Richard Cowan et al., Reuters, January 12, 2018
President Donald Trump on Thursday questioned why the United States would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as “shithole countries,” according to two sources familiar with the comments.
The 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.”
The second source familiar with the conversation, said Trump, who has vowed to clamp down on illegal immigration, also questioned the need for Haitians in the United States.
Republican U.S. 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 apologize to the American people and to the countries he denigrated.
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!”
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.
This week, Trump moved to end the status for immigrants from El Salvador, which could result in 200,000 Salvadorans legally in the United States being deported, beginning in September of next year.