Trump faces backlash over profane immigration remarks

By Sara Shayanian
President Donald Trump said Friday he did not use a profane remark during a White House meeting to describe Latin American and African nations that send immigrants to the United States. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
President Donald Trump said Friday he did not use a profane remark during a White House meeting to describe Latin American and African nations that send immigrants to the United States. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump faced criticism at home and abroad Friday after reports he made profane comments about immigrants from places including Haiti and Africa. He denied the remarks.

"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," Trump wrote in a tweet, referring to a Thursday meeting on immigration reform. "What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made -- a big setback for DACA!"


Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Friday he heard Trump refer to certain countries as "shitholes."

"Trump said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist," Durbin said.

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"The most disheartening thing to me is my belief that that was the first time words that hateful had been spoken in the Oval Office of the White House," Durbin said. "I think back at presidents throughout history and I cannot imagine a moment where a president sunk to that depth, that's what breaks my heart."


Durbin gave a detailed account of the Oval Office meeting with Trump and senators from both parties about immigrants who have temporary protected status in the United States due to disasters and political upheaval in their home countries.

"He said, 'Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?' And then he went on when we started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. 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."

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Trump denied the remarks.

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"Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country," Trump added later. "Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden tweeted, "It's not how a president should speak. It's not how a president should behave. Most of all, it's not what a president should believe. We're better than this."


Republican Mia Love, the only Haitian-American member of Congress, demanded an apology from Trump, calling his words "unkind, divisive, elitist."

Former Haitian President Laurent Lamothe {link:tweeted, "SHAME ON TRUMP!" : "" target="_blank"} "The world is witnessing a new low today with this #ShitholeNations remark! totally unacceptable! uncalled for moreover it shows a lack a respect and IGNORANCE never seen before in the recent history of the US by any President! Enough is enough!!" Lamothe said.

The 55-member African Union said it was "frankly alarmed" by Trump's comments. Officials from Mexico, France, Botswana, Kenya and South Africa all expressed distaste for the president's remarks.

This comes after Trump asked Congress to create a immigration bill in exchange for funding to build a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

The president slammed a bipartisan immigration deal proposed by six senators to protect young immigrants in the United States under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, calling it a big step backward.

Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Durbin announced the bipartisan agreement Thursday to protect DACA beneficiaries while increasing border security -- a project Trump has called for since his campaign for president.


The details of the deal -- which was agreed upon by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Durbin and Flake -- have not been released.

"We've got this bipartisan group. We are at a deal. ... It's the only game in town," Flake said.

However, Trump said Friday he's not on board with the proposal -- partly because of the wall.

"The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican senators and congressmen was a big step backwards," Trump tweeted. "[The border wall] was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly."

The president added that he wanted "a merit-based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level" and "safety and security" for Americans.

Durbin and Graham were told Thursday that Trump would not agree to the deal.

"We were hoping for that, but the president is not prepared to do that at this moment," Durbin said.


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a briefing that no deal had been reached.

"However, we still think we can get there and we are very focused on trying to make sure that happens," she said.

DACA shields nearly 800,000 young immigrants from deportation by allowing them to work and study legally in the United States. Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked the administration's plans to end the program.

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