Famed singer Rihanna blasted Ken Cuccinelli, the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for controversial remarks he made earlier this year, in which he said that the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to the United States was referring to “people coming from Europe.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Vogue magazine published on Wednesday, Rihanna played a short video of Cuccinelli's remarks from the summer while discussing immigration in America under the Trump administration with writer Abby Aguirre.
“Think about this. What does America stand for? A bunch of immigrants,” Rihanna, who was born Robyn Fenty in Saint Michael, Barbados, said of the clip in the interview.
“The fact that his defense was talking about Europeans coming into America?” Rihanna continued. “I mean, not only were you immigrants, you were the worst kind. You came in and murdered the real Americans.”
Rihanna was referring to remarks Cuccinelli made during an interview in August, in which he said that the inscription on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to the United States was intended for “people coming from Europe.”
“Well of course that poem referred back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies,” Cuccinelli said of the inscription then. “Where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class.”
“And it was introduced — it was written one year — one year after the first federal public charge rule was written that says — and I'll quote it, 'Any person unable to take care of himself without becoming a public charge,’ would be inadmissible or in the terms that my agency deals with, they can't do what's called adjusting status, getting a green card becoming legal permanent residence,” he continued.
Cuccinelli's comments came days as he defended a policy rolled out by the Trump administration that makes it easier to reject green cards for those deemed likely to depend on public assistance.
While on the topic of immigration in the interview, Aguirre also asked Rihanna about a T-shirt she wore on Independence Day earlier this year that had the word “IMMIGRANT” written on the back.
Aguirre wrote that she then asked Rihanna if she had “anything to say to young immigrants living through this time.”
“What do you say?” Rihanna responded. “What can you say? It’s gonna get better? I almost feel sick to my stomach.”
“I don’t even believe this is happening in real life. In front of my eyes. In front of the world. It’s not even hidden. This is blatant,” Rihanna added.