"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!"

A New York Times columnist has suggested that famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty applies more to Canada than Donald Trump's America these days, as the U.S. president attempts to shut his country's doors to immigrants from several majority Muslim nations, while Canada welcomes tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

In the article titled "Canada, Leading the Free World," U.S. journalist Nicholas Kristof praises Canada for its inviting immigration policy, at a time when "all around the world, countries are slamming the doors shut."

"It may now be the finest example of the values of the Statue of Liberty," Kristof wrote in the op-ed published Saturday.

The piece is a largely rose-coloured examination of Canada's immigration policies, hailing it as a haven for immigrants and open-mindedness, with little mention of some of the more vehement critics of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's inviting approach. Kristof praises Canada's private sponsorship program, touts diversity at the highest levels of government, and suggests based on a poll that Canadians "now take more pride in multiculturalism than in hockey."

Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, called the story a "big slobbery kiss for Canada" on Twitter.  "I'm afraid we'll wake up one morning, and the Statue of Liberty will be gone, having taken a four year vacation up north."

The iconic statue, which stands in Donald Trump's own hometown, likely won't be marching north anytime soon. However, Canadians on Twitter were still eager to embrace the unofficial title of "leader of the free world."

"This is the way we are," wrote Twitter user Al Brunet. "Hopefully, that is the way we will continue to be."

"Thank you, Canada, for living up to American ideals," U.S. journalist Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote. "One day, maybe America will do it, too."

Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau, acknowledged the story as a "good piece," adding that "today's diverse Canada was a choice made by the last few generations of Canadians. As PM Justin Trudeau has said: Canada's approach to diversity 'didn't happen by accident, and it won't continue without effort.'" https://twitter.com/gmbutts/status/828005469436379143

Others were not as enthusiastic. "Guess we gotta built (sic) a wall with Canada next," tweeted one user. "#MURICA!"

Another user who identified himself as American claimed it was "fake news," echoing a frequent complaint heard from President Trump about stories he disagrees with.

Kristof acknowledged that Canada "has xenophobes, too," and cited the killing of six Muslims at a mosque in Quebec last week.

Among those quoted in Kristof's story were Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who was born in Somalia, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.

“If you’re a really smart person and you want to immigrate to a great country that will welcome you, come to Canada!” Freeland is quoted as saying in the article. “And if you’re Muslim, you’re very, very welcome here, as are people of every faith — and atheists, too.”

U.S. President Trump has issued a ban on accepting certain travellers and all refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries. The ban has been temporarily restrained while courts debate whether it is constitutional.

Trump has maintained an ongoing feud with the New York Times, calling it a "failing" newspaper and threatening lawsuits over content published in its pages. The Times is just one of the news outlets Trump has accused of publishing "fake news." The New York Times' stance on Trump has been to label his false claims as "lies" whenever applicable.

The Times recently issued a correction on a story in which one of its writers incorrectly reported the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.