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WASHINGTON – Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday night doubled his characterization of the famous Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty son, saying that the poem referred most to immigrants coming from Europe. [19659005] Cuccinelli made headlines early Tuesday after giving his own revised version of the famous poem, "The New Colossus," when asked if it would still be part of the American ethos when the new rule was implemented.

The issue was prompted by the White House's "public fee" rule announced on Monday that could disqualify many indigenous immigrants from entering the United States

"he said Tuesday morning during an interview with NPR. "That plate was put on the Statue of Liberty for almost the first time the first law on public charges was passed."

More: Trump immigration official Ken Cuccinelli offers his own version of the "New Colossus" sonnet

The actual text of the poem reads: "Give me your tired, your poor , you tangled masses longing to breathe freely, The miserable waste from your sharp beach. Send these, the homeless, the storm to me, I lift my lamp by the golden door! "

During an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett on Tuesday night, Cuccinelli claimed he "did not write poetry" and "answered a question."

When asked what he thinks America stands for, Cuccinelli said that the poem referred to immigrants coming from Europe.

"Of course, that poem referred back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies, where people were considered miserable if they were not in the right class," he said.

"It wrote a year, a year, after the first federal fee rule was written that says 'any person who cannot take care of himself without being a public fee' would be rejected," he continued.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France after the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. It was proposed by Edouard de Laboulaye, a French political thinker and abolitionist, who wanted to "remember the endurance of freedom and democracy in the United States and honor the work of the late President Abraham Lincoln," according to the National Park Service.

Nearly 14 million immigrated to the United States through New York between the late 1800s and 1920s, and saw the Statue of Liberty as a "welcome," NPS wrote online, adding, "In time, Liberty emerged as the" Mother of the Outing, "a symbol for hope for generations of immigrants. "Immigrants at that time came mostly from Europe.

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Cuccinelli's comment drew criticism online from testimonials and politicians, who said it reinforced what some see as the Trump administration's preference for white immigrants over black and brown immigrants when it comes to legal immigration to the United States

President Donald Trump has been criticized for his rhetoric toward Latino immigrants, often with negative or pejorative language to describe them. But Trump has repeatedly said he's not a racist.

"This administration has finally acknowledged what we have known all along: They believe that the Statue of Liberty only applies to white people." 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O "Rourke tweeted.

O & # 39; Rourke has repeatedly called Trump racist and has also said he believes the president is a white supremacist, especially since a mass shooting in O & # 39; Rourkes hometown of El Paso, Texas, where the alleged shooter targeted Latinos, according to the law, and authorities also linked the suspect to a manifesto condemning a Latin American "invasion," a word Trump has used to discuss and describe Latino migrants from Mexico and Central America, many of whom are seeking asylum in the United States.

Washington Post opinions columnist Catherine Rampell tweeted that Cuccinelli said "the silent part is loud."

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, also responded to Cuccinelli's comments, tweeted : "Looks like they had a meeting and decided to make racism the main theme of the re-elected."

In a subsequent tweet the senator had a new response to Cuccinelli and the administration's recently announced "public fee" rule: "The whole point is that you come here with nothing and build something."

Contributor: Nicholas Wu [19659025] Like what you read?: Download the USA TODAY app for more

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