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October 19, 2017

9/20/2017 1:54:00 PM
Room for a View: A Letter to Congress
By Charles Wilkinson


Dear Elected Lawmakers,

Am I wrong to presume every one of you knows and believes in the American Dream? All of you in different ways embody it and are charged with respecting its grace, protecting and nourishing its possibilities. Your constituents elected you to honor that dream and enrich the realities of this great nation, to be their voices in that process.

America was never imagined or meant to be selfish, or separate from the rest of the world. It remains, after all, a land of immigrants, along with its native Americans. From its beginning, it was never meant to be elitist, posturing with wealth and power. Many Americans may be better off than others in other lands but essentially they are no better than any other people.

America’s people, however, and its lawmakers are what makes America so special and unique. The “lamp beside the golden door” means so much more than Motel 6’s,”We’ll leave the light on for ya.” It beckons those who seek freedom, a new and better life for themselves and their children.

Children should not be punished for, in this situation, the so-called “sins” of their parents.. Like their parents, who were more than likely once Dreamers themselves, they may be technically illegals but for many if not most of them America is the only home they know; it is where their dreams have become tangible.

You all realize this, I am certain. But as lawmakers please remember that the law without a heart can be a tyrant; that law in the hands of some politicians can become a weapon of insensitive power that, for whatever gain, can harm the innocent. The Dreamers do not deserve to be collateral damage of the current political storms. You have been elected to keep America growing toward its ideals, to honor its origins and, yes, also to guard and protect its golden door.

That some among us, some in high places see Emma Lazarus’ words on the base of the Statue of Liberty more as a curse than a credo should be unsettling. Those words may be  poetry but they capture America’s historical foundation and truth and should  resonate with the immigrant in all of us. And, hopefully, in all of you, our lawmakers, as well. In these days, and for the Dreamers they bear repeating:

 “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-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(Emma Lazarus, 1849-1887)







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