Graham Plaster

culture + diplomacy + ethics + smart power + technology + humanities + entrepreneurship + philosophy

New Ellis Island: Establish a Refugee Welcome Center in Puerto Rico?

“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!”

Excerpted from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, engraved on the Statue of Liberty. The poem refers to the millions of immigrants who came to the United States (many of them through Ellis Island at the port of New York).

A Few Thoughts

The United States is a nation of immigrants. Our heritage and our strength are founded in an embrace of pluralism held together by a shared belief in particular rights and values. The current debate surrounding the influx of illegal Hispanic migrants or legal Muslim refugees is, in its essence, about our core values as a nation. We are weighing the value of our pluralistic identity (referenced in the poem above) against what is perceived by some to be an existential threat, whether it happens through physical violence or the gradual erasure of older subcultures across America. Demographics and demographic trends are very important to this discussion. How are populations growing, shrinking or moving? Where are the job and education opportunities located with respect to those populations? What are the ideological and cultural trends that motivate those populations to change? Immigration affects the answers to these questions in expected and unexpected ways. This proposal is an invitation to discuss specific pros and cons, given demographic trends, of establishing a refugee welcome center in Puerto Rico.  This is an idea that will be greeted with naive optimism by some, and rash skepticism by others, so take it all with a grain of salt, perhaps just as a thought experiment.

So what do you think?

What are the security risks and benefits?

What are the potential up and down sides?

What are the benefits and draw backs for Puerto Rico, or for the United States?


I look forward to reading your thoughts … Graham

PS – tangential but interesting, check this out

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