Ken Cuccinelli, who had previously served at the Attorney General of Virginia, became the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services early in 2019. The acting director of USCIS had regularly appeared on cable news recently to discuss the administrations current thoughts on immigration.
During a Tuesday morning spot on NPR, Cuccinelli was asked if the views written on the Statue of Liberty still represent those of the United States. The director said that the famous Emma Lazarus poem may have to be rewritten.
The host of the NPR program, Rachel Martin, asked, “Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty — ‘give me your tired, your poor’ — are also part of the American ethos?”
Cuccinelli replied that the words should be revised to read, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”
Here's acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli saying on NPR this morning that the Statue of Liberty plaque should be changed to read, "give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge." pic.twitter.com/q8OoNn3k6r
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 13, 2019
These statements go along with potential immigration changes that the President hinted at yesterday. The new restrictions would make it more difficult for legal immigrants to access food stamps and housing subsidies.
The words of Cuccinelli were also similar to those spoken by White House adviser Stephen Miller in 2017. Miller, a noted anti-immigration voice in the White House said:
“I don’t want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty and lighting the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to, that was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.”