US president Donald Trump used a vulgar term on Thursday in referring to immigrants from Haiti and African countries, complaining to lawmakers “why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?”
Mr Trump was in a meeting with members of Congress about prison reform earlier on Thursday. The president grew frustrated and rejected an immigration deal that would restore protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries that were undone by the administration in the last three months.
Both the Washington Post and The New York Times reported that Mr Trump’s “s***hole countries” comment came in reference to Haiti and African countries. In the same meeting, Mr Trump suggested that the US should receive immigrants from countries such as Norway. The president met the Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.
Some of the lawmakers left the meeting bewildered by the comments, and feeling less optimistic about a bipartisan deal on immigration that Mr Trump scoffed at. The meeting was attended by Republican senators Lindsey Graham, Bob Goodlatte, David Perdue, and Tom Cotton. Democratic senator Dick Durbin and Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy were also in attendance.
A White House spokesperson did not return request for comment from The National.
This is the second time that Mr Trump has used condescending language in speaking about immigrants from Haiti and African countries. Last year and according to a report by the New York Times published in December, Mr Trump complained about admitting Haitians to the country, saying “they all have AIDS.”
He also said Nigerians, once they had seen the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. There are more than 350,000 US residents who come from Nigerian descent according to the American Community Survey, among them celebrity Uzo Aduba and some famous NBA players. The US census in 2009 estimated that 830,000 Haitian Americans live in the United States.
Mr Trump’s hardline immigration views helped fuel his political rise. In announcing his candidacy for the presidency, he accused Mexico of sending criminals to the United States. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said in June 2015.
According to CNN, Mr Trump was recording a video message for Martin Luther King Day when the news about his “s***hole countries” comments was broken by the Washington Post
The president’s comments drew ire from fellow Republicans. Senator Orrin Hatch said he wanted a “detailed explanation” from the White House about Mr Trump’s reported comments.
“I look forward to getting a more detailed explanation regarding the president’s comments. Part of what makes America so special is that we welcome the best and brightest in the world, regardless of their country of origin,” Mr Hatch said in a tweet.