My Final Decision on Immigration
I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, and on the heels of Trump’s visit in Mexico and his speech on immigration, it seems a good time to finally post it.
During the Revolutionary War, the colonial Americans would have failed to win independence were it not for the aid of France. Many know about Lafayette, but we also had General Rochambeau with his 7,000 French soldiers, and we had Admiral Compte de Grasse, who broke the British blockade with his naval fleet, denying British soldiers supplies and escape. The ‘American Experiment’ was not supposed to just benefit the United States of America; we sent a message to the world demanding freedom for all.
For America’s 100th birthday, we received a gift from France that would become a symbol of that tradition: the Statue of Liberty, or, “Liberty Enlightening the World”.
Obviously, I had seen the colossus countless times before going to New York City last April, but I guess there was something about standing right in front of her that changed things for me. This is now officially my favorite national monument, and I’ll tell you why.
The most notable feature of Lady Liberty is her torch, right? Every time I had seen a picture of her, I just saw her standing, hand raised in the air holding the torch. The detail I never noticed without going in person almost took my breath away.
She is most certainly not just standing there holding her arm in the air. Her right arm is confidently extended as high as she can reach. And when you walk around and look at her from the side, you notice something else. Her right heel is raised.
She’s moving; she’s arching forward; maybe she’s about to walk off the pedestal toward some ship struggling to complete its long journey. To me this says that she isn’t just a doorman standing by the entrance. She’s not just a lighthouse. She’s firm and strong, but she also looks feminine, like a mother worried for her children; she’s watching the horizon and waving her torch in the air so they can find her. She’s not afraid of welcoming strangers. She’s not concerned with poverty or with illness. She signals to every single human being who feels the weight of oppression.
Emma Lazarus gave Lady Liberty a voice, and I think she did so marvelously:
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
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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The New Colossus (1883) — Emma Lazarus
“Send them to me,” she says. Send them to us. The debate on immigration is an emotional one and a confusing one. There are lots of really great reasons to support all sides of the issue (there will always be good points on every side, and we should never forget to recognize that).
We have to somehow balance humanity with security. It’s our constant struggle as Americans to balance freedom with security. Inconveniences plague every decision. I have made my final decision on the immigration debate: I’ve decided that no one has come up with a good idea yet.
The world sometimes make it seem like we can only choose “yes” or “no;” “this one” or “that one;” but we can’t ever limit ourselves by the ideas already on the table. And compromise should never be seen as the wrong choice.
Lady Liberty has been our nation’s icon for years, and for good reason. When I went to see her, she taught me that “wretched refuse” does not refer only to the best and the brightest. She still stands in the harbor, torch held high, awaiting those seeking freedom. There are no qualifications beyond that. My heart is with everyone who wants to further America’s great purpose, and my mind is ready to think of solutions.
I will not criticize those who fear for our national security; their fears are well justified. Likewise, I will not support turning away anyone in search of the American Dream. I can’t condone giving some a ‘pass’ for cheating while others have had to wait a long time for the same opportunity, but I won’t ever defend the broken set of laws and circumstances that put us all in this position. Who’s to blame? All of us. To me, it doesn’t matter as much how we got here, but how we’re going to move forward.
Maybe a fitting compromise is impossible, but maybe it only seems that way because of all the noise.
Let’s really try to work together. What ideas do you have?