WASHINGTON, D.C. — A testy exchange between CNN reporter Jim Acosta and White House policy adviser Stephen Miller erupted during a press briefing yesterday. A clip of the exchange, courtesy of C-SPAN, is below.
At the center of the heated interaction is the new proposed legislation on immigration that was unveiled at an earlier press conference by two U.S. Senators and President Donald Trump. Acosta is the son of a Cuban immigrant, and asked Miller if the law the president wants to sign violates the spirit of the poem that rests at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Miller claimed that the poem was “added later” and that means it’s not relevant to the discussion. Acosta implied that the Trump administration only wants immigrants to come from mostly white, English speaking countries, going so far as to ask if the only immigrants they’d accept would be from the United Kingdom or Australia.
As a matter of factual truth, it should be noted that the poem at the base of the statue was written to help encourage Americans to donate money for the base that the statue would rest on. The poem and statue have been inextricably linked since Lazarus wrote it in the 19th century. The statue itself was a gift from France.
Miller bristled at the suggestion and suggested Acosta’s “Cosmopolitan bias” was showing. He admonished Acosta for, in Miller’s view, insulting immigrants from other countries who also speak English. However, it is undeniable that the legislation supported by the president would prioritize English-speaking immigrants first.
Ahmed Fayed is a Syrian refugee who hopes to immigrate to America soon. He admits, through a translator, that he is still picking up the basics of English. Ahmed wants desperately to come to America because his home country is war torn and he fears for his family’s safety. Fayed says that the wages he’d earn here in America would help him secure a better future for his family.
Fayed said that he knows why some want to limit legal immigration, and why English would be a requirement for prospective immigrants in those peoples’ eyes. However, he said that there are many jobs here in America that can be done without speaking a single word of English and that he knows several people here who immigrated from Syria, and they can help him assimilate. Ahmed is currently learning English through YouTube videos, as the university in his town where he’d be able to study was ravaged by fighting between ISIS and Assad forces.
Mr. Fayed said that while he understands certain desires to “protect culture,” he takes the implication that he’s untrustworthy because he doesn’t speak English well as a major insult. There are lots of people on Earth, Ahmed argues, that don’t speak a word of English, and they are “good, hardworking, honorable people,” Fayed said through his interpreter.
However, coming to America means so much to Fayed that he says he’s willing to play by whatever rules he has to. If speaking English well is a requirement for people like Miller and President Trump to feel safe and secure, Ahmed says he’s happy to provide them that safe space. Fayed has practiced one English phrase to show Miller and Trump he’d be able to fit in with the “overwhelming majority” of Americans.
Ahmed demonstrated that phrase for us during the interview. Though the phrase is just two words long, Fayed says he knows that once he’s seen saying it to Miller and Trump, most Americans will be on his side. He said that Gallup polling makes him believe that about 60% of the country would accept him after he showed off his English prowess to Miller and Trump.
“Fuck you,” Ahmed said, clear as a bell and without any hint of an accent.
Then, he decided to show off and added a couple of words he’d been working on.
“Fuck you, Orange Shit Clown,” Ahmed said, a smile on his face from ear to ear.”
The White House did not comment on this story.