"They certainly are", the acting USCIS chief replied.
When asked if Lazarus' words on the Statue of Liberty - "Give me your exhausted, your poor" - were still a part of the American ethos, Cuccinelli responded: "They certainly are", before adding that any "tired and poor" people who came to the US should be able to "stand on their own two feet" and not "become a public charge". Seriously, he said that.
The immigration rules have required immigrants to be self-sufficient or for their sponsors to meet certain income guidelines to show they support them so that they do not become "public charges".
"Give me your exhausted and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge", Cuccinelli said while trying to justify the new rule from the Trump administration that will limit legal immigration. "Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Trump's "public charge" rule is set to go into effect in October.
Speaking to NPR, he rewrote Emma Lazarus' famous 1883 poem that appears on the Statue of Liberty.
"That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at nearly the same time as the first public charge [law] was passed - very interesting timing", he added.
For example, women who are pregnant and on Medicaid or who need public assistance will not be subject to the new rules during pregnancy or for 60 days after giving birth.
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On Sunday, the Red Cross urged the warring parties to sit down and negotiate the future of the country to avoid further bloodshed. In the last few days, dozens of civilians and fighters were killed in the fighting between the separatists and government forces.
"Without a single change in the law by Congress, the Trump public charge rules mean many more USA citizens are being and will be denied the opportunity to live together in the US with their spouses, children, and parents", said Ur Jaddou, a former Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel who is now director of the DHS Watch run by an immigrant advocacy group.
It's part of a dramatic overhaul of the nation's immigration system that the administration has been working to put in place, despite legal pushback.
Active U.S. military members are also exempt, as are refugees and asylum seekers.
But applicants for visa extensions, green cards or USA citizenship will be subject to the change.
Those already in the USA could also have their applications rejected. He rejected criticism that the regulation targets poor people.
Under Donald Trump's presidency, the USA has fought to curtail the basis on which migrants can claim asylum, publicized large-scale raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in an effort to deter would-be undocumented immigrants and backed a Republican Senate effort to create a skills-based immigration system.
"Is that sentiment, give us your exhausted, your poor, still operative in the United States or should the words come down on the statue?" a reporter asked. "I am exhausted of seeing our taxpayers paying for people to come into the country and immediately going on welfare".
"So I think we're doing it right".