haiti earthquakeCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) released the following statement about the refugee crisis confronting the people of Haiti:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’

“Do the inscribed words of poet Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty have any meaning for the thousands of our Haitian brothers and sisters seeking shelter in this country, or even an opportunity for asylum?

“Are they not the tired, having endured devastating earthquakes and tropical storms that have left thousands homeless, injured or missing?

“Are they not the poor, being the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, partly due to the 150 million francs ($21 billion) the country was forced to pay France in ‘reparations’ after Haiti’s slave rebellion defeated Napoleon forces in 1804 and gained independence?

“Are they not ‘your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ of the political turmoil in the aftermath of President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, the recurring gang violence and government instability?

“I know the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging. I know we need comprehensive immigration reform. These two truly challenging situations, however, do not relieve us of our duty to care for our fellow human beings.

“Our nation has a long history with Haiti, especially here in Chicago, which was founded by a Black Haitian settler, Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable.

“The United States has opened its doors to refugees from Afghanistan and other parts of the world. Why are we closing the door to Haitian refugees?

“Does the U.S. response to this humanitarian crisis reflect the governmental hypocrisy voiced by The Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper during the 1886 Statue of Liberty Dedication?

“‘“Liberty enlightening the world,” indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the “liberty” of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the “liberty” of this country “enlightening the world,” or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.’”

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