A 305-foot copper statue stands proudly and boldly in the New York Harbor. It is a symbol of both freedom and hope to millions of immigrants. The Statue of Liberty represents an opportunity for those fleeing war-torn countries and people looking for a fresh new start.
A poem by Emma Lazarus is engraved on the statue’s pedestal and reads:
“…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!”
Despite the country’s long history of accepting refugees, America is no longer seen as the welcoming safe haven of endless opportunities.
On Wednesday, President Trump signed two executive orders pertaining to immigration. The first is a call for immediate construction of a wall for the United States-Mexico border. The second is ordering a boost in border patrol forces in order to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Throughout his campaign rallies, Trump said that Mexico would pay for the wall. The money for the wall will come from American taxpayer dollars though Trump told ABC’s David Muir that Mexico would reimburse Americans. The wall can cost up to $25 billion, according to a report from Bernstein Research.
Leaked drafts of White House executive orders also show that President Trump is planning on signing orders that would prevent immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, as well as temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States, according to Vox.
Organizations like the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are advising visa holders from certain Muslim majority countries not to leave the United States due to the possibility that they may not be allowed to come back in.
An emergency rally for Muslim and immigrant rights was organized by the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington Square Park on Wednesday night.
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) January 25, 2017
Hundreds of people gathered to oppose the Muslim ban and stand in solidarity with immigrants and refugees. Protesters held signs that read “we are all immigrants” and “we love immigrant New York” and chanted “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”
On Twitter, people shared their personal stories and how their lives have been influenced by immigration using #NoBanNoWall.
— Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen (@RepKihuen) January 25, 2017
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 25, 2017
— Kenny Coble (@KennyCoble) January 26, 2017
Neither building a wall nor banning a certain faith from entering America will not make America great. It will only contribute to more xenophobia, fear mongering and division.
Our government should not be trying to scare away potential immigrants. The same way America can offer endless opportunities to immigrants, they can offer so much to the progress of this great country.
The reality is that immigrants help make America great. Their diverse languages, experiences and skills are a crucial part of the fabric of this country.
Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant. The CEO and founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, is an immigrant. I am the daughter of two Egyptian immigrants and I am proud of it.
In elementary school, I was taught that America is known as a “melting pot” and a “salad bowl” because of the diverse people welcomed into this country. I hope that Americans can still value and respect diversity and those who are looking for the opportunity to have a better life by coming to the United States.