- Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
- President Donald Trump on Friday defended using “tough” language at an immigration meeting.
- But he seemed to deny reports from Thursday that he described Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries.”
- Trump called a bipartisan bill from lawmakers that sought to extend protection for some young immigrants living in the US illegally “outlandish.”
- Trump has consistently taken a hard line against immigration.
President Donald Trump on Friday defended using “tough” language at a meeting on immigration but seemed to deny multiple reports he had described Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries.”
Trump met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the plan set to expire in March that has shielded some young unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Shortly afterward, multiple outlets cited sources as saying Trump used the profanity during the meeting.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump tweeted Friday. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”
He added in a follow-up tweet that he “never said anything derogatory” about Haitians and suggested he should record future meetings with lawmakers.
“Never said ‘take them out,'” he said. “Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”
Trump’s Friday tweets did not directly address the specific language he was reported to have used in the meeting, during which he is believed to have questioned why the US should accept immigrants from Haiti and Africa and could not accept more from places like Norway.
The differing standards for mostly black and mostly white countries provoked a visceral response on Thursday. Observers around the world condemned the comment, with the UN’s human-rights body saying “there is no other word one can use but ‘racist'” to describe it.
Also in early-morning tweets Friday, Trump twice blasted the Thursday immigration meeting as a step backward for DACA.
The proposal made by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that Trump dismissed as “outlandish” would offer a pathway to citizenship for those protected by DACA, but only after at least 10 years, a source familiar with the negotiations told Business Insider.
It would also begin to change the way the US approaches family-based immigration – sometimes referred to as “chain migration” – by offering three-year, renewable work permits to the parents of DACA recipients but making them ineligible to be sponsored for citizenship.
Trump has attacked chain immigration in the past, especially since news emerged that the suspect in a bombing in a New York City subway hub had entered the country through the program.
Trump has also given conflicting signals about DACA, as Trump has encouraged lawmakers to codify the program even as his administration has moved to end it.
In September, Trump struck a deal with Democratic congressional leaders to avert a government shutdown in a meeting that was widely reported to have included talk of bolstering DACA, much to the dismay of Republican immigration hardliners.
But on Friday, Trump appeared game to relitigate that battle, suggesting a possible government shutdown and US military funding could be used in negotations over an immigration deal.