In an interview Tuesday on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Cuccinelli repeatedly claimed that “it doesn’t seem like too much to ask,” arguing that “self-sufficiency is central to the American value set, and it’s also central to our immigration history.”
“If they don’t have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like too much to ask that we have Americans here who aren’t likely to go on welfare.”
When host Rachel Martin pressed him on exactly which immigrants would be welcome to the U.S., he replied: “All immigrants who can stand on their own two feet, [be] self-sufficient, pull themselves up by their bootstraps — again, as in the American tradition,” going on to cite “his Italian-Irish heritage.”
“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?” Martin asked, after noting that many immigrants throughout history have come to the U.S. “with nothing.”
“They certainly are,” Cuccinelli said. “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”
“We invite people to come here and join us as a privilege,” Cuccinelli said later. “No one has a right to become an American who isn’t born here as an American. America has generously opened its doors.”
When given an opportunity to clarify, Cuccinelli asserted that “it is a privilege to become an American, not a right, for anybody who is not already an American citizen.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.