Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to be Dependent?



When the Trump administration released its final version of the “public charge” rule, which merely enforces longstanding federal law ensuring legal immigrants would not become reliant upon the welfare system, the response from activists, pro-amnesty groups and Democratic politicians was predictably hysterical and hyperbolic.

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powel (D-Florida) tweeted, “This is another cruel attempt by this President to rip away basic needs like health care, housing & food from families & children.”

Speaking from her presidential campaign bus, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) asserted it was part of an “ongoing campaign to vilify a whole group of people” and shows President Trump is “ignorant” of “who we are, how we were founded and what are values are.”

Rep. John Larson, (D-Conn.) echoed Harris’ charge that the rule “is not who we are as a nation,” while his state’s attorney general, William Tong, joined the choir of critics stating the administration’s actions were a betrayal of the nation’s history.

“This country was built by immigrants like my parents who worked themselves up from poverty. This rule is the latest chapter in this Administration’s cruel and racist campaign to intimidate and punish immigrants of color,” contended Tong.

Others claimed public charge laws run afoul of the sentiments inscribed on the plaque at foot of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

But that seems totally irrelevant, for a number of reasons:

The original public charge law was passed in 1882. The Statue of Liberty, which celebrates Franco-American friendship, wasn’t erected until 1886. And New Colossus the sonnet by poet Emma Lazarus was not added until 1903. It should also be noted that New Colossus was never a statement of U.S. immigration policy, but rather the verbal musing of an ardent socialist.

But historical facts aside, the notion of self-reliance and self-sufficiency are at the core of the American Dream. The dream that immigrants have been pursuing for generations upon generations.

When asked about the charge that public charge laws unfairly target poorer immigrants, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), rightly noted, “A poor person can be prepared to be self-sufficient. Many have been through the history of this country.”

There are many misperceptions about the rule. For example, it is not the lone consideration to be used in determining whether an immigrant is granted a green card or not. It is one factor among the “totality of the circumstances” immigration officials weigh in the decision making process.

The assumption that setting a standard of self-reliance and self-sufficiency is somehow anti-immigrant, classist or racist is just wrong. The history of the nation is filled with stories of immigrants arriving with a few dollars in their pocket, but a wealth of entrepreneurism and drive.

Those who rail against new efforts to enforce this century-old law as hate-driven or biased against “people of color” expose their own biases and ignorant assumptions. The roots of their opposition is not in the law nor the history books, but – to paraphrase former President George W. Bush – the soft bigotry of low expectations.

About Author

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

9 Comments

  1. avatar

    I don’t see any pride and sense of accomplishment coming from being a parasite. Pride and sense of accomplishment comes from doing things, doing them well and a strong will of “I CAN do it and I will become self supporting”.

  2. avatar

    Theses STUPID IGNORANT politicians like Kamala Hairass all need to read up on our nations long-standing immigration laws! People immigrating to the U.S. had to be self sufficient to take care of themselves or have a sponsor who would be responsible for them. It was not up to America’s tax paying citizens to support them, provide housing, an SSI check or medical care. Time to get these policies fully enforced by our federal government! NO MORE PLAYING AROUND!

  3. avatar

    Perhaps Our Farms Are Too Big?

    If we need green cards to keep ’em afloat? Why do we pay for MASS green cards for farm worker welfare [schools, medical, food stamps, etc, etc…] to foreigners so the rest of the world gets cheaper food?

    We do the same thing with big Pharma, we pay all the world’s drug product R/D so they can pay less for drugs…

    We’re chumps.

  4. avatar

    Totally Agree With President Trump Americans First. !!!!! Get Our Veterans Help and Our Homeless Problem Is Out Of Control !!!!!!!

  5. avatar

    The Statue of Liberty nonsense ignores that it was a gift from France recognizing America’s leadership in moving the world towards nations ruled by the people and not monarchs. As pointed out, the poem at the base was added much later and is not a law or policy of any kind. That many still **** their hats on the poem and not actual law, history, or facts just shows how emotion based much of their arguments are. As for Mr. Wong saying his parents “worked themselves up from poverty” that’s the point.

    Spinning romantic stories of past immigration, without noting the irrefutable fact that there were none of these massive welfare programs available to those people, shows bias or ignorance. You worked and paid for yourself. When you see someone who is obviously here from a Latin country, speaking Spanish, and with a large number of small children, and then at the same time using food stamps, there is no denying that did not occur 50 and more years ago. We are 22 trillion in debt. How much is enough?

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  7. avatar

    This has nothing to do with immigrants of color it has to do with people any people who come here looking and expecting a handout. As it turns out most of them are not white so easy for the Liberals to say the administration is racist but that is just who comes over the southern border.Comparing this influx of illegals to the days of Ellis Island immigration are worlds apart.The people that came back then were not looking for free or handout they were looking for freedom and opportunity which they found and worked at to become US citizens. There were not leaflets dropped on south of the border city’s or Europe with instructions how to get free benefits as soon as you get across the border as like there is now. No caravans paid for by someone to bring thousands of people here in hopes of free healthcare,welfare, and housing etc. The America taxpayer would rather pay for Americans that are on the street to help them rather than bring more people in the country who have no means of support. to put on the welfare rolls. It is a downward spiral & this country will end up being like the country the illegals came from.We need to take care of our own first then if all is takin care of we can help others. Take care of your own house and family first before you donate to others.

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