Home Illinois News Thorner: Curse of Poet Emma Lazarus Lives on in Lady Liberty

Thorner: Curse of Poet Emma Lazarus Lives on in Lady Liberty


By Nancy Thorner - 

Emma Lazarus was born on July 22, 1849 into a wealthy New York family that was descended from Sephardic Jewish Americans. She wrote The New Colossus, the poem for which she is best-known today, in 1883. It was created to sell at an auction to raise money to build the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty would stand in New York harbor. Although the statue was a gift from the people of France, American, contributors paid for the platform. In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal's lower level

Designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, The Statue of Liberty representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of Freedom and originally called, Liberty Enlightening the World, was given by France to the United States as a gift to commemorate the American Revolution. It was never intended to be used as a symbol to all who entered New York City harbor that America welcomes immigrants to its shores.  Instead, America sought to use it as a symbol of republicanism, not the party but the form of government. The statue had little or nothing to do with immigration except that Bartholdi placed his statue on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor because he knew, if located there, everyone passing in and out of the harbor would see it. It wasn’t until Emma Lazarus wrote her now famous poem that the Statue of Liberty became associated with immigration.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

These words by Emma Lazarus, as they appear at the end her sonnet, The New Colossus, are now interpreted by many as an unconditional welcome to all who enter this nation, under any circumstances, thus shaping the way many Americans view immigration policy.

"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-lost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Not too surprisingly, Emma Lazarus, who penned the words that were engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty about huddled masses yearning to breathe free, was a Jewish socialist, most likely a nice person, but she wasn't an elected official. Even so, many on the Left are pretending Emma Lazarus was establishing national policy or that it’s our diversity that makes this country such a wonderful nation.

In no way am I against legal immigration, as my ancestors of Pennsylvania Deutch (German) heritage came from Germany to Pennsylvania in 1738 and settled near Philadelphia, PA; however, I believe the advantages brought about through diversity are widely exaggerated.

Past Immigration

At the time of this nation’s creation, our Founding Fathers, men of the caliber of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Mason and Franklin, acting as midwives at the birth of the United States, represented very little diversity. English was their common language; they were all of the same race, sex and religion; and it's difficult to dispute that our nation has ever been in better hands.

For decades people risked everything, including their lives, to get here because they believed there was nothing better than being an American.  Most of them understood that the streets weren’t really paved with gold.  It was the promise that was golden.  The promise was that if you learned the common language, obeyed the laws and worked hard, you would succeed to the extent that your abilities would allow; and, what’s more, your American children would be free to pursue and perhaps even achieve their wildest dreams.

Today's immigration

That was then. Today, millions of immigrants, including some who make it here legally, assume they don’t have to learn English or assimilate to our culture and values, but, rather, that we accommodate theirs.  Moreover, they believe they are entitled to collect welfare, get free health services and even vote in our elections. Naturally, the always dependable ACLU is fighting for illegal aliens to have the right to vote in presidential elections.

But can we really place all the blame on immigrants, both illegal and illegal, who after arriving in this country become dependent on the free perks and unconditional services handed out by our government (courtesy of taxpayers) for their living, hand-outs that not even American citizens are privy to.   It is, after all, what a great many sources are telling immigrants, people like college professors, newspaper publishers, owners of cable TV stations, Hollywood celebrities and, worst of all, members of Congress.

Lazarus' Words Used to Thwart Trump

After President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration in January of 2017, many critics quickly took up a familiar rallying cry, lifting words from the Statue of Liberty that have for decades represented American immigration: “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” 

Prominent among them were former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as they condemned Trump’s suspension of the country’s refugee assistance program, for didn't the words of the poem say that the afflicted and oppressed of the world should be welcomed regardless of religion?  The before-mentioned individuals were either unaware or chose not to recognize that when Lazarus wrote her poem to help raise funds for the statue’s pedestal, she ignored the stated purposeof the colossal sculpture, a French-built homage to America’s republican government, focusing instead on her concern over Jewish pogroms in Russia.

Immigration Reform stalls because of compassionate-driven approach

Is it any wonder why immigration reform is stalled when legislators calling for comprehensive immigration reform on both sides of the aisle tend to use the Lazarus words as a compassionate-driven approach to tug at the heartstrings of the American people?  Consider what happened recently when a compromise couldn't be reached on so-called Dreamers.  Under an Executive Order set in place by President Obama, the "Dreamer" law would allow unauthorized migrants brought to America as children a fast track to citizenship if they meet certain conditions

As hokey as Emma Lazarus’s words are when used to win popular appeal for immigrants, people named Schumer, Warren, Pelosi, Durbin, Feinstein, Warner, Sanders and Blumenthal would like to add one additional line to the poem:  "Send us those yearning to vote for Democrats." 

