WASHINGTON — Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called for “a more detailed explanation regarding the president’s comments” after a report that President Trump derided immigrants from “shithole” countries in a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers, while a Haitian Republican congresswoman demanded an apology from the commander in chief.
“Part of what makes America so special is that we welcome the best and brightest in the world, regardless of their country of origin,” Hatch tweeted.
The Washington Post reported that Trump made the comment today during an Oval Office meeting with immigration negotiators including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, suggesting that more immigrants be brought into the country from places like Norway or Asia.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump reportedly said. “Take them out.”
Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), who is the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said in a statement that Trump’s comments “are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”
“This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation. My parents came from one of those countries but proudly took an oath of allegiance to the United States and took on the responsibilities of everything that come with being a citizen. They never took a thing from our federal government,” Love said. “They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream.”
“The president must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned,” she added.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement in response to the Washington Post report that “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.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) defended immigrants from Temporary Protected Status countries on Twitter: “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,” he added. “Moreover delivering a permanent solution for #TPS beneficiaries should be a major component of any #immigration deal.”
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) called it “completely inappropriate for the president to refer to other countries in the manner in which he reportedly did, especially given the circumstances and disasters that led many TPS immigrants to seek refuge and shelter in the U.S.”
“I hope the White House apologizes for these degrading comments and focuses on working towards a solution for those from TPS countries rather than making denigrating statements,” he tweeted.
On the other side of the aisle, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called Trump’s reported comments “racist and a disgrace.”
“They do not reflect our nation’s values. Immigrants from throughout the world of all races, nationalities, and religions have built this country and are contributing today to its improvement,” Hoyer said. “These comments clearly reflect the president’s true feelings on immigrants and make it extremely doubtful that he will work in an honest, decent way that reflects America’s best values on legislation to protect DREAMers.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) tweeted that Trump’s “‘shithole’ comments are further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda.”
Durbin said today that he and Graham, along with Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), had reached a DREAM Act deal to save Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries from deportation.
“We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the DREAM Act — the areas outlined by the president,” the senators said in a statement. “We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress.”
The Post reported that the Graham-Durbin meeting with Trump on immigration deal details “did not go well.”