- Though he has denied doing so, President Donald Trump at a meeting on immigration on Thursday repeatedly used “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries, said one senator who was there.
- Sen. Dick Durbin called Trump’s comments “hate-filled, vile, and racist.”
- Trump tweeted Friday that his reported remarks were “not the language used.”
President Donald Trump used “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries “not just once, but repeatedly” during a discussion on immigration with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House on Thursday, a Democratic senator who was there told reporters on Friday.
“In the course of his comments, [Trump] said things which were hate-filled, vile, and racist,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said.
He added: “You’ve seen the comments in the press – I have not read one of them that’s inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning denying that he using those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”
Numerous media reports have said Trump questioned in the meeting why the US should accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to The Washington Post, the outlet that broke the news.
Trump then reportedly suggested the US instead accept immigrants from nations like Norway, whose prime minister he met with one day earlier.
The lawmakers had been discussing the White House’s recently ending temporary protection from deportation for certain immigrants living in the US.
The White House announced earlier this week that it would end Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorans who were allowed to live and work in the US legally after two severe earthquakes hit their home country in 2001. The Trump administration has also ended TPS for 45,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans.
In a series of tweets early on Friday, Trump said he used “tough” language during the meeting but suggested the content of the news reports was “not the language used.”
Citing people familiar with the meeting, The Post reported that Trump also asked why the US needed more Haitians, saying, “Take them out.”
Trump said on Friday that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians” except that Haiti was a “very poor and troubled country.”
“Never said ‘take them out,'” he tweeted. “Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust”
Durbin said that when the lawmakers at the meeting raised a question about Haitian immigrants, Trump said: “Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?”
Durbin said the lawmakers went on to discuss US immigration from African nations.
“That’s when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from ‘shitholes,'” Durbin said. “The exact word used by the president not just once, but repeatedly. That was the nature of this conversation.”
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who did not attend the meeting but said he was briefed on it by people who were there, also expressed disgust at Trump’s remarks.
“The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not ‘tough,’ they were abhorrent and repulsive,” Flake tweeted.
Durbin also said he confronted Trump and some of the Republicans at the meeting about their use of the term chain migration to refer to family-based immigration categories.
“I said to the president: ‘Do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe that they migrated to America in chains, and when you speak about chain migration, it hurts them personally,'” Durbin said. “He said, ‘Oh, that’s a good line.’
“And then when I talked to him about the impact this has on family unification, in a nation that values families with the flag as the most important symbols of our future, they scoffed at this notion,” he said. “It was a heartbreaking moment.”
Watch Durbin’s comments:
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 12, 2018