“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
These words have resonated in the hearts and minds of America’s immigrants for over a century, and to many they expressed what exactly America was; A new beginning, a new life; a new world ripe for exploration and progress.
Millions gazed upward at the Statue of Liberty, the great monument of this new world and dreamed of the better life they could create for themselves and for their children.
My grandmother was one of them; A single mother in post-war Britain, she left for a new life and found it. There were highs, and there were lows, but she found that new life, and consistently throughout my childhood she spoke highly of her adopted nation and encouraged me to ponder that same decision; A chance at the American Dream.
It is evidently clear, however, that the American Dream is dying. The nation that led the world for decades and stood as a beacon for free enterprise, personal liberty (if you were the right colour) and success is now a pit of partisan politics, religious intolerance and contempt toward anything different.
Crucial to all of this is fear. Politicians fuel the fears of the American people. “What about terrorism? Financial security? Healthcare?” – They answer these questions by placing the blame on those on the outside trying to get in, all the while ignoring the bitter irony of their words.
Were it not for immigrants America would not have spread west; Without immigrants America would not have become an industrial behemoth; Without immigrants the Union would not exist, nor would they have reached the moon, cured diseases, built great cities, the list goes on.
But why should that matter now? With a president and a political movement hellbent on altering history to suit their own agenda – and crying when they feel others are doing it – facts do not matter. History and heritage does not matter. All we need are reactionary, inhumane policies that affect the present with no concern for the future.
You can trace the route of America’s demise like wreckage left in the wake of a storm. The dilution of personal liberties in the name of national security, pandering to big business while ignoring the woes of the public and needlessly meddling in foreign affairs all work hand in hand to ruin a nation. These actions are the death throws of a failing power, we have seen it before many times.
The final nail in the coffin comes when you abandon all resemblance of yourself.
The DACA affair shows that many in America value immigration, but also the antagonism toward it. Years of scaremongering from the media and political elite have led Americans to believe that foreigners are their enemy and a danger to America, despite having taken up the role of doctors, service personnel, police officers and countless other public and private sector roles.
Whether you’re a first generation American or your roots go deeper, there are very few in America who can claim to be truly from those lands. All but a select few are the sons and daughters of immigrants, who in their deepest despair escaped from torment and poverty to find a new life; Many Americans would do well to remember this, and those who fight and support the weary and downtrodden people struggling to reach America – or to stay there – are true patriots, not the zealots who claim to be.