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

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

When asked if Lazarus' words on the Statue of Liberty - "Give me your exhausted, your poor" - were still a part of the American ethos, Cuccinelli responded: "They certainly are", before adding that any "tired and poor" people who came to the US should be able to "stand on their own two feet" and not "become a public charge".

Mr Cuccinelli said the words "certainly are" still part of the American ethos when challenged in an NPR interview but then went on to give a revised version of them.

"All immigrants who can stand on their own two feet, self-sufficient, pull themselves up by their bootstraps", would be welcome, he added.

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

Schoolchildren nationwide are often taught Emma Lazarus's sonnet "The New Colossus", which reads, in part, "Give me your exhausted, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free".

The change broadens the scope of the "public charge" rule that in 1996 had been limited to only cash-assistance programs to now include non-cash government assistance programs. "That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at nearly the same time as the first public charge was passed - very interesting timing".

Cuccinelli said he was "certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty".

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.

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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 new requirements will not apply to refugees, those seeking asylum, children given special immigrant status, and victims trafficking, criminal activity and domestic violence, according to the notification.

But applicants for visa extensions, green cards or U.S. citizenship will be subject to the change.

An estimated 22 million legal residents in the U.S. are without citizenship, and many of these are likely to be affected. "President Trump has delivered on his promise to the American people to enforce long-standing immigration law by defining the public charge inadmissibility ground that has been on the books for years".

The Los Angeles Times reports described the step as one of the administration's most aggressive move and that it targets legal immigration.

Others pointed to his background as the attorney general of Virginia, in which he led a conservative campaign against immigration and homosexuality.

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

"So I think we're doing it right".