During immigration talks in the Oval Office, President Trump reportedly grew frustrated, using a crude description of Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, according to a report from the Washington Post.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump reportedly told lawmakers on Thursday.
The president then suggested that the U.S. try to increase immigration from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met with this week.
The Post‘s report was based on two sources who were briefed on the meeting. The meeting was attended by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark.,, as well as Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.
Per the Post, lawmakers were surprised by the president’s comments.
This week the Trump administration announced that it was ending temporary legal protective status for 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador who have lived in the United States for nearly two decades. Last year, he removed protections from immigrants from Haiti. The temporary status was granted to immigrants from those two countries plus Nicaragua because of natural disasters that made their homes uninhabitable.
In response to the reported “shithole countries” comments, the White House did not deny that the president used the phrase.
“The president will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration — two programs that hurt our country and allow terrorists into our country,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement. “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.”
The reported comments come as Trump and lawmakers are in negotiations over immigration reform. Trump has signaled he would sign a bill to protect 800,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, known as “DREAMers, but only if it included funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that there is no deal yet, but “we still think we can get there.”