Gov. Cuomo: Lady Liberty still welcomes 'huddled masses'

The Statue of Liberty, one of New York's premiere tourist attractions, is viewed from the Staten Island Ferry on September 30, 2013.
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Story highlights

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that if the U.S. ever builds a border wall it should also take down the Statue of Liberty
  • Cuomo reflected on the refugee debate after being asked by a student about how to balance immigration and national security

Washington (CNN)The U.S. should take down the Statue of Liberty if it ever erects a wall to keep out immigrants and refugees, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday in remarks intended to counter some of the recent harsh rhetoric.

"If the day comes when America says 'close the gates, build the wall,' then I say take down the Statue of Liberty, because we've gone to a different place," the Democratic governor wrote in a campaign email to supporters.
"The poem on the Statue of Liberty reads, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.' On the day this is no longer true, we will have lost sight of who we are," Cuomo's message continued.
    His statement comes as dozens of Republican governors have said they will not allow Syrian refugees to settle in their states, the House voted to limit which refugees can settle in the U.S., and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson compared some refugees bent on terrorism to "rabid dogs," while Donald Trump said he wouldn't rule out closing some mosques and a national database to register Muslims.
    Cuomo said he reflected on the situation Tuesday after being asked by a student at Harvard about how he would balance immigration and national security.
    "We have to protect Americans," Cuomo said, disputing the authority of governors to bar the resettlement of refugees. "The Federal Government has to screen the people who are coming in. They have to do it right, do it exhaustively, but do so without giving up our soul as Americans."
    He closed his message, "The Statue of Liberty is still in the harbor, and the doors are open."