Update: Breaking: Trump denies ‘S..thole Countries’ remarks as condemnation mounts at home and abroad–Reports New York[RR]Washington-DC–WASHINGTON (Reuters)–According to Reuters United States President Donald J. Trump is facing a ‘strong condemnation at home and abroad, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday denied using the word “s..thole” to describe Haiti and African countries, but kept up criticism […]
New York[RR]Washington-DC–WASHINGTON (Reuters)–According to Reuters United States President Donald J. Trump is facing a ‘strong condemnation at home and abroad, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday denied using the word “s..thole” to describe Haiti and African countries, but kept up criticism of a Senate immigration plan that he said would force the United States to admit people from countries that “are doing badly.”
“Trump reportedly made the remarks at a White House meeting on immigration on Thursday. U.S. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the gathering, told reporters on Friday that Trump used “vile, vulgar” language, including repeatedly using the word “shithole” when speaking about African countries.
“The Republican president’s comments were decried as racist by African and Haitian politicians, by the United Nations human rights office and by U.S. lawmakers from both major parties.
Trump, who has been accused of racism over several issues since he took office a year ago, sought to sought to walk back the comments on Friday, saying on Twitter, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.”
Trump also denied saying “anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.”
According to two sources, at Thursday’s meeting Trump questioned why the United States would want to accept immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as “shithole countries.”
A group of Republican and Democratic senators has been working for months to craft legislation that would protect 700,000 children who were brought to the United States as illegal immigrants and later given protection from deportation under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump also suggested that momentum toward a deal on maintaining such protection had stalled. “The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards,” he said.
The tentative deal also addresses border security, including a border wall, the diversity visa lottery and so-called chain migration, a program by which U.S. green-card holders can sponsor other family members for permanent residence in the country.
Among other objections, Trump said the plan did not provide proper funding for the proposed wall that he made a center-piece of his election campaign. He added the country “would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly.”
At an event on Friday, Trump was honoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr, the civil rights era activist who was slain in 1968. King’s memory is marked with a national holiday, which falls this year on Monday.
‘SHOCKING AND SHAMEFUL’
Haiti said it was shocked by Trump’s reported remarks on Thursday and summoned the top U.S. diplomat in the country for an explanation.
Botswana also said it had summoned the U.S. ambassador to that country, Earl Miller, to “express its displeasure” and had asked Miller whether Botswana “is regarded as a ‘shithole’ country.”
Trump’s comments are extremely offensive to South Africa, said Jessie Duarte, a senior official with the ruling African National Congress. “Ours is not a shithole country. Neither is Haiti or any other country in distress,” she said.
In Geneva, U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said “These are shocking and shameful comments from the president of the United States. There is no other word one can use but ‘racist.’”
The reported language was the latest in a long string of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments by Trump that have been condemned as racist. He also blamed “both sides” after a white supremacist rally in August in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent and a woman protesting against the rally was killed.
JOHANNESBURG/LUSAKA (Reuters) – African politicians and diplomats labeled U.S. President Donald Trump a racist on Friday after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole” countries.
Sources told Reuters on Thursday that Trump had questioned why the United States would want immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti and some African countries during a briefing on draft immigration legislation.
Trump denied on Friday using such derogatory language, but he had already been widely condemned in many African countries and by international rights organizations.
“Ours is not a shithole country and neither is Haiti or any other country in distress,” Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress told reporters at a news conference in East London.
“We would not deign to make comments as derogatory as that about any country that has any kind of socio-economic or other difficulties,” Duarte said, adding that much like their African counterparts, millions of U.S. citizens were affected by problems such as unemployment.
Botswana’s foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador in protest and called the comments “highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.”
It said in a statement that it had asked the U.S. government, through its ambassador, to “clarify” if the derogatory remark also applied to Botswana given that there were Botswana nationals living in the United States and others who wished to go there.
The African Union (AU), an organization which promotes cooperation on the continent, said it was alarmed by Trump’s “very racist” comments.
“Given the historical reality of how African Americans arrived in the United States as slaves, and the United States being the biggest example of how a nation has been built by migration – for a statement like that to come is particularly upsetting,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.
Trump reportedly also suggested that America should instead welcome people from countries such as Norway, an invitation a number of Norwegians rejected on Friday.
The Nordic country, one of the richest in the world by GDP per capita, was last year named the happiest nation on the planet by a U.N. body, and is known for a cradle-to-grave welfare state.
“On behalf of Norway: Thanks, but no thanks,” tweeted Torbjoern Saetre, a politician representing Norway’s Conservative Party in a municipality near Oslo.
Others condemned the U.S. president’s comments as inappropriate or racist.
“We are not coming. Cheers from Norway,” one woman wrote.
Since taking office a year ago, Trump has pursued controversial policies aimed at curbing immigration into the United States as part of a hard-line “America First” agenda.
Trump said on Twitter on Friday that he merely used “tough” language when discussing a new immigration bill with a group of U.S. senators.
He said the bill was a step backwards because it would force the United States “to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly”.
The Trump administration has spoken little about how it wants to engage with African countries, focusing its foreign policy instead on issues like North Korea and Islamic State.
In November it ended Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from Haiti and Nicaragua, giving 59,000 Haitian immigrants until July 2019 to return home or legalize their presence in the United States.
On the streets of Lusaka, capital of the southern African country of Zambia, Trump’s reported remark reinforced long-held views about the U.S. leader.
“Trump has always been a racist, only a racist can use such foul language,” said Nancy Mulenga, a student at the University of Zambia.
Retired Ethiopian long distance runner Haile Gebrselasse, who won his first 10,000 Olympic gold medal in the U.S. city of Atlanta in 1996, told Reuters Trump’s comments did not reflect the views of all Americans.
Others used humor to ridicule the offensive comments.
“As someone from South Shithole, Trevor is deeply offended by the president’s remarks,” U.S. television program The Daily Show wrote on Twitter, referring to its South Africa-born host Trevor Noah.
Reporting by Ed Stoddard in East London, Chris Mfula in Lusaka and Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa; Writing by Alexander Winning in Johannesburg; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Peter Graff