By Michel J. Faulkner
The contempt for people with dark skin that slipped out of the mouth of our president caught the anger of every white liberal, but how did it make African Americans feel? I am one of them, and after a lifetime of hurt, I have a hardened, protective scar, and I am doubling down on American ideals. Even the most generous, white liberal cannot understand—cannot sense the profound emotional hurt—of being judged by the color of my skin rather than the content of my character.
American ideals are meant to be shared with the world, not just white Americans. These ideals are not liberal, conservative, progressive, Democrat or Republican; they are uniquely American. If America is to remain free, we must be open to the tempest-tost, downtrodden, dispossessed, poor, and huddled masses from ‘s-hole countries.’ If we want to keep American ideals, then we must not give them away. This ‘Shining City upon a Hill’—whose light cannot be hidden—must be a beacon and a welcoming light to all who want to be free, even if they are not white.
We are embroiled in a political battle over the rights of Dreamers, those who came here as children and want to become citizens. Yes, we are a nation of laws, but as John F. Kennedy reminded us, we are also “a nation of immigrants.” Our moral compass demands that we face toward freedom and allow freedom to guide us.
Greenwich Village has been a beacon for refugees and for champions of freedom. One of its most famous residents, Emma Lazarus, penned the immortal words in her poem, “The New Colossus”:
“Give me your tired, your poor, [y]our huddled masses yearning to breathe free, [t]he wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These words are forever etched into the base of the Statue of Liberty. This gift from France has served as a symbol of our freedom and our supposedly welcoming shores. We are now debating who can enter the ‘golden door.’
We must have stronger border control and streamline our immigration processes. We need immigration quotas. However, we can’t leave these decisions to those who think one race of people is more desirable or more deserving of freedom than another. This belies the very notion of American freedom and justice. The Dreamers have been used as political and economic pawns their entire life. It’s time to make them full recipients and contributors to this freedom. They have earned citizenship by adhering to a stringent set of regulations that no other immigrant group has had to undergo.
We must control our borders to allow freedom to be shared with all. Illegal immigrants who refuse to leave peaceably must be rounded up and deported. The cost associated with the sheer volume of this work is mind-boggling, but freedom must be protected. We can’t just debate who comes in but should use all the technology possible to allow people in or out with deliberate speed.
Our federal government could not pass a continuing resolution to pay its bills because political debate broke down over the issues related to the DREAM Act. Once again, the budget is being balanced on the backs of the poor and the immigrant population. The facts are that those from ‘s-hole countries’ make an amazing contribution to the well-being of our country and to the American economy as a whole. The ideal of America belongs to all those who are willing to work to fight to keep us free from tyranny and corruption.
In 1988, Michel Faulkner and his family moved to New York City, where he served as the Assistant Pastor and Director of the Lamb’s Center for the Lamb’s Church. One year later, he joined the staff of the Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan as the Pastor for Youth and Community Outreach, where he was ordained as a Baptist minister. Faulkner also served as Co-Chairman for the New York City Board of Education’s HIV/AIDS Task Force and as the Vice President for Community Government Relations at King’s College.