President Donald Trump’s acting head of ICE, Ken Cuccinelli, became a target for the left’s outrage after he appeared to mess with their favorite part of the poem on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.
The acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services set off a wave of backlash from progressives when he appeared on CNN and defended his earlier comments on Emma Lazarus’ work, saying the iconic poem was about “people coming from Europe.”
CNN host Erin Burnett confronted Cuccinelli on Tuesday about his remarks during an NPR interview, and the heated discussion only poured gasoline on the fire the left was already fanning.
“Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor,’ are also a part of the American ethos?” NPR’s Rachel Martin asked him on “Morning Edition” Tuesday while discussing the Trump administration’s new green card rule.
Liberals often invoke the poem, “The New Colossus,” as some sort of established foreign policy. The line that was at the center of the debate Tuesday, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” was noted by Cuccinelli who updated it in his response.
“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,'” he replied. “That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge was passed — very interesting timing.”
Burnett pressed him about his tweak to the poem on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” later Tuesday.
“I was answering a question. I wasn’t writing poetry, Erin. Don’t change the facts. You’re twisting this like everybody else on the left has done all day today,” Cuccinelli said.
“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, and it was written one year after the first federal public charge rule was written,” he added.
“It was introduced one year after the first federal public charge rule was written that says — I’ll quote it, ‘Any person unable to take care of himself without becoming a public charge,’ unquote, would be inadmissible.” Cuccinelli told Burnett. “In the terms that my agency deals with, they can’t do what’s called adjusting status, getting a green card, becoming legal permanent residence.”
“Nancy Pelosi referred to America’s proud heritage. Self-sufficiency is a central part of America’s proud heritage. And we proudly stand behind that tradition,” he said.
Social media erupted at Cuccinelli’s comments with pearl-clutching liberals spiraling at his “racism.”
This administration finally admitted what we’ve known all along: They think the Statue of Liberty only applies to white people. https://t.co/kTLl50yCmw
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 14, 2019
Wait, Cuccinnelli actually found a way to get more racist and xenophobic from the morning quote this evening?! https://t.co/aqMytpzvPc
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) August 14, 2019
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) August 13, 2019
Not even trying to hide racism. Appalling. https://t.co/T6X3CQRoyz
— Phil Wahba (@philwahba) August 14, 2019
In case you think racism is a fringe thing this guy is the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, not some random Fox News personality. https://t.co/XByl3dkIlh
— Murtaza Mohammad Hussain (@MazMHussain) August 14, 2019
This isn’t the first time the left has politicized the Statue of Liberty and the poem. CNN’s Jim Acosta used the poem in a press briefing with Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller back in 2017, and then tweeted it as well.
But the Statue of Liberty, built as a gift to the U.S. from the French following the end of the Civil War, was intended as a way to celebrate independence and enlightenment.
“This monument to independence will be executed in common by the two nations, joined together in this fraternal work as they once were to achieve independence,” French political thinker and abolitionist Édouard de Laboulaye wrote in 1865.
Lazarus’ poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and added to the base of the statue in 1903.
1) When the Statue of Liberty was erected there was no poem—it was part of a fundraiser to pay for her pedestal—no freebies even for HER. 2) the 1883 immigration policy EXCLUDED those who would rely on Freebies 3) Which is irrelevant because there were NO GOV’T FREEBIES in 1883!
— Ken (@KenFro) August 13, 2019
But the facts don’t fit the left’s narrative and CNN, as well as the rest of the liberal media, are bent on rewriting history if that’s what it takes.
WHERE in the poem does it say “give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to receive free money, health care, and services for life?” pic.twitter.com/bZqQqXef7G
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 13, 2019
No matter what it says welfare didn’t exist back then and anyone coming here had to make it on their own. Both sides of my family had to do it back then and the same should apply in 2019.
— KarmaDog (@KarmaDogOh) August 13, 2019
2/ Understandably getting lost in the shuffle here is that Cucc is arguing that “wretched” didn’t mean “wretched”. He appears to be saying it referred to people who weren’t part of the nobility or simply one of the lower classes/commoners
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 14, 2019
I know Democrats try to re write history,but the poem was a contest,it never ever was policy. You think those “huddled masses” then got everything handed to them? No.
— Marsha (@mimsycoll) August 13, 2019
Federal law already requires those seeking permanent legal status to prove they will not be a public charge. These rules further specify what constitutes a public charge. The rules also have exceptions for groups such as pregnant women, kids, military, refugees, & asylum seekers. https://t.co/G1WSiVvych
— (((AG))) (@AG_Conservative) August 13, 2019
Hand up, not hand out. #MAGA
— Carolyn Bailey (@Carobailey864) August 13, 2019
Why are people thinking a poem sets our immigration policy?
— Mishka (@MishkaInLA) August 13, 2019
Anyone read what our immigration policy was back in 1900? Same as it is today. We just don’t enforce it.
— The Flygirl & Jose Jimenez (@FlygirlJose) August 13, 2019
It’s the Statue of Liberty, not the statue of immigration. Freedom to live is not your right to demand service from the free.
— TMoore (@tmoptio444) August 13, 2019
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