Immigration Statue Poem

FILE — The Statue of Liberty wields her torch, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, on a cloudy and foggy afternoon in New York. Long before a Trump administration official suggested the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty welcomed only people from Europe, the words captured America's promise to newcomers at a time when the nation was also seeking to exclude many immigrants from landing on its shores.

To the editor — In the 1800's, one of my grandfathers lived in extreme poverty in a small English village. The Mormon Church paid for his family’s passage to Council Bluffs, Iowa. His descendants are successful Pottawattamie County farmers.

One of my grandmothers was a school teacher in Germany. She became pregnant by a man who took off. She with her child came to America. Her great-grandchildren became successful wheat farmers. One even organized a bank.

These are common American stories of people pulling themselves up from the bottom — the very definition of being an American. President Reagan pointed out in his farewell address because of freedom and opportunity, people who come to live in America become Americans — the only place in the world this happens. People new to Germany don't become Germans, same is true in England, Japan, China or Greece. It's the immigrants' spirit seeing opportunity, willing to work hard, finding new ways that defines them as Americans.

The administration's new public charge rule attempts to engender fear and criminalize lawful low-income immigrants. Both of my grandparents, because of their low income and suffering, even the possibility of needing help, would have been declared public charges and ineligible for green cards or citizenship.