Letter: Asylum is not a liberal conspiracy
December 7, 2018
Mr. Kirchenwitz, regarding the Statue of Liberty and your desire to send one of our nation's most beloved monuments "back to France."
Bruno, the Statue of Liberty was given to the United States as a gift from the French as a monument to our war for independence, and our subsequent 100 years of democracy.
The tablet held in her hand is inscribed with the date July IV MDCCLXXVI, July Fourth, 1776. French citizens donated for her creation, and 120,000 Americans donated to get her base built.
The poem, which so offends you, was written by an American woman, cast in bronze and installed by Americans in 1903 in the base of the foundation, 17 years after the statue was erected.
In looking at the passenger list of those who passed by "lady Liberty" on their way to Ellis Island, there were 12 Kirchenwitz's, one of whom was named Bruno.
Regarding the Kirchenwitz's who immigrated to the United States, one may assume that they were poor, tired and huddled.
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Bruno, in 1939 the HS St. Louis set sail from Germany with 963 Jewish refugees aboard, with the Great Depression and anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic sentiments being loudly voiced, the United States, Canada and Cuba all refused them asylum, the ship was forced to return to Europe where the captain tried his best to not return them to Germany.
Despite his best efforts, 254 of his passengers were later captured and murdered in German death camps. The United States used the Coast Guard to prevent the ship from running aground. Military force used against unarmed asylum seekers. Sounds familiar.
The dark legacy of the HS St. Louis, in-part, and other similar instances of countries refusing asylum to those in danger in their native countries, set the stage for a 1951 international asylum treaty. Countries are given leniency regarding their quotas with The United States having among the lowest per capita quota of just about any other country. The United States current quota is 45,000 a year, down from a high of 110,000.
Asylum is not a liberal conspiracy.
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