US President Donald Trump referred to El Salvador and Haiti as “shithole countries” during a heated meeting at the White House on Thursday, according to reports from The Washington Post.
Trump reportedly became frustrated during the Oval Office meeting, asking: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He then suggested America take immigrants from Norway instead, whose prime minister Trump had met with the previous day.
The US is working on changes to its immigration system, with both Republican and Democrat senators suggesting cutting the visa lottery program by 50 per cent and prioritising countries already in the system.
The White House did not deny the Trumps comments in the meeting, instead referring to the presidents nationalistic views. “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” White House spokesperson Raj Shah said in a statement.
The meeting came amidst contentious debate over immigration with calls for protections to be restored for counties removed from the Temporary Protected Status program. Senators are also hunting for a solution for young immigrants who were benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before Trump cancelled the Obama-era initiative last year.
“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,” Shah said.
“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.”
Trump tweeted on Thursday that illegal immigration in the US was at a 45-year low and said he was working to keep “foreign bad guys on foreign land”.
“I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!” he wrote.
With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2018
The White House echoed Trump’s tweets, saying the reducing illegal immigrants was a priority.
“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,” Shah said of Trump.