Trump adviser gets into heated exchange with reporter over Statue of Liberty poem
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A discussion invoking one of America’s most cherished national symbols became heated Wednesday when an adviser to President Donald Trump faced questions about a White House-supported bill aimed at altering the process in which immigrants can obtain permanent residency in the United States.
Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller was briefing reporters on the Raise Act at the White House Wednesday when he was asked whether the proposed law — which would prioritize English-speaking, highly skilled workers in the green card allocation process — was “in keeping with the American tradition when it comes to immigration.”
“The Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free,” said CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, referring to Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” which is displayed on the statue’s pedestal.
In his response, Miller pointed out that the poem was not originally included on the monument, but attached at a later date.
“I don’t want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty enlightening the world — is a symbol of American liberty lighting the world,” said Miller. “The poem that you’re referring to was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.”
As the back-and-forth between Miller and Acosta turned into a tense discussion over immigration policy, a number social media users questioned why the date of the poem’s inclusion on the statue was pertinent to its meaning.
Lazarus wrote the sonnet in 1883, three years before the Statue of Liberty’s dedication, and donated it to an auction raising funds for the pedestal upon which the statute would eventually stand, according to the National Park Service. An effort to memorialize Lazarus, who died in 1887, eventually resulted in a plaque featuring the poem being added to the monument’s base.
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