Growing frustrated while discussing immigration with lawmakers in the Oval Office, President Trump suddenly asked why people from “shithole countries come here” — referring to people from Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations — a source close to negotiations told BuzzFeed News.
The group on Thursday was discussing the possibility of restoring protections for immigrants who have come from those countries, according to the Washington Post, which reported the comment first.
The president also suggested the United States should bring more people from countries like Norway.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked the group of lawmakers.
The Trump administration has been discussing the possibility of a deal on the immigration status of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, as well as increased security at the border.
Trump has said a deal that does not include funding for a wall along the southern border would be rejected.
Trump reportedly made the comments while lawmakers were discussing restoring temporary protection status for immigrants, such as those from El Salvador, who had their status removed this week.
The White House, in a statement, did not deny Trump made the comment.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. 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. 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 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,” a White House spokesman said.
It is not the first time President Trump has reportedly made disparaging and offensive remarks about immigrants or their countries of origin.
In December, the New York Times reported that Trump lashed out in a meeting sometime in June after reading a document with data on immigrants coming into the country.
After reading out loud that more than 15,000 people had arrived from Haiti, Trump reportedly said they “all have AIDS.”