Home » poetry » What to the Immigrant is the 4th of July?

What to the Immigrant is the 4th of July?

What to the Immigrant is the 4th of July?
by Teresa Perin
4 July 2019

Mr. President,
and Fellow

The purpose of this day’s celebration
is our national independence–
from tyrany of unjust treatment
from a hostile government

In 1776 wise men set forth
“Resolved, That these united
colonies are, and of right, ought
to be free and Independent States.”

Those men signing the Declaration
were brave men; good men;
seeking to grow a country with
open arms to all who wish to come.

Love of country turns to nationalism–
refusing anyone who might be different;
men desiring only those in their likeness–
they, and Nazis, are not good men.

Humbly, I ask you if you can tell me
what to the immigrant is the 4th of July?
Is it celebration of reaching asylum?
Is it relief in the freedom from violence?

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down”
crossing the Rio Grande to start a life new.
fleeing tyranny of murderers and gangs.
Dangers too dangerous not to risk the dangers.

What to the immigrant is your 4th of July?
I answer: a day to reveal gross injustice;
a day to reveal racisim and hatred–
your cruelty to the constant victim.

Your celebration a sham! A military parade:
might and strength to honor the dishonorable;
talk of freedom and greatness, a mockery!
Parade the disgrace of a nation of kidnappers.

A young mother without her baby,
shirt stained in leaking breast milk,
cheeks streaked with unrestrained tears,
unwashed and unsuckled with empty arms.

A toddler with urine-soaked diaper
hungry and cold with no one to hold;
only glaring lights: no shampoo; no towels;
no sparkling water from a glass bottle.

Drinking water from the toilet, lapping
like a stray dog, panting, wretching.
In the ice box cold of a harsh cage.
No family to take us from this pound.

What to the immigrant is the 4th of July?
A day to reveal the racism and hatred
cloaked within the hearts of men and women
hiding behind their fearmongering lies.


I would like to recognize Frederick Douglass “more and more” for his work and for inspiring my thoughts on the 4th of July.

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