After sparring with The New York Times' Glenn Thrush on Wednesday, President Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller engaged in a second heated debate during the daily press briefing. Miller's second scuffle was with CNN's Jim Acosta and centered on the history of the Statue of Liberty.
Miller was at the briefing to discuss the Trump administration's newly announced merit-based immigration system, which Acosta accused of contradicting the American tradition of welcoming immigrants. "The Statue of Liberty says, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,'" Acosta said. "It doesn't say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer."
"Well, first of all," Miller began, "right now, it's a requirement that to be naturalized, you have to speak English. So the notion that speaking English wouldn't be a part of the immigration systems would be actually very ahistorical. Secondly, I don't want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty enlightening the world … The poem that you're referring to was added later, it's not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty."
Despite Miller's best efforts, however the pair then immediately got into a "whole thing about history."
"You're saying ["The New Colossus" poem] does not represent what the country has always thought of as immigration?" Acosta asked. "I'm sorry, that sounds like some national park revisionism."
The debate hardly ended there. Watch the entire heated exchange below. Jeva Lange