Exclusive–Ken Cuccinelli on ‘Statue of Liberty’ Question: ‘Our Immigration System Is for the Benefit of This Country’

Close up of Statue of Liberty in New York, USA
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Immigration is for the benefit of America, not for the benefit of foreigners seeking to migrate into the United States, says the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“I’ll drive it home with a sledgehammer here: America’s immigration system is first and foremost, for the benefit of America. Period,” USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli told Breitbart News.

The purpose of immigration policy was raised during a White House press conference on Monday when Cuccinelli unveiled the new “Public Charge” regulation which will help deny green cards to foreign people who are likely to need welfare and aid from taxpaying Americans.

Cuccinelli’s pro-American statement came shortly after a sharply ideological question by a CBS reporter:

Almost as long the public charge rules has been in the effect since the late 1800s, there also has been — almost as long — the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty that read “Give us your tired, your poor.” You are implementing a public charge rule for the first time. Is that sentiment, “Give us your tired, your poor,” still operative in the United States? Or should those words come down, should the plaque come down off the Statue or Liberty?’

The 1886 statue was inspired by the Union victory in the civil war and was subsequently built in France. The statue is named “Liberty Enlightening the World” to emphasize the statue’s message — that Americans’ freedoms show the way forward for other people and countries.

But that pro-freedom message has been buried under a pro-migration drumbeat by pro-migration advocacy groups and friendly media outlets.

In 1903, 17 years after the statue was opened, pro-migration advocates added a plaque with a pro-migration poem, saying “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The plaque was part of a broader immigration debate, which ended in 1924 when Congress sharply reduced the inflow of new migrants, so allowing Americans to win a rapid rise in their standard of living from roughly 1945 to 1970. The period of rapid income growth ended several years after Congress expanded immigration in 1965.

In 1986, the plaque was moved from the statue to a museum inside the statue. But the plaque is still being used by pro-migration groups to help change the public’s understanding of the statue from its pro-U.S. “Enlightening the World” message to their anti-U.S. “nation of immigrants” message.

In the White House press conference, Cuccinelli first dodged the CBS question about the plaque, saying “Well, I’m certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty.”

“We have a long history of being one of the most welcoming nations in the world on a lot of bases, whether you be an asylee, whether you be coming in here to join your family or immigrating yourself,” he added. 

But a few minutes later, Cuccinelli provided the answer to the statue question when he told another reporter that “the entire legal immigration system is designed by Congress for the benefit of America.”

In a subsequent phone call with Breitbart News, Cuccinelli expanded his answer:

That plaque was added after the Statue of Liberty. It wasn’t part of the Statue of Liberty, and you can talk to National Park Service about that. But there’s no question our immigration system, as this President has frankly and without apology proclaimed, is for the benefit of this country.

It does have collateral benefits to the rest of the world. But first and foremost, Americans’, American immigration policy is about America, and making us stronger in the future. And this rule is consistent with that policy, and frankly that tradition. By ensuring that people who come here won’t eventually be people who would go on welfare, or likely to go on welfare, we strengthen both America and America’s immigration policy, and that is the goal of this rule … I’ll drive it home with a sledgehammer here, America’s immigration system is first and foremost, for the benefit of America. Period.

Cuccinelli’s statement has always been at the center of Americans’ immigration policy, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “The idea of letting [only] people in who can pay their owns bills not only predates the Statue of Liberty, it predates the United States itself,” he told Breitbart News, adding:

It was the first immigration law ever passed in the American colonies in 1645 by Massachusetts Bay [colony]… to keep out people who cannot pay their bills. The idea of public charge is the basic principle of any immigration law. The whole point of immigration law, whether it takes in lots or few people, from wherever they come in the world, has always been that they have to pay their own bills. This rule does nothing but implement this principle.

The renewed focus on the public charge rule was caused by President Bill Clinton’s decision to loosen the rule, Krikorian said. The immediate “purpose of this new rule is to overturn Orwellian rules by the Clinton administration which narrowed the definition of welfare as much as possible, limiting it only to cash [aid] so that if you were on food stamps, on Medicaid, living in public housing, you would still be considered self-sufficient under those dishonest rules,” he said.

When asked about Cuccinelli’s use of “America” instead of “Americans,” Krikorian replied:

In a sense [the use of ‘America’] is sort of true … But that overriding purpose still leaves the question of which Americans should be helped by immigration law?

Every immigration policy can help some Americans and hurt others, so the point of politics is to work that out. Current immigration policy helps monied interests at the expense of poor Americans, and I suppose you can decide that either way but I root for poor Americans … The question is who loses and who gains? Which Americans are being helped and which Americans are being hurt? And who do we think is more important?

I think it is more important not to hurt poor Americans [with massive waves of cheap labor] than to provide a very small [financial] benefit to other Americans who own shares in Koch Foods which is using immigration for its [cost-saving] benefit.

However, many pro-migration advocates are ignoring the impact on Americans, he said. “Immigration policy is supposed to benefit Americans, but the advocacy groups seem to focus almost exclusively on whether immigration policies are good for foreigners who are not even here yet. Who are you rooting for? The anti-border people seem to be rooting for foreigners instead of Americans.”

Immigration Numbers:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. This total includes about 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business, health care, engineering, science, software, or statistics.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of approximately 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including about 1 million H-1B workers and spouses — and around 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth and returns for investors because it transfers wages to investors and ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.

The cheap-labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the Heartland to the coastal citiesexplodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.







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