PHOENIX — They're words we’ve all heard before –
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Words – inviting immigrants into our country at the base of the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island.
However, in an interview with NPR, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of immigration services, made his own adjustments.
"Give me your poor who can stand on their own two feet and will not become a public charge," Cuccinelli said.
The reworked poem comes one day after Cuccinelli announced a rule change focused on who gets visas and green cards for entry into the United States.
Under the rule scheduled to go into effect, immigrants who use or are deemed to potentially use social services may be barred from the country.
“We certainly expect people of any income to stand on their own two feet,” Cuccinelli said. “Especially in the age of the welfare state which is so expansive and expensive."
The move could reportedly impact hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including here in Arizona, where nearly one in seven people were born outside the U.S.
“We need a balanced approach, not only people at the graduate level and Ph.D. level. We need we also need entry-level workers who can work in the service economy,” Gov. Doug Ducey said when asked if he supported the policy.
We took U.S. Census data and found just more than 23% of those born outside the U.S. living in Arizona were below the poverty line.
The data did not show how many immigrants actually use government services like food stamps and housing assistance which could be factors under the new rules.
Governor Ducey said Arizona needs workers beyond just those with money. He said Arizona has open jobs and not enough people to fill them, including traditionally lower-paying jobs like those in the service industry.
“We have the haves and the soon-to-haves. And both of them are part of proper immigration reform,” Gov. Ducey said. “I want to see people who will climb the economic ladder. I think many of us have family stories similar to this.”