Cuccinelli Edits Lazarus Poem To Justify 'Public Charge' Rule

National Park Service

NPR host Rachel Martin asked Cuccinelli, "Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus" words etched on the Statue of Liberty, "give me your exhausted, your poor, ' are also part of the American ethos?"

"Give me your exhausted and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge", Cuccinelli said while trying to justify the new rule from the Trump administration that will limit legal immigration.

Cuccinelli on Monday announced the rule change that redefines a "public charge" as an immigrant who is likely to end up receiving some kind of public assistance, including Medicaid, housing vouchers and food stamps.

Cuccinelli also made the claim that Lazarus' words were put on the Statue of Liberty "at nearly the same time" that the USA passed its first "public charge" rule for immigration, which he called "very interesting timing" - though he didn't get the timing exactly right. NPR's Rachel Martin asked Cuccinelli on "Morning Edition" in an interview published Tuesday. The first public charge law in the USA was codified in 1882.

Lazarus originally wrote the sonnet, entitled "The New Colossus", to raise funds for the statue's pedestal in 1883.

The administration of President Donald Trump has introduced new restrictions to the United State's immigration policy and analysts fear this could affect legal immigrants into the country.

"If they don't have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them", Cuccinelli said.

More news: Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies to Star in 'The Crown' Season 3

"Is that sentiment ― "Give us your exhausted, your poor" ― still operative in the United States, or should those words come down?"

On Monday, it made the regulation official, and it's set to go into effect October 15.

Later on Tuesday, Trump weighed in on Cuccinelli's additions to the poem.

In 2017, CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked White House adviser Stephen Miller how Trump's proposed immigration policy requiring certain skill levels squared with the poem that once greeted immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.

"The true impact of the public charge rule - and perhaps one of the Trump administration's chief policy goals - is to create a "chilling effect" that frightens immigrant families into disenrolling from public benefits, even when the rule does not apply to them or their U.S. citizen children", he said.

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". Asked if there should be changes to the Statue of Liberty poem, he replied, "It's about America first".

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