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US to further restrict immigration

By Belinda Robinson in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-15 09:46

US President Donald Trump speaks about US energy production and manufacturing at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaco, Pennsylvania, US, Aug 13, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

US President Donald Trump's administration on Wednesday will release the final version of the "public charge" rule that will affect legal immigrants seeking permanent residency, as the acting director of US immigration services offered a revised version of the famous poem at the Statue of Liberty that's in line with the new rule.

The rule would penalize legal immigrants who received - or are deemed likely to receive - public assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid or government housing, and could prevent them from getting permanent residence that targets legal immigration.

Ken Cuccinelli of the US Citizenship and Immigration services was asked during an interview with National Public Radio, or NPR, on Tuesday if in light of the new rule the words of US poet Emma Lazarus etched on a bronze plaque at the Statue of Liberty - "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." - still applied to those seeking refuge in United States.

"They certainly are," Cuccinelli said. But then he added: "Give me your tired and your poor - who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."

"No one has a right to become an American who isn't born here as an American," Cuccinelli also told NPR. But later he clarified: "It is a privilege to become an American, not a right for anybody who is not already an American citizen, that's what I was referring to."

The immigration chief added that the public charge rule was just "part of President Trump keeping his promises".

Speaking to reporters in Morristown, New Jersey, later on Tuesday morning, Trump was asked about the Lazarus poem. "I don't think it's fair to have the American taxpayer pay for people to come to the United States," he said.

Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell University Law School professor, told China Daily: "This rule is the latest attack in the Trump administration's war on immigrants. It will make it harder for working-class people to immigrate or stay in the US."

The public charge rule doesn't go into effect until Oct 15, but has received a barrage of criticism from immigrants' rights advocates who plan to sue.

Immigration rights groups criticized Trump and Cuccinelli, saying the new rule is another attempt to prevent some ethnic groups and poorer people from living in the US.

The change in those who get public assistance could "disproportionately impact Asian communities", Joo Han, deputy director of the Asian American Foundation, told China Daily.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Beccera are among the officials who said they will sue the Trump administration to block the rule.

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