Someone Hung A Banner Reading 'Refugees Welcome' On The Statue Of Liberty

An investigation is underway.

Historically speaking, the Statue of Liberty has stood as a national symbol of welcome and tolerance for those immigrating to the United States. Recently, an activist (or activists) decided to make that message a little less ambiguous.

A bright red and white banner was hung at the base of the statue reading "refugees welcome." National Park Service rangers took the banner down and — because it is illegal to hang things on Lady Liberty — are opening an investigation into who hung it there.


The activists hung the banner at a time when the status of the United States refugee program is in serious question, and they chose a relevant landmark. The Statue of Liberty famously has the following words inscribed on its plaque: "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-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

In Minnesota and North Dakota, there have been numerous reports of refugees or asylum seekers hiking across the border, through feet of snow and frostbite, to find safe haven in Canada

Meanwhile, in Syria — the epicenter of the world's largest refugee crisis of our lifetime — things seem to be getting worse. The nation's capital of Damascus has seen increased shellings recently, flooding the internet with horrifying videos like the one of a 5-year-old girl being dug out from underneath rubble.

Since Syria's civil war began in 2011, 4.8 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq and about 1 million have requested asylum in Europe. Over a 4-month span between now and November, Canada has welcomed 40,000 refugees from Syria alone, more than the 14,000 Syrian refugees America have taken in since 2012.

While the new administration advocates for a more rigorous vetting system for refugees, and plans to shut down parts of the refugee program until one is established, the people who actually vet refugees have objected to the characterization that they are just letting people come into the country. The process refugees go through is extremely rigorous and effective: zero people admitted to the U.S. as refugees have committed a terrorist attack since 1980.

If the activists' plan works, the banner will get people thinking about how we can better honor Lady Liberty's original message.

Cover image Shutterstock /  Heather Shimmin.


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