Donald Trump wants to put a price tag on the American dream.
New rules from the administration would make it more difficult for poor people to get green cards or to become citizens, but would at the same time ease the way for those of means. In short, America would be a shining city on a hill for those who could afford to pay the tab. Everyone else would be out of luck.
Once again, Stephen Miller, the White House's anti-immigrant zealot who guides the president's thinking on immigration policy matters, is effectively looking to rewrite the famed poem that has adorned the Statue of Liberty since 1903. It reads:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
Miller's version would be so much more prosaic and to the point:
"Show us the money!"
The story of America is a tale of immigrants, of those in search of a better tomorrow for themselves and their families. They came here, many with their pockets empty, but with their hearts and heads full of dreams.
On Monday, the Trump administration sought to rewrite that loveliest of tales with the issuance of new rules and definitions intended to clarify the Immigration and Nationality Act. Remember when conservatives used to whine ceaselessly about government bureaucrats overstepping their rightful authority to do the work of the Congress? Seems almost a quaint notion from an earlier time, doesn't it?
The supposed rationale for the new round of rules-making: to prevent people who are likely to become a "public charge" from coming to our shores. The real reason, though, is clear. The White House, while often fixated on ending illegal immigration, wants also to reduce greatly the number of legal immigrants allowed into America.
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It was, after all, just a few months back when Trump foolishly said that our nation was "full."
It isn't, and it never will be. It has always been, and must remain, a land of hope and dreams.
But not if the Trump administration has its way. Dreaming big would be only for those who could pay to play.
On Monday, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, defending the new rules, suggested that the poem on the bronze plaque at the iconic Statue of Liberty should actually read:
"Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."
Sadly, he wasn't joking.
The new rules, set to take effect Oct. 15, will almost certainly be put on hold while they are challenged in the courts. One would hope that the so-called conservatives on the Supreme Court, and on lower federal courts, could be counted on to see that the administration, with its new policy directive, has overstepped its bounds and usurped the authority of the Congress.
The new plan is wrong morally, it's wrong economically, and it should be declared unconstitutional as well.
-- The Springfield (Mass.) Republican