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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/6/17

"Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor": Trump Admin Attacks Emma Lazarus's Iconic Poem on Statue of Liberty

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Opposition is growing to the Trump administration's new proposal to implement radical changes to U.S. immigration law and slash the number of immigrants allowed into the United States by half. The RAISE Act would create a so-called merit-based immigration system that would favor applicants who speak English, have advanced degrees or can demonstrate job skills.

On Wednesday, CNN's Jim Acosta pressed senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over President Trump's push to admit only English-speaking immigrants in a back-and-forth that lasted for several minutes. Acosta asked Miller about the iconic poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus that is inscribed at the base of the State of Liberty, which reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." We speak about the woman who wrote those words, Emma Lazarus, with her biographer, Esther Schor, about why Lazarus wrote the poem, how it became one of the most iconic verses about the United States and why she has long been a target of white nationalists.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Opposition is growing to the Trump administration's new plan to radically overhaul U.S. immigration law and slash the number of immigrants allowed into the United States by half. The RAISE Act, or Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment, would create a so-called merit-based immigration system that would favor applicants who speak English, have advanced degrees or can demonstrate job skills.

Since President Trump and Republican senators introduced the proposal on Wednesday, many commentators have noted the proposed policy would have likely blocked Trump's own grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, from immigrating to the United States, had it been in place in 1885. At the time of his arrival, Drumpf did not speak English, and his immigration record says he had no identifiable skill -- or "calling," as they called it. The great-grandparents of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller would have also likely been refused entry under the proposed plan, since they spoke only Yiddish. Kellyanne Conway's great-grandfather, too, would have likely been barred for speaking only Italian.

Well, on Wednesday, CNN's Jim Acosta, who is the son of immigrants, pressed senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over President Trump's push to admit English-speaking, only, immigrants in a back-and-forth that lasted for several minutes. This is an excerpt.

STEPHEN MILLER: I mean, you really don't know that.

JIM ACOSTA: My father was a Cuban immigrant. He came to this country in 1962, right before the Cuban missile crisis, and obtained a green card. Yes, people who immigrate to this country can eventually--

STEPHEN MILLER: OK. So, Jim--

JIM ACOSTA: People who immigrate to this country through--

STEPHEN MILLER: So, Jim, as a factual question, Jim--

JIM ACOSTA: --not through Ellis Island, as your family may have--

STEPHEN MILLER: Jim, as a factual -- Jim, as a factual question--

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