President Donald Trump, frustrated with America's continued responsibility for immigrants fleeing Third World natural disasters, asked members of Congress Thursday in vulgar terms why the United States had to shoulder such a burden.
'Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?' Trump said, according to two people who were briefed on the meeting and then leaked the comment to The Washington Post.
Trump was reportedly speaking about Haitians and citizens of various African nations.
'Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out,' he told people in the meeting, according to CNN.
The comments has caused outrage around the world, with the United Nations calling President Trump 'racist'.
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President Donald Trump reportedly told lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office that he was mystified about why the U.S. imports people from 's***hole countries' in the Third World
'S***HOLE COUNTRY': shows people walking past a street damaged by Hurricane Matthew, in Jeremie, in western Haiti. The country's perilous state had meant its citizens have temporary protected status in the U.S. - apparently one of the causes of Trump's extraordinary outburst - which is now being rescinded
NATO PARADISE: Trump told senators that instead of importing immigrants from the Third World, America should seek out people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister Erna Solberg he met Wednesday at the White House
ON THE RECEIVING END: Dick Durbin (right) was part of a bipartisan group of six senators who went to the Oval Office to seek Trump's approval for a deal which would have exchanged ending the visa lottery for resuming 'temporary protected status' for some arrivals from some countries
U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said 'racist' was the only world that could be used to describe Trump's comments
He added: 'You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 's***holes', whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.'
Trump also said that instead of accepting Africans and Haitians, the U.S. should seek to assimilate people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met with a day earlier.
Unlike Haiti and all the nations of Africa, Norway is both a NATO member and a stalwart U.S. ally.
CNN reported that the outburst came at the private Oval Office meeting as Democratic senator Dick Durbin outlined a bipartisan immigration deal put together by six senators which they took to Trump for backing.
Dick Durbin, the Democratic senator who is minority whip, was outlining his proposal in which the visa lottery system, of which Trump has been a fierce critic, would be ended in return for 'temporary protected status', known as TPS, resuming for El Salvador and Haiti.
Trump has moved to end it for immigrants from those countries but as Durbin went through a list of countries which would gain TPS under the deal, he reached Haiti and 'Trump asked why the US wants more people from Haiti and African countries', CNN reported.
Haiti's government came out late Thursday and said they 'vehemently condemn' Trump's comments in relation to their country.
The country's ambassador to the US told NBC that Trump's remarks were 'based on stereotypes' and the president was either 'misinformed' or 'miseducated.'
The White House issued a needle-threading statement on immigration policy Thursday afternoon, while not denying 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 the statement. 'The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country.'
Wreckage from natural disasters is endemic in nations like Haiti (pictured) and El Salvador, while African refugees from nations like Rwanda and Sudan flee oppressive governments and long-lasting civil wars between warring tribes and sects
TROUBLED: Members of the MS-13 gang, notorious for its brutality, detained in San Salvador, one of the many troubles the country is suffering from
'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,' Shah 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.'
Policy squabbles notwithstanding, Trump's comments shocked senators from both major parties, according to the Post.
Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois was in the Oval Office to argue that the Trump administration should scale back a proposal to eliminate a diversity visa lottery, which seeks to import people from places that would otherwise be 'underrepresented' among immigrants in the U.S.
Trump's comment about 's***hole countries' comes at a time when his White House is ending protections for people who sought shelter following natural disasters years, or sometimes decades, ago.
There are approximately 436,900 people with such 'Temporary Protected Status' living in the U.S. from 10 countries – South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria, Haiti, Nepal and Yemen.
Haitians and Nicaraguans have already been told their protection is ending.
The Trump administration said this week that it was also removing the protection for Salvadoran nationals who have been allowed to reside in the U.S. since a pair of earthquakes struck their country in 2001.
The Haitians were fleeing an equally devastating 2010 earthquake.
The astonishing comments came on an afternoon of chaos as Huckabee Sanders dismissed senators' claims they had a bipartisan deal on 'Dreamers.'
Six senators boasted they had a deal in place that would solve the issue of what to do with hundreds of thousands of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children and whose legal status granted under the Obama administration is about to expire.
When Huckabee Sanders was asked about the deal at the White House press briefing she told reporters, 'There has not been a deal reached yet.'
But minutes after the briefing, Sens. Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois, and Cory Gardner, Republican from Colorado, tweeted a statement saying there was indeed a deal.
