Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 2 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit 1 Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (4 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   18 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Not a Native American? You're an Immigrant

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H4 11/4/11

Become a Fan
  (11 fans)


Justice and compassion by newclearvision.com

An emotionally charged debate on immigration is sweeping the country. The wrenching question: What to do with the millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom have lived here for years, if not decades, and have children who are U.S. citizens? Immigrants currently account for a big chunk of our population --about 38 million including legals and illegals.

The hidden agenda behind the opposition to immigration reform is "keep America for Americans" -- a phrase that is often a code for racial and ethnic discrimination. Opponents reject reform proposals that would provide a way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship. And they want to  stop or drastically curtail new immigration. That stance is like the last person who gets on the life boat pulling down the ladder and stranding the ones remaining on the ship. Have these opponents conveniently forgotten that, other than descendants of Native Americans, we all carry the genes of immigrants?

Opposition to immigration is not new. We've warmed up to immigration when we needed workers to fill labor shortages, and turned nasty toward immigrants at other times. In the 19th century, Chinese workers were brought in to build the Western railroads and work the gold mines. Mexicans were welcomed in the 1920s to fill a labor shortfall. In both instances, subsequent restrictive legislation resulted in legions of those immigrants being deported. And throughout our history, "nativist" movements have sprung up, praising previous generations of immigrants while casting suspicion on the new arrivals. Even Benjamin Franklin worried about a foreign takeover by immigrants: "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglicizing them."

Contrary to the popular belief that we are swimming in more immigrants than ever, in 1890 14.8 percent of our population was foreign-born   compared to today's 12.5 percent. And the number of illegal immigrants is on the decline.

The descendants of those 1890 immigrants multiplied exponentially over the succeeding decades -- immigrants, especially in the first and second generations, tend to have large families. Their offspring contributed substantially to "The Greatest Generation" that Tom Brokaw wrote about. In fact, descendants of immigrants have been at the core of all the great generations of Americans -- immigrants and their descendants gave us the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

October 28th was the 125th anniversary of the dedication of France's gift of friendship to our independent nation: The Statue of Liberty. It's a perfect time to recapture the spirit and compassion of America, and ignite the inspiration to resolve the current immigration crisis.

Perhaps we should meditate on the poem by Emma Lazarus, a young Jewish poet and novelist who gave us the uplifting words that are engraved on a plaque on the inside pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor ... " They are also inscribed on a wall in the International Arrivals building at John F. Kennedy airport in New York City. You won't see a welcome like that anywhere else in the world.

Emma Lazarus wrote her poem  The New Colossus  in 1883 for an art auction to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. Emma was not an immigrant, but rather a fourth-generation American from a well-to-do prominent New York family. The poem probably was inspired, in part, by her distress over the violence against Jews in Eastern Europe in the pogroms that were flourishing. Emma dedicated much of her time to aiding the needy in New York City. The poem, though, was forgotten until stumbled upon in an archive by Georgina Schyuler, a patron of the Statue, after Emma's untimely death from cancer at age 38 in1887. It wasn't until 1903 that it was placed in its entirety on the base of the Statue.

The poem forever changed the meaning of Ms. Liberty from its original intention as an inspiration to oppressed nations to a welcoming of poor, suffering, and freedom-seeking people. While most of us are familiar with the last five lines, all 14 lines of the sonnet are powerful reminders of what America has represented for the world -- and still can:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://www.bernardstarr.com

Bernard Starr, PhD is a psychologist,journalist, and professor emeritus at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. He is also the main United Nations representative for the Institute of Global Education that founded Radio for Peace (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Corporations Plan for Post-Middle-Class America

The Pandemic Disease of the 21st Century Is on the Rise

Will the Real Jesus Please Step Forward: Many Stories, Few Facts

Movie Review: The Railway Man Starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman Will Take You on an Unforgettable Trip

Reza Aslan: Why Aren't You a Jew?

Legal Issues in Self-Publishing: What Authors Need to Know

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
4 people are discussing this page, with 18 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Many illegals were lured to the US to fill jobs th... by Bernard Starr on Friday, Nov 4, 2011 at 11:44:21 AM
Excessive immigration from anywhere has always ... by Jim Arnold on Friday, Nov 4, 2011 at 7:23:22 PM
There are two separate issues that we must deal wi... by Bernard Starr on Friday, Nov 4, 2011 at 10:03:05 PM
A humane solution has to be international or it's ... by Jim Arnold on Saturday, Nov 5, 2011 at 9:25:03 AM
The ratio of workers to retirees is well known, an... by Bernard Starr on Saturday, Nov 5, 2011 at 10:55:02 AM
Needless to say, there are forces that want to por... by Jim Arnold on Saturday, Nov 5, 2011 at 11:17:33 AM
If the projected decline in the ratio or workers... by Bernard Starr on Saturday, Nov 5, 2011 at 12:27:20 PM
-- or at least close. Counting only people on SS r... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 at 12:36:45 AM
Jim Arnold's points are on target. The argument th... by Stephen Unger on Saturday, Nov 5, 2011 at 6:30:13 PM
The projected growth in the U.S. Population i... by Bernard Starr on Saturday, Nov 5, 2011 at 9:44:11 PM
A timely article at The NY Times expresses the sol... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 at 5:54:08 AM
if we stopped decimating the economies of other co... by M. Wizard on Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 at 11:23:10 AM
And let's add the fact that many of these families... by Bernard Starr on Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 at 8:00:34 PM
All of us whose fault it is should make sure they ... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 at 9:15:13 PM
The Census Bureau projects a U.S. population of 43... by Stephen Unger on Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 at 6:58:19 PM
Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Payouts... by Bernard Starr on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 at 10:58:22 AM
All our armed forces will starve to death unless C... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011 at 6:23:35 AM
My statement that money coming from current earner... by Stephen Unger on Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011 at 8:40:35 AM