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Trump Official: Statue of Liberty Poem Is About Europeans
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=51386"><span class="small">Zeke Miller and Ashley Thomas, Associated Press</span></a>   
Wednesday, 14 August 2019 08:32

Excerpt: "A top Trump administration official says that the famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants into the country is about 'people coming from Europe' and that America is looking to receive migrants 'who can stand on their own two feet.'"

Ken Cuccinelli. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
Ken Cuccinelli. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Trump Official: Statue of Liberty Poem Is About Europeans

By Zeke Miller and Ashley Thomas, Associated Press

14 August 19


top Trump administration official says that the famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants into the country is about “people coming from Europe” and that America is looking to receive migrants “who can stand on their own two feet.”

The comments on Tuesday from Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, came a day after the Trump administration announced it would seek to deny green cards to migrants who seek Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance. The move, and Cuccinelli’s defense, prompted an outcry from Democrats and immigration advocates who said the policy would favor wealthier immigrants and disadvantage those from poorer countries in Latin America and Africa.

“This administration finally admitted what we’ve known all along: They think the Statue of Liberty only applies to white people,” tweeted former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate.

The administration’s proposed policy shift comes as President Donald Trump is leaning more heavily into the restrictive immigration policies that have energized his core supporters and were central to his 2016 victory. He has also spoken disparagingly about immigration from majority black and Hispanic countries, including calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals when he launched his 2016 campaign. Last year, he privately branded Central American and African nations as “shithole” countries and he suggested the U.S. take in more immigrants from European countries like predominantly white Norway.

Cuccinelli said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday night that the Emma Lazarus poem emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty referred to “people coming from Europe where they had class based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class.”

Lazarus’ poem, written in 1883 to raise money to construct the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal and cast in bronze beneath the monument in 1903, served as a beacon to millions of immigrants who crossed past as they first entered the U.S. in New York Harbor. It reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Cuccinelli was asked earlier Tuesday on NPR whether the words “give me your tired, your poor” were part of the American ethos. Cuccinelli responded: “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.”

A hard-line conservative from Virginia, Cuccinelli was a failed Republican candidate for governor in 2013 after serving as the state’s attorney general. He backed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for president in 2016 and for a time was a harsh critic of Trump.

He is one of a slew of immigration hardliners brought in by Trump to implement the president’s policies. He was appointed to the post in June in a temporary capacity, which doesn’t require Senate confirmation.

Trump, asked Tuesday about Cuccinelli’s comments on NPR, appeared to back him up.

“I don’t think it’s fair to have the American taxpayer paying for people to come into the United States,” Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One for Pennsylvania. “I think we’re doing it right.”

Immigrant rights groups strongly criticized the Trump administration’s new rules for immigrants receiving public assistance, warning that the changes would scare immigrants away from asking for needed help. And they voiced concern that officials were being given too much authority to decide whether someone is likely to need public assistance in the future.

Another Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also condemned Cuccinelli’s comments.

“Our values are etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty. They will not be replaced,” she tweeted. “And I will fight for those values and for our immigrant communities.”

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+5 # johnescher 2019-08-14 10:41
If this guy once was critical of Trump but now is not, he is a wretched example of somebody-- anybody from any nation-- trying to stand on his own two feet. His feet, in fact, are made of clay. He is a wobbler. He obviously needs the crutch of an authoritarian leader so that he never need think, just follow. Consider what happened in the past in Weimar Germany and call him a Trumpzi and be done with it.
+2 # economagic 2019-08-14 12:32
Yes, Ms Lazarus clearly had immigrants from Europe in mind. She also had in mind the fact that the tired, poor, huddled masses would need help to get a toehold, from relatives who arrived earlier, from faith communities, from the public schools (with mandatory attendance), and from many other sources.

And yes, even then there were fools who excoriated the newcomers rather than welcoming them, until their sons and daughters started marrying them. Each new wave (Irish, Polish, Italian, Swedish, Bohemian, Russian, and Jews from all over the continent, not necessarily in that order) was treated as an inferior race, until people began tasting their food, buying the clothes they made, hearing their music, and so forth. Most assimilated within two generations, although Jews were mostly barred from "polite society" until the middle of the 20th century and beyond.

Ms. Lazarus did not see the classes in US society, which were perhaps more fluid then than they are now. But most of her huddled masses did not have to contend with powerful factions in high places who actively demonized and suppressed them, to a large extent because they were "white." Yet it is primarily the Bible thumpers who explicitly demonize both "poor people" and "people of color" when they ask politely to be treated as human beings.
+1 # punch 2019-08-15 09:24
No, the many of the people from Europe were not regarded as white. "Whiteness" is a fluid concept and a political one, used in the US in order to separate groups of people into underclasses that can be treated differently.
+3 # DongiC 2019-08-14 18:11
Religion is a dangerous item especially in the hands and hearts of fanatical people. Kind of like Trump's supporters on steroids when it comes to the gentle Jesus. Why they even misunderstand the compassionate words of the kindly Emma Lazarus.
+3 # futhark 2019-08-14 18:32
I recently received one of those faux surveys from Judicial Watch, asking in very loaded language whether or not I favored taxpayer's money being used to educate and provide health care services to immigrants. I responded with my own questions as to whether or not they preferred to live in a society surrounded by ignorant people, many of whom may be carrying pathogens that that may infect them and cause communicable disease.
+1 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-08-15 14:58
Isn't Trump's wife an immigrant? Wasn't Trumps family background from Germany?