President Donald Trump’s acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Tuesday suggested an amendment to Emma Lazarus’ poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty.
“Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’ words etched on the Statue of Liberty — give me your tired, your poor — are also part of the American ethos?” Martin asked.
“They certainly are,” Cuccinelli replied before presenting his alteration.
“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” the immigration official said. “That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge law was passed — very interesting timing.”
Cuccinelli’s comments come just days after the Trump administration announced a new immigration regulation that would allow the government to turn away green card and visa applicants based on their use of benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps, according to CNN.
A White House news release read that “the Trump Administration is taking action to help ensure that non-citizens in this country are self-sufficient and not a strain on public resources.”
“Aliens will be barred from entering the United States if they are found likely to become public charges,” the release continued.
“An alien who receives public benefits above a certain threshold is known as a ‘public charge.’”
In his NPR interview, Cuccinelli added that it “doesn’t seem like too much to ask, as we open our doors currently to more than a million new people a year, that they not become a burden on an already, frankly, overburdened and bankrupt welfare system.”
When asked to further explicate the White House statement, the immigration official said that if applicants “don’t have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them.”
Martin suggested that the new rule “appears to change the definition of the American dream.”
“It certainly does not change what makes America exceptional, and it doesn’t change the definition of the American dream,” Cuccinelli responded.
“We invite people to come here and join us as a privilege. No one has a right to become an American who isn’t born here as an American.
“America has generously opened its doors for many years, and we continue to do so.”
The new rule will start to be applied on Oct. 15, according to Cuccinelli.
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