It’s been a long road, friends and neighbors. The last nearly three years have felt like a lifetime, or a few extra years crammed in, at least. We’ve seen what seems like a million public servants come and go under this president, some proud to have worked for him, some mortified that they were part of his administration. We’ve seen plans and policies tried and failed, refined and retried, all in the service of what is now very clear:
Donald Trump wants to change America.
It turns out that “Make America Great Again” was never a call to return to some time in the past, no matter how wistful his followers are for the era of saying the N-word openly and pinching their secretaries’ butts at work and telling gay jokes. It turns out that what Donald meant was that all of that was close to his ideal, but not quite enough.
The public outrage over the new immigration rule that would deny green cards to legal immigrants if they received public services only swelled as the day went on yesterday. At first, even our readers weren’t that interested in what that meant, if you’re judging just by the traffic we saw while running stories about it. Then it became clear that the administration was trying its hardest to demonize even those they swore none of their immigration policies were aimed at, it became clear that it was about race, not legal status.
Now the rule they’ve implemented lumps families into “immigrants on welfare” if, for example, a father has legal status but not citizenship and runs a small business, while his American citizen wife works at the school where one of their American citizen children gets reduced-price lunches. That’s an “immigrant-headed family” who “gets public assistance.” The new rule denies dad his green card. He never gets to become a citizen.
And the thing is, there are red states where 60 percent of the kids get free or reduced-price lunches. So it’s really not about the money being spent. It’s that it’s being spent on a kid from El Paso whose dad was born 2000 feet away in Ciudad Juarez.
How did they cement this legacy? How did the Trump administration give permanence to their racism?
Trump’s acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, Ken Cuccinelli, did a phone interview today with NPR’s Rachel Martin, and what he said doesn’t just prove what we long suspected. It changes America. It turns this proud nation from a melting pot into a smelting furnace, pouring purity into society and discarding the rest.
The ultimate symbol of the American dream — the Statue of Liberty — has a poem etched on a bronze plaque at her base. It’s by Emma Lazarus and it’s called The New Colossus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Today, the USCIS Director told a radio host that the poem, the literal fundament of American immigration, should be changed to exclude those not already well off. Leave out the poor. Leave out those unfortunate enough to have been born 2,000 feet too far from their children. He says the poem should read, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”
Here’s acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli saying on NPR this morning that the Statue of Liberty plaque should be changed to read, “give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.” pic.twitter.com/q8OoNn3k6r
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 13, 2019
Not quite as poetic.
Featured image via screen capture
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