What Emma Lazarus Got Wrong About Immigration

Benjamin F. Jones
Date of Publication: 
June, 2023
Source Organization: 

Immigrants aren’t a call upon America’s charity. They’re far more likely to start a business—and employ other workers—than native-born Americans.

Americans have long worried that immigrants will take their jobs. Henry Cabot Lodge, who championed restrictive immigration laws as a U.S. senator, described foreign-born workers in 1891 as a “great reservoir of cheap labor” that was “constantly pulling down the wages of the working people.”

Emma Lazarus, a contemporary of Lodge, presented a different point of view. Inspired by the Statue of Liberty, she wrote the 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” and her words “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” were later installed at the statue’s base.

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Jones, B. (2023, June). What Emma Lazarus Got Wrong About Immigration. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/06/immigration-job-creati...