Shining the Light of The New Colossus Into Arizona by Walter Brasch

by Walter Brasch
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
July 26, 2010

Two things are assured this coming week. One is that Arizona will do its best to put into practice its controversial anti-immigration bill. The other is that a federal district court will rule whether that law is constitutional.

The Arizona law requires all law enforcement officials who stop anyone for any reason to determine if that person may be an illegal resident. If the person can’t produce documentation, the police are required to detain the individual and to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Arizona law is mostly based upon the fear by Arizonans that the state is being overrun by Hispanic illegals, and that the federal government isn’t curbing the problem. However, the Obama administration has increased both personnel and funding for immigration enforcement. Critics have also complained about President Obama’s recommendation for a one-time general amnesty for undocumented workers and their families who have no criminal records. That same proposal by George W. Bush, which included other immigration reform, was never enacted into law because of the opposition by the extreme right wing.

Most law enforcement officers, including most Arizona police don’t like this law. It takes away time and resources; it also creates a barrier between police and undocumented workers, who often cooperate with the police in their investigations because they know the police will not notify ICE. There is no doubt that police will have a serious problem locating undocumented workers who could be witnesses. More important, police community relations will deteriorate under the new law.

Contrary to the panic and fear demonstrated by certain citizens, contrary to the politician rants to get media attention, and contrary to the media which have under-reported the good that minority cultures bring to the nation but have exaggerated criminal activity, most undocumented workers are neither lazy nor are criminals. Most don’t use the welfare system or hospital ERs because they are afraid of being caught and deported.

The federal lawsuit avoids the Constitutional issues of civil rights and due process violations. It asks the federal district court in Phoenix to rule that the Constitution reserves all immigration issues and enforcement solely to the federal government. No matter what the ruling, it is likely there will be an appeal, which will eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Perhaps it’s time to reflect not upon the words not of myriad bloggers, pundits, and politicians, who have flooded the airwaves with their own opinions, mostly unsupported by facts, but upon the words of one American poet from more than a century ago.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty, carved into bronze, is a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. It was written in support of a fund-raising drive to get enough money to build the pedestal. The sonnet is titled, “The New Colossus”:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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!”

Emma Lazarus was a relatively wealthy Portuguese Jew, whose family had emigrated to America and lived in New York City for generations. But in 1882, the year before she wrote her sonnet, she began working with masses of Russian Jews who had come to America to escape poverty and persecution. She helped teach them English and job skills. But in America, the Jews were discriminated against—often by the children of immigrants from other cultures who now worried that America was being overrun by immigrants.

Perhaps Arizonans and the nation, most of whom are the descendants of immigrants, need to again hear the words that the descendant of immigrants once wrote—the words that America is a place of refuge for the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

[Walter Brasch’s latest books are the witty and probing Sex and the Single Beer Can, a look at American culture and the mass media; and Sinking the Ship of State, an overview of the Bush–Cheney presidency. Both are available at, and other stores. You may contact Brasch at]


Protofascism Comes to America: The Rise of the Tea Party by Ted Rall

The Daily Show: Latino 911! + Arizona’s Photo Radar + Arturo Rodriguez on The Colbert Report

The Truth Shall Not be Spoken in Arizona by Glen Ford



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11 thoughts on “Shining the Light of The New Colossus Into Arizona by Walter Brasch

  1. Pingback: ‘Go Ahead, Try and Make Me Pay You’: Wage Theft and S.B. 1070 + Illegal Invasion Or Economic Scapegoat? « Dandelion Salad

    • So glad you posted these. Indeed there remains much more to Catholics than only amazing old art & architecture.

      Ironically so many latinos are conservative catholics. It’s discrimination that is so intolerable, and for centuries discrimination is made in amerigah.

      However this thing gets diced, El Norte is hard. Insult to centuries of injury.

