Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told NPR's "Morning Edition" on Tuesday that the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty could be updated to reflect regulations announced Monday that could deny green cards to legal immigrants who receive public benefits like food stamps or housing assistance.
"This is a 140-year-old part of our legal immigration system, it is called the public charge rule. Public charge meaning that one isn't supposed to be a burden on the government, it doesn't seem like too much to ask to continue the tradition of inviting immigrants here who will not go on welfare," he explained.
When asked by NPR's Rachel Martin, Cuccinelli said the Statue of Liberty poem "certainly" remains part of the American ethos, but could one day read: "Give me your tired and your poor — who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."
The original words of the Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus," read: "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!"
Trump aide Stephen Miller made similar comments in 2017, telling CNN's Jim Acosta that U.S. immigration policy has never been dictated by the poem on the Statue of Liberty.