Immigration, a poem

President Obama meets with young immigrants -- dreamers -- in the Oval Office this month. Source: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Obama meets with young immigrants in the Oval Office. Source: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Today I’m sharing a poem I wrote after President Obama created an uproar in late November with his executive order to grant temporary legal status to five million undocumented immigrants.

The measure was aimed at keeping families together, by allowing  unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of American citizens to work legally, as long as they’d been living here for at least five years, passed a background check and paid taxes. It also allowed almost a million young people, who were brought here illegally as children through no fault of their own, to apply for protection from deportation (the order does not include their parents, however).

But last Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas blocked the president’s order, just days before the first of the action’s programs was to begin.

It’s a complicated issue on many levels, but it’s one I hope that we, as a nation, can begin to examine through a lens of greater compassion.

I am a fourth generation Finnish-American immigrant. My great grandparents  sailed to this country in the late 1800s seeking a better life, one they could not find in Finland in those days. I am a beneficiary of their struggle, their love and their courage. And I am not alone.

We are a nation of immigrants.

There are a couple of other good reasons why now is a good time to share this poem.

1000speakOn Friday, over 1000 bloggers flooded the Web with words of kindness and compassion, to coincide with the U.N.’s World Day of Social Justice. I didn’t know about it until yesterday when I read about it over at Baby Gates Down.

I love the idea of a village of bloggers writing about compassion all at the same time. I’m sorry I missed it, but I’m honoring their spirit belatedly.

Finally, last night at the Oscars, Mexican director and screenwriter Alejandro González Iñárritu won three Oscars for his 2014 film, Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. During his acceptance speech for best picture Iñárritu called on Mexicans to build a better government for their country. But for those who’ve come to the U.S. seeking better lives for their families, he also asked for compassion.

The ones that live in this country, who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.
Alejandro González Iñárritu

I thought maybe it was time to share my poem.

re: Obama’s executive action on immigration

Come out, come out and into full view
Reclaim this land of the olly-olly-oxen free
You who hold up our nation, the glue

Congress loitered so Obama ignited a brou-
haha, driving indignity from shadows with a wave of his pen, a tease
Come out, come out and into full view

A small offer of good will for five million in queue*
Do right, pay right. Earn a temporary reprieve
You who hold up our nation, the glue

While a Congress of do-nothing immigrant hypocrites spew
ascendancy, they themselves the descendancy, of dreamers
Come out, come out and into full view

I’m the great granddaughter of a seeker like you
And I bid you welcome because just like my immigrant family and me
You who hold up our nation, the glue

Together we made, and make, us great. IOU
And we owe you, the same opportunity of democracy
Come out, come out and into full view
You who hold up our nation, the glue

 -©Julie N. Deutscher, 2015


*This line originally read, “A path to citizenship for five million in queue.” I liked this line better, but it was inaccurate. Obama’s executive actions offer no path to citizenship. Congress must act to make this happen.

Note: For those who are interested, the poem is written in villanelle form.

One thought on “Immigration, a poem

  1. First, thank you for the shout out. Second, I think it’s never too late to post about compassion, and these posts are still going up and the Facebook group is still posting back and forth like made if you’d like to check it out.

    Finally, the issue at hand – being Canadian I am a bit removed from American politics, however my mom is a first generation immigrant to Canada – and really so many of us are in North America generally. I shall read up more on what’s happening on this south of our borders. Your poem is beautiful. And we indeed, do need to include compassion in our consideration of such issues. A moment spent considering the issue from the perspective is never wasted.

    Liked by 1 person

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