Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
If you ever have the thought that the Trump administration can’t go any lower — that they can’t get any worse or any more racist — you’re wrong. It can go a lot lower. Now just 11 days after a white man shot up a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas and slaughtered 22 men, women, and children in one of the deadliest hate crimes in this nation’s history, the Trump administration has continued to target immigrants of color every chance they get. But this week just went somewhere that surprised even me when Trump’s head of US Citizenship & Immigration Services first suggested rewriting the beautiful poem at the feet of the Statue of Liberty, then yesterday brazenly stated that it was only meant for Europeans in the first place.
Yeah, I’m serious. I’ll the play clips.
Let’s dig in.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
Today I planned on talking to you about a brand new policy that the Trump administration announced targeting immigrants who have been approved for food stamps or WIC or Medicaid or any type of government assistance. According to the new Trump administration policy, any immigrants who have used those forms of aid will have it held against them when they apply for citizenship. Which is absolutely disgusting, but I want to read to you what I planned on saying. Because 48 hours ago, I thought it was true. It isn’t.
Let me read it to you. Here’s what I planned on saying….
“See, because it’s 2019, the Trump administration can’t create a policy saying they only prefer white European immigrants, but a way around that is to create standards that give immigrants who are wealthy a leg up in the process. This is how they operate. When Trump ran for President he literally ran saying he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the country — even American citizens who might have simply left on vacation, but once he was elected he knew that policy could never be approved, so he simply banned people from 7 particular countries, all of them majority Muslim, saying that it was a safety/security risk. It’s just bigotry by another name.”
That’s the end of what I was planning on saying today. That the Trump administration — because they can’t actually say they prefer white European immigrants over everybody else — will find other ways to basically make that the de facto policy without actually saying it. But, they proved me wrong.
I don’t know if you were aware of this, but, right now, Trump has found a hustle to appoint bigots to his cabinet without them actually getting Congressional approval. What he does, is make them “Acting” Secretary of this or that, and keep them in that position for as long as he can, then simply replace them with another Acting Secretary, then again, and again. Because Acting Secretaries don’t require congressional approval. He’s done this over a dozen times in all types of positions.
So, his new Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services is an open bigot and white supremacist named Ken Cuccinneli — and if you just put a microphone in front of the face of a white supremacist, give them time, and, sure enough, they’ll say something racist. So Cuccinneli was on NPR earlier this week, and he was asked how he could square the reality that the Trump administration continues to target immigrants, now targeting them if they’ve ever received public assistance, when the Statue of Liberty has words at its feet openly speak to immigrants coming here, broken, worn, and weary, and the man literally rewrote the words of the beautiful Emma Lazarus poem.
If you don’t remember what it says, let me read it to you now. It says, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Now, please listen to what he says on NPR.
Yeah, really. The man just rewrote the poem and added, “who can stand on their own two feet.” The poem is literally about tired, poor, and homeless people. Lazarus describes the immigrants coming to our shores as “wretched refuse.” Do you know what that means? It’s people who’ve been declared to be garbage, worthless.
To say that the poem or the Statue is about people standing on their own two feet is ignorant. It’s the opposite of what it means to be “tired, poor, and homeless.” It’s the opposite of what it means to be the wretched refuse of the world. The foul garbage of the world.
And so when the uproar began about this NPR interview, Cuccinneli decided to begin doing more interviews. And instead of backing off of his offensive words, he didn’t just double down — he clarified exactly what the Trump immigration policy is all about.
Here, in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, she mentions the poem to him, and asks him a simple question, “What do you think America stands for?”
Let me play her asking the question, then I need you to hear his answer.
Yeah — when asked what America stands for, Cuccinneli openly said, “All of this was meant for Europeans.” It’s disgusting.
Now we know that Trump loves immigrants, particularly immigrant women, particularly European immigrant women. He has married and had kids with two of them. And as this man has banned Muslims and immigrants, as he leads raids on workers in Mississippi and inspires the slaughter on Latinx people in El Paso, they have now publicly doubled down on who they really think immigration is for.
Let me tell you — every day I study and survey white supremacist message boards to see what they are thinking and feeling and they LOVE what Cuccinneli has said this week. They love it. He’s their new hero.
I don’t have a pretty bow for today’s episode. That’s all I’ve got. This is what we’re up against.
Which takes me to our action step for today. (Action Steps Music)
On this past Monday we launched HowWeFlipTheSenate.com and tens of thousands of you have joined our efforts, but if you haven’t already come on board — we need you. We have volunteers in all 50 states, but we need to build an unstoppable force, and we need you to sign up now and join our efforts! When we organize, we win.
Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown!
If you haven’t already subscribed to our podcast, we’ll be right back here every single weekday, breaking down important news stories and issues, and we’d love for you to subscribe on your favorite podcast apps like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Please share this podcast with your friends and family. Our next goal is to get to 100,000 subscribers, and we won’t get there without you! Have you left a review yet?
Thank you so much to the nearly 30,000 founding members of The North Star whose generosity even makes this podcast possible. Love y’all and appreciate you so much.
If you love this podcast and want to support our work — or want to see the show notes and transcript for each episode — we’d love it if you considered becoming a founding member of our community at TheNorthStar.com. There we not only have our podcasts, but hundreds of original articles and stories and commentaries from some of the leading scholars and thinkers and journalists in the world.
Lastly, a shout out to our Associate Producer Lyssandra and Podcasting Director and Senior Producer Willis for their hard work on this and every episode.
Take care everybody.
Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional production by Christian “Idrys” Shannon
Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis, Markeith Black & Smok Tageous
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush & Jason Coffey
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg