Tuesday, 20 August, 2019


Trump immigration official Ken Cuccinelli tweaks the Statue of Liberty poem

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                                    A CHANGE I'D MAKE          NPR Play video content A CHANGE I'D MAKE NPR
Bennie Garza | 14 August, 2019, 00:26

When asked if Lazarus' words on the Statue of Liberty - "Give me your exhausted, your poor" - were still a part of the American ethos, Cuccinelli responded: "They certainly are", before adding that any "tired and poor" people who came to the US should be able to "stand on their own two feet" and not "become a public charge".

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".

This regulation will take effect in a few weeks' time, precisely on October 15.

With the new rules, officers at USA citizenship and immigration services will now weigh public assistance along with other factors such as education, household income and health to determine whether to grant legal status.

On Tuesday, Mr Cuccinelli was asked by NPR whether the 1883 poem titled The New Colossus at the Statue of Liberty on New York's Ellis Island still applied.

The rule denies green cards and visas to immigrants if they use - or are deemed likely to need - federal, state and local government benefits including food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid.

The famous words on the pedestal of the State of Liberty, "Give me your exhausted, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", were written by Emma Lazarus in 1883.

Cuccinelli also made the claim that Lazarus' words were put on the Statue of Liberty "at nearly the same time" that the US passed its first "public charge" rule for immigration, which he called "very interesting timing" - though he didn't get the timing exactly right. "That self-sufficiency is a core American value, and it is central to the goal of this rule". "Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'" It was mounted in the lower level of Lady Liberty's pedestal in 1903.

Speaking with NPR on Tuesday, Cuccinelli said welfare benefits would be one among several factors officials will use to consider whether an applicant would be a "public charge".

"I do not think, by any means, we're ready to take anything off the Statue of Liberty", he said. In recent years, it's taken on new meaning as a rallying cry against President Trump's immigration policies.

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, it's not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty".

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