Days after the Trump administration rolled out its new “public charge” rule, which would make it more difficult for low-income immigrants to obtain green cards and visas, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock slammed Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, equating him with one of the world’s most infamous authoritarian leaders.
“Putting him in charge of immigration would be like putting [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in charge of election security,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said of Cuccinelli on “Fox News Sunday.” The two men served as attorneys general at the same time, Cuccinelli in Virginia and Bullock in his home state.
“What I disagree with is we’re using immigration essentially to divide this country,” Bullock added. “As a Democrat, I’m for border security, I’m for figuring out comprehensive immigration reform, but I do think that this president has used immigration and not only ripped families apart but this country apart.”
Last week, Cuccinelli briefed reporters at the White House about the expanded public charge policy, which would require case workers to determine whether green card and visa applicants constitute a burden to society through their use of non-cash government services such as food stamps, Medicaid and Section 8 housing.
The regulation is set to take effect in October, and would create barriers for low-income immigrants seeking to remain in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Cuccinelli suggested during an NPR interview that the Statue of Liberty’s famous inscription which states, “Give me your tired, your poor,” should be revised to read, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”
“If they don’t have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like too much to ask that we have Americans here who aren’t likely to go on welfare.”