They should be concerned, however, with what’s to come next: Any society that starts down the path of marginalizing certain groups will eventually need new targets. For decades, Republicans have been trying to get rid of the threadbare “safety net” under the pretext of self-reliance. With these new rules, passed without congressional approval, they moved closer. Once the concept of “standing on one’s own two feet” as a prerogative of good citizenship takes hold, it can be scaled — to the refugees, currently exempt from the rules, to naturalized citizens and even to those born American. People cheering for the Trump administration’s sorting policies today might need to reach out for help tomorrow — and get a sermon on self-sufficiency.
The America that harbors the world’s “tired and poor” is obviously not the America that President Trump and his ilk want. Mr. Cuccinelli went as far as suggesting the plaque with the iconic poem had been affixed in an attempt to justify the first “public charge.” But whatever they say, the principle inscribed in bronze on America’s most enduring symbol, and in our hearts, is the law of the land. As long as the Statue of Liberty stands, it renders Donald Trump an impostor, while those who come to build this country with their hard labor are its true citizens.