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‘Profoundly Humane’

TimesLedger Newspapers

It’s not often we say this, but we are proud of the state Legislature, which recently allocated $450,000 to help young, undocumented immigrants find their way through the application process that will allow them to take advantage of an amnesty announced recently by President Barack Obama.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said $150,000 of this will go to New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road NY and Legal Services NYC.

He called the president’s policy “a profoundly humane policy for hundreds of thousands of young people who know no other home than the United States and who live in perpetual fear of deportation.”

These immigrants who crossed deserts and crawled under barbed wire have become an added expense in New York City and other communities, but they are not the cause of record unemployment and the nation’s economic crisis. And dealing with them humanely will not make that crisis worse.

Last week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began accepting applications from young immigrants looking for deferred action for a period of two years.

As we look at the overheated immigration battle, we are reminded of the words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty:

“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!”

Some argue Lazarus only had in mind those immigrants who came to America with visas and the papers they needed. It’s ridiculous to think this describes the “wretched refuse.”

We are proud that we live in New York and not Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer, has taken on the president and issued her own executive order directing state agencies to deny driver’s licenses and other public benefits to anyone covered by the Dream Act and Obama’s “deferred action” immigration policy.

We invite the volatile governor to come to New York where she can take a ride on the ferry to Liberty Island. We remind her that the monument America loves is the Statue of Liberty, not the Statue of Free Enterprise or the Statue of Now That We’re Here Let’s Close the Golden Door.

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