Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration’s acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, reinforced his controversial interpretation of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty ― this time giving it a racist twist.
CNN journalist Erin Burnett was asking Cuccinelli about his earlier interview with NPR, in which he reworded the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus,” saying: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”
“‘Wretched,’ ‘poor,’ refuse’ - right? That’s what the poem says America is supposed to stand for. So what do you think America stands for?” Burnett asked Cuccinelli.
“Well, of course, that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe,” Cucinelli answered, “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.”
It is unclear why Cucinelli felt the need to specify the group of immigrants Lazarus was referring to. The poem itself describes the Statue of Liberty by saying, “From her beacon-hand/ Glows world-wide welcome.” USCIS did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
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