In what started out as a not-so-innocent line of questioning, Acosta put the senior adviser in a tight corner when he supported his criticism with the “American tradition”.
“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,” Acosta told Miller, referring to legislation the president endorsed earlier which favored only English speaking immigrants.
Acosta was not done setting Miller up for a great fall. He went on to cite a quotation on the Statue of the Liberty. Yes, he did.
“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 … 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 they have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?”
Miller’s response was simple and straight to the point, “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 part of our immigration system would be very ahistorical”, he said.
Acosta wasn’t done, he wouldn’t be a star at the Cable News Network if he backed down so easily, so he went on, shaking his head and interrupting Miller’s ongoing statement. He said, “This whole notion … that 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?” he said.
And this right here, was when Miller cooked Acosta.
“I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English,” Miller said. “It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree”.
He continued, “This is an amazing moment, this is an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain and Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hard-working immigrants who do speak English from all over the world”.
Still, on the matter, Miller said: “Jim, Have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English from outside of Great Britain and Australia? Is that your personal experience?”
Acosta, of course, won’t go down so easily, he shot back,”Didn’t you grow up in Los Angeles?” and then later said, “sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country through this policy “.
Miller nailed the coffin here, with this response – “Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, and foolish things you’ve ever said “.
And that people, is how the hunter became the hunted.
Later as he left the podium, Miller apologized to Acosta for turning the heat up, “I apologize, Jim, if things got heated, but you did make some pretty rough insinuations”.
Well, all is fair in love and war.