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Washington - Trump Official: Statue Of Liberty Poem Refers To Europeans

Published on: August 13, 2019 11:30 PM
By: AP
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Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, speaks during a briefing at the White House, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, speaks during a briefing at the White House, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington - A top Trump administration official said Tuesday 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 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.

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“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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Read Comments (21)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 14, 2019 at 12:28 AM Anonymous Says:

The poem isn't the Statue, it's just a poem the Statue was received and built before the poem.

2

 Aug 14, 2019 at 12:48 AM grandbear Says:

Emma Lazarus was a known communist in her day , In those times america needed people to work in the mines and factories who are not needed now.All the of the industrial world saw people coming off the farms to work in factories.

3

 Aug 14, 2019 at 02:58 AM lazy-boy Says:

for those who have read a bit of history, America was a place that was founded on religious freedom to worship as one pleased. Many left Europe to escape religious persecution.

However they had to word very hard in the new land to succeed; and eventually the colonialists threw off the British rule and became free from them.

America was built on hard work by immigration and did not have immigration laws since it was not a place people came to for hand outs. But today things have changed; people do come to the 'golden medina' for an easy life with government handouts....

As time changes, and circumstances change, so laws should also change to reflect the changing times.

4

 Aug 14, 2019 at 05:55 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

Does he think the poem applied to Jews?

5

 Aug 14, 2019 at 07:16 AM Educated Archy Says:

Such fake news nonsense . I can't believe this . Why do we think every word people say is like a shvera rashi where every word is exact and meaningful . We are humans . Such bs fake news it makes me crazy .

Here is what he meant to say you genusises. He meant to say the Europeans are generally somewhat cuitired and not Crime ridden . Many may have came from poor shtetlach but it's not the same as coming from poor lawlessness countries in the 21st century . Let's not twist his words or poor choice of words

6

 Aug 14, 2019 at 07:56 AM Shlomo-1 Says:

Reply to #2  
grandbear Says:

Emma Lazarus was a known communist in her day , In those times america needed people to work in the mines and factories who are not needed now.All the of the industrial world saw people coming off the farms to work in factories.

1) don't start with an ad hominem attack. It's not clear that she was a "known communist" and communism didn't have near the same implications it does now. Remember that we're talking decades before the Russian revolution.
2) You're arguing that a "known communist" was encouraging immigration in order to have workers for the mines and factories? Odd position.

7

 Aug 14, 2019 at 07:57 AM HeshyEmes Says:

Of course the Democrats are right. Let's turn the United States into something like Guatamala, Venezuela, Honduras or Peru. We will welcome all; allow them the right to vote so that they can give Romney's 47% (that vote for the candidate who promises them the most "free stuff") a permanent majority so that Bernie's Socialist nirvana will be achieved for the few years, until the US collapses like Rome and all the other former world powers. Great idea!

8

 Aug 14, 2019 at 07:58 AM BeenThere79 Says:

Reply to #2  
grandbear Says:

Emma Lazarus was a known communist in her day , In those times america needed people to work in the mines and factories who are not needed now.All the of the industrial world saw people coming off the farms to work in factories.

And America didn't need Jews either during the Holocaust and sadly many were killed because they were not allowed in. As part of a minority race, now is not the time to be smug and feel superior.

9

 Aug 14, 2019 at 08:20 AM Butterfly Says:

How does Trump know that Ms. Lazarus was referring to Europeans? He is not that old to have known her personally!! He could not have read her mind!!

10

 Aug 14, 2019 at 10:05 AM georgeg Says:

Reply to #4  
PaulinSaudi Says:

Does he think the poem applied to Jews?

To quote Wikipedia:

> The "huddled masses" refers to the large numbers of European immigrants arriving in the United States in the 1880s from southern and eastern Europe. Lazarus was an activist and advocate for Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Czarist Russia.

11

 Aug 14, 2019 at 10:13 AM georgeg Says:

Reply to #8  
BeenThere79 Says:

And America didn't need Jews either during the Holocaust and sadly many were killed because they were not allowed in. As part of a minority race, now is not the time to be smug and feel superior.