  2. so .. tell me .. how many people does it take to spell words like ”national sovernty ”? or work cheap labor explotation ”? how does one spell exploitation ?
    boy oh boy , progressives have really missed the boat on this one .

    you say learn spanish ? have you frogotten that spanish is the language of Pizzaro , and the Conquistitors? . Learn Mayan . both spanish and english are the language of the oppressors in this hemisphere.

    you want the good workers as you call it to be your slaves at slave labor . no dice .

    • I’m a humanist, not a nationalist (if isms & schisms apply). Do NOT accuse me of exploitation. That is a serious accusation and warrants a serious response.

      Any employer abusing any worker is a criminal. Nobody I know supports abusing any worker of any ethnicity or nationality.

      But you never looked into NAFTA’s maquiladoras, did you? Did you even read the law yet?? The reason people flee Mexico is the USA. It was the USA who kept Latinos poor. Read las Venas Abiertas, watch El Norte & Romero if you need the whitebread version.

      As an employer I’ve worked harder, several days at a time if necessary, than employees. Yet my personal opinion is that employees/employers should be partners as in the Take. Who is the real socialist, the barfly pretentious preacher or the one who really did make partners of immigrants?

      National Sovereignty, as far as the USA is concerned is ongoing colonialistic exploitation, I don’t support it nor believe in it. Your concept of nationalistic ‘sovereignty’ is why we are forever at war, building our obnoxious unsustainable empire.

      If you believed in nationalism, you spend less drunken venom on me and fight the USA’s endless military assault on the sovereignty of nations of no threat to the USA.

      Spanish is a prettier language than Cooter. Many in the EU speak American English plus a third language. Lacking the language of our neighbors is pathetic. Your ‘sovereignty’ translates to ‘White American Exceptionalism’, sounds Southern to me. The Spaniards and the English were both vile.

      Why don’t you learn Chocktaw if you’re going to live on the land your ‘sovereign nation’ STOLE??

      Once again, for the last time, 1070 was NOT about worker’s rights. I do NOT support abuse of workers. If you say it again, it’s slander, and vile.

      • natureboy — have you forgot about the sex slave trade via illegals !? i am not white nationalists. absurd. turning a blind eye to exploitation is a crime ethically . that is why the 2 party system loves illegals ! i repeat — they love illegals . follow the money pal .

        i am not saying that you exploit anyone . i am saying that the response to the arizona law is race card response in order to deflect the issue away from how the illegals have no rights , in either work or living conditions.

        NAFTA — i have studied it big time . unlike our senators who voted for it . i am big time against NAFTA AND GATT. also , against trade with china .

        the feds response to the arizona law will continue illegal sex slave trade . go to bed with that on your conscience . BETTER TO DEPORT THAN TO EXPLOIT /


        no middle ground . middle ground allows for the middle and upper classes to exploit them . the middle ground is your white exceptionalism .

        humanism and sovereignty are not opposed to each other. we can choose to use our sovereignty and do the right thing here. and the right thing is not the middle ground between rights . its either rights, full rights , and equality , or its deportation . anything short of that is USING THESE PEOPLE FOR ONES OWN COMFORT. shame on those people that do that.

  3. Very good commentary. It should also be noted that Latin immigrants picked the crops and kept America and the troops fed while most of the men were off fighting WWII.

    The generational xenophobia in the US is incredible, seeming unable or unwilling to learn from history.

  4. Orwell understood many things correctly. Among them, the concept of the Memory Hole. Is it impossible for people to reject the national memory of only a few hundred years, and to believe that most of the residents and citizens of this nation are indigenous? I suppose so. It is well documented, and boasted about, that we took the lives and land of Native Americans and later Mexicans to increase our lebensraum under manifest destiny, enslave Africans, and to exclude Asians, discriminate against the Irish, the Italians and the Jews at the behest of the Anglo order. Now these same people who are themselves descendants of immigrants, conquerors, and genocidal maniacs want to enshrine in law the dogma of racism and class oppression. Screw elections: rise up.

  5. It’s like the mexican war again. We got cali (with its gold), Texas, NM, for $15mil. This is the legacy of manifest destiny and colonialism. Peel that border off the map, learn spanish, Enjoy the guacamoli and good workers. Take one for the team.

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