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America is not perfect but…

Angel Luis Simon Martin

Angel Luis Simon Martin

“Spare me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to someplace else.
I lift my shotgun beside the bolted door!”

(Facebook posting 8/28/2013)

I feel sad that someone would post such a mockery of the promise of America enshrined on the Statute of Liberty, especially someone who knows that most Americans aren’t against welcoming people here and aren’t ready to kill them. It is that they want those coming here to follow the rules for coming here. Yes, the process isn’t perfect but it doesn’t mean that it is racist or unfair. Even those with guns know would welcome immigrants who come here legally. Heck, even George Zimmerman’s mother is an immigrant from Peru.

The extremists that are caricatured by this mockery are to the Right what those who see racism behind every unemployed or imprisoned African-American and Latino are to the Left. The Reality is somewhere in the middle.

Yes, there is limited opportunity for some in America but the opportunity exists more now than in the past and certainly more than in most Latin American countries. Human beings and human institutions are not perfect, but America is built on the striving for change and betterment. The Preamble to the Constitution enshrines it: “ We the People of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union,…”. The Constitution was and is an attempt to create a country that gets better and closer to its full potential with each generation. One that was better than the one under the Articles of Confederation; one that was better than before the Civil War; one that was better than before the Civil Rights Era. That is why the document has an amending process and set up a system of checks and balances to protect individuals and give them peaceful alternatives to violently taking to the streets like we are seeing in countries like Egypt and Syria.

In a statement released on August 28th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, Daniel Garza, Executive Director of the Libre Initiative stated, “It is incredibly encouraging that fifty years after the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, millions of Americans of every race and beliefs embrace a vision that was still controversial when it was delivered. It’s a message of hope – one rooted in the American Dream: that regardless of your skin color, your religion, or your circumstances of birth, you have an equal opportunity to achieve something. Generations of immigrants have built lives around this dream – ignoring the condescension from those who said they couldn’t succeed on their own. In America, your character is what delivers success – for yourself, for your family, and for your community. When I look at the Hispanic community in particular, I see so many talented young people in universities, in business, in faith communities, and in the halls of power. This potential and talent shows me that we have made real progress to achieving Martin Luther King’s dream of a truly equal society.”

So the words that others would mock, I want to end this article with. A familiar and positive view of what America means:
“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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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