Such a short post yet mixing so many things that have nothing to do with each other. Of course America needed Jews. Einstein wasn't born in America. Nearly all top scientists in such related fields were Jewish.

The question of fleeing the Holocaust is another matter. At one level, I ask whether those fleeing the Holocaust came carrying Nazi flags the way that those allegedly fleeing from countries to the south today come marching carrying their country's flag? At another level I ask, where are these gas chambers that these guys today are allegedly fleeing? Shouldn't such facilities be bombed out of existence the way we know today with certainty that the U.S. *should have* bombed back in WWII?

12

 Aug 14, 2019 at 10:16 AM georgeg Says:

Reply to #9  
Butterfly Says:

How does Trump know that Ms. Lazarus was referring to Europeans? He is not that old to have known her personally!! He could not have read her mind!!

I suppose you believe that history begins with your own first memories and nothing existed before that? Or perhaps learn a little documented history. The poet had a well documented life. To quote Wikipedia:

> The "huddled masses" refers to the large numbers of European immigrants arriving in the United States in the 1880s from southern and eastern Europe. Lazarus was an activist and advocate for Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Czarist Russia.

13

 Aug 14, 2019 at 10:24 AM AH Says:

Reply to #5  
Educated Archy Says:

Such fake news nonsense . I can't believe this . Why do we think every word people say is like a shvera rashi where every word is exact and meaningful . We are humans . Such bs fake news it makes me crazy .

Here is what he meant to say you genusises. He meant to say the Europeans are generally somewhat cuitired and not Crime ridden . Many may have came from poor shtetlach but it's not the same as coming from poor lawlessness countries in the 21st century . Let's not twist his words or poor choice of words

It's more than that, even. The reference to "Europe" is in this sentence:

"...people coming from Europe where they had class based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class."

So Cuccinelli's point isn't that it applies only to Europeans, but that it is meant to go against the prevailing mindset in Europe, that you were worth something only if you belonged to a certain social class.

14

 Aug 14, 2019 at 10:27 AM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #8  
BeenThere79 Says:

And America didn't need Jews either during the Holocaust and sadly many were killed because they were not allowed in. As part of a minority race, now is not the time to be smug and feel superior.

Key differences,
1) As you wrote, "sadly many were killed because they were not allowed in". Now immigrants are not getting killed.
2)There weren't coial progarms then. Social programs cost us alot of money. Plus immigrants explot them. I would too

15

 Aug 14, 2019 at 11:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Does this trumpf moron have a crystal ball to know which immigrants will be self supporting by the 2nd generation here? The percentage of 'frum' yidden on Section 8, food stamps, social security extended benefits, etc. is far higher than the American average. Should they be sent 'home'? Across the country whites get far more 'welfare' than 'minorities'. But trumpf demonizes immigrants for his white-nazi base. EMMA LAZARUS IS A HERO. AH IS DEAD.

16

 Aug 14, 2019 at 12:11 PM BeenThere79 Says:

Reply to #14  
Educated Archy Says:

Key differences,
1) As you wrote, "sadly many were killed because they were not allowed in". Now immigrants are not getting killed.
2)There weren't coial progarms then. Social programs cost us alot of money. Plus immigrants explot them. I would too

Do you know for a fact that people aren't getting killed?
When there are people running away from their homes on foot, do you really, really think they are putting themselves through all that risk and discomfort, just because they think that US will give them food stamps?
Change is hard. In fact, so many people stay in the same job, even though they aren't happy because trying new things is hard. And that is minor discomfort compared to uprooting where you live.
To leave were you lived your whole life, to move to a new culture, a new language, and to travel dangerously, is a very likely indication that they are escaping persecution.
Would you move to a new country, culture, language, etc. just for social benefits? EVEN if it would be handed to you on a sliver platter, EVEN if the travel was safe and EVEN if you were welcomed, I would think you would think long and hard and likely not do it.
To uproot from where you are requires desperation and bravery.
If you think of them as human beings (not so different than you), you may still have strong feelings about immigration policies (which is a mess in this country) but I would hope you can see another side too.

