As has been widely reported, last week Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7 earthquake that left it’s capital Port-Au-Prince in shambles. It is estimated that 200,000 are dead and many more are in desperate need of supplies and medical care. The scale of chaos and crisis happening in Haiti is almost incomprehensible — a disaster of epic proportions.

In light of the devastation, the Obama Administration announced on Tuesday that undocumented Haitian immigrants living in the United States have been granted temporary protected status. This means that any Haitian that was in the country before the earthquake struck will be allowed to stay for eighteen months and allowed to work. While the Administration should be applauded for taking this step, it is sad to think that it takes a disaster of this magnitude to keep ICE from tearing apart the lives of immigrants.

The fact of the matter is that many of the countries immigrants are fleeing are suffering similar scale disaster — whether it be on the political, economic, or natural level (and sometimes all three). The immigrants that flock to the United States are seeking a new life. Many risk their lives in the journey over. They follow in the footsteps of the millions that crossed New York harbor in the early parts of the 20th century and stared dumbfounded as the Statue of Liberty rose up over the fog with the City as her backdrop. The words of Emma Lazarus, inscribed forever at the Statue’s base, read “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!”

Immigration policy in this country as it stands is a sad defacing of those words.