(WASHINGTON) — It didn’t take long for lawmakers on both side of the aisle to react to President Donald Trump’s description — according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with Thursday’s Oval Office discussion — of Haiti and African nations as “s—hole countries.”
Elected officials issued statements, took to social media, and appeared on cable news to slam the president’s remarks.
In an Oval Office meeting at the White House Thursday, Trump grew frustrated at a proposed bipartisan immigration plan that would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other “s—hole countries” coming into the U.S., according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.
The White House did not deny that the president made these remarks. Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah issued this statement to ABC News:
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country. 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. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”
A spokesperson for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, the sole Democrat negotiator in the Oval Office when the president made the comment, told ABC News “no comment” when asked about Trump’s choice of language.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, said in a statement. “If these comments are accurate, they are disappointing. I would not talk about nations like this, because I believe the people of those countries are made in the image of God and have worth and human dignity. The United States should lead the world in respect for all people.”
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisconsin, said during a Fox News segment, “I can’t put myself in the president’s head. It’s an unfortunate comment. It’s — I can’t defend it. I don’t think anybody can I don’t know where he wanted to go with it … I don’t have good insight. It’s a really hard spot to sit tonight to defend or analyze what he is trying to make. Its offensive. I don’t like it.”
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said in a statement, “Our strength lies in our diversity, including those who came here from Africa, the Caribbean and every other corner of the world. To deny these facts would be to ignore the brightest part of our history.”
Former FBI Director James Comey even chimed in, tweeting, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” This country’s greatness and true genius lies in its diversity.”
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