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July 20, 2019

Trump snubs Statue of Liberty museum opening to roll out immigration plan in D.C.

May 15, 2019
The original torch and flame are displayed in the new Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island in New York on Monday. (Richard Drew/AP)

President Trump is ditching Thursday’s opening of the Statue of Liberty museum because he doesn’t want to face a tough crowd and plans to stay at the White House to roll out a right-wing immigration plan instead, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The sources told the Daily News that the White House was nearly all set on having Trump attend the Liberty Island shindig, which comes after two years of museum construction estimated to have cost $100 million.

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Secret Service officials swarmed the island last week to make security arrangements for the president, with tentative plans calling for New York harbor to be shut down between 10 a.m. and noon Thursday, according to the sources.

But the White House backed off late last week after realizing Trump was likely not going to be well received by the heavily Democratic crowd, a source close the event said.

Among the names on the extravagant guest list are Trump nemeses like Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Chuck Schumer as well as liberal New York socialites like Diane von Fürstenberg, who’s a member of the new museum’s board.

“These are not people who want to be seen with the president, period,” the source close to the event said. “Reality came to pass and the White House realized that they didn’t need (to attend).”

Moreover, Thursday’s event is expected to focus on the benefits of immigration, which would likely shine a less-than-flattering spotlight on Trump’s own pugnacious immigrant-bashing rhetoric.

Trump’s Interior Department secretary, David Bernhardt, will also skip the event, a source said.

A White House official declined to comment beyond saying that Trump isn’t scheduled to attend the museum opening.

Instead, Trump is expected to stay in Washington to unveil a hard-line immigration plan that his administration is hoping to pass through Congress.

US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday. (SAUL LOEB/Getty)

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and senior adviser Stephen Miller was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to pitch Republican senators on the plan.

While specifics are unknown, the plan is expected to call for beefed up border security measures and a preference for immigrants with strong professional skills over relatives of migrants already in the country.

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But some Republicans were not impressed with the Kushner-Miller presentation.

Moderate Maine Sen. Susan Collins told reporters after the meeting that the Trump advisers had given no assurances on extended protections for beneficiaries of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“They cannot be excluded from any immigration package,” Collins said.

Trump-loyal South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham also appeared at odds with parts of the plan, telling reporters that immigrants with all types of professional expertise are needed, not just high-skilled applicants.

“We need workers across the board,” Graham said.

Back in New York, Democrats and other guests are expected to take in the spectacular, 26,000-square-foot museum on Liberty Island Thursday.

The museum houses Lady Liberty’s original torch and other artifacts and will be open to anyone who comes to the island, with admission included in the price of the ferry ticket.

From the outside, the museum’s glass walls and copper-colored roof appear to be rising out of the earth, with a giant staircase rising to a rooftop terrace at the center.

The Statue of Liberty Museum, set to open Thursday on Liberty Island, is shown in this photo, in New York on Monday.
The Statue of Liberty Museum, set to open Thursday on Liberty Island, is shown in this photo, in New York on Monday. (Richard Drew/AP)

The entire structure is meant to connect to Lady Liberty, using the same granite that’s part of the statue pedestal and including copper as a nod to the recognizable light-green metal the statue is famous for.

It’s designed to make sure few will forget the trademark poem by Emma Lazarus that’s inscribed on a statue plaque reading, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

That clarion welcome call to immigrants is a far cry from Trump, who angrily denounces them as rapists and criminals.

In the final section of the museum, visitors are encouraged to take digital self-portraits and add their thoughts on what liberty means to them.

“This statue was built to congratulate the United States for fighting the Civil War to free the slaves,” said Edwin Schlossberg, president and principal designer at ESI Design, which created the exhibition spaces. “It is based on this idea that liberty was a critical thing that we all had to struggle for, so that idea had to continue as a core value in this experience.”

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