How Ken Cuccinelli made his Statue of Liberty comments even worse

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Ken Cuccinelli tweaked the famous poem from Emma Lazarus - whose words, "Give me your exhausted, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" are long associated with immigration to the U.S. and the nation's history as a haven - as part of a case for strict new measures pushed Monday by the Trump administration that could dramatically change the legal immigration system.

It means that America is the land of opportunity, a place where the exhausted and poor, the wretched refuse and homeless from other countries can come if they no longer want to be those things, if they are "yearning to be free", if they are desperate to reach their human potential, if they are driven to succeed and thrive and want stand on their own two feet. Biographer Esther Schor said Lazarus was "deeply involved" in refugee causes.

Like any sane person, President Trump thinks it's a bad idea to flood our country with immigrants who go on the welfare rolls, a awful idea for America to become an even bigger welfare state than it already is...

The savings would come from the almost quarter million people expected to disenroll from the expanded list of government programs that could disqualify a legal immigrant's application for permanent residency through a green card. Here's Ruben Reyes a Phoenix attorney with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

BRODIE: So, where did this rule come from?

LAUREN GILGER: And give us a little bit of context on this.

In a press release, President Trump said, "To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient". Now the problem was that the law was somewhat vague. "I am exhausted of seeing our taxpayer paying for people to come into the country and immediately go onto welfare and various other things".

"Not only will the Counties have to provide support previously furnished by the federal government, without any corresponding allocation of federal funds, they will face the new, increased costs of dealing with the harms to public health", the lawsuit read.

Mr Cuccinelli made the remark as he discussed new rules by President Donald Trump's administration that aim to deny permanent residency and citizenship to migrants who receive food stamps, public healthcare and other welfare benefits.

On average, 544,000 people apply annually for green cards, with about 382,000 falling into categories that would be subject to this review, according to the government. "So there [are] repercussions that come with not being able to stay healthy in the early days and the early years when you arrive to a country".

But at the same time it saw a 67-percent surge in the number of people visiting its food pantry, which the group said was a sign that immigrants were forgoing government food aid in favor of the less risky food pantry.

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GILGER: And and give us a sense then of that reaction.

The hashtag #CuccinelliResign has been trending today, although I'm not sure why anyone thinks that's an actual possibility. What are they saying this will do? On July 13, when Trump announced nationwide immigration raids would be begin, none showed up, David said.

Although it's not clear how many Texans will be affected by the changes, a report by the Urban Institute estimated that 1 in 7 immigrant families didn't apply for assistance because of fears about green card status.

Lopez says that programs like supplemental food, income, and housing assistance help individuals lead better lives, which gives them the opportunity to participate more actively in society.

Immigrants were effective scapegoats, especially in towns in the industrial heartland and other economically depressed areas of the country still reeling from job losses as the rest of the country was experiencing an economic recovery.

In Houston, the Episcopal Church outreach center ECHOS noticed a sharp drop in the number of immigrants seeking out its services after Trump took office in January 2017, a trend that continued with subsequent anti-immigration initiatives, executive director Cathy Moore said. There's a great demand for home care workers. But the demand is really high. "This is to protect the people who are living here".

They also voiced concern that officials were being given too much authority to decide whether someone was likely to need public assistance.

GILGER: And and like so many immigration policies that are coming out of this administration, a challenge to this one is expected as well. Cuccinelli argued that the term "wretched" referred to a class system that existed in Europe at the time.

FESSLER: Well there's a couple of things.

"We're determined to see that it ends up in the legal garbage bin with the rest of this administration's unlawful policies", Herrera said. It was a public rule. The suit says Congress allowed legal immigrants to use some means-tested programs, and they should not be discouraged from doing so. "It is inhumane, and we are taking action to stop it", she added. How does one reconcile that oft-stated view with an administration that has made it much more hard to enter the United States legally, get legal status once here, and stay even after being granted refuge? Elizabeth Warren, also condemned Cuccinelli's comments. Most of those were against implementation. He went on to explain the "totality" of factors will be taken into consideration.

GILGER: All right. That's NPR's Pam Fessler. And the administration, of course, denies that this is the case. Pam, thank you for joining us.

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