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The most memorable song I learned as a teenager was the poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty, set to music: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore; send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

These words capture the essence of the American dream and commitment to welcome, to provide safe-haven, and give hope to those in need or danger. Growing up six decades ago, I knew my great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland and Germany seeking a better life and that I benefited from their efforts. The promise of this poem must continue as a beacon to others.

This past year, President Donald Trump and his supporters are undermining this beautiful American ideal. From deliberately destroying the hopes of young people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, to trying to build a wall to keep our desperate people fleeing from violence and poverty, to ending protections for people from Haiti and El Salvadore who came after their countries were devastated by natural disasters, to Trump’s latest ugly, hateful rant (using a slur to describe African countires), I am dismayed by the blatant racism this administration displays to the world.

My heart breaks for the immigrant families who are suffering and being torn apart because of this administration’s cruel words and policies. This is so wrong. The United States was built by immigrants. We must continue to be compassionate and use our many resources to assist those in need.

Being patriotic today means demanding government policies and laws that make the words on the Statue of Liberty as true for today’s immigrants — wherever they come from, whatever their ethnicity — as they were for my great-grandparents.

PAT LONG

West Manchester Township

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