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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Trump sparks outrage with racist slur ‘shithole countries’ for Haiti, Africa

The US President’s remarks, made in the White House, came as Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham briefed the president on a newly drafted immigration bill.

world Updated: Jan 12, 2018 11:41 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
US President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington.(Reuters Photo)

US President Donald Trump on Thursday, during a meeting with lawmakers, questioned why the United States would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as “shithole countries.”

“Why do we have all these people from shithole countries coming here?” Trump said, according to a report in Washington Post.

The President went on to suggest that the United States should welcome more people from countries like Norway.

Trump addressed a joint news conference with Norway prime minister on Wednesday.

His remarks came during discussions about a legislation granting citizenship to undocumented people brought to the United States as children — an estimated 700,000 people, of whom 8,000 are from India. The immigrants face deportation after Trump ended an Obama-era regulation protecting them.

Trump has agreed to consider legitimising their stay demanding in return enhanced border security, which includes his promised wall along the border with Mexico, an end to visa lottery and chain migration systems.

Senators Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Richard Durbin, a Democrat, were discussing their proposal on the status of these undocumented children — covered by Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It included a plan to use visas saved from ending the lottery for those already here.

Trump was dismayed when he was informed that such people would include immigrants from Haiti. The President asked why the United States should admit people from Africa, which is a major source of immigrants for the diversity visa lottery.

Many Democrats and some Republican lawmakers slammed the president for his remarks.

“President Trump may speak as the President of the United States, but he doesn’t speak presidentially or for the United States,” Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthy, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter.

Bill Kristol, a conservative NeverTrumper, wrote on Twitter, “Oprah would not, in an Oval Office meeting with senators, use the term ‘shithole counties (countries)’. Oprah also would not to go to Davos.”

Kristol has been urging talk-show host Oprah Winfrey to run for US presidentship, since her speech at the Golden Globes.

The White House rushed to contain the outrage.

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah said even as angry reactions poured in.

“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 added.

In an apparent response to his critics, Trump took to Twitter late on Thursday night.

“The Democrats seem intent on having people and drugs pour into our country from the Southern Border, risking thousands of lives in the process,” he tweeted. “It is my duty to protect the lives and safety of all Americans. We must build a Great Wall, think Merit and end Lottery & Chain. USA!”

The program that was being discussed at the White House is called Temporary Protected Status.

In November, the Trump administration decided to end the status for immigrants from Haiti and Nicaragua. It gave the approximately 59,000 Haitian immigrants who had been granted the status until July 2019 to return home or legalize their presence in the United States. Nicaraguans were given until January 2019.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 07:25 IST