To put it mildly, immigration is a touchy subject these days, even the legal kind. Plus some proposed solutions to illegal immigration are beyond cruelty and even lack commonsense. Whatever our feelings on the topic, this land is a nation of immigrants. We would not and could not exist as we are without Lady Liberty’s engraved promise from Emma Lazarus, which she wrote in 1883:
“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.”
Most of us are probably not aware there is more to the poem, but the full text is available through the National Park Service and elsewhere.
Long before the Statue of Liberty arrived from France (you can read that unexpected and fascinating story here), people were pouring into this near-empty land. Whoever you think arrived here first, they were followed by thousands and then by millions more people.
We haven’t yet exceeded our capacity to receive more immigrants. Even so, many of our largest cities have been overwhelmed by the most recent floods of people. They can NOT absorb more without the crime rate soaring to new heights and quality of life sinking below the worst humanity can offer. Our government entities at all levels simply haven’t paid enough attention to the required infrastructure, so that immigrants can be “processed” (as I was) in a manner that leads to assimilation with respect on all sides. Respect for and by newcomers can be hard to come by at the best of times.
We each walk our own path in life and end up at different destinations. Sometimes it’s what God would like for us and where He would like us to be – to be safe, loved and protected by others who believe as we do. Then again, He often weeps over the dumb choices we make. It’s up to us to repent of any stupid decisions that have put us on a path that’s thornier than it ever needed to be. If we have to beat through bushes to get back over to the right pathway without totally retracing our steps, we can do it. It would be so much easier not to take the wrong path through the woods in the first place, although we need to seek Divine guidance to do that.
Whenever I look at the difficult decisions I had to make over the past 50 years, often wishing I could take back some of them, I end up on my knees asking God if I’m still in the right place. So far, the Holy Spirit has confirmed I was meant to be here, as he told me when I was still a child.
It wasn’t till I was listening recently to a Neil Diamond songfest on Pandora radio that I realized why I can’t seem to explain to non-immigrants why I haven’t been back to the land of my birth since the early days. One of Diamond’s many compositions is called America (from The Jazz Singer). It’s about immigrants and in the song he essentially says, “They don’t look back.”
Bingo! The light switch went on. Everyone’s circumstances are different but if we’re going to go back, we do it within the first few years. Otherwise, we keep in touch, we try to keep up on their news, both personal and political. But we stay and we don’t look back, no matter the turmoil in our new land.