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Top WH Aide Squares Off With CNN Reporter Over Immigration

Image: Top WH Aide Squares Off With CNN Reporter Over Immigration
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 02 Aug 2017 05:11 PM

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller on Wednesday got into a heated exchange with Jim Acosta from CNN — calling his statements "racist" and "ignorant" at one point — over whether President Donald Trump's support of a merit-based immigration bill scorned the words inscribed at the Statue of Liberty.

"Aren't you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you're telling them, 'You have to speak English?'" asked Acosta, the cable network's senior White House correspondent at the daily briefing.

He then quoted part of the sonnet before asking, "Can't people learn how to speak English when they get here?"

"The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American liberty lighting the world," Miller responded. "The poem that was added later is not a part of the original Statue of Liberty. …"

"You're saying that does not represent what the country has always thought of as generations coming into this country?" Acosta, 46, a Cuban American whose father emigrated to the U.S. in 1962. "That sounds like some National Park [Service] revisionism."

"The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country," Miller said.

Miller emphasized that President Trump's support of the legislation, introduced by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, addressed only a specific immigration issue.

That issue concerned limiting the number of green cards available to high-skilled workers.

"Right now, the president wants to build a wall and you want to bring about a sweeping change," Acosta said.

"Surely, Jim, you don't think that a wall affects green card policy?" Miller retorted. "You couldn't possibly believe that.

"I want to be serious," Miller added later. "Do you people at CNN really not know the difference between green card policy and illegal immigration? You really don't know that?"

"People who immigrate to this country — not through Ellis Island, there are other ways — do obtain a green card at some point," Acosta said.

"They do it through a lot of hard work and yes, they may learn English as a second language later on in life.

"But this whole notion of they have to learn English before they get to the United States, are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?" Acosta asked.

"I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English," Miller said. "It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind …

"No, this is an amazing moment," he continued. "This is an amazing moment.

"That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hard-working immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.

"Jim, have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia?" Miller asked. "Is that your personal experience?"

"Of course there are people who come in from other parts of the world," Acosta responded.

"That's not what you said and it shows your cosmopolitan bias," Miller said.

"Just sounds like you're trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country," Acosta snapped back.

"That is one of the most outrageous, ignorant, insulting things you've ever said," Miller exclaimed. "The notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong."

"I didn't say it was racist," Acosta said.

Miller then got into a brief dust-up with April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, over whether the proposal targeted African Americans.

"We want to help unemployed African Americans in this country and unemployed workers of all backgrounds," Miller said, "and insinuations like Jim made, trying to ascribe nefarious motives to compassionate immigration reform is wrong.

"This is a positive, optimistic proposal," he said.

"… You called me ignorant on national television," Acosta then intoned.

"We want to have an immigration system that takes care of the people who are coming here and the people who are already living here," Miller said. "That's the right policy for our country — and it's the president's commitment to taking care of American workers.

"I apologize, Jim, if things got heated — but you did make some pretty rough insinuations," he added. "So, thank you."

"I don't know what you mean by rough insinuations," Acosta said before Miller left the podium.

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White House senior adviser Stephen Miller on Wednesday got into a heated exchange with Jim Acosta from CNN — calling his statements "racist" and "ignorant" at one point — over whether President Donald Trump's support of a merit-based immigration bill smacked at the words...
top, white house, aide, cnn, reporter, immigration
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2017-11-02
Wednesday, 02 Aug 2017 05:11 PM
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