In bluntly vulgar language, US President Donald Trump questioned Thursday why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway, as he rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, according to people briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting, according to the Washington Post, referring to Haita, African countries, and El Salvador.
The Los Angeles Times similarly quoted Trump as saying: “What do we want Haitians here for? Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?”
“We should have people from places like Norway,” the US president added, according to the report.
The profanity-laced remark was also confirmed by the Associated Press and CNN.
The White House did not deny the comments and issued a statement saying the US president would “always fight for the American people.”
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” a White House spokesman said.
A second White House official told CNN: “The President’s ‘shithole’ remark is being received much differently inside of the White House than it is outside of it. Though this might enrage Washington, staffers predict the comment will resonate with his base, much like his attacks on NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem did not alienate it.”
The “shithole countries” remark was condemned as “racist” by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on CNN.
“Racist,” tweeted Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., after Thursday’s story broke. But it wasn’t just Democrats objecting.
Republican Rep. Mia Love of Utah, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said Trump’s comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist and fly in the face of our nation’s values.” She said, “This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation” and Trump must apologize to the American people “and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”
The Trump administration announced late last year that it would end a temporary residency permit program that allowed nearly 60,000 citizens from Haiti to live and work in the United States following a devastating 2010 earthquake.
Trump has spoken positively about Haitians in public. During a 2016 campaign event in Miami, he said “the Haitian people deserve better” and told the audience of Haitian-Americans he wanted to “be your greatest champion, and I will be your champion.”
Trump’s comments came as two senators presented details of a bipartisan compromise that would extend protections against deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants — and also strengthen border protections, as Trump has insisted.
The lawmakers had hoped Trump would back their accord, an agreement among six senators evenly split among Republicans and Democrats, ending a months-long, bitter dispute over protecting the “Dreamers.” But the White House later rejected it, plunging the issue back into uncertainty just eight days before a deadline that threatens a government shutdown.
Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’ s No. 2 Democrat, explained that as part of that deal, a lottery for visas that has benefited people from Africa and other nations would be ended, the sources said, though there could be another way for them to apply. Durbin said people would be allowed to stay in the US who fled here after disasters hit their homes in places including El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti.