- President Donald Trump reportedly said 15,000 Haitians who received US visas “all have AIDS” and 40,000 Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” after seeing the US.
- Trump made the reported comments during a June meeting, after growing frustrated at the amount of foreigners allotted visas to the US.
- The White House has vehemently denied that Trump used those terms in the meeting.
President Donald Trump reportedly grew enraged at a June meeting over the amount of visas awarded to travelers from certain countries, grumbling that 15,000 Haitians who entered the United States in the preceding months “all have AIDS” and that the 40,000 Nigerian visitors would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.
He also complained about 2,500 people who had traveled to the US from Afghanistan, which he said was a terrorist haven, according to a New York Times report citing two officials who had either attended or were briefed on the meeting.
The White House has vehemently denied that Trump used the words “AIDS” and “huts” in his remarks, though they did not refute The Times’ overall characterization of the meeting.
Several other people who attended the meeting also told The Times they did not recall the comments, but the two officials who described them found them so significant they told others about them at the time.
“All other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The Times. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”
Cracking down on illegal and legal immigration
- Reuters/Carlos Barria
Other top administration officials who attended the June meeting, such as then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, attempted to explain to Trump that many of the visa holders were merely traveling to the US for short visits before returning to their home countries.
But as the debate progressed, Kelly and Stephen Miller, Trump’s domestic policy adviser, reportedly began blaming Tillerson for the flood of foreigners. Tillerson responded by throwing up his arms in frustration and arguing that if he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether, according to The Times.
Reports of Trump’s remarks come as his administration has sought to dramatically reshape the US immigration system from nearly every angle possible. On the illegal immigration front, the Trump administration has dramatically ramped up arrests, rescinded an Obama-era program shielding young immigrants from deportation, and commissioned prototypes for a US-Mexico border wall, despite Congress’ unwillingness to approve full funding.
But legal immigration has also become a target, as Trump’s reported remarks demonstrate. He has now signed three travel bans, each of which have been fiercely litigated in federal courts across the country.
Trump has also backed the RAISE Act, introduced by two Republican senators earlier this year, that would slash legal immigration by half, in part by eliminating several visa categories reserved for the family members of US citizens and permanent residents.