The U.S. has clearly not internalized all of the “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” stuff from the first Statue of Liberty, but apparently we’re getting a second one anyway.
France is giving the U.S. a Statue of Liberty that’s one-sixteenth of the original size, but otherwise an exact replica of the first one, according to CNN. The first statue, designed by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and builder Gustave Eiffel, was given to the U.S. in 1886 and has been displayed near Ellis Island in New York—a major processing center for immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century—ever since.
The mini-Statue of Liberty was loaded into a special container in Paris, where it’s been installed at the National Center for Arts and Crafts (CNAM) museum since 2011, earlier this week. Soon it will travel to the French city of Le Havre, be loaded onto a ship on June 19, and arrive in the U.S. on July 1.
It’ll then be installed across from the original on Ellis Island from July 1 to July 5, then sent to D.C. where it’ll be displayed at the French ambassador’s residence for 10 years.
“The statue symbolizes freedom and the light around all the world,” Olivier Faron, general administrator of the CNAM, told CNN.
“We want to send a very simple message: Our friendship with the United States is very important, particularly at this moment. We have to conserve and defend our friendship.”
Last month, French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne told Politico that the statue “is a double symbol, of liberty, but also of welcome.” This second part may come as a shock to American political establishment.
The Trump administration terrorized undocumented people as part of its political strategy, took every step to prevent refugees from legally seeking asylum, and limited legal pathways as part of a broad attack on immigration. And though President Joe Biden ran on reversing some of Trump’s most egregious immigration policies, the administration has so far dragged its feet and only raised the refugee cap for this year after fierce criticism from progressive Democrats.
Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated the administration’s hostile stance toward people seeking a better life in the United States during an appearance in Guatemala earlier this week.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border,” Harris said. “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our law and secure our border.”
Harris’s comments were slammed by some in her own party, including the Latino Legislative Caucus in her home state of California and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who called her speech “disappointing to see.”
“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Monday. “Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing.”
We might need a third Statue of Liberty to get the message across.