WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday used a vulgarity to describe Haiti and African nations while meeting in the Oval Office with lawmakers about an immigration deal that would among other things cut back the visa lottery that has led to immigration from those countries, several news reports said.
The Washington Post, which broke the story and cited two people briefed on the meeting, reported that Trump said during that conversation: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday, the Post reported.
The White House did not deny the account.
One person briefed on the meeting confirmed that account to Newsday.
Trump made the remark after Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) told Trump that under the proposal, a lottery for visas would be ended, and that in exchange people from African countries who had benefited from that lottery would be given other access to visas, the AP reported, citing two unnamed sources.
The lawmakers in the room were taken aback by Trump’s remark, the Post and AP reported. Among them was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the co-sponsor of a bill with Durbin to allow immigrants brought to the United States as children to stay and work, with a path to citizenship. Durbin and Graham are part of a bipartisan six-member group that is working on an immigration compromise deal.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah in a statement.
“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,” he said.
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 added.