This morning my thoughts keep circling back to that marvelous day in 1985 – it was February 15 – when I became a citizen of the United States of America. In just a couple of weeks I will be thirty-three years old!
Interestingly, it wasn’t that ceremony in the old Federal Courthouse on Palafox Street in Pensacola that made me an American. In a sense I already was one, and Judge Vinson’s signature simply confirmed what had already happened. Because citizenship is in many respects a spiritual experience.
Immigration is the process of getting here. Citizenship is an affair of the heart.
I believe – and I’m thinking very carefully about this – that the problem with the Trump administration’s posture is less one of substance than of tone. As a sovereign country we necessarily police our borders, and we have always carefully vetted those we allow to visit or to stay.
The problem with the Trump administration’s posture is less one of substance than of tone.
Much of what Trump has initiated this past week is – arguably – draconian, highhanded, overreaching, fear-based, discriminatory, pandering to his base, or just plain wrong; and those are discussions – arguments – worth having. But it’s the subtext, the tone, the emotional tenor that is most troubling.
It is as if the lamp held by Lady Liberty is no longer lifted so high, that the light has dimmed, or that it is partially shaded for many of the tempest-tossed.
“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!” – Emma Lazarus
We are freedom’s bright light in this world! We have always had rules, and biases, and exclusions, and injustices, and we’ve behaved terribly sometimes, especially when we have been afraid (think Native Americans, Jim Crow, Japanese-American internment camps). But in the face of all that, the international profile of America and our leaders has always been one of welcome, haven, benevolence, generosity, and refuge.
This is what is on the line right now. Not the legalese but the emotional subtext. Donald Trump’s vision of America is out of step with the heart of the American witness to the world. And that not only threatens our security, it threatens our very identity.
This is what is on the line right now. Not the legalese but the emotional subtext.
A concerned citizen; just another immigrant – Derek Maul