Trump's Immigration Chief: That Statue of Liberty Poem Was About Europeans OK??

Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli listens to a question during a briefing at the White House.
Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, can’t stop reinterpreting the poem about immigrants engraved on the Statue of Liberty in order to justify the Trump administration’s new cruel “public charge” rule.

He tried again Tuesday night on CNN, where he explained the 1883 poem about the U.S. taking in “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” was about Europeans, specifically.

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“Well, of course, that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe, where they had class-based societies, where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class,” Cuccinelli said. “And it was written one year after the first federal public charge rule was written that says ‘any person who is able to take care of himself without becoming a public charge’ would be inadmissible.”

So these Europeans weren’t actually “poor” when Lazarus wrote “poor,” and this somehow excludes the poem from applying to immigrants from Central America?? And we’ve completely done away with “class-based societies” in this country?? Got it, great!

When asked about Lazarus’ poem at a press conference on Monday, Cuccinelli said he wasn’t prepared to make any changes to the inscription on the statue. But yesterday morning, during an interview with NPR, he conspicuously added the words “public charge” to the poem.

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Samantha Grasso

Splinter Staff Writer, Texan