Immigration Head Reworks Statue of Liberty Poem

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                                    A CHANGE I'D MAKE          NPR

Play video content A CHANGE I'D MAKE NPR

The famous words on the pedestal of the State of Liberty, "Give me your exhausted, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", were written by Emma Lazarus in 1883.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, speaks during a briefing at the White House on August 12 in Washington. NPR's Rachel Martin asked Cuccinelli on "Morning Edition" in an interview published Tuesday.

He said the welcoming words from the 1903 plaque at the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your exhausted, your poor", were put there "at nearly the same time" as when the first public charge law was passed - in 1882.

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.

The change broadens the scope of the "public charge" rule that in 1996 had been limited to only cash-assistance programs to now include non-cash government assistance programs. "Well, I'm certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty", he told reporters.

According to the regulations, foreign citizens who apply to immigrate to the USA will be considered "public burden" if they failed to meet the prescribed income standards or receive public benefits for more than one year in any three years in the country.

"It's clear the Trump Administration just wants to keep certain people out", the committee wrote, calling Mr Cuccinelli "a xenophobic, anti-immigrant fringe figure who has no business being in government". He rejected criticism that the regulation targets poor people.

The rule change is meant to reinforce "ideals of self-sufficiency", officials said. "So let's not look at that as the be-all, end-all, and it's not the deciding factor".

Cuccinelli said: "For over a century, the public charge ground of inadmissibility has been part of our nation's immigration laws". If legal immigrants "don't have future prospects" without welfare, "that will be counted against them", he explained.

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?"

Trump administration officials have been challenged before about the Statue of Liberty poem after announcing immigration restrictions. "The poem that you're referring to was added later, it's not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty". "I am exhausted of seeing our taxpayers paying for people to come into the country and immediately going on welfare".

"So I think we're doing it right".