The New Colossus
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!”
by Emma Lazarus

I don’t think I ever read the full poem before, but after reading Paul Krugman’s latest, I thought I should.

Three weeks ago ~300K marched in the streets of Chicago in protest of HR 4437: Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.

On April 10th, ten cities across the United States will take part in a National Day of Action on Immigrant Rights. Philadelphia, San Antonio, Chicago, Denver, Las Cruces, LA, Milwaukee, NYC, Tuscon and Washington and maybe more cities will hold rallies/marches. I’m thinking about taking a half day to make it out to take some photos of the events here in Philly.

But how relevant is that poem in 2006 and beyond? How relevant should it be? I think that a 700 mile long fence is a hasty and ill-advised “solution” if you could even call it that, but what to do? Krugman’s concluding thoughts:

Realistically, we’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants. Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration. But the harsh anti-immigration legislation passed by the House, which has led to huge protests — legislation that would, among other things, make it a criminal act to provide an illegal immigrant with medical care — is simply immoral.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush’s plan for a “guest worker” program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who’d love to have a low-wage work force that couldn’t vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.

What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to citizenship? I’d still be careful. Whatever the bill’s intentions, it could all too easily end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice — that is, it could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I’d rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

Man Eegee has a diary on the Senate debate on immigration reform.

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