President Donald Trump has questioned why the U.S. would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as “shithole countries,” according to two sources familiar with the comments.
Trump’s remarks, made in the White House, came as Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham briefed the president on a newly-drafted immigration bill being touted by a bipartisan group of senators, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified.
Sources said government officials were present during the conversation.
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.
Many Democrats and some Republican lawmakers slammed the president for his remarks.
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”.
Love called on Trump to apologise to the American people and to the countries he denigrated.