A biographer of the poet who wrote the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty challenged a Trump administration official who says the famous poem welcomed only people from Europe.
The comment came from Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Biographer Esther Schor says Emma Lazarus’ words were her way of urging Americans to embrace the poor and destitute “of all places and origins.” Lazarus wrote poem in 1883, a year after Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned laborers from China.
The poem is best known for its line about welcoming “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” Beginning in the 1930s, supporters of immigration began using the poem to bolster their cause.
Schor says Lazarus was “deeply involved” in refugee causes.