Joe Henderson: Ken Cuccinelli’s immigration snark is beyond astonishing

Forget the green card. Let's see your gold or platinum card. And how's your portfolio doing?

My astonishment threshold is high, but Ken Cuccinelli breached it with his crack about immigration. His rewrite of the iconic Statue of Liberty inscription has opponents spitting anger and #CuccinelliResign trending on Twitter.

Yeah, in Cuccinelli’s world, the words on Lady Liberty would read: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

Hello, world, especially anyone from Europe! Do you want to come to America? Forget the green card. Let me see your gold or platinum card. By the way, how’s your portfolio doing?

Cuccinelli said the department is merely enforcing immigration law that has been on the books for decades. Sometimes it’s not what you say, though, but how you say it.

And this was a smug, snarky, immigrant-bashing taunt.


Cuccinelli is the acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director. That’s because Senate Republicans won’t confirm him to be lead the agency that oversees the nation’s immigration policy. He assumed the acting position in June and can stay there for 210 days.

Let that sink in. This guy is too toxic for even members of the President’s core Senate supporters

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in that group. So is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But before we go there, let me throw this question out there to those who consider themselves part of President Donald Trump’s support base. Is this what you signed on for in 2016?

Oh, I know, many true believers will reflexively say yes. But I wonder how many Trump voters have had direct negative encounters with immigrants – undocumented or otherwise?

Here in this huge, beautiful melting pot we call Florida, an estimated 20 percent of the population are immigrants. Of those, about 850,000 are considered undocumented.

Before anyone says it, yes, some of them committed crimes. But I’m talking big picture.

Have you had a bad experience with any of them? Did they cause a riot somewhere that I missed?

Many studies have shown that our labor force depends on immigrants – legal and undocumented. They do the jobs you won’t. They are long-haul truckers, agricultural and construction workers, janitors, hotel maids, and so on.

That’s not a complete picture, of course. Some are in the medical field or other professional jobs.

But if you have eaten at a restaurant, stayed in a hotel, brought fruit or vegetables at a grocery store, or had work done at your house, you probably had contact with an undocumented immigrant.

Did the experience leave you scarred?

The Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, found that the conviction rate for undocumented immigrants in Texas is about half that of native-born Americans. And that’s in a state considered Ground Zero for the immigration battle.

So, back to Cuccinelli, the latest attack dog sent on a destruct mission by this administration.

How much damage can an acting department head do in 210 days?

Plenty, but maybe not the kind he intends.

While immigration will remain a scorching topic through 2020, a quote like Cuccinelli’s can give undecided voters a moment of pause. What kind of nation are we becoming? And what would be like after four more years of this rhetoric?

The Trump camp believes enough people will decide the President is trying to protect America and keep out the riff-raff. It’s a calculated gamble.

It’s not about draining the swamp anymore. Trump’s strategy is an appeal directly to scared white voters that their world is ending and immigrants are the reason why.

Unless those immigrants have money, of course.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Fred Friedman

    August 14, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Another paranoid leftist. We have a right to have an immigration policy that reflects our values and interests. Many immigrants are poorly educated and skilled and impose an economic burden on our society. Others do commit crimes and some bring in transmittable diseases. If Henderson is so concerned about immigrants let him take a few families into his house-feed, cloth and pay their medical bills and see if he practices what he preaches. America cannot be the dumping ground for all of the sufferings of the rest of the world.

  • Dan

    August 14, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    More Communist propaganda… “Many studies have shown that our labor force depends on immigrants – legal and undocumented. They do the jobs you won’t.” This is a Lie, how many get paid less because they compete against 850,000 Illegal Aliens. How many cannot get jobs in Construction, long haulers, etc… because illegal aliens are more a menial and can work for less and violate DOT standards because they don’t want to be deported? DEPORT all 850,000 that have not been invited but still collect either welfare, food stamps and/or tax payer subsidized education. How many use stolen IDs?

  • Ray Blacklidge

    August 15, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Have you ever looked at the requirements to migrate to Australia?

  • Ron Ogden

    August 15, 2019 at 10:20 am

    I would remind this writer that there was no welfare state in place when the Statue of Liberty was erected. To term Cuccinelli’s quote “beyond astonishing” is merely to admit, in the sly way of newspapermen, just how true to history it is.

  • gary

    August 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    There is so much wrong with this conversation. The facts are being manufactured at a very high rate of speed!

    1. The left of recent times, well as recent as president Trump has been using the liberty quote to shame the Republicans. Prior to Trump the quote was never mentioned because they were against illegal immigration when it was convenient.

    2. The New Colossus” is a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887). She wrote the poem in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World).[2] In 1903, the poem was cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.

    3. It was never part of the Statue of Liberty. It was merely used to gain donations.

    4. The founding fathers that created this country and it’s constitution had nothing to do with the Statue of Liberty or the sonnet, so it is not viable source of meaning related to law.

    5. When the sonnet was penned, the Democrats had not yet created the wealthfare state that would accomplish their goal of creating a underclass for them to put their brand on and count on as their voters!

    As usual Joe Henderson the propagandist that authored this factless garbage is pushing a narrative as usual. The narrative that Republican bad, Democrat good! Hardley a journalist in site!

  • Johnson

    August 16, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Well said, Gary. Joe Henderson is an embarrassment to journalism; he needs to get a real job.
    We all know we are a nation of legal immigrants and that we have laws that allow us to restrict immigration to those we deem acceptable, just like every other country in the world.
    Name another country that would allow the immigration chaos we have created in our country!

Comments are closed.


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