Emma Lazarus’s Fundraising Poem Had Nothing to Do With Immigration

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Emma Lazarus

The left re-writes history to make their points as CNN’s Jim Acosta did yesterday during a press conference with Stephen Miller. Miller was presenting the new U.S. policy which is an old policy, a return to merit-based immigration.

The left wants people to believe that Emma Lazarus’s poem is the U.S. eternal policy of endless immigration by anyone from anywhere at any time.

Her poem reads, “Give me your tired, give me your poor, give me your huddled masses,” and so on. It was added two decades after the Statue of Liberty was dedicated. The statue stands for “liberty”.

That’s how the statue is named and that is what she stands for.

The poem was written as a fundraiser. When Lazarus wrote the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” she wasn’t talking about immigration, she was talking about liberty and an escape from poverty and oppression.

The poem was the winner of a Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the statue. It was written in 1883 and put on the pedestal in 1903 when it was re-discovered. It had been forgotten for two decades.

As Stephen Miller told Jim Acosta yesterday, “The poem you were referring to was added later,” Mr Miller said. “It’s not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

Mr Miller said the statue was a “symbol of American liberty lighting the world” and had little to do with immigration.

The left will tell you the Statue of Liberty became a symbol of immigration, which to them includes illegal immigration, when the Lazarus poem was put on the statue. It’s the left’s willful mis-interpretation.

The Statue of Liberty is about liberty, not illegal immigration or immigration policies that allow anyone and everyone to come into the country. In fact, in 1883, the dregs were not allowed into the country.

The Immigration Act of 1882 read:

The Treasury secretary was authorized to enter into contracts with individual states to administer immigration entry. As to categories of those deemed undesirable, the act prohibited the entry of “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” Carried over from the immigration rules of several states, the “public charge” doctrine served to bar arriving foreigners who could not show the financial ability to support themselves. Foreigners denied entry were returned to their starting points at the expense of the ship owners. Interestingly, the act made an exception for foreigners convicted of political offenses, reflecting the traditional American belief that the United States is a haven for those persecuted by foreign tyrants.

The poem has been so politicized and over-stated by leftists that it has become hackneyed and lost its original meaning referencing liberty. When I was in school, I was taught that she was speaking of liberty and I loved the poem. Now, after the leftist interpretation, I can’t stand it. Am I the only one who feels this way?

Acosta also took exception to the new old policy of favoring people who speak English. The man’s an ignoramus. He thinks we will only get immigrants from the U.K. with this system, but English is an official language in 83 countries and it’s spoken in another 55. If people take the trouble to learn the language, they deserve to be favored. They will be able to get jobs easier if they speak the language.

On January 6, 1919, former President Theodore Roosevelt wrote, and he said so on many other occasions, that immigrants must assimilate, be loyal, and speak English:

“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American.

“If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American.

“We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one soul [sic] loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”

This was the prevailing thought when the Statue of Liberty adorned New York harbor and Emma’s poem was put in an obscure part of the Statue.

If Theodore Roosevelt can get it, why can’t the leftists?

Listen to Acosta here: