The "Merica" is Miss Liberty

The Statue of Liberty-which has always been called Miss Liberty-was given by France to the United States as a token of friendship and became closely linked to the phenomenon of emigration only after Emma Lazarus' verses were engraved on its base: "Keep, ancient lands, the splendors of your history.... Give me those who are exhausted, the poor, the huddled crowds yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores: send me those who have no home, let them flock to me, to me who raise my torch beside the golden gate."

That beautiful lady seemed to be as big as America and as big as the emigrants' dreams of "making Merica." Instead, upon arrival in New York harbor, after contemplating the majestic lady with due wonder, emigrants were disembarked and forced to Ellis island where a whole set of rules operated a drastic selection. One was rejected for illness, for extreme destitution, for youthful or too advanced age, for marital status (women and orphans who had no one in the country to rescue them and help them find work).

Yet, in the imagination of many immigrants the Statue of Liberty became America even with all its contradictions. They discovered that the streets were not paved with gold and even that it would be up to them to build those streets.

And the hope of living in equality and freedom would soon be dissolved.