Aldrich's The New Colossus

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How do the arguments and perspectives in these poems reflect past and present attitudes toward immigration?

If you look at any time period where immigration was a big deal, whether the immigrants were from Ireland, China, or anywhere else, you can see an obvious pattern in how the new arrivals were welcomed. No matter how much time passes immigrants will always be received by two different types of people: those who are welcoming, and those who are anything but. The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, mirrors one side of the immigration debate today. She sees immigrants as people in need of shelter, which is shown when she says, “Give me your tired, your poor,” and “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.” Many people today who advocate for more open borders want to help refugees from war-torn countries, or people who are living in poverty in their homeland. It’s evident that when she says “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and
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Unguarded Gates by Thomas Bailey Aldrich was published in 1892. Despite the poem being written over a hundred years ago, Aldrich shares many of the same opinions as people today. The thought of “unguarded gates” makes him feel exposed and vulnerable to an unknown, alien threat. In the beginning of Aldrich’s poem he says, “Named of the four winds, North, South, East and West; Portals that lead to an enchanted land of cities, forests, fields of living gold”. It becomes clear that he sees our borders as entrances to lands holding an abundance of potential, lands that anybody could come in from the North, South, East, or West and take for themselves. You can see this belief reflected in the cries of people in the 21st Century, cries that accuse immigrants of coming to our country to steal our jobs and our

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