The Statue of Liberty has always been a pro-immigration symbol. Trump’s officials want to change that
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” These are the words that have always been etched upon the Statue of Liberty, a reminder of what the iconic symbol of hope has always stood for.
Lady Liberty was erected off the shores of New York City as a symbol to welcome immigrants to one of the greatest nations on Earth. The poem reflects that many of the people coming here came with nothing, seeking refuge from danger, violence, and poverty in their home lands. It promised them that refuge at “the golden door” of America.
This week, a Trump immigration official rewrote the words etched on the Statue of Liberty, turning the poem into anti-immigrant rhetoric in a shocking slap in the face to everything that poem, its writer, that statue, and America have ever stood for.
Trump’s immigration chief Ken Cuccinelli appeared on Morning Edition, where he was asked about that iconic poem and how it applies to immigration today.
This is what he said.
A new Trump administration rule would penalize immigrants likely to need public benefits like nutrition or housing aid. pic.twitter.com/ZBIpHVimF4
— Morning Edition (@MorningEdition) August 13, 2019
“Give me your tired and your poor, who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”
That’s not how the poem goes. At all.
That sound bite came from an interview in which Cuccinelli was defending the Trump administration’s latest heartless immigration directive, a rule that would make it harder for immigrants to enter the country if it was likely that they would need public benefits, like food stamps or housing assistance, once in the country. So much for that golden gate, welcoming with hope those who flee violence and poverty.
But we’ve known for a long time that America is dead. We are no longer a refuge for those who seek it. We turn people away, or worse, imprison them in heinous detention centers where they go without food or water or basic hygiene.
Let’s be clear about one thing: This policy, and this mind-boggling rewriting of the Statue of Liberty poem, are based in nothing but racism. Don’t believe that? Here’s Cuccinelli defending himself.
Cuccinelli: That statue of liberty poem was about "people coming from Europe." pic.twitter.com/nrDcUGJsU3
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 13, 2019
That’s right. The Statue of Liberty poem doesn’t apply now because we’re not talking about only people from Europe anymore. We’re not talking about white people anymore.
This administration’s heartless policies are completely lacking in empathy and humanity, and they’ll forever be a stain on the fabric and legacy of America.