The following is the verbatim transcript of exchange between White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller and CNN activist “reporter” Jim Acosta, which has sent the Fake News media into even more of a hyperventilating fit than usual.
See it for yourself!
ACOSTA: What you’re proposing, or what the President is proposing here does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer.
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? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?
MILLER: Well, first of all, 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 our immigration system 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 and lighting the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to, that was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.
But more fundamentally, the history —
ACOSTA: You’re saying that that does not represent what the country —
MILLER: I’m saying that the notion —
ACOSTA: — has always thought of as immigration coming into this country?
MILLER: I’m saying the notion —
ACOSTA: Stephen, I’m sorry, but that sounds like some —
MILLER: Jim, let me ask you a question.
ACOSTA: That sounds like some National Park revisionism. (Laughter.)
MILLER: No. What I’m asking you is —
ACOSTA: The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country —
MILLER: Jim — Jim, do you believe —
ACOSTA: — and they’re not always going to speak English, Stephen. They’re not always going to be highly skilled. They’re not always going to be somebody who can go to work at Silicon Valley right away.
MILLER: Jim, I appreciate your speech. So let’s talk about this.
ACOSTA: It was a modest and incremental speech.
MILLER: Jim, let’s talk about this. In 1970, when we let in 300,000 people a year, was that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land? In the 1990s, when it was half-a-million a year, was it violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?
ACOSTA: Was it violating the Statue of Liberty and the —
MILLER: No, tell me what years — tell me what years —
ACOSTA: (Inaudible) call for a deportation force?
MILLER: Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty poem law of the land. So you’re saying a million a year is the Statue of Liberty number? 900,000 violates it? 800,000 violates it?
ACOSTA: You’re sort of bringing a “press one for English” philosophy here to immigration, and that’s never been what the United States has been about, Stephen. I mean, that’s just the case —
MILLER: But your statement is also shockingly ahistorical in another respect, too — which is, if you look at the history of immigration, it’s actually ebbed and flowed. You’ve had periods of very large waves, followed by periods of less immigration and more immigration. And during the —
ACOSTA: We’re in a low period of immigration right now. The President wants to build a wall and you want to bring about a sweeping change to the immigration system.
MILLER: Surely, Jim, you don’t actually think that a wall affects Green Card policy. You couldn’t possibly believe that, or do you? Actually, the notion that you actually think immigration is at a historic lull — the foreign-born population in the United States today —
ACOSTA: The President was just with the new Chief of Staff on Monday talking about how border crossings were way down.
MILLER: I want to be serious, Jim. Do you really at CNN not know the difference between Green Card policy and illegal immigration? You really don’t know the —
ACOSTA: Sir, my father was a Cuban immigrant. He came to this country in 1962 right before the Cuban Missile Crisis and obtained a Green Card.
Yes, people who immigrate to this country can eventually — people who immigrate to this country not through Ellis Island, as your family may have, but in other ways, do obtain a Green Card at some point. 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 “well, 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?
MILLER: Jim, it’s actually — I have to honestly say I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It’s actually — it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind —
ACOSTA: Sir, it’s not a cosmopolitan —
MILLER: No, this is an amazing moment. This an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.
ACOSTA: My father came to this country not speaking any English.
MILLER: Jim, have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia? Is that your personal experience?
ACOSTA: Of course, there are people who come into this country from other parts of the world.
MILLER: But that’s not what you said, and it shows your cosmopolitan bias. And I just want to say —
ACOSTA: It just sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country through this policy.
MILLER: Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, and foolish things you’ve ever said, and for you that’s still a really — the notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting.
ACOSTA: I didn’t say it was a racist bill.
MILLER: Jim, the reality is, is that the foreign-born population into our country has quadrupled since 1970. That’s a fact. It’s been mostly driven by Green Card policy. Now, this bill allows for immediate nuclear family members to come into the country, much as they would today, and it adds an additional points-based system. The people who have been hurt the most —
ACOSTA: You’re saying that people have to be English speaking when they’re naturalized. What is this English-speaking component that you’ve inserted into this? I don’t understand.
MILLER: The people who have been hurt the most by the policy you’re advocating are —
ACOSTA: What policy am I advocating?
MILLER: Apparently, just unfettered, uncontrolled migration. The people who have been hurt the most by the policy —
ACOSTA: (Inaudible) is for open borders. That’s the same tired thing that —
MILLER: The people who have been hurt the most by the policy you’re advocating are immigrant workers and minority workers and African American workers and Hispanic workers.
ACOSTA: Are you targeting the African American community? Now you brought it up again — you said you wanted to have a conversation and not target. Is it going to be a targeted effort? You keep using the African American community. Are you going to target? I’m not trying to be funny, but you keep saying this.
MILLER: Right, I know. What you’re saying is 100 percent correct.
ACOSTA: Thank you.
MILLER: We want to help unemployed African Americans in this country and unemployed workers of all backgrounds get jobs. And insinuations like Jim made trying to ascribe nefarious motives to a compassion immigration measure designed to help newcomers and current arrivals alike is wrong. And this is a positive, optimist proposal that says 10 years, 20 years, 30 years from now —
ACOSTA: Sir, I didn’t call you ignorant. You called me ignorant on national television. Honestly, I think that’s just inappropriate.
MILLER: — 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 by having standards, by having a real clear requirement that you should be able to support yourself financially, by making sure that employers can pay a living wage. 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.
ACOSTA: I don’t know what you mean by rough insinuations. I don’t know what that means.
MILLER: So, thank you. Thank you. And I’ll hand it over to Sarah.
I think that went exactly as planned. I think that was what Sarah was hoping would happen. (Laughter.)