Statue of Liberty poem was only supposed to welcome white immigrants ‘from Europe,’ Cuccinelli says
August 14, 2019
The hardline White House official who slammed the famed poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty now claims the verse was only supposed to welcome white immigrants.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Immigration and Citizenship Services boss, told CNN that the “give me your poor, your tired” no longer makes sense in today’s world where many immigrants and refugees are non-white people from developing nations.
“Of course that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe,” Cuccinelli told Erin Burnett Tuesday.
Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner who wants to end birthright citizenship even though it’s written into the Constitution, claimed that immigrants in the 19th century were more deserving of entrance into the U.S. because of the stratified nature of the societies they were fleeing.
“They had class-based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren’t from the right class,” he said.
Cuccinelli did not explain why that would be any different from non-white immigrants coming from similarly stratified nations today.
The Edison, New Jersey native told Burnett that his own Italian immigrant grandfather sponsored two brothers to come the U.S. He insisted that the “yearning to be free” line was never intended to let penniless immigrants get a free ride in the New World.
“It’s not to get free stuff,” he added in a Fox News interview on Wednesday. “It’s freedom to have opportunity.”
The Lady Liberty drama started when Cuccinelli defended an aggressive new rule that will effectively deny permanent residency to legal immigrants who apply for food stamps, public housing or other programs.
He said the “public charge” rule reflects common sense and in keeping with longstanding American values.
Shockingly, Cuccinelli said that the famed Emma Lazarus poem “The New Collosus” should really refer to newcomers “ready to stand on your own two feet.” Or, as he now suggests, to white people from Europe, like his ancestors.