WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.
Mr. Trump’s remarks, the latest example of his penchant for racially tinged remarks denigrating immigrants, left members of Congress from both parties attending the meeting in the Oval Office alarmed and mystified. He made them during a discussion of an emerging bipartisan deal to give legal status to immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children, those with knowledge of the conversation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting.
When Mr. Trump heard that Haitians were among those who would benefit from the proposed deal, he asked whether they could be left out of the plan, asking, “Why do we want people from Haiti here?”
The comments were reminiscent of ones the president made last year in an Oval Office meeting with cabinet officials and administration aides, during which he complained about admitting Haitians to the country, saying that they all had AIDS, as well as Nigerians, who he said would never go back to their “huts,” according to officials who heard the statements in person or were briefed on the remarks by people who had. The White House vehemently denied last month that Mr. Trump made those remarks.
“The president of the United States is racist.” “President quoted here: ‘Why are we having all these people from [explitive] countries.’” “Bleep-hole countries.” “Blank countries.” “Using an expletive.” “S-hole countries.” “Vulgar language.” “Expletive countries.” “Not racial, not racially charged — racist.” “ABC News policy is not to repeat the profanity, which of course Trump critics have called racist and un-American.” “President Trump said something that almost every single person in America actually agrees with. An awful lot of immigrants come to this country from other places that aren’t very nice.” “His supporters made excuses, continue to make excuses for him.” “This is who Trump is. He doesn’t care. He shoots from the hip. And if he offends some people, fine.” “I can hear them now telling me, ‘Oh, Don, Donald didn’t mean that. Donald isn’t a racist’ Or just people who don’t know him ‘I don’t think — I think it is taken out of context. I’m not sure.’ How many examples do you need of this?” “Is it racist?” “Yeah, Yeah. I mean, how can you take it any other way? And when I say that, I don’t say that lightly.” “So let’s be clear. A white honky from Norway can come here. But a black dude from Haiti can’t. What does that tell you in an America that in one generation called you a [explitive]?” “I know him well. And I like him and admire him. But this is a new low. The language, the racial implications are reprehensible and he deserves the criticism he’s going to get.” “One of the things that we can now factor into the balance of harm to this country that is caused by having an openly racist president. I don’t say that lightly.”
After President Trump used vulgar language about immigrants, TV news grappled with a question: Were his comments racist?
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