The bronze plaque, located in the Statue of liberty exhibit on the second floor of the pedestal, is inscribed with the sonnet “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.
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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
America was built on immigration, and so it continues today. A great many of us were born here, but somewhere in our family history we have ancestors that came here from another land.
It so happens that mine came from England along with John Alden and the pilgrims. My family settled in New England before coming west to California with the railroad. We have a rich history as Americans, but with that history I am no better or more entitled to this land than any recent immigrants.
There is a very selfish attitude that those who arrive first can now keep others from following. A few years ago during a debate on whether or not amnestly should be granted to the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. the local news interviewed a man that was currently illegal and asked about the prospect of amnesty. In his non-English native language which was translated for the news he stated that amnesty should be granted for all undocumented workers, but that they should then tighten the rules and penalties for those who arrive later. In other words, he was saying that now that he was here the government shouldn’t let any more immigrants in the country. I’m sure his opinion would have been different if he were still on the other side of the border, but his attitude is very typical of the anti-immigration proponents in our country. I am here, don’t let anybody else in that might give me more competition for jobs, housing or other benefits of this great country. This attitude is anathema to what our country stands for.