President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban has become a dominant force of discussion. The initial travel ban was temporarily halted by a federal judge but the Trump Administration is working on a new version which would impose similar restrictions on Muslim-majority countries and retain the 50,000 refugee cap, a reduction from the Obama years. Furthermore, the Trump administration has announced they would widen the net for deporting illegal immigrants in the USA. The Department of Homeland Security has also announced expanded immigration enforcement policies. The shift in immigration policy has led many to question how these policies align with the values of the USA, historically a country of immigrants which in the past has prided itself on welcoming these individuals and integrating them into society, as it signals a clear change from this perspective towards one that is less welcoming.
Earlier this week, a “refugees welcome” banner was attached to the Statue of Liberty in New York. Placed across the observation deck, the banner was removed an hour later by park rangers due to a prohibition on attaching items to the monument. In a statement emailed to a local news station, a group named Alt Lady Liberty claimed responsibility for the action, stating that they were “just private citizens who felt like [they] needed to say something about the America [they] believe in.” The statement also highlighted the Muslim travel ban, in particular how it “flies against everything that is great about America.” Due to the Statue of Liberty’s symbol as an icon of freedom, many on social media have noted the irony of a pro-refugee banner being removed from the monument; an engraving at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads “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.”
These harsher restrictions on immigration have been controversial and as such, Alt Lady Liberty’s stunt is not unexpected.
While this action may seem insignificant in the broader context, it does indicate that there is a portion of the American population who are against these strict immigration rules, as they are simply not a reflection of the identity of the USA. As Alt Lady Liberty stated, “[they] wanted to send a reminder today about America [at its] best – the country that’s a beacon of freedom to the world, built by immigrants… walling off countries or entire religions is against our values [and] that’s what the Statue of Liberty stands for.” It is important that the opinions and views of everyone is considered by those drafting the immigration rules in the USA. While the USA has every right to ensure its security of its citizens, it ought also to maintain its values and identity as a nation.
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