We are the golden door of the world
By Rev. Vernon H. Naffier
The words by Emma Lazarus “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free…the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door” are inscribed on our Statue of Liberty. These familiar words have become almost jaded in our memory.
This year hundreds of children threatened by violence and death in Central America fled to our border for refuge and protection. Our elected officials responded by refusing to receive them and acted instead to have them deported back into their dangerous situations. This year Max Villatoro, pastor of a congregation in Iowa City, was arrested outside of his home by ICE officials to be deported leaving behind his wife and four children. Many Christians and humanitarians, including myself, pleaded with our elected and hired officials to keep him here with his congregation and family. Our pleas fell on deaf ears. He was deported.
Constantino Morales, a former policeman in Mexico who fought against drug dealers in his country, fled for his life to Iowa for fear of being killed by drug cartels in Mexico[“Brother of slain deported man: ‘We fought to keep him here,” April 11]. We pleaded with our representatives and other officials to advocate for him to keep him here. Again our pleas fell on deaf ears. He was mercilessly deported. On April 5 he was shot and killed in Mexico by drug criminals who threatened to kill him if he ever returned to Mexico.
We, who are the golden door of the world, with the Lady lifting high her lamp of freedom at our shore, have the blood of children on our hands. We will eventually be called to give account by our Creator, who made us to be brothers and sisters looking out for one another, especially for the poor, the needy and the endangered.