A top Trump administration official says that the famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants into the country is about “people coming from Europe” and that America is looking to receive migrants “who can stand on their own two feet.”
The comments on Tuesday from Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, came a day after the Trump administration announced it would seek to deny green cards to migrants who seek Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance. The move, and Cuccinelli’s defense, prompted an outcry from Democrats and immigration advocates who said the policy would favor wealthier immigrants and disadvantage those from poorer countries in Latin America and Africa.
“This administration finally admitted what we’ve known all along: They think the Statue of Liberty only applies to white people,” tweeted former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate.
The administration’s proposed policy shift comes as President Donald Trump is leaning more heavily into the restrictive immigration policies that have energized his core supporters and were central to his 2016 victory. He has also spoken disparagingly about immigration from majority black and Hispanic countries, including calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals when he launched his 2016 campaign. Last year, he privately branded Central American and African nations as “shithole” countries and he suggested the U.S. take in more immigrants from European countries like predominantly white Norway.
Cuccinelli said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday night that the Emma Lazarus poem emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty referred to “people coming from Europe where they had class based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class.”
Lazarus’ poem, written in 1883 to raise money to construct the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal and cast in bronze beneath the monument in 1903, served as a beacon to millions of immigrants who crossed past as they first entered the U.S. in New York Harbor. It reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Cuccinelli was asked earlier Tuesday on NPR whether the words “give me your tired, your poor” were part of the American ethos. Cuccinelli responded: “They certainly are. Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”
A hard-line conservative from Virginia, Cuccinelli was a failed Republican candidate for governor in 2013 after serving as the state’s attorney general. He backed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for president in 2016 and for a time was a harsh critic of Trump.
He is one of a slew of immigration hardliners brought in by Trump to implement the president’s policies. He was appointed to the post in June in a temporary capacity, which doesn’t require Senate confirmation.
Trump, asked Tuesday about Cuccinelli’s comments on NPR, appeared to back him up.
“I don’t think it’s fair to have the American taxpayer paying for people to come into the United States,” Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One for Pennsylvania. “I think we’re doing it right.”
Immigrant rights groups strongly criticized the Trump administration’s new rules for immigrants receiving public assistance, warning that the changes would scare immigrants away from asking for needed help. And they voiced concern that officials were being given too much authority to decide whether someone is likely to need public assistance in the future.
Another Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also condemned Cuccinelli’s comments.
“Our values are etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty. They will not be replaced,” she tweeted. “And I will fight for those values and for our immigrant communities.”
Phoenix police must now document each time they point their gun at someone
(CNN) Phoenix police officers must now document every instance in which they point a gun at a person — a decision that the city long considered but now has been made after recent public outcry about aggressive police tactics in Arizona’s capital.
From now on, Phoenix officers must fill out a form when an officer points a gun, and the incident will be reviewed by a supervisor, city officials announced Monday.
“When a gun is pointed at someone, that’s a traumatic event,” Police Chief Jeri Williams said at a news conference. “I think this is a first step in being … that accountable, transparent organization that is willing to share what we do and how we do it.”
The decision comes two months after a tense community meeting where residents vented about a well-publicized incident, in which video showed an officer pull a gun on a family during a shoplifting investigation outside a Phoenix dollar store in May.
City officials haven’t linked Monday’s announcement directly to that incident. Two separate panels already had recommended that the police department record each gun draw, including the National Police Foundation this April.
The NPF made its recommendation after the city asked it to study a 2018 spike in officer-involved shootings in Phoenix (44 were reported that year, compared to a yearly average of 21 from 2009 to 2017).
“Our community has … said that they want our police department to collect more data around the work they are doing in the field,” Mayor Kate Gallego said at Monday’s news conference.
“We know that what you measure is what you focus on.”
Requiring officers to document when they point their guns at people is not unique. Cities with similar requirements include Dallas, Baltimore, Cleveland, New Orleans and Chicago, the foundation says.
Ohio white nationalist, anti-Semite arrested for threatening to shoot up Jewish community center, police say
An Ohio man has been arrested for making threats toward a local Jewish community center in New Middletown.
James Reardon Jr., 20, has been charged with telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing and is being held in the Mahoning County Jail on $250,000 bond with a court hearing planned for Monday morning.
On Friday, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force raided Reardon’s house and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition, including dozens of round of ammo, multiple semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor.
“Grateful for the work of the FBI, local law enforcement and our community partners in the Youngstown Jewish community. We will continue to employ all our resources to stop the spread of white nationalism and violent extremism,” the Anti-Defamation League in Cleveland tweeted.
Grateful for the work of the FBI, local law enforcement and our community partners in the Youngstown Jewish community. We will continue to employ all our resources to stop the spread of white nationalism and violent extremism.https://t.co/T4pcDHSRI6— ADL Cleveland (@ADL_Cleveland) August 18, 2019
Police initially became aware of Reardon on July 11 when he posted a video on Instagram of a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background. He tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown in the post.
“That kicked off an intense investigation, a very rapidly evolving investigation, because of the way the world is,” New Middletown Police Chief Vince D’Egidio told Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV.
Group protesting ICE outside prison says guard drove truck into protesters, injuring 2
A group that protested outside a prison in Rhode Island says two of their members were injured Wednesday night after a corrections officer drove his truck into the group.
Never Again Action, a Jewish activist group that was protesting federal immigration policies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, posted a video on social media that showed a black pick-up truck driving into protesters who were sitting in front of the prison’s parking lot entrance.
The video shows the truck approaching the parking lot and turning right into the entrance before stopping in front of the line of people.
The crowd stood up in reaction as the car stopped. The driver then honked the horn before moving forward into the group of people.
Two protesters were taken to the hospital for injuries suffered from the vehicle, Never Again Action said on social media.
Video then shows other officers rush toward the crowd and use pepper spray to disperse the group. Three other protesters were hospitalized for “severe pepper spray exposure,” the group said, adding that none of the injuries were life-threatening.
The incident occurred in Central Falls at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, which is used by federal immigration officials.
Aaron Regunberg, a former state representative and organizer with Never Again Action, said the corrections officer behind the wheel was in uniform when he drove into the line of people, which video from the protest shows. The officer was not arrested, Regunberg said.
“It was very clearly deliberate,” Regunberg told USA TODAY.
Reached by phone Thursday by USA TODAY, a prison employee declined to comment.