Monday, January 30, 2017

Emma Lazarus & Immigration Ban by Diane Burton

Last week’s news about the ban on Muslims hit Facebook like a firestorm. But this is nothing new. Too many times in our nation’s past, there have been shameful incidents, for example interring Japanese Americans during World War II. 

Unless your family is Native American, we are all the sons and daughters of immigrants, or maybe immigrants ourselves. Our ancestors were not all welcomed with open arms. “Irish need not apply” once graced Help Wanted signs. Foreigners were given derogatory epithets. Still are.

I do believe in strongly, thoroughly checking out those who want to come to America. We have laws in place to do that. Those charged with that responsibility should do their duty. But a ban on people because of their religion or ethnic origin isn’t morally right. Isn’t it against our Constitution?

Just because reviling of newcomers is part of our past doesn’t mean it should be our present and future. Aren’t we better than this? Is Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty a lie?

"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!"

I am so grateful that my father-in-law, my sister-in-law, my great-grandparents, and the rest of my ancestors came to the U.S. and were allowed in.

Because I blog on the 30th of the month, I'll see you again in March.


Leah St. James said...

I don't think you'll get many (any?) arguments on this, Diane. I think if the president was going to issue broad, sweeping decrees like that, he had an obligation to give notice, to tell everyone in advance, and to explain fully the reasoning. I was thinking something along the lines of what you said. By stopping people with existing visas, it says that whoever vetted that person didn't do his/her job. I'm all for making sure people who enter are coming for the right reasons, as this country has done in the past (remember the immigrants being held at Ellis Island and other locations so they could be checked out), but this was too much.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks, Leah. About the vetters: I've been thinking the same thing. During the campaign, I thought those who allowed immigrants in were being unfairly criticized. I imagine the whole immigration service has been overwhelmed by refugees begging for asylum. If so, it must be so difficult to distinguish between those who really want to be here for legitimate reasons vs those who want to do us harm. Instead of a blanket halt to immigration for Muslims, it makes more sense to cancel the moratorium on hiring and increase that service.

Jannine Gallant said...

You're right about Facebook exploding, so I did my due diligence and fact checked. It is true that since 9/11 no one from any of the banned countries has killed anyone in the United States, but three people have been injured. This, however, is the most disturbing info I found:

"Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident," the New America study says. "In addition about a quarter of the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration."

Here's the link:

So, why the focus on immigrants when obviously that isn't the biggest issue since the vast majority of terrorists are born in the United States? The speculation is rampant. Diversionary tactics? I guess we'll see.

BTW, I always loved that poem on the Statue of Liberty. Simple and beautiful.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Diane, I just watched a review of the vetting process for immigrants-on 60 minutes- and it appears to carefully weed out questionable folk. All this action is irrational and unAmerican, I agree.

Diane Burton said...

Jannine, I am not surprised by that info about home-grown terrorist. What disturbs me is the young Americans who are seduced by the jihadists. What is missing in their lives that is filled by the extremists? How can we combat that? The immigration ban a diversionary tactic? Wow. As you say, I guess we'll see.

Rolynn, I know what my sister-in-law had to go through 1st to get her green card and then to become a citizen. And she came from Canada. On CNN, a Syrian refugee talked about what he had to go through to get into the U.S. Very difficult. I agree. It should be. But a blanket ban on certain countries just doesn't seem right.

Bish Denham said...

The kicker is, there isn't one incident of a person from one of "banned" countries harming or killing anyone in U.S. Most all of the attacks on our soil have been perpetrated by home-grown terrorists, people born and raised here.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I think we've entered into an age of isolationism. When Trump says "America First," I think he means that to a degree. I also think he will stretch the power of the oval office because he is used to having his own way. The man's narrow mind scares me. I know no other way to put it. A very good post!!

Alison Henderson said...

I spent an hour on the phone this morning with my daughter, who is so distraught about everything that's happened in the past week she can barely function. She's sitting at work, on the verge of tears from worrying about whether she's a bad person because her friends are ready to man the barricades and she just wants all the fear and stress to stop. I told her we can't all be barricade people. She will find ways to support what's right. She's horrified by what's already happened and terrified by what might happen next. What can I tell her? The worst is impossible? It isn't.

Susan Coryell said...

Thanks, Diane for a thoughtful and relevant blog. I do not understand why the President did not run his ban on Muslims and refugees through Congress. Why do it via executive order? It smacks of totalitarianism. I am also concerned by the anti-immigrant ideology rearing an ugly head in America. Our immigrant-vetting process is already rigorous and our government and its workers toil diligently to uphold the Constitutional and representative democracy we hold dear. Americans cannot allow such a shift in our ideals and values.

Diane Burton said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I'm glad I'm not alone in my fear of us becoming a totalitarian country. When fear paralyzes us or stresses us so much we can't work. When our children/grandchildren fear for their classmates that they'll be separated from their parents. I had hopes (once upon a time) that our world would work together, that our differences would enrich us, not tear us apart. You all know I write science fiction. In my future would, Earth worked together to enrich the citizens and explore new worlds. I fear with the isolationist attitude of the current administration, we've gone backward. No global economy for us.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Your words ring true. But we're dealing with an administration that works from "alternate facts." I've seen quite a few articles now that I believe to be true: This is an event that was designed to distract us from something even more sinister taking shape. Not that this isn't bad enough but beware.

Julie Flanders said...

Thanks for posting this, Diane. This has been such an upsetting, and in my opinion, terrifying week that I have trouble processing it. I agree with Brenda's comment above and it's so troubling.

Barbara Edwards said...

One of the problems with being an author is the need to research facts. I won't go into detail. I do know I want facts from at least two verifiable sources, better three. A lot of what I read and hear is not verified or comes from one source.
I refuse to feel any more fear. I lived on the edge since 9-11. I want to feel safe. I want to have my children and their children to live in a better America.
Both my sets of grandparents came through Ellis Island and had to be vetted, quarantined, a rough system that sent family members back if they didn't pass. Things have changed. They will again.

Mandy said...

I agree that the ban is a bit ridiculous and takes our country back in time. And Trump signed the EO so fast! Did any other part of government have a chance to look at it? Should a president be able to change the law so quickly? … And then all of the things that have come after it including the ACLU trial in which, according to some sources (not sure if they are legit or not), some passport control agents are deporting citizens anyway? Or what about today when the GOP decided to just vote even though the Democrats were boycotting? I mean republicans would have won the vote anyway, but seriously? I feel like we need to be having some serious discussions in this country, not the beginning of which is whether or not Trump is a good leader.

Anyway, rant aside, my heart goes out to those torn apart from their loved ones as well as the people having to choose whether or not they want to remain in the US. Oh – and the ones that can't return home after vacation or time spent with family. That was an incredibly jerky move on the president's part.