Trump official revises Statue of Liberty poem to defend migrant rule change

President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 9 2019 as he prepares to leave Washington for his Bedminster golf club

The regulations announced on Monday targets those who rely on government assistance programmes like subsidized housing or food or have used the health insurance for the poor, making them ineligible for Green Cards or permanent residency.

According to the regulations, foreign citizens who apply to immigrate to the USA will be considered "public burden" if they failed to meet the prescribed income standards or receive public benefits for more than one year in any three years in the country. "Give me your exhausted and your poor who can stand on their own two feet".

Acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday made a tweak to Emma Lazarus' famous poem etched onto the Statue of Liberty while rationalizing the Trump administration's new "public charge" rule, which could restrict green cards to low-income legal immigrants who use public benefits.

NPR's Rachel Martin asked him if that new rule changes the idea of the American dream of being able to come to the country with nothing and still find success.

"When it comes to immigration, the Statue of Liberty says, 'Give me your exhausted, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, '" Acosta said.

Cuccinelli also made the claim that Lazarus' words were put on the Statue of Liberty "at nearly the same time" that the US passed its first "public charge" rule for immigration, which he called "very interesting timing" - though he didn't get the timing exactly right.

The new rule will go into effect October 15, and only government aid used after that point will be assessed, Cuccinelli said.

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Cuccinelli, during an interview with NPR, argued it's the "American tradition" that immigrants welcomed into the country be those who are "self-sufficient, can pull themselves up from their bootstraps".

Then he clarified. "It is a privilege to become an American, not a right for anybody who is not already an American citizen, that's what I was referring to".

Immigrants who are already permanent residents in the U.S. are unlikely to be affected by the rule change.

US President Donald Trump has said that he wants to introduce a merit-based immigration system that would favour those who are well-educated or have special skills.

The Democratic led House Homeland Security Committee condemned Mr Cuccinelli's revision in a tweet, calling the words "vile and un-American".

"I'm certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty", Cuccinelli replied.

Give me your exhausted, your poor ... but not too poor.

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