PRESIDENT Donald Trump has drawn flack for incendiary comments he made regarding immigration to the United States from what he called “shithole countries” like Haiti and those in Africa, however suggested more Asians could be allowed because it helps the US economically.
In comments first reported by the Washington Post, Trump asked “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” during debate over a bipartisan immigration deal in the Oval Office on Thursday.
Lawmakers were describing how certain immigration programs operate, including one to give safe haven in the United States to people from countries suffering from natural disasters or civil strife.
One of the sources who was briefed on the conversation said that Trump said, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries … We should have more people from Norway.”
Known as a ‘model minority’ in the US, Trump said that he would be open to more Asian migrants however, reported the Chicago Tribune.
A source familiar with the meeting said Trump was questioning why the United States should take in unskilled labourers from the countries under discussion and should instead welcome immigrants from nations that can offer skilled workers.
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) January 12, 2018
Watching Chinese-language media try to translate 'shithole countries'
CNA in Taiwan have opted for an idiom that literally means 'countries where birds don't lay eggs' 「鳥不生蛋國家」 which is perhaps best translated as 'godforsaken countries.' https://t.co/dZ4Vdcykw6
— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@aaronMCN) January 12, 2018
Asked about Trump’s comments, White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “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,” Shah said.
Many Democrats and some Republican lawmakers slammed the president for his remarks.
Republican US Representative Mia Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values” and called on Trump to apologise to the American people and to the countries he denigrated.
Another Republican Representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Cuba and whose south Florida district includes many Haitian immigrants, said: “Language like that shouldn’t be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn’t be heard in the White House.”
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a frequent Trump critic, said the president’s comment “smacks of blatant racism, the most odious and insidious racism masquerading poorly as immigration policy.”
The program that was being discussed at the White House is called Temporary Protected Status.
The bipartisan Senate plan would attempt to maintain TPS in return for ending or changing a “diversity” lottery program that has been aimed at allowing up to 50,000 people a year from countries with few emigres to the United States.
Additional reporting from Reuters.