Trump's Director of Immigration Suggests Changing Statue of Liberty Slogan

Erika Holt
August 14, 2019

Director of Citizen and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli suggested a little tweak to the famous Emma Lazarus "give me your exhausted, your poor" poem on NPR Morning Edition Tuesday.

Cuccinelli said: "For over a century, the public charge ground of inadmissibility has been part of our nation's immigration laws".

But the new rules tighten the definition of who is or will become a "public charge" by imposing tighter guidelines.

Here's acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli saying on NPR this morning that the Statue of Liberty plaque should be changed to read, "give me your exhausted and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge".

Cuccinelli argued that the new rule would help to ensure that immigrants won't become a burden, touting what the administration sees as the virtues of self-sufficiency during Monday's announcement.

"I do not think, by any means, we're ready to take anything off the Statue of Liberty", he said.

US law has long discouraged immigrants from ending up on the public dole, and the new rules law out a method for doing that.

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The regulations announced on Monday targets those who rely on government assistance programmes like subsidized housing or food or have used the health insurance for the poor, making them ineligible for Green Cards or permanent residency. "A poor person can be prepared to be self-sufficient", he said.

"It's clear the Trump Administration just wants to keep certain people out", the committee wrote, calling Mr Cuccinelli "a xenophobic, anti-immigrant fringe figure who has no business being in government". "So let's not look at that as the be-all, end-all, and it's not the deciding factor".

The new rule will go into effect October 15, and only government aid used after that point will be assessed, Cuccinelli said.

The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services on Tuesday modified the poem on the Statue of Liberty to include being able to "stand on their own two feet" in defense of the Trump administration's new rules for green cards.

Under the update, US immigration authorities will view applicants' use of government assistance programs as a negative mark against them when considering their eligibility for a temporary visa or a green card.

As the audio from Cuccinelli's Tuesday morning interview hit social media channels, outrage and condemnation immediately followed.

"Is that sentiment ― "Give us your exhausted, your poor" ― still operative in the United States, or should those words come down?" Asked if there should be changes to the Statue of Liberty poem, he replied, "It's about America first".

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