White House: Statue of Liberty Doesn’t Represent U.S. Immigration Policy

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A key White House aide staunchly defended the immigration reform bill backed by the White House Wednesday, at one point arguing that the poem inscribed on the State of Liberty doesn’t encapsulate the country’s values on this issue.

President Trump announced his support on Wednesday for the RAISE act, also known as “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act.”

The bill would rework the immigration system to prioritize English speakers and limit the entry of low-skilled workers to the country. But in order to become law, it would need to be passed by the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.

During the daily White House briefing, White House aide Stephen Miller was asked how the immigration bill would square with the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty which asks for “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

“The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty enlightening the world,” Miller said. “The poem that you’re referring to was added later, it’s not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

The poem was engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903, seventeen years after the statue’s dedication.

Miller also clashed with CNN reporter Jim Acosta, the son of Cuban immigrants, arguing that his questions revealed a “cosmopolitan bias” and calling one comment “one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said.”

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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com