While many liberal journalists have been offering their sympathies to CNN’s Jim Acosta in light of his rebuke by White House policy advisor Stephen Miller on the topic of immigration, HuffPo's Arianna Huffington has provided her own interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
During a press briefing on Wednesday to discuss President Trump’s merit-based immigration proposal, Acosta asked Miller about the new skills-based requirements, alleging:
What you’re proposing, or what the president is proposing here, does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. 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 able to be 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 you have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?
Well, first of all, right now, it’s a requirement that to be naturalized you have to speak English. So the notion that speaking English wouldn’t be a part of our immigration systems would be very ahistorical.
Secondly, I don’t want to get off on a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty and lightening the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to was added later. It’s not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.
The two then erupted into a heated discussion about the nature of the poem on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which was added in 1903.
Huffington mocked the notion of not using the poem on the pedestal as a guiding American principle, comparing it to the amendments added to the U.S. Constitution. She facetiously asked why people pay attention to the amendments, as they were “all added later”:
Why does anyone pay attention to all those constitutional amendments — they were all added later.— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) August 3, 2017
However, unlike amendments that change one of America’s founding documents, the poem “The New Colossus," written by Emma Lazarus, was part of a fundraising campaign for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. Even the Washington Post’s sympathetic write-up on the 1883 poem mentions Lazarus only reluctantly obliged after being explicitly asked to write the poem.
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