Opinion: Is Lady Liberty a welcoming beacon or a warning to immigrants?

Karen Madej

Photo by Matthis from Pexels

The Statue of Liberty has graced the skyline of New York since 1886. What is its true meaning? At first glance, tourists will stand in awe of her beauty and presence. They wonder as they climb up inside her to see through her eyes if freedom is what she offers. Her torch lights the way to the American Dream.

Despite her sonnet, The New Colossus, raising donations for the gift from France to stand on, American poet Emma Lazarus’s work was forgotten at the grand opening in 1886. However, some well-known newspaper publishers printed her poem. 

Later in 1901, support from her friend, Georgina Schuyler, managed to memorialize the poem, inscribed and cast into a bronze plaque and mounted on the inside of the pedestal.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Emma Lazarus, 1883
By Series: Reagan White House Photographs, 1/20/1981 - 1/20/1989Collection: White House Photographic

Put the American Dream out of your mind. She’s there to remind the millionaires, billionaires, and those who aspire to capitalistic gain they can always make money on the backs of others. And for the poor, she stands over, taunting them with the dream of riches they’ll never achieve.

Lady Liberty could signify taking liberties when powerful whites deny immigrants the liberty to live their dreams. Trample their hopes and work them like slaves.

There’s nothing for nothing, and Trump wanted immigrants to know that.

Ken Cuccinelli, Trump’s acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, added the warning:

“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge”

The Public Charge Rule states what the United States of America expects from people to get a Green Card and coveted Citizenship. For example, immigrants who use any public benefits for longer than 12 months in a thirty-six-month period will not be granted citizenship. 

Of course, if you have friends and money, you are more than welcome.

What do you think? Is Lady Liberty a welcoming beacon or a warning to immigrants these days?

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.


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