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 flam
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
By, Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883
These famous words gave new meaning to the statue gift presented to the United States by France . This sonnet was hardly noticed during Lazarus' life and was found after he death in a small portfolio of poems. The poem in it's entirety was engraved over the Statue of Liberty's main entrance in 1945. These lines, "Give me your tired, your poor/ your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." emitted a new ideal for the United States, this being the freedom to come here to this land and create a new life without religious and ethnic persecution.
Today many people are vehemently opposed to any immigration to this country. While I am not supporting illegal immigration, I believe that in order to oppose immigration entirely, one is also opposing one of the foundations that our country was built upon.
It seems that those that argue most against immigration are the very same people who consider themselves to be patriotic. How can this be? The message embraced as a foundation of this country is to welcome immigrants and give them a portal to freedom and new life. Nowhere in our history has the message ever read that one must speak fluent English prior to immigration, or be white-skinned, or from the "right" part of the world...and so on.
The Statue of Liberty is considered worldwide to be a beacon of welcome, leading immigrants to success and happiness in America. To not embrace this on some level vastly changes the message that our country has been sending to the rest of the world for over a century.