President Donald Trump sparked a race storm today after describing Haiti and African countries as “s***holes.”
The ugly outburst led to an outcry with the president blasted as “ignorant” and “racist.”
Mr Trump made the controversial remark during a meeting with lawmakers over suggestions that the US restore temporary protected status for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.
“Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?” the president reportedly responded, according to the Washington Post.
“Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out,” CNN reported that Mr Trump told people in the meeting.
He claimed that instead, the US should be seeking to assimilate people from nations like Norway.
Haiti said today that it “vehemently condemns” Mr Trump’s comments.
“Either the president has been misinformed or he is miseducated,” added Haiti’s US Ambassador Paul Altidor.
Congressman Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Mr Trump’s comments “are further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda.”
Congresswoman Mia Love, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, insisted Mr Trump should apologise “to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”
She said his “unkind, divisive, elitist” comments “fly in the face of our nation’s values”.
“The president’s comments are ignorant, racist with a complete disregard for the human dignity of the Haitian people,” said Jack Davidson, executive director of the American Haitian Foundation.
“I am embarrassed that he is president of the United States.”
CNN presenter Anderson Cooper blasted the president as “racist,” adding: “The President of the United States is tired of so many black people coming to into this country. Tired of immigrants from Haiti and Africa being allowed in.
“Let’s not kid ourselves,’ he added. ‘Let’s not pretend or dance around it. The sentiment the President expressed today is a racist sentiment.”
The remarks were reportedly made at a private Oval Office meeting in which Mr Trump was discussing a bipartisan immigration deal put forward by six US senators.
They were proposing that the visa lottery system – of which the president is a fierce critic – should end in Haiti and El Salvador in return for citizens of those countries getting temporary protected status.
Temporary protected status for Haitians was removed by Mr Trump last November, meaning many now face deportation from the US.
The White House has not denied the story’s accuracy.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement.
“The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programmes that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country.
“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,” he added.
“He 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.