“Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor” By Emma Lazarus

By Victoria Cepeda

The late Jewish-American poet Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossal” in 1883. It is a poem, that  just as the statue she was honoring, would become  synonymous of liberty and a beacon of hope.  

One hundred and twenty eight years later, The Statue of Liberty remains a symbol of protection for the displaced, the hungry and the poor of all walks of lives and nationalities. However, back then as you know, the immigrants arriving in droves into the New York Harbor were mainly Europeans. Almost simultaneously, on the west coast, thousands of Chinese were arriving to work there. Though initially welcomed, they were later practically banned from entering the U.S.. But that is a whole other topic.

Although today we still continue to receive thousands of immigrants from all over the world, with many over staying their visas and remaining here illegally, it is the Latin American immigrant that gets denigrated and, it seems, forever unwelcomed. For what particular reason? For wanting a chance at the same opportunities this nation afforded Europeans in a time when they needed it most and their own governments failed them.    

I share this with you because history provides us with facts often forgotten but impossible to deny.  Undoubtedly, immigrants have been the core, the heart and the mantle of the United States since its beginnings. But, it seems, this theory only holds true when the immigrants are from anywhere else by Latin America.

Therefore, from “Basic Reading in U.S. Democracy” let me help put things in perspective for those wanting to close the border on Latin American immigrants (primarily from Mexico)  but not the airports or seaports. In other words, for those appealing for a selective immigration policy not a fair immigration reform. 


“America had always been a magnet to Europeans, at first primarily from the British Isles, and then from the continent. But by the middle of the nineteenth century, improvements in travel, combined with political upheaval and economic difficulties, led to a significant increase in the number of people crossing the Atlantic to seek opportunity in the United States. Between 1820 and 1920, approximately 34 million persons immigrated to the United States, three-fourths of them staying permanently.”

We need true immigration reform that reflects the willingness of people from all over the world that come to America for a new life, willing to work  hard and defend this nation, sometimes at all costs. A reform that also captures our dreamers, our hard working undocumented people and deports anyone not willing to obey the law. We should keep pounding. Pa’lante


by Emma Lazarus

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-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”



Source: Emma Lazarus, The Poems of Emma Lazarus, vol.1 (1889), 2


Basic Reading in U.S. Democracy


[Photos by dvardea.blogspot.com]

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