WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump wants to know why the U.S. allows people from Haiti and other "s—hole countries" to come here, according to several accounts of what Trump told lawmakers.
"Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said, according to the Washington Post, which cited several people briefed on the meeting.
The remarks, apparently aimed at African countries, El Salvador and Haiti, quickly got special attention in Florida, which is home to a large Haitian population and other displaced people, including Salvadorans.
The Post reported that Trump singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal. "Why do we need more Haitians?" Trump said, the Post reported. "Take them out."
Here are some of the reactions from various Florida officials:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott: "If this report is true, it is absolutely wrong to say or think this. I do not think this way, nor do I agree with this kind of sentiment. I represent Florida, and we are an amazing melting pot where over 250 languages are spoken. I work every day to make this the most welcoming state for everyone – Haitians, Cubans, Venezuelans, and others from all around the world that call Florida home. I'm incredibly proud of our diversity."
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida: "The president should represent all of the people, not just some selected favorites, and should treat others with respect and dignity. These are American values and this White House has strayed from them."
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: "The president calling #Haiti a "shithole country" ignores the contributions thousands of Haitians have made to our #SoFla community and nation. Language like that shouldn't be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn't be heard in the White House."
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida: "I should be disappointed by reports that President Trump thinks that Haiti, El Salvador and African nations are 'shithole countries' and that he has a decided preference for immigrants from countries like Norway, but I'm not. Nor am I surprised. It is a travesty that our nation is being led by someone who demeans the presidency at every opportunity by word, tweet and deed. The United States would not be the great nation that it is without the contributions of immigrants from all over the world, including American-born citizens of African, Caribbean and Latino descent, a fact that Mr. Trump willfully ignores. His comments are yet another sign that people of color cannot count on this administration to create an agenda that treats all Americans fairly, regardless of their race, creed or color. To them I say, don't get mad. Vote."
Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Kendall: The men and women who have status under the TPS program are among the most humble and hard working in our country. They improve quality of life in our communities and many Americans depend on them to support family life. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to degrade, denigrate, or dehumanize #TPS immigrants. The White House must immediately explain the situation and leave no doubt regarding what was said and in what context. Moreover delivering a permanent solution for #TPS beneficiaries should be a major component of any #immigration deal."
The Trump administration has been rolling back TPS, or temporary protected status, for certain immigrant groups, sparking bipartisan backlash in Florida.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.: "President Donald John Trump's comments about Haiti and African countries were offensive and below the dignity of the office of the president. The president has demonstrated time and time again that he lacks morality or compassion. His ignorant, misguided view of the world was on full display tonight. The president is constantly degrading the presidency, thereby degrading America's image. We all know extraordinary people from Haiti, Africa, and Latin American countries. Fortunately, Donald John Trump doesn't represent the views of all Americans. In the run up to the celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, I commend one of his comments: 'Every person must decide whether he or she will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.' Trump's comments are the manifestation of destruction. He must apologize!"
State Sen. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami: "The president's ongoing war against immigrants appears to be solely directed toward those immigrants of color. I am appalled and disgusted that the man who stands as the symbol of a nation once offering refuge and sanctuary to all immigrants is doing his best to say: 'non-whites need not apply.' Governor Scott needs to denounce these remarks immediately on behalf of the people of Florida. Immigrants are the backbone of this nation, and this state. Over the centuries, they have fled famine, political unrest, and tyrants, risking their lives to begin anew in this country. Governor Scott owes every immigrant, and every refugee in this state an obligation to condemn President Trump's loathsome remarks."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: "For every one step forward @POTUS takes when it comes to judgement and good, coherent policy decisions, he Inexplicably and without fail takes ten steps back. I hope today's comments were just a crass and flippant mistake, and do not reflect the hateful racism they imply. 1/2 We need comprehensive immigration reform that reflects our values as a country and recognizes our economic needs. This requires a merit-based system that attracts talented, freedom-loving individuals from across the globe, whether they are from Haiti, Norway or anywhere else 2/2"
As of 9 p.m. Thursday there had been no response from Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to Trump's remarks.
From the AP:
President Donald Trump used profane language to disparage African nations in a meeting with lawmakers about a proposed bipartisan deal on immigration.
That's according to two people briefed on an Oval Office meeting held Thursday.
Trump made the remark after Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin told Trump that under the proposal, a lottery for visas would be ended. Durbin said that in exchange, people from African countries that have benefited from that lottery would be given other access to visas.
The people say Trump questioned why the U.S. would want to admit more people from "s—hole countries." They say Trump said the U.S. should allow more immigrants from places like Norway.
The two people spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the Oval Office meeting.