It has long since become commonplace for the Democrats and the media to misrepresent any and all policies proposed by the Trump administration, but the blizzard of balderdash that greeted the so-called “green card rule” has been over the top even by left-wing standards. From the moment acting Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli announced it on Monday, the public charge regulation — which merely implements two bipartisan statutes passed in the 1990s — has been mischaracterized as a reversal of the nation’s historical immigration philosophy, a racist conspiracy, and a plot to favor rich immigrants over their poor counterparts.
All too typical of the nonsense that has been said and written about the regulation is the following headline from CNN: “Cuccinelli rewrites Statue of Liberty poem to make case for limiting immigration.” This ridiculous claim distorts an answer the acting director made during an interview with Rachel Martin at NPR. Martin asked him, “Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’ words etched on the Statue of Liberty — ‘Give me your tired, your poor … ’ — are also part of the American ethos?” Cuccinelli used the poem to highlight a more historically accurate description of actual U.S. immigration policy from the time “The New Colossus” was written to the present:
They certainly are — “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge law was passed — very interesting timing.
Cuccinelli’s mistake involved his assumption that Martin and her fellow “journalists” were literate enough in American history to get his point. It went straight over their heads, of course. The Lazarus sonnet was written in 1883 for the purpose of raising money for the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty stands, but it didn’t reflect U.S. immigration law then or now. The Immigration Act of 1882 was the first comprehensive immigration statute enacted by Congress, and it excluded anyone “unable to take care of him or herself without becoming a public charge.” Cuccinelli was simply saying that self-sufficiency is also part of the “American ethos”:
This is a 140-year-old part of our legal immigration system. It’s called a public charge rule, the idea of public charge being that one isn’t supposed to become a public charge, a burden on the government. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask to continue that tradition of inviting immigrants here who will not essentially go on welfare. And this self-sufficiency is central to the American value set, and it’s also central to our immigration history. And that’s what this rule does.
In addition to insisting that Cuccinelli actually wants to revise “The New Colossus,” the Democrats, the media, and the Twitter mob inevitably insisted that the “green card rule” is somehow racist. In the Boston Globe, Michael Cohen writes, “This week, Ken Cuccinelli … announced a change to U.S. immigration law that could have a devastating impact on legal immigrants — and disproportionately impact people of color.” Predictably, Cohen doesn’t back up this claim with a scrap of evidence. Indeed, his assertion that this is a “change to U.S. immigration law” makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t get that this is a regulatory revision meant to make existing law more effective.
Not that mere fact has any affect on the claims of leftist ideologues posing as journalists or the rhetoric of identity politics. The Connecticut Mirror reports that the Nutmeg State’s attorney general, William Tong, plans a legal challenge to the green card rule. Like all Democrats, Tong believes that everything is about skin color: “This rule is the latest chapter in this Administration’s cruel and racist campaign to intimidate and punish immigrants of color.” Like Cohen, he fails to explain precisely what self-sufficiency has to do with racism. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal reports that his counterparts in other Democrat-controlled states also have plans to file lawsuits:
Court challenges by states to the rule were widely expected after Democratic attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia told the White House Office of Management and Budget last year that they believed the administration had “entirely failed to estimate the true costs” of public-charge regulations.
Also parroting evidence-free claims that the Trump administration’s public charge regulation somehow alters the American ethos and is transparently racist as well, several Democrat presidential candidates have denounced the Trump administration’s public charge regulation for favoring “the rich.” Sen. Cory Booker, for example, brays, “This administration’s cruel new policy called #PublicCharge is another racist policy that targets the less fortunate.” The senator promises to end the evil regulation when he is president, yet offers no objective data to support his claims about the rule. The New York Times, however, is always there to provide fact-free cover:
Monday’s rule is an attempt to enact Mr. Trump’s priorities. It embraces people who have financial means while shunning immigrants who are struggling. That is certain to affect the flow of immigrants who have sought refuge in the United States from impoverished places in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.
You will note that this passage refers to “immigrants who have sought refuge,” implying that the rule will somehow harm refugees. This is a deliberate distortion of the facts. As Cuccinelli points out, “This regulation has no impact on humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees.” So, what are we to make of the so-called green card rule? It is, despite the false claims of the Democrats and the media, perfectly consistent with 140 years of U.S. immigration policy. Moreover, the mendacity of the Left notwithstanding, the objective facts suggest that it is neither racist nor designed to favor the wealthy over the poor. That looks like three up, three down to yours truly.