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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Nation of...

As the child of immigrants in to nation of immigrants, I find a particular point of contention in today's political landscape to be puzzling at best.

In the southern border states, there is talk of building an electrified fence.  There is talk of mass deportations.  of shuttering our borders so illegals can't get through, stemming the tide of the huddled masses as they get to our golden arches of opportunity. It makes me wonder, when it was exactly we got so xenophobic.

My parents arrived here from Jamaica in the 70's.  I wasn't born until quite some time later, so the details are sketchy to me, but to my knowledge they weren't under the constant threat of deportation for the simple reason of being here.  They were able to hold down jobs, earn a living, build a family all while taking the slow, necessary steps toward citizenship.

That was about 40 years ago though and in this day and age, there seems to be a concerted effort to stamp out that opportunity.  This country used to advertise itself the world over as the land of opportunity, where all you needed to succeed was the ability to get here, a strong work ethic, and the strength of character to see your dreams through.  The poem, "The New Colossus," on a bronze plaque at the Statue of Liberty welcomed other people's downtrodden and cast-offs.  The famed excerpt of the poem proudly proclaims "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore..." and it is an ideal that we are failing, and miserably.

This nation has done plenty, especially in the last decade or so, to demonize the people who would come here to make a better life for themselves, to make it harder for them to gain legal status, to get a quality education, to achieve.  It is shameful what we have become.

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