17

 Aug 14, 2019 at 12:21 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

Does this trumpf moron have a crystal ball to know which immigrants will be self supporting by the 2nd generation here? The percentage of 'frum' yidden on Section 8, food stamps, social security extended benefits, etc. is far higher than the American average. Should they be sent 'home'? Across the country whites get far more 'welfare' than 'minorities'. But trumpf demonizes immigrants for his white-nazi base. EMMA LAZARUS IS A HERO. AH IS DEAD.

nosnesne fake news.

We still pay in way more than we take. Public schools alone area fortune. And nowadays they come with billingual therapists and lost of after shcool programs.

Plus we are citzens and these are immigrants. This is the whole point you genuis. our system is strained enough taking care of the white hicks and chasdim . We can't afford to take in people to this country whom we know on day one will be on social progarms. The system is for society who are citzens. its not a chesed organization for anyone in the world that needs it. By the way if we were coning now as refugess to milk the system and not under threat of death, I'd say don't take us either.

18

 Aug 14, 2019 at 12:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #17  
Educated Archy Says:

nosnesne fake news.

We still pay in way more than we take. Public schools alone area fortune. And nowadays they come with billingual therapists and lost of after shcool programs.

Plus we are citzens and these are immigrants. This is the whole point you genuis. our system is strained enough taking care of the white hicks and chasdim . We can't afford to take in people to this country whom we know on day one will be on social progarms. The system is for society who are citzens. its not a chesed organization for anyone in the world that needs it. By the way if we were coning now as refugess to milk the system and not under threat of death, I'd say don't take us either.

You use the word h*ck in your comment, which means you don't value Americans either. By the way, we have a moral imperative here.

19

 Aug 14, 2019 at 01:46 PM georgeg Says:

Reply to #16  
BeenThere79 Says:

Do you know for a fact that people aren't getting killed?
When there are people running away from their homes on foot, do you really, really think they are putting themselves through all that risk and discomfort, just because they think that US will give them food stamps?
Change is hard. In fact, so many people stay in the same job, even though they aren't happy because trying new things is hard. And that is minor discomfort compared to uprooting where you live.
To leave were you lived your whole life, to move to a new culture, a new language, and to travel dangerously, is a very likely indication that they are escaping persecution.
Would you move to a new country, culture, language, etc. just for social benefits? EVEN if it would be handed to you on a sliver platter, EVEN if the travel was safe and EVEN if you were welcomed, I would think you would think long and hard and likely not do it.
To uproot from where you are requires desperation and bravery.
If you think of them as human beings (not so different than you), you may still have strong feelings about immigration policies (which is a mess in this country) but I would hope you can see another side too.

You are mixing two different questions. The first question is why it was worth it for the US to allow easy immigration in the past but not so much now. The answer is because there was no real downside in the past when there was no welfare - the immigrant either contributed or died (or was kicked out).

The second question is why people would leave a known environment to move to an unknown environment. So I ask you - why did the "missing link" pre-human monkeys leave Africa, with all its bounty, to travel across the globe to frozen locations and unknown fate? I really doubt they were escaping torture cells of roaming gangster pre-human monkeys with machine guns.

20

 Aug 14, 2019 at 04:27 PM emes01 Says:

I will guess that Ken Cuccinelli is an Italian Catholic. Ask the average resident of the United States 100 years ago if Italian or Catholcs should be allowed in and I'll bet you they would oppose it on class and religious grounds. Maybe Ken should leave to comply with the original intent.

21

 Aug 14, 2019 at 05:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
HeshyEmes Says:

Of course the Democrats are right. Let's turn the United States into something like Guatamala, Venezuela, Honduras or Peru. We will welcome all; allow them the right to vote so that they can give Romney's 47% (that vote for the candidate who promises them the most "free stuff") a permanent majority so that Bernie's Socialist nirvana will be achieved for the few years, until the US collapses like Rome and all the other former world powers. Great idea!

As long as they vote democrat the pathetic libs would love to have open borders and take in murderers, criminals, etc.

22

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