Ellis Island

Posted on January 15, 2016 by Lesley Arnold

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!”
The sonnet written by Emma Lazarus that is on the base of the Statue of Liberty

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about immigrants. In the 8th grade Civics course with Oak Meadow you will study about the early immigrants that came to the United States to have freedom from political oppression and a new life of opportunity. People from other countries have been coming to the United States since its founding and in the beginning there were no laws or regulations about who could come. People of all nations were welcomed. Immigrants brought farm workers to work the soil, artists and craftsmen to supply communities with resources previously unavailable, and many special customs. Our experiences tell us that when many people of different cultures gather together to create communities, there may be challenges that arise because of differences. Around 1880, laws were passed preventing people with mental or physical problems from entering the United States. From that time on, many considerations, rules, and laws about foreigners entering the United States have been passed.
Today the United States has very strong immigration laws and policies that impact people wanting to cross our borders and live in the United States. There is a rigid screening process and a strong background check procedure that has been set up to protect our citizens. I feel proud that we have the values of opening our doors to people that are willing to enter the United States and become upright, responsible, and valuable workers and citizens.  Referring to Syrian refugees, in November of 2015, a Senior Administration Official said, “Slamming the door in their face would be a betrayal of our values. Our nation can welcome refugees desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. I recently read that Iain Levine, Deputy Executive Director for Program at Human Rights Watch said, “Yes, governments need to bring order to refugee processing and weed out militant extremists, but now more than ever they also need to stand with people uprooted from their homes by ideologies of hatred and help them find real protection.”
The New York Library collection of photographs of immigrants that passed through Ellis Island can give one an idea of how many people from so many different cultures and backgrounds found their way to the United States. Perhaps you have a relative that came to the United States. I do! My grandparents came through Ellis Island as farmers from Hungary. They courageously found their way to farm land in New York state and worked hard to become successful cherry farmers. I feel so grateful that they had the opportunity to come into the United States and start a new life!