Immigration

So on Saturday night, Paula and I went to see the movie “Brooklyn”. See my blog post on the movie. So it got me to thinking about immigration. In the movie, a young lady makes a heartfelt decision to emigrate to America. Now this is 1950’s America. So Ellis makes the difficult decision to leave her sister and widowed mother behind and move to New York.

She knew full well that she might never see her mother or sister ever again. Remember, in 1950, the only way to get to or from America was by way of an ocean liner. Cheap air travel was decades away. Ellis received a lot of help from a Catholic priest in Brooklyn. That help allowed her to thrive in her new home.

Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York

Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York

So when one arrives by ship to New York, here is what one sees. In the early part of the 20th century, life was tough for Irish Catholics in America. It’s important to note that the name of the main character was Ellis which is the name of Ellis Island where every emigrant arrived in New York.

So here’s what it says on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We need to remember this when we hear people like Donald Trump talking about building a wall to keep out the Mexicans or keeping out Syrian refugees. Go back and read it again and again until it burns into your soul. This is what America is about, not building a wall.

Once upon a time it was the Irish Catholics. Now it is the Muslims and refugees. Who is next?

 

 

 

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