President-elect Donald Trump called for the removal of the Statue of Liberty from New York harbor because it encourages immigration to the United States.
Trump said he was elected president because he promised to secure the American borders. This, he said, meant the country had to stop the flow of unwanted immigrants, whether they came from Mexico, Canada, or Europe.
"It makes no sense to tell the world you can't come here unless we invite you and then you have this frumpy old woman standing outside our country and telling people to come and stay as long as you want," Trump said during a press conference at the Trump Tower in New York City. "Does this make any sense?"
Trump said the words on the Statue of Liberty run contrary to everything his supporters believe -- although, he admitted, he couldn't remember the words.
"What does the Statue of Liberty say? I don't know. To be honest, I've lived in New York City my whole life and I've never been there," Trump said. "Why would anyone go? Nobody goes there."
A reporter told him that the Statue of Liberty said, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
"Is that right? Really? Your tired? Your poor? Your wretched refuse? Homeless? So that's how they all got here? When Europe sends its people, they're not sending the best," Trump said, rolling his eyes. "Who needs those people? It might as well say, `Give us your rapists, your criminals, your drug dealers .... your coddled terrorists.' "
Trump said the country had to secure its borders to prevent all undocumented immigrants from entering the country.
"Like Melania?" asked one reporter, who was immediately handcuffed by New York City police officers and removed from the press conference.
Questions remain about whether Trump's wife Melania followed U.S. immigration law when she came to the United States from her native Slovenia.
Trump was then asked how he thought Americans would respond if he removed the Statue of Liberty, which has stood in the harbor as a symbol of freedom and hope for millions of immigrants who have come to the United States since the late 1800s.
"Americans will thank me," Trump said.
"The Statue of Liberty is an ugly statue. It is. She's an ugly woman, a very ugly woman. Certainly not a ten. She's got no chest. A flat chested woman can't be ten --
Why did France send us a statue of a flat-chested woman?"
Trump was asked if he would consider having a statue in New York harbor if the statue was better looking.
"Like Melania," Trump replied. "Maybe. Melania. Yes. She's an immigrant and she's opposed to other immigrants. So, yes. But if we put up a statue of Melania, and this is something we're thinking about, we wouldn't have her holding up a torch. We need something that tells immigrants we don't want them."
"What if the statue raises her middle finger?" a reporter asked.
"Great idea!" Trump said. "A statue of Melania raising her middle finger at Europe! I got to tell you, Americans will love it. Europe won't. Who cares what Europe thinks? Screw Europe."