‘Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.’
That’s how acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli might edit the storied plaque on Lady Liberty.
His remarks on National Public Radio early Tuesday were an extension of comments he’d made Monday during a White House briefing about a Trump administration rule change, which in part will deny green cards to immigrants on food stamps.
A reporter asked if the change meant the statue’s famous verse no longer applied.
“Well, I’m certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty,” Cucinelli said during the briefing. “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 emigrating yourself … I do not think, by any means, we’re ready to take anything off the Statue of Liberty.”
He used an op-ed for CNN to further explain the rationale behind the law change: “Long-standing federal law has required foreign nationals to rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, sponsors and private organizations in their communities to succeed.”
Other commentators, including Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, writing for MarketWatch, stresses that the makeup of the constituency for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps, is often misunderstood and mistakenly tied to race.
Cucinelli, in his comments addressing who deserved to be a U.S. citizen, even dragged some well-known Trump supporters, ThinkProgress observed.
He, perhaps inadvertently, suggested that even children born abroad to U.S. citizens, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Trump’s own Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, should not be granted the “right to become an American.”
From the MarketWatch archives (August 2017): Trump adviser Miller parses the meaning of the Statue of Liberty’s inscription as he lashes out at reporter for ‘cosmopolitan bias’ during immigration briefing