'Several of my colleagues and I have reached an agreement that reflects the discussion we had this week with @realDonaldTrump on a solution for Dreamers and border security,' Gardner wrote, sharing a statement that was co-signed by five of his colleagues.
The group of senators working together included Gardner and Durbin, along with Republicans Sens. Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, as well as Democrats Michael Bennet and Bob Menendez.
'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. We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress,' the statement said.
However, a spokeswoman for President Trump told DailyMail.com that what Huckabee Sanders said from the podium stands
At the briefing, Huckabee Sanders warned that the Democrats best not play politics over immigration and risk a government shutdown.
'Democrats should stop making our brave troops and essential government functions political pawns in their swamp games,' she said. 'They should stop their obstruction and work with Republicans to fund the government.'
She also told reporters that she believed a deal would get done.
'We are confident and we feel we're going to get there,' the press secretary said as she exited the podium for the day.
The White House meeting was also attended by Republicans including Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, along with Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Kevin McCarthy, according to Sen. John Cornyn.
Cornyn indicated to CNN that the gang of six's proposal wouldn't be enough to get an immigration bill over the finish line.
'I think the message has now been delivered that we need to get everybody at the table and we'll take the best of their ideas,' Cornyn said.
Goodlatte, who serves as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, unveiled an immigration bill Wednesday afternoon that would also deal with DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the name of the policy that gave Dreamers legal status.
Huckabee Sanders was asked by a reporter about that plan too, questioning whether it would act as a 'poison pill' for being too conservative.
She said no.
'I think that's why it's called a negotiation,' the press secretary replied.
'Everybody puts everything on the table they want. You figure out what you're not willing to give up, which we've laid out. And you try to come out with everybody winning and that's what we're hoping to do,' she said.IMMIGRATION FROM HAITI, AND EL SALVADOR, WHICH TRUMP CALLED 'S***HOLES'
Until November, Haitians had 'temporary protected status', or TPS, which means hey are not subject to removal even if they have no other legal status.
It was introduced after the devastating 2010 earthquake, which shattered the country and killed 230,000 people.
But that status is ending, with the change to take effect on July 22 2019, which will force all Haitians who have the status to either find a legal way to stay or face deportation.
The total number of people affected is estimated at 46,000 but that may be a significant under-estimate.
Already large numbers of Haitians have fled to Canada, generating a mini-crisis there last year as it dealt with arrivals at its border crossings.
Haiti, however, is itself in bad shape. It is by far the poorest country in the Americas, and rated 209th poorest country in the world, out of 230 in total, putting it below Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
Unemployment is 40 per cent, and less than a third of the workforce have formal jobs, while the economy is still recovering from the latest massive natural disaster, Hurricane Mathtew, which hit in 2016.
Other statistics are also appalling: illiteracy is as high as 40 per cent, average per capita income has been estimated at $400 per person, and even though the country's debt was canceled in 2010, it has already reached more than $2 billion, mostly owed to Venezuela.
A mass arrival of tens of thousands from the U.S. would be doubly bad news, economists say, as there are no jobs for them and the cash from remittances which they sent has become a key part of the economy.
El Salvadorans have had TPS since 2001, when an earthquake similar to Haiti's hit an already troubled country.
It had never truly recovered from the 12-year-long civil war which started in 1980 and killed an estimated 75,000, and January 2001's earthquake and the mudslides it triggered caused more havoc.
The death toll was less than 1,000, but up to a quarter of a million homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged and the country lost half its economic output.
In total, an estimated 250,000 El Salvadorans are in the U.S. on TPS, compared to a population of 6.1 million - making their remittances once of the key sources of foreign cash. In total remittances from all emigrants account for a fifth of its gross domestic product.
Compared to Haiti, El Salvador is far wealthier, ranking 143rd in the world on wealth, and literacy rates are far higher, but it is scarred by gang crime which makes it one of the world's most dangerous places.
There were 81.2 murders for every 100,000 people in 2016, the highest casualty rate outside a war zone anywhere in the world. In 2016, there were 5,200 murders.
In comparison, the U.S. had 17,25 murders in 2016, a rate of 5.3 per 100,000. The rate in Norway - where Trump welcome arrivals from - was 0.6 per 100,000 in 2015.
The most notorious in the U.S. is MS-13, which ironically originated in Los Angeles, as did its rival M-18.
Their bitter rivalry fueled the murder rate and also overshadows the criminal justice system, with police constantly in the crossfire.