“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” reads Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” on an engraved bronze plaque mounted inside the Statue of Liberty’s lower level.
This tenet is one to which the United States of America has long aspired as it has welcomed immigrants from all nations, refugees fleeing from war-torn countries and the oppressed seeking asylum. And it’s one that especially resonates for Queens, which is known as the “world’s borough” due to its being the most diverse county on the planet where hundreds of languages are spoken and numerous religions are practiced.
On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump delivered a slap in the face to the way in which our nation is perceived around the world through an executive order that barred immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for 90 days. And the president’s comments in the days since hint that he is only getting started.
Questions have already been raised concerning the protocol and legality of Trump’s actions, considering that a 1965 update to the Immigration and Naturalization Act decreed that immigrants should not experience preference or discrimination based on their “race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.”
Regardless, Trump’s executive order damages our nation’s image around the world, tears families apart, emboldens our enemies – such as ISIS, who will argue that the United States discriminates against Muslims and use this as a recruitment tool – and tells immigrants hoping to seek out the American dream on our shores that they are not welcome.
The president’s decision has met with mass protests, dissent from State Department officials and a fired attorney general and legislation combating his immigration initiatives. While this is encouraging, more members of Congress need to step up and challenge Trump’s executive order, which is discriminatory, shortsighted and antithetical to the values espoused by our nation.
Many people around the world view the United States as a beacon of hope. Let it not be dimmed.