‘It doesn’t seem too much to ask that we have Americans here who aren’t likely to go on welfare and become public charge…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Issuing his support for the Trump administration’s new policy limiting legal immigration to those who don’t need to accept public services, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, tweaked a poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.
“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” Cuccinelli told NPR’s “Morning Edition” when asked about Emma Lazarus’s famous poem, “New Colossus,” in honor of the monument that greeted the ships carrying European immigrants en route to Ellis Island.
Lazarus’s original poem reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the Wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-cost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Cuccinelli said mass immigration has required the U.S. to change its mindset and reach out to immigrants who can “stand on their own two feet” and be self-sufficient.
“If they don’t have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare,” Cuccinelli said, “that will be counted against them. That is the point of the rule. It doesn’t seem too much to ask that we have Americans here who aren’t likely to go on welfare and become public charge.”
The Trump administration introduced the policy on Monday. It allows the government to reject visas, green cards, and legal entry into the U.S. if an individual is likely to tap into taxpayer-funded benefits, like welfare.
The “public charge” rule would connect an immigrant’s legal status to his income and use of public programs, like Medicaid, food stamps, etc.
Immigrant advocacy groups were quick to condemn the rule and threaten to sue the Trump administration.
“Under this rule, children will go hungry; families will go without medical care. I am committed to defending all of New York’s communities, which is why I intend to sue the Trump Administration over this egregious rule,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
But Cuccinelli said the U.S. isn’t restricting immigration or limiting access.
“We have a long history of being one of the most welcoming nations in the world on a lot of bases—whether you be an asylee, whether you be coming here to join your family, or immigrating yourself,” he said.