Donald Trump has denied describing African nations and Haiti as “shithole countries” during a meeting to discuss protections for immigrants.
The President was reportedly being informed of the impact of immigrants from Haiti and African nations when he reportedly asked: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?
“We should have more people from places like Norway.”
Yet Trump hit back at the reports on Friday, tweeting: “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!”
A White House spokesperson had earlier defended the comment, saying: “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people.”
The President “will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway,” they added.
His reported choice of words were condemned by a number of politicians and commentators.
Haiti’s Ambassador to the US, Paul Altidor, has also formally summoned an American official to explain the president’s comments and said the government “vehemently” condemned them, NBC News contributor Yamiche Alcindor reported.
“Either the president has been misinformed or he is miseducated,” Altidor was quoted as saying.
Elisa Massimino, president and CEO of Human Rights First, called the president’s reported remark “disgusting and disgraceful.”
“That the President of the United States would talk this way about people who are fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries is shameful,” she said in a statement.
“Congress must not give in to this hateful, racist, and divisive narrative coming out of the White House. America is counting on you to defend human dignity by standing firm for our commitment to protect the persecuted.”
Trump previously said in private meetings that Haitians “all have AIDS” and that people from Africa would never “go back to their huts” once they had seen the US, The New York Times reported in December. The White House has denied that he made either of those comments.
Jack Davidson, executive director of the American Haitian Foundation, said Trump’s latest comment was “ignorant [and] racist with a complete disregard for the human dignity of the Haitian people.”
“[Haiti] has been struggling with its democracy and extreme poverty for many years,” Davidson told HuffPost.
“The people of the country of Haiti are hardworking but many have given up hope. I am embarrassed that he is the president of the United States.”
People from Norway are most likely on Trump’s mind as the country’s Prime Minister is the last official foreign visitor he has received.
The programme is called Temporary Protection Status (TPS). Trump has moved to end the status for immigrants from El Salvador, which could result in 200,000 Salvadorans legally in the United States being deported, and other countries, reports Reuters.
The bipartisan Senate plan would attempt to maintain TPS in return for ending or changing a “diversity” lottery program that has been aimed at allowing up to 50,000 people a year from countries with few emigres to the United States.
UPDATE: This article was updated at 12.50pm on Friday 12 January to add a denial on Twitter from Donald Trump. The headline was also changed to reflect the new tweet.