Move over Stephen Miller, Donald Trump has found another hardliner to trot out his tough immigration policies and this time it’s someone who is more savvy on TV. Trump’s acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli made news Tuesday for saying the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty should be changed to “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”
Then even after all the criticism over his comments, he took it a step further later in the day saying that the phrase only referred to people from Europe.
And in a twist of irony, the people coming to the U.S. in 1903 when the Lazarus poem was written were predominantly from Northern Europe, not Cuccinelli’s Italian ancestors. When Italians and other Southern Europeans began immigrating, Congress wrote some of the first laws designed to keep so-called “darker skinned” Europeans out. At the time they were seen as less civilized and inferior people.
Ken Cuccinelli was attorney general of Virginia, then ran and lost the race for Governor in 2013. He’s a hardline conservative. These latest remarks have prompted #CuchinelliResign.
While most presidents would be mortified by Cuchinelli’s words, The Atlantic writes that this week may have actually strengthened his relationship with Trump:
Cuccinelli may well have been created in a Trump-branded petri dish. He’s spent decades advocating for far-right positions on a variety of social issues, and the 50-year-old practicing Catholic enjoys widespread support among conservative evangelicals. Cuccinelli used his 2013 loss to Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race to reinvent himself as a conservative pundit, and, for the last few years, has offered a reliably pro-Trump perspective across cable networks (a bonus for anyone seeking this president’s favor). As someone who built much of his popularity on polarizing immigration policies and incendiary rhetoric, Cuccinelli was as natural choice as any for an administration hoping to make progress on the president’s signature issue ahead of the 2020 election.