Washington, D.C. – In what was considered worse than a filibuster, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, whose Tea Party-identified members earlier maneuvered to convene a special last- minute session last night that lasted till 12:01 a.m., passed sweeping legislation that critics say is tantamount to “defacing the statue of Liberty and all that it stands for.”
The hastily-convened session was the House Republicans’ response to last week’s bi-partisan passage of Senate Bill 744 on Comprehensive Immigration Reform that establishes a path to citizenship for this country’s estimated 11 Million undocumented immigrants while taking steps to secure the U.S. border.
“The Senate Bill is DOA (dead on arrival) at the House of Representatives,” Speaker John Boehner said after the Senate passed the bill 68 to 32.
The House bill contained an order for the National Park Service to replace the historic plaque beneath the 127 year-old statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. The plaque, as millions of visitors to the iconic monument are very familiar with, contains a poem written by poet Emma Lazarus. The opening of the poem, “The New Colossus,” refers to the Collosus of Rhodes, an ancient statue of a Greek titan. But Lazarus then refers to the statue which “shall” stand as a “mighty woman with a torch” and the “Mother of Exiles.”
Later in the sonnet are the lines which eventually became iconic:
“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!”
The legislative order gives the National Park Service 7 business days from the passing of the House Bill to replace the plaque with new lines, as follows:
“Give me your doctors, your nurses, your artists, Your scientists, your computer geeks,
Send these, who have the money to invest, Those with Ph.D.’s and Masters degrees, the best and brightest of your European shores,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door, but only for those I mention above!”
An amendment to the “new poem,” and later adopted as part of the approved bill, was authored by Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann. The addition reads:
“Let it be known that I have no tolerance for sexual deviants nor any interest in reuniting families, especially if they come from the continents of color.”
Asked at a press briefing following the bill’s passage why the legislators didn’t bother to amend the first part of Lazarus’ poem, Bachmann said, “there was an overwhelming agreement that the first part of the original poem, accurately represents Congress’ ancient thinking, so we let it stand.”
As to the question on how the bill will help secure the U.S. borders, Bachmann said that there is a provision in the bill that seeks to build fish pens around Ellis Island and the rest of the New York harbor.