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June 22, 2012

We’ve Forgotten Emma Lazarus’ Words

Harry M. Covert

I believe in law and order. I am a devotee of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These are the basic tenets of civil and religious life in Maryland and the rest of the 50 states. There’s no question we like to brag about this all over.


Let’s face it we like to boast about all of the good works emanating from our shores.


Yes, we should abide by the laws and expect and require newcomers to do the same thing. I have to say it here and now that we’re becoming a mean-spirited people and blatantly selfish in welcoming people from other parts of the world to our society.


I know. Lots of people have arrived illegally and continue to do so in large numbers. It must be reported that far more families arrive properly and become and are good citizens. Surely, the national immigration laws and policies need urgent fixing – and immediately. Not every illegal immigrant coming to American shores is criminal or a troublemaker.


Have we forgotten Emma Lazarus’ words, inscribed on a statue in New York Harbor, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”


Yes, we have.


We’re admonished to be kind one to another, not when it’s just convenient, but all the time. We’ve made “illegals” and immigration political and divided a nation of wonderful people who are being hoodwinked constantly by would-be experts just trying to get votes and sell books.


How often have we heard the careless words, “send ’em back”? “They’re taking jobs from us;” and “it costs too much to feed them.” One caveat says taxpayers and schools suffer from the influx.


It’s time to talk about the contributions the “immigrants” have made for hundreds of years. “Illegal immigrants” is not a proper term as far as I’m concerned. There’s no way to list the names of all those who’ve come by boats, airplanes and all sorts of other means and been valuable in all walks of life. I can think of many – here in Frederick County and elsewhere in the state.


Yes, it’s easy to talk about those who’ve committed crimes. It scares people.


I was glad to see the president do what the Congress on both sides of the aisle would not do. He will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they meet certain requirements. Some argue it was merely for political purposes. What’s so surprising about that? It’s the right thing to do.


From firsthand knowledge I know people from other countries want to come to America, where it’s no joke that they’ve heard the streets are paved in gold. This is not a joke. I know a Sudanese man who walked two weeks from southern Sudan to Khartoum hoping for a new life.


I know of a young Chinese man, born in Texas, educated at the University of Maryland. He got into a fight and was convicted of felony assault. He was set for deportation to China. He’d never been out of the U.S. A merciful court imposed an 11-month sentence to allow him to remain stateside.


How cruel is it to make parents leave their U.S.-born children because they don’t have green cards?


I may well be a soft touch. No apologies, though. There’s plenty room in the Land of Liberty and, as I’ve always known, Maryland is the land of pleasant living.


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