Not so long ago
America was once viewed as the “shining city on the hill,” with Lady Liberty’s torch lighting the way and welcoming those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. We recognized and honored our nation’s immigrant roots, and were grateful for the priceless contributions made by those choosing to uproot their lives to start anew and become part of this unfolding American tapestry.
We learned that our diversity was a source of America’s unique strength, resiliency, creativity and resourcefulness, helping her to grow into a truly great nation. Our now almost forgotten national motto — e pluribus unum (out of many, one) — reflected the true spirit of America, where all were united by our shared vision and values regardless of our skin color, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. These shared values included a deep respect for individual freedoms, rights, and dignity transcending any perceived differences, along with a sense of basic human decency, compassion and kindness toward those in need.
But over the past 2 years or so, things have changed dramatically.
Under the Trump administration, that “shining city” has gone rather dark, and the light from Lady Liberty’s torch has been dimmed. Those facing conditions so incredibly horrendous and life-threatening that they saw no choice but to flee and seek asylum are no longer welcome here. They are currently viewed through the jaundiced eyes of fear, bigotry and hatred, and are demonized and dehumanized by those in power. They are caged like animals in overcrowded and appalling conditions for extended periods of time, their families torn apart and their children forcibly taken away – conditions disturbingly reminiscent of some of the darkest moments in modern world history.
And these unimaginably cruel policies, seemingly designed to inflict additional suffering on these most vulnerable and needy people seeking our help, are enthusiastically put into action by Mr. Trump and his underlings, apparently for their own self-serving political purposes.
Is this what we have become? Is this the kind of America we now want to be? This situation at our southern border is a staggering humanitarian crisis, and our government’s response to it so far is an unimaginable national disgrace. We are better than this — aren’t we?
It is time to demand that our leaders now set aside their partisan differences and come together in an all out effort to best address the issues underlying this shameful situation. It is surely a difficult and complicated task given the intertwined border security, humanitarian and immigration policy issues entailed, but it has now become a moral imperative for our nation to find the courage and resolve to finally do what is needed to develop an sensible and practical system for balancing our border security needs with a humane and reasonable immigration policy as quickly as possible rather than allowing this currently unfolding American tragedy to continue. To do anything less in this pivotal moment would be morally intolerable and unworthy of what America was meant to be, and our response now will determine the kind of nation we want to be and are becoming. History is closely watching.
Dale E. Buonocore,