.
It wasn’t so long ago when the poem on the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus’s 1883 sonnet “The New Colossus” meant something more than a simple Tweet.
Lines 10 and 11 of the poem are quoted with the most frequency: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
With the current administration’s policy, the undocumented immigrant and asylum seeker have become scapegoats.
The July 4 celebrations were overshadowed last week by congressional staff visiting border detention centers where migrant children have been living in deplorable conditions just because their parents wanted to give them a better chance for survival in the Unites States.
Many have died attempting to cross the Rio Grande and, in fact, one sorrowful albeit poignant photo – which will undoubtedly win a Pulitzer for photographer Julia LeDuc – depicted a deceased father and daughter laying face-down in the Rio Grande after attempting to enter the U.S. Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, were buried last week in El Salvador.
The image of Martinez and his daughter lying face down in the river outraged the world and underscored the human predicament of the crisis growing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bodies were discovered June 24 near Matamoros, Mexico, across the river from Brownsville, Texas.
The single, haunting photograph tells a horrendous narrative but one which has to be told.
On July 5, The New Yorker published an article about Trump’s July 4 speech, which clearly was different from previous administrations’ thoughts on the birth of this country. Masha Gessen, staff writer for The New Yorker, wrote the following:
“Trump’s most recent predecessors presided over Fourth of July naturalization ceremonies. A rhetorical link between the holiday and immigration has long seemed unbreakable. During his last Independence Day as President, Bill Clinton chose to speak in New York Harbor, against the backdrop of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. ‘Perhaps more than any other nation in all history, we have drawn our strength and spirit from people from other lands,’ he said. ‘On this Fourth of July, standing in the shadow of Lady Liberty, we must resolve never to close the golden door behind us, and always not only to welcome people to our borders, but to welcome people into our hearts.’”
Trump’s immigration policy, according to migrationpolicy.org:
- Bans nationals of eight countries, most majority-Muslim, from entering the United States.
- Reduced refugee admissions to the lowest level since the resettlement program was created in 1980.
- Reversed the decline in arrests of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. interior that had occurred during the last two years of the Obama administration.
- Cancelled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is currently providing work authorization and temporary relief from deportation to approximately 690,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children.
- Ended the designation of Temporary Protected Status for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, and signaled that Hondurans and possibly Salvadorans may also lose their work authorization and protection from removal in 2018.
The administration’s support for legislation to dramatically cut legal immigration and reshape the selection of foreign-born workers has yet to gain significant traction on Capitol Hill. Nor have lawmakers provided the billions of dollars Trump wants to fence off the U.S.-Mexico border or add thousands of additional Border Patrol agents and immigration officers.