A major uproar has erupted over President Trump’s remarks about immigrants from “shithole countries” on Thursday.
A meeting Thursday afternoon between President Trump and a group of lawmakers in the Oval Office went south in a hurry, after remarks made by the president stunned the whole group and threatened to throw a roadblock in the bipartisan unity they had all shown just days earlier.
In a bipartisan meeting on Tuesday, President Trump told the group of Republican and Democrat leaders to get together, come up with an immigration reform bill they could all agree on, and he would sign it.
Trump said he would give Democrats a DACA deal, in exchange for funding for a border wall. He also insisted that the visa lottery and chain migration must end.
Thursday, a group of six senators, including Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said they had agreed upon a proposal for DACA and a border security package, and took the proposal to Trump.
Their deal reportedly included changes to the visa lottery program, along with a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers and other qualifying undocumented immigrants, which would allow the DACA recipients to sponsor relatives.
The deal was rejected by Trump.
Thursday night, the Washington Post reported just what happened in that meeting.
President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.
Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt they help the United States economically.
In addition, the president singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal, these people said.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. “Take them out.”
Lawmakers were taken aback by the comments, according to people familiar with their reactions. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) had proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and then prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.
The “Gang of Six” who reportedly came up with the plan included Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
The Washington Post reported that the group presenting the proposal to Trump had originally thought they would be meeting with him alone. However, Stephen Miller, the president’s top immigration official, was concerned that a deal would be proposed that was too liberal and made sure conservative lawmakers were present as well.
The Associated Press reported that the conservative lawmakers present were House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.