America should be haven for immigrants

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 2, 2006

To the Editor:

Immigration has become a hot topic issue the last few years. All of us, excluding indigenous American Indians, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants.

Even American Indians are thought to have crossed over from Siberia along a one time land route from Russia to Alaska over 11,000 years ago. If true, then we are all immigrants to some degree with American Indians having the most standing as indigenous.

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The immigration policies of America have served us well in the past.

Contributions to our society have been enormous by immigrants seeking religious freedom, entrepreneurship and a better standard of living in general. People immigrated to our shores in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

In Emma Lazarus’s (1849-1887) famous poem, The New Colossus, she set the tone of our immigration policy. The poem is engraved on a plaque and placed in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. It says in part:

“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!”

And they came, but in an orderly fashion through Ellis Island. Most were sponsored by family members or entrepreneurs with waiting jobs. At the time, people were needed to fill the vast expanse of wilderness from shore to shore of a fledgling nation with serious growing pains.

Times and circumstances change, but I still believe in Emma Lazarus’s poem and the American philosophy it eluded to. Emma Lazarus was an American of fourth generation Jewish descent.

The words of her sonnet are inspirational and uplifting conveying a message of hope and compassion for the world.

I’ve read this poem many times and find no references to open borders, people gaining entry illegally, or stampeding herds being given passage into our country. My hope is we will always have an immigration policy based on need, order and purpose.

In the past, we have been a safe haven for those fleeing oppression. They came, but they came legally and with our knowledge and consent.

Many of those who came have repaid America with their service to our country, to their state of residency and community. A better example of good immigration you will not find than Charles V. Pollack. Forced to flee Europe or face incarceration and possibly death in a Nazi concentration camp, he came, and what a blessing for America.

It would take several paragraphs to list his accomplishment and service to our country, state and community. Charles V. Pollack represents all that is good about America and the ideals engraved on the plaque attached to the Statue of Liberty.

He has repaid America with kindness, good works and devotion to God and country.

Our country cannot tolerate nor survive the onslaught of illegal immigrants pouring across our borders. Immigration has to be legal and with our consent otherwise we will face serious consequences down the road. Congress has already authorized a laundry list of benefits for illegal immigrants including payment for emergency healthcare. There will surely be more to come.

The Statue of Liberty is an American icon seen as the symbol of freedom around the world.

Long may she stand with the uplifted arm holding the beacon of hope for those who choose to immigrate to our shores legally. May those who enter dedicate themselves to assimilating into the fabric of America, the most compassionate country on earth.

James G. Smith