A poem has never been immigration policy

In 1901, a poem by Emma Lazarus was inscribed on a plaque and affixed to the Statue of Liberty.  It reads in part:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...

Two years later, The Immigration Act of 1903, also called the Anarchist Exclusion Act, was put into law.  That law imposed further restrictions on immigration beyond the current laws.  Those groups so noted in the new law as unwelcome were anarchists, people with epilepsy, beggars, and importers of prostitutes.  In 1907, just six years after the poem was placed, the Immigration Act of 1907 was passed, noting even more groups denied immigration and also imposing literacy tests and insisting on deportation of those in violation of those immigration laws.  The Immigration Act of 1924 imposed national origin quotas designed to prevent sharp changes in the demographics of the country.  These legislators all knew about the poem.

Yes, all despite the poem.  Poems were not then, nor are they now immigration policy.  For those who believe we are diverting from our long history of letting anyone into the country, that there was a time when poetry dictated policy, a history lesson is long overdue.

Foremost is that the United States has a storied history of controlling those who immigrate.  The United States has a litany of examples in which it has exercised its power and its right to deny entry into the country of unwanted groups.

There are three important points to be made.

First, as mentioned, poems are not immigration policy.  That was true in 1903, 1907, and 1924, and it is true today.  Any who thinks the early 20th century was a time of lax immigration policy is sorely mistaken.

Second, a measured and monitored immigration policy was prudent, codified, and enforced in 1903, and it remains prudently applicable today.  The poem was a colorful addendum to the fashion of the era, but it did not displace laws and the need for laws.

Finally, when groups can be identified as detrimental to the well-being of the United States of America, they can be denied entry into the country.  This has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  The anarchists referred to in the Immigration Law of 1903 can be equated to those of today who wish to do us harm.  The beggars also referred to in that law equate to those who enter the country illegally to live off the programs designed for the citizenry.

Those who attempt to connect the restrictions on immigration imposed by President Trump to the poem of 1901 are delusional.  If indeed they wish to return to the era of the poem and its eloquent promises, they should be prepared to also engage the strict immigration laws of that era.