Aug 13, 2019

Ken Cuccinelli: "Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet"

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

Madeleine Albright blasts Ken Cuccinelli's Statue of Liberty comments as "un-American"

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a two-time refugee, blasted Ken Cuccinelli's rewording of the poem inside the Statue of Liberty as "one of the most un-American things that I’ve ever heard" during a CNN interview Wednesday.

The backdrop: Cuccinelli, the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, came under fire this week for using the poem to defend the Trump administration's rule that would penalize immigrants who use or are likely to utilize public benefit programs.

Go deeperArrowAug 15, 2019

California counties file lawsuit against Trump admin green card rule

A woman who's applying for food stamps in Orange, California. Photo: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a Trump administration move to penalize immigrants who use or are likely to use public benefit programs such as food stamps, housing assistance or Medicaid.

Why it matters: Per Axios' Stef Knight, the rule would make it much harder for immigrants with low incomes or low levels of education to obtain visas or green cards. And it would be much harder for immigrants already in the U.S. to stay longer, change their immigration status or become citizens if they have used any of the specified safety net programs.

Go deeperArrowAug 14, 2019

Health of immigrants at risk in changes to public assistance policies

A patient visits a clinic in Solana Beach, Calif., that serves a large immigrant population. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images

The Trump administration's recently finalized “public charge” rule — which would make use of certain public assistance programs by immigrants grounds for denying lawful permanent residence — extends a series of policy changes that could negatively affect the health of both legal and undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Why it matters: Health insurance, nutrition benefits and housing assistance are all linked to health outcomes, particularly in children. Although the 46 million immigrants in the U.S. are generally healthier and use fewer health resources than native-born residents, additional barriers to care could increase rates of obesity, malnutrition and transmission of communicable diseases.

Go deeperArrowAug 13, 2019