Cutting through the bullshit.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Plains to share

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
-Emma Lazarus, 1883, ‘The New Colossus’

That was then. This is now,

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which Congress asked to assess asylum regulations, found two years ago that some immigration officials were improperly processing asylum seekers for deportation. The commission, which also found that asylum seekers were often strip-searched, shackled and held in jails, called for safeguards in the system of speedy deportations known as expedited removal, to protect those fleeing persecution.

But the commission, which will issue its new findings on Thursday, says officials have failed to put into effect most of its 2005 recommendations. It says the failures come even as the Bush administration has significantly expanded efforts to detain and swiftly deport illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico without letting them make their case before an immigration judge.

… Stewart A. Baker, an assistant secretary of homeland security. “But some of their recommendations just weren’t practical given the enormous flood of illegal immigrants that we deal with every day.”… it would be too burdensome to create a separate detention program for asylum seekers and … might create incentives for people to claim that they were fleeing persecution.

Eleanor Acer of Human Rights First said…“Asylum seekers continue to be jailed in these prisonlike facilities for months and, in some cases, for years.”

And speaking of late 19th Century doggerel, while I was reminding myself of the inspiring lyric,

For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share

I discovered that that was not McCormick’s original. He preferred to share the boundless plains with nice white British boys,

For loyal sons beyond the seas
We've boundless plains to share;

From England, Scotia, Erin's Isle,
Who come our lot to share,
Let all combine with heart and hand
To advance Australia fair!

Britannia then shall surely know,
Beyond wide ocean's roll,
Her sons in fair Australia's land
Still keep a English soul.

It just makes me feel so proud to know that they cleaned up those lyrics. But now it turns out they didn’t really mean anything by it.

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