Lady of Liberty and the Mother of Shame

As Washington takes up immigration reform, this piece is worth a read.

This was written in 1982 when McKinley Presbyterian Church, Champaign, Illinois (where Steve Shoemaker was Pastor) joined with five other local churches as part of the national “Sanctuary Movement“–providing help for undocumented residents fleeing oppresive regimes in Central America.


The lamp once was a beacon. Now the hand
holds high a searchlight, torch, a burning flame
exposing all the exiles, all who came
unasked in search of liberty. Our land
is full, our steel gate closed. Those who demand
a chance to live in freedom now will name
our border guard lady Mother of Shame:
the rich protected, refugees are banned.
“No sanctuary here, no room,” she cries
with rigid lips. “No welcome at our door
for homeless masses struggling to rise
above the hunger, pain, disease and war
in lands where they were born. Compassion dies.
I send the poor back to El Salvador.”

[Published in The Presbyterian Outlook,
August 18-25, 1986.]