White House adviser Stephen Miller engaged in a heated exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta over immigration on Wednesday, calling the reporter's statements 'ignorant,' 'insulting' and 'foolish.'
Miller attended the daily press briefing to express President Donald Trump's support for the Raise Act, which would overhaul America's legal immigration policies. The new legislation aims to reduce the number of overall legal immigrants into the U.S. and give priority to English-speaking applicants.
Twitter erupts after Miller and Acosta's heated exchange over immigration
"What you're proposing, or what the president's proposing here, does not sound like it's in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration," Acosta said to Miller. "The Statue of Liberty says, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be 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 are telling them, 'You have to speak English.' Can't people learn how to speak English when they get here?"
Miller countered Acosta's statements, calling his statements "ahistorical."
"Well, first of all, right now it is a requirement to be naturalized that you have to speak English, so the notion that speaking English wouldn't be part of your immigration system would be very ahistorical," Miller said. "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 you are referring to was added later. It is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty."
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Acosta interrupted Miller, saying his rebuttal sounded like "national park revisionism." He continued talking about a "press one for English philosophy" and questioned, "Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?"
The already heated exchange then got even hotter. Miller called Acosta's question "insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants," adding that it shows the CNN reporter's "cosmopolitan bias."
Miller concluded, telling Acosta's that his statement was "one of the most outrageous, ignorant, insulting and foolish things you've ever said."