The acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Ken Cuccinelli, has altered the famous poem on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal to suggest that only immigrants who can "stand on their own two feet" are welcome in the United States, according to an interview published Tuesday by NPR (National Public Radio).
The iconic poem by Emma Lazarus says "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free".
An NPR journalist asked Cuccinelli during the interview whether these words are a part of "the American ethos".
"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'", Cuccinelli replied, adding that the "plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge was passed - very interesting timing".
Cuccinelli defended the amendments in the migration policy that the Trump administration announced earlier, writing in a CNN op-ed published Tuesday that "self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream".
"Long-standing federal law has required foreign nationals to rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, sponsors and private organizations in their communities to succeed", Cuccinelli wrote in his CNN op-ed.
According to CNN, however, Cuccinelli said that the historic plaque would remain on the Statue of Liberty in its original wording.
"I do not think, by any means, we're ready to take anything off the Statue of Liberty", Cuccinelli said, cited by CNN.
US President Donald Trump began implementing reforms in the US immigration system in 2018 as a means to deter illegal immigrants from entering the United States, block caravans of thousands of Central American asylum seekers and boost votes for Republicans in the midterm elections.
The Trump administration’s moves to reform the US immigration system were challenged by Congressional Democrats in the public arena and in the courts.