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No welcome mat for them 

Half a million and more, crammed

Into leaky boats, airless trucks,

Stumbling with heavy packs on their backs

Or with the burden of pregnancy,

Not knowing if their baby will have a home.

Women with head scarves sneaking

Under barbed wire fences,

Men with children in their arms

Rushing the guards at borders

Or pushing Hungarian police who guard

The Freedom Train to Germany

Then close the station down.

We know the fear that drives the refugees:

War, starvation, homelessness, sickness.

We don’t know the fear that drives

The keepers of the realm.

It could be xenophobia as of old:

Fear of being overwhelmed

By people who are not like us

Fear they will take our jobs, cost us money

Or just plain resentment: This land

Is our land, this land’s not your land.

My ancestors once heard that song,

Driven from Russia by pogroms,

But when their sturdy boat sailed into

The New York Harbor, Lady Liberty

Lifted her lamp and said, “Welcome.”

-- Judith Bernstein - Arroyo Grande

-- Judith Bernstein - Arroyo Grande

-- Judith Bernstein - Arroyo Grande

-- Judith Bernstein - Arroyo Grande

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