President Trump asked a group of lawmakers why the U.S. would protect immigrants from “s—hole countries” as they debated the parameters of immigration legislation, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
“Why are we having all these people from s—hole countries come here?” Trump asked the group. Some of the lawmakers had advocated restoring protections for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, and African countries, according to the Post, when Trump made the remark.
NBC News reported that Trump made similar comments, and other outlets also confirmed his quotes. NBC News reported that Trump followed the remark by saying, “We should have more people from places like Norway.”
The network also reported that Trump said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”
The White House did not deny that the president made the comments, but said in a statement that “certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration, two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country.”
Last month, the White House denied a New York Times report that Trump had made derogatory comments about Haitian and Nigerian visitors to the U.S. in a meeting with staffers. The Times reported that Trump said that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS,” and that those from Nigeria would never “go back to their huts” after they had been to the United States.
CNN and MSNBC each displayed the word “shithole” on their one screen news chyron banners, and some commentators repeated the expletive. (Wolf Blitzer avoided it). NBC News’ Lester Holt gave a parental warning before the story on the “Nightly News” broadcast. Fox News addressed the comments, but used “s—hole” in its chyron in referring to the expletive.
“I am a proud shithole,” Philip Mudd, a former counter-terorism official, said on CNN angrily, before going through the history of derogatory terms that have been applied to immigrants.
The lawmakers in the meeting — including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — were discussing immigration and the fate of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Democrats condemned the remark, along with at least one Republican. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) said that the comments “are unkind, divisive, elitist and fly in the face of our nation’s values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation.” She said that her parents “came from one of those countries,” Haiti, and went on to become citizens. “They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children.”