Ken Cuccinelli tweaked the famous poem from Emma Lazarus — whose words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” are long associated with immigration to the US and the nation’s history as a haven — as part of a case for strict new measures pushed Monday by the Trump administration that could dramatically change the legal immigration system.
“They certainly are: ‘Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,'” he replied. “That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge was passed — very interesting timing.”
Cuccinelli has defended the changes, writing in a CNN op-ed published Tuesday that “self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream.”
Cuccinelli was asked about Lazarus’ poem on Monday and whether the new immigration changes would merit its removal from the statue’s pedestal.
“I do not think, by any means, we’re ready to take anything off the Statue of Liberty,” he said.
“We have a long history of being one of the most welcoming nations in the world on a lot of bases, whether you be an asylee, whether you be coming here to join your family or immigrating yourself,” he said at the White House, adding that the regulation “will include a meaningful analysis of whether they’re likely to become a public charge or not.”
Strict immigration policies
The Trump administration has taken the toughest stance against legal and illegal immigration of any presidency in modern times.
Miller responded that as a requirement to be naturalized, “you have to speak English,” and continued, “so the notion that speaking English wouldn’t be a part of immigration systems would be very ahistorical.”
He went on: “Secondly, I don’t want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to was added later (and) is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”
It was not until 1903 that Lazarus’s words were inscribed on a bronze plaque and added to the site 17 years after the statue’s original unveiling in 1886.