The poem inscribed on a plaque in the Statue of Liberty continues to come up in discussions on the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
The poem, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, was written in tribute to refugees and immigrants.
Lazarus, a New Yorker of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish descent, was asked to write the poem to raise money for the statue’s pedestal. She drew inspiration from the work she did as an aide for refugees on Ward’s Island.
Though the Statue of Liberty was originally meant to be a symbol that celebrated the abolition of slavery, but its close proximity to Ellis Island and Lazarus’ poem saw it morph into a symbol of America’s immigrant tradition.
The poem was written in 1883. This was around the same time the US government passed blatantly xenophobic laws, including the Chinese Exclusion Act.
The Statue of Liberty is among the most recognizable landmarks in the US and has long been viewed as a symbol of the country’s immigrant tradition.
But the statue has become a divisive topic in the Trump era, frequently coming up in discussions on the administration’s controversial immigration policies.
A poem inscribed on a plaque attached to the statue — “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus — has been at the center of all of this, given its pro-immigrant and pro-refugee sentiments.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller in August 2017 downplayed the poem’s significance given it was added years after the statue was initially unveiled.
As Miller faced questions from reporters over a skill-based immigration proposal from the administration, CNN’s Jim Acosta said, “The Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.’ It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being a computer programmer. Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them that you have to speak English?”
Miller replied, “I don’t want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to was added later (and) is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”
Read more: Trump’s top immigration official reimagined the Statue of Liberty poem to argue the US should welcome only immigrants ‘who can stand on their own 2 feet’
The poem was also mentioned and more or less rewritten by US Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday.
A day after the administration announced a new rule that could deny green cards to immigrants who rely on government benefits or are likely to, Cuccinelli sought to defend the move via a reworking of one of the most famous lines in the poem.
When asked by NPR if the words of the poem are “part of the American ethos,” Cuccinelli offered his reimagined version of Lazarus’ words.
“They certainly are — give me your tired and your poor who can stand on …read more
Source:: Business Insider – Politics