Undocumented huddled masses can yearn somewhere else

Today is the Birthday of the Statue of Liberty. Bob Hunter, at the United Way, sent out an email with the original poem that that statue inspired, and it is a lovely sentiment:

“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.”

Needless to say, that was a lovely sentiment in 1886 when coming to America involved successfully getting off the boat.

Not written on the monument is that those who came hardly got a warm welcome — the Irish, for example, found the golden door led to a slum, discrimination and general disgust. Still, the idea was simple: We are a nation of immigrants, if you are an immigrant, come help us build. 

Times have changed. In light of that, I sent Bob back a slightly updated version:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled non-Hispanic, Non-Asian, non-Muslim English-speaking masses yearning to breathe free,


The wretched refuse of your teeming non-French shore;

Because we’re certainly not racist but it wasn’t white folk in those airliners on 9-11, after all

And it’s mostly brown skin in our jails these days, so why ask for trouble?

Send these, the acceptable homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

Right after they apply for a visa

And fill out all forms in triplicate

And wait 10 years

And prove they aren’t drug runners, or terrorists, or anyone “icky.”

After which I will lift my lamp beside the golden door

Of the Employment Office,

And tell them to get in and get a job

Or get out.”

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4 Responses to Undocumented huddled masses can yearn somewhere else

  1. Ed Brady says:

    You’re gonna get slammed by BOTH sides of the issue!

    But, then, you knew that before you even wrote it, didn’t you?

  2. ctrentelman says:

    ed, i can’t for the life of me think what you are referring to?

    I left out something about “don’t even think of asking the rest of us to push 1 for English”

    hmmm. one of the recaptcha words is “sinceritas.” Damn spanish speakers, sneaking in everywhere.

  3. Bob Becker says:

    You’re focusing on the low-end immigrant [like my grandfather, came over from Italy from a hill town near Parma in 1907], but we’re beginning to pay the price on high-end immigrants as well, particularly those who used to come here by the thousands to earn degrees in various areas of science and technology, and who then stayed to found companies, work on research in think tanks and universities, which kept the US at the cutting edge of science and technological innovation for a long time.

    No more. Post 9/11 has made it much more difficult for such to come here to study and they are coming in smaller numbers. And when they’ve done with their studies, they’re leaving for other places where the cutting edge science is now being done. The US was for a long long time [Los Alamos to about a decade ago] the place to be to do leading edge experimental physics. Now the center is at CERN in Europe. And the papers just this week reported that the US no longer has the fasted computer in the world: that’s now in China, and it’s considerably faster than the one we have here. An American who developed a cost-effective way to “mine” [he calls it surface-mining] metals and chemicals from mountains of discarded computers, cell phones, etc. has had to move most of his business to China where the Chinese government is very interested in leasing employing his technology, while ours is not. Biomed researchers have begun moving to Europe as well as religious-based limits on research began to be imposed here under the last Bush administration [stem cell research limits, e.g.] The list of such examples grows a little longer by the month.

    On the cutting edge is where innovation and the new Microsofts and IBMs etc. are born. It will be no small cost to the American economy [jobs, pay, pubic revenue] if much of the innovation that had been done here moves off shore.

    For all that American immigration policy at the socio-economic low end is a shambles, and it is, it’s problems at the socio-economic high end may in the end cost us all a great deal more.

  4. Owain says:

    Hey, the blog page is working for me at last. For the moment…

    Most folks today I know of are still pro-immigration. Legal immigration. There just needs to be a line drawn to exclude folks breaking the law to come here.

    Get in line. Obey the law. Is that too much to ask?

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