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Ken Cuccinelli. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, tweaked the famous poem inside the Statue of Liberty during an interview on NPR's "Morning Edition" to defend the Trump administration's rule that would penalize immigrants who use or are likely to use public benefit programs such as food stamps, housing assistance or Medicaid.

"Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."

Emma Lazarus' original words from "The New Colossus":

"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!"

The big picture: Cuccinelli said it "doesn't seem like too much to ask" for immigrants to be self-sufficient when coming to the U.S. after NPR's Rachel Martin asked him if the rule changes the definition of the American dream.

  • "It does not change what makes America exceptional. We invite people to come here and join us as a privilege," he said.

Go deeper: Trump administration to penalize immigrants likely to use public benefits

Go deeper

Judge temporarily blocks South Carolina ban on school mask mandates

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked South Carolina's ban on mask mandates in schools, ruling that it discriminated against students with disabilities and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Why it matters: As mask bans extend to public schools around the country, parents and disability rights activists have sounded alarm bells. The ruling may signal the outcomes of legal fights playing out across the country.

DeSantis takes legal action against Biden efforts on immigration

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took legal action on Tuesday to try to stop the Biden administration's immigration plans.

Why it matters: The Republican governor, who is running for re-election next year and is possibly eyeing a 2024 presidential bid, is picking a high-profile fight with Biden while re-upping his hardline stance on immigration.

Left: Senate's threat "insane"

The famously press-shy Sen. Kyrsten Sinema speaks briefly with reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) lambasted Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday, saying "it's insane" that "one senator" is blocking attempts to settle on a palatable figure for President Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.

Why it matters: The figure is the linchpin to getting progressive support for the companion $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Khanna's statement reflects broader dissatisfaction among House progressives with Sinema and her fellow holdout, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

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