Trump official changes Emma Lazarus poem arguing against immigration

Asked about the Jewish poet’s words by an NPR reporter on Tuesday, Ken Cuccinelli, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director, gave the old words a new twist.

By SAM SOKOL/JTA
August 14, 2019 02:39
1 minute read.
Trump official changes Emma Lazarus poem arguing against immigration

The pages by the iconic Naomi Shemer reveal a funny poem for her husband, as well as the last song she ever composed – about Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. (photo credit: COURTESY SHEMER-HOROWITZ FAMILY)

A Trump administration official changed the famous poem by Emma Lazarus engraved on the Statue of Liberty in arguing for immigration restrictions.

Asked about the Jewish poet’s words by an NPR reporter on Tuesday, Ken Cuccinelli, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director, gave the old words a new twist.

“Give me your tired and your poor,” Cuccinelli said, then adding his own qualifier, “who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”



In the original poem, the line reads “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”



Cuccinelli was defending the Trump administration’s newest regulation aimed at curbing immigration by withholding Green Cards from immigrants who receive, or the federal government thinks will need, government benefits.



President Donald Trump has sought to curb immigration, both legal and illegal. Paired with what many critics see as racially charged rhetoric aimed at African-Americans and Latinos, the president’s policies have set off a fierce backlash among his critics, including in the Jewish community.


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