WASHINGTON— During a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Trump, hesitant at an immigration deal aimed at protecting people from Haiti, El Salvador and other African countries, called them “shithole countries.”
The controversial comments, in context to immigration, raised many eyebrows as the U.S. struggles to enact a suitable decision that would end the uncertainty of young immigrant ‘dreamers’.
Individuals in the meeting, as reported by the New York Times, stated that the president badmouthed Haiti and others whilst comparing them to “better” places like Norway, a predominantly white country. The comparison is not off the whim as Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday, a day before the “shithole” remark. The insulting comment is not the first time the president has bashed other countries like Haiti nor the first time he has belittled immigration issues. Last year, the NY Times also reports, the president stated that all Haitians have AIDS and that they should return to their huts.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American People. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.“ said Raj Shah, the White House’s deputy press secretary, in a written statement to NBC.
Despite the Democrats and Republicans remaining in headlocks on immigration and other issues, members of both parties spoke out against the president’s comments.
Representive Mia Love (R), of Utah and Haitian descent, described Trump’s “unacceptable” comments as “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s value.”
“The president must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.” Love said.
Although sharing Love’s views of disappointment and outrage, Illinois Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez (D) expressed his shame of the president differently.
“His comments are disappointing, unbelievable, but not surprising. We always knew that President Trump doesn’t like people from certain countries or people or certain colors,” said Gutiérrez. “We can now we say with 100 percent confidence that the president is a racist who does not share the values enshrined in our Constitution or Declaration of Independence.”
Another Democrat, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, in an interview with MSNBC compared Trump’s comments to “smacks of blatant racism”.
“The most odious and insidious racism masquerading, poorly, as immigration policy. And, I’ll be very blunt — the president doesn’t speak for me as an American.” said Blumenthal to Ari Melber of MSNBC.
Trump is not a new target to the racist finger-pointing of others, given the president’s problematic track record on prospective acts and social commentary, but the “shithole” comment has sparked criticisms from more than just the Democrats.
Louisiana Representative and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric L. Richmond (D), said that the behind-the-scenes comments enlarge “the concerns that we hear every day, that the president’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ is really code for ‘Make America White Again.’”
Among the individuals in the meeting are:
- Senator Lindsey Graham (R), South Carolina
- Richard J. Durbin (D), Illinois
- Representative Kevin McCarthy (R), California
- Senator David Perdue (R), Georgia
- Senator Tom Cotton (R), Arkansas
- Representative and chairman of the Judiciary Committee Robert W. Goodlatte (R), Virginia
Graham and Durbin are both advocates of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA, an initiative by the Obama administration that provides temporary work permits for immigrants brought by their parents to the U.S..
The proposal by Durbin and Graham was to endorse border security by $2.5 billion and protect the immigration status of the Dreamer’s parents whilst eliminating the visa-lottery program and to use the 50,000 visas issued annually for people living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status.
The NY Times reports that after Durbin explained the compromising deal whilst mentioning Haiti, Trump reportedly said “why do we need more Haitians, take them out.”
When African countries were mentioned, that is when Trump referred to them as “shithole countries”.
Regardless of Trump’s push for a merit-based immigration policy, the proposition of eliminating the visa-lottery program was reported to have incited frustration in the president.
Senator John Cornyn (R), of Texas, disapproved of Durbin and Graham’s proposal.
“I think what the president told them is it’s fine for them to have negotiated what they think is a reasonable proposal, but what they need to do is share that with others so that it will have broad enough support to actually get passed,” Cornyn said. “We need to have more than six votes for a proposal.”
Attempting to ban transgender people enlisting to the US Army, labeling Mexicans as rapists and gangsters, attempting to enact several Muslim bans, calling an NFL player a “son of a bitch” for constitutionally protesting during the national anthem, and many other scenarios that makes Trump’s comments on Thursday an addition to the list.
This is not the first time Trump has verbally jabbed other countries or minorities in general. During an immigration focused meeting in 2017, when Nigeria was mentioned, Trump reportedly said if they come to the U.S., they’ll never “go back to their huts”.