In a closely related matter, Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, whose popularity among the city’s blacks has descended to levels unseen since the heyday of George Wallace and Bull Connor, is so desperate to be re-elected, he has come up with a city card which would give Chicago’s illegal aliens the right to vote. Not only has Emanuel turned Chicago into a sanctuary, but he has taken another giant step in his attempt to turn Chicago into Ciudad Chicago, Mexico's northern-most municipality. 

Cost of Illegal Immigration far exceeds cost of Wall.

  • At the federal, state, and local levels, taxpayers shell out approximately $134.9 billion to cover the costs incurred by the presence of more than 12.5 million illegal aliens, and about 4.2 million citizen children of illegal aliens.
  • This is also rather more than the single payment of $25 billion that it will cost to build a wall — five and a half times more, and every year.
  • In 2015, included in the DEA's drug-threat assessment was the fact that drug overdoses killed more people in the United States than car accidents or guns. Many of these drugs [were] smuggled in large volumes by drug cartels." 

As a sovereign nation, this nation has the right to set immigration limits as to the number of immigrants allowed to enter this nation based on what they are able to contribute to this nation, instead of massive numbers of illegal immigrants who have crossed over our borders, many of whom are takers who drain the limited financial resources available to our nation.


  1. This is all very good information.
    But we pointed it all out to you back in the mid-90’s.
    And where were you and the Republicans and the conservatives back then?
    Dan Proft was afraid of even touching the subject back then.
    And he was pro-open borders. Until he saw that most conservatives were fed up with it.
    Then Proft – like most Illinois conservative “leaders” said — “In which way is the parade going? So that we can get in front.”
    Illinois Republicans are a joke. They now want to shut the barn door after the horse has left.
    You know – I like Rep. Jeanne Ives – but may not even bother to vote this year, because of the corruption of the GOP and the conservative movement in Illinois.
    I know a girl in Switzerland.
    That seems a good place to live.

  2. Where was I? I was just starting to write in the mid-90’s. It was around then that I found out that I could write and since then my writing has never stopped.
    I find Republicans in this state appalling. It is establishment Republicans who are destroying the Republican Party here in Illinois. As a citizen writer i just write as I see things and don’t cater to any political leaders, of whom there are very few in this state.
    I have always been against illegal immigrants, and the situation is terrible up here in Lake County. It so disturbs me that Republican Lake County Sheriff, Mark Curran, advised failed governor Rauner to make Illinois into a sanctuary state. I have no use for establishment Republicans, so I am indeed in the tiny minority who are concerned with the direction of this state and how at the federal level a shadow government — including so-called Republicans — are attempting to desrtoy Trump and his administration. To me they are guilty of treason!

  3. “At the federal, state, and local levels, taxpayers shell out approximately $134.9 billion to cover the costs incurred by the presence of more than 12.5 million illegal aliens, and about 4.2 million citizen children of illegal aliens.”
    False, because this is a cost-only-not-benefits figure.
    It’s been repeatedly demonstrated[1] that the contributions to BOTH the economy AND the federal fisc by immigrants (yes, including your “illegals”) greatly exceed the costs.
    States and cities that welcome immigration uniformly enjoy economic growth exceeding that of those that do not, and the ones that impose obstacles tend to suffer stagnation and shrinkage.
    Older (disproportionately Republican) voters should especially appreciate those “illegals;” they’re paying for your SS bennies, and most of them will never collect on theirs.
    “This is also rather more than the single payment of $25 billion that it will cost to build a wall — five and a half times more, and every year.”
    An especially ludicrous assertion; “the Wall” will not cost $25 billion — that’s an initial “estimate,” and deliberately, maliciously low-balled. The most conservative (as it were) REAL cost estimate is $40B; more realistic estimates top $100B.
    “In 2015, included in the DEA’s drug-threat assessment was the fact that drug overdoses killed more people in the United States than car accidents or guns. Many of these drugs [were] smuggled in large volumes by drug cartels.”
    Which has absolutely nothing to do with IMMIGRATION, legal or otherwise.
    Are you determined to prove that you’re arguing in bad faith?
    This is a good way to do so.
    Until the Chinese started pushing fake fentanyl on us in a big way (and NOT thru the southern border, btw, so yr Wall would do less than nothing about this problem), most of those overdoses were from prescribed pills sold by American drug corp’s such as (but not limited to) Purdue Pharma, makers and purveyors of OxyContin.
    That’s your free-market unregulated capitalism at work there — but curiously, I don’t see you writing about that problem.
    Hit your character limit — or is that just an ideological blind spot?

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