When my grandmother Elizabeth Cooney arrived from Ireland 100 years ago, she was greeted in New York harbor by a statuesque lady proclaiming, ‘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.”
How the times have changed. This week, the news carries stories of busloads of frightened children from war-torn, impoverished Central and South American countries being met at our southern border and showered with hateful insults by flag-waving descendants of yesterday’s European immigrants telling them to go home.
What will it take for the 535 members of the Congress of the United States to summon the moral and political courage to reflect upon their own immigrant histories and pass comprehensive immigration reform? Our nation of immigrants is becoming a nation of belligerents.