Telling Lies About Lady Liberty

Much of the debate about immigration policy is driven by myth rather than reality. The most egregious of these myths surround the Statue of Liberty. And they play a significant role in the war on immigration enforcement being waged by the open borders lobby.

On Tuesday evening, March 7, 2017, the National Park Service briefly turned out the lights on Lady Liberty in order to replace faulty electrical equipment. The next morning the mainstream media was filled with stories claiming that the power outage was symbolic. CNN proclaimed “Statue of Liberty Goes Dark, Lights Up – and the Symbolism Is Not Lost.”  It also cited the poem on the base of the statue as, “a clear argument against President Donald Trump’s travel ban and immigration crackdowns.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post trumpeted “The Statue of Liberty Went Dark Overnight and the Timing Was Just ‘Too Perfect,’”, claiming that “Lady Liberty was… protesting President Trump generally and, more specifically, his travel ban just a day after he signed the revised executive order limiting entry to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries.”

But these protests are based on a flawed argument. The Statue of Liberty has nothing to do with immigration. In fact, she was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, to commemorate the centennial of American independence and the influence of the founding fathers on French revolutionary ideals.  Her full name, Liberty Enlightening the World more accurately reflects her true purpose, championing the worldwide diffusion of the republican form of government. She is, metaphorically speaking, a symbol of liberty as an influential emigrant – an encouragement to those who would seek democracy at home, not those seeking a new homeland.

She became entwined with immigration in the popular imagination due to her physical proximity to Ellis Island and a poem affixed to her base.  That sonnet, called The New Colossus, was written by Emma Lazarus, a wealthy socialist poet popular in early 1900’s New York literary circles, and auctioned off as part of the campaign to raise funds for the pedestal on which the statue was erected. Nevertheless, open borders advocates have imbued it with the same significance as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  They are mistaken. The United States has always been welcoming to newcomers. But liberty under the rule of law has always been our core principle – not immigration.

Lazarus’ poem implies that immigration is what made America great. Yet, in reality, it has always been American greatness that attracted immigrants. Auguste Bartholdi understood this. That’s why he built Liberty Enlightening the World and gave her to the United States. If Lady Liberty was protesting anything when her lights went out, it was probably the way in which her history has been distorted not President Trump’s efforts to preserve ordered liberty in the face of terror.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    Clearly people have not been paying any attention to the lying sh_t that the “Teacher’s” Unions have been espousing and cramming down our kids throats as “history” for decades now.

  2. avatar

    “Symbol of Liberty” … Liberte ….Indeed in every form n shape as it is pursued … Talking about dissonance n …

  3. avatar

    I am sick of greedy open borders crooks distorting the meaning of the Statue of Liberty. I remember the pictures of Lady Liberty overlooking the World Trade Center on 9/11 where people were jumping out of windows to their death because terrorists from other countries, some of whom were here illegally, had flown jetliners into the buildings. I think Lady Liberty would be happy that after so many years have passed since 9/11 we finally have a president enforcing our immigration laws and implementing tougher screening of people entering this country so hopefully an attack this massive never happens again.

    • avatar

      You should not be … the issue is that you need to stretch your mind to understand things in depth…..just look into the symbolic meaning of the statue…..a real American would understand it are you?

      • avatar

        The symbolic meaning of the statue, as well as that of the Emma Lazurus poem, was for white, European, Christian immigration (and Jewish immigration, because Lazurus was Jewish). A real American would understand that the symbolism was for immigration that would maintain the racial and religious identity of America and reinforce its geographical origins, which was a given, universal doctrine of 19th-century America.

      • avatar

        What a peter you are, try stretching something else out so you can remove your head.

  4. avatar

    The comparisons are ridiculous. It does not say give me your welfare dependent and let the American taxpayer pay for your family of five kids while you make eight bucks an hour. It didn’t happen. Many were turned around at Ellis Island and sent back because it was felt they would become a “public charge”. These are rewrites of history, and a welfare society and open borders, which these people want, can only end up in an economic train wreck.

  5. avatar

    Its a Historical Anomaly That France Gave Us the Statue of Liberty

    And today….France [and the EU] has much more horrifying problems with ISIS than America….believing in immigration and curbing immigration to prevent overpopulation threats are not at odds with each other.

    They are simply the truth, careful demography planning and sovereign rights of any nation on Earth.

    • avatar

      So according to you the meaning of our independence is a HIstorical anomaly? Please elaborate …