Earlier last week, president Trump referred to Haiti and other African countries as “s***hole countries” during a meeting with congressional leaders in the Oval Office. The comment came during a discussion on protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal.
During the meeting, Trump went on to suggest that the United States, should instead bring more people from countries like Norway and Asian countries because he felt those countries could contribute economically to the United States. The president proceeded to single out Haiti telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. “Take them out.”
Immediately after the meeting, lawmakers and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) released statements as a response to Trumps vulgar comments.
“Why is this immature hate monger still president? The only thing that he has successfully delivered to the American people is one racist comment after another,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson.
“In a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, he stated that all Haitian immigrants have AIDS and Nigerian immigrants will never go back to their huts in Africa. “At a rally in Redding, he singled out an African American in the audience by saying, ‘Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him… Are you the greatest?’”
Gipson goes on to say that Trump’s latest comments are nothing new.
“This is a global attack against poor people of color. Trump continues to sink lower and lower into the ugly cesspool of bigotry that spews from every pore in his White supremacist body. Let’s face it, the racism, gender attacks and the hate is not going to stop. What are we going to do about it?,” he continued.
“As we begin our nation’s annual celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are reminded of his words, ‘Your life begins to end the moment you start being silent about the things that matter… there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
On Wednesday, January 11, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cedric L. Richmond released the following statement in response to Trump’s racist comment about s-hole countries.
“President Trump’s comments are yet another confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views. It also reinforces the concerns that we hear every day, that the President’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ is really code for ‘Make America White Again,’ ” he said.
“All of the reservations, we have had about negotiating with him on immigration are well-founded. President Trump is clearly more concerned with ending the future flow of immigrants from Africa and the African diaspora than providing relief to Dreamers who came here through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that we can negotiate in good faith with a person who holds such vile and reprehensible beliefs.”
CBC second vice-chair and Congressmember Karen Bass also released a statement.
“You would never call a predominantly White country a ‘s***hole’ because you are unable to see people of color, American or otherwise,” said Bass in a Twitter post.
“Your language plunges our country back into the deep depths of history when espousing racism behind the closed oval office doors was not only permitted, but expected and encouraged. You diminish the presidency and embarrass us to the world. Your idol Andrew Jackson would be proud,” concluded the tweet.
Additionally, the California Legislative Black Caucus responded to Trump’s s-hole comment.
“Almost every day, people of color are being attacked by this President, whether it be from his words or his policy agenda. This time, the pain is even deeper as people from around this great nation and the world reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years after his death, and on the 10th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti,” read the statement.
“How much longer will Trump’s supporters condone his behavior? Where is the clear and strong condemnation from members of his own party or from religious leaders who supported his presidency? We need to hear from them, not because we ask them to join our opposition to Trump, but to join us in our support of our American values of respect, dignity, and honor for all Americans regardless of their country of origin.”
On Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen faced “intense questioning” regarding her memory of the Oval Office immigration reform meeting. Nielsen who appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that she did not hear the word “s-hole” or one similar when asked about her recollection of the meeting. However, Nielsen did admit that she heard “rough talk” and “tough language.”
“Apologies. I don’t remember [a] specific word,” Nielsen said during the hearing. “What I was struck with, frankly, I’m sure you were as well, the general profanity used in the room by almost everyone.”
According to Nielsen, Trump was frustrated during the meeting after he requested that Congress immediately pay $20 billion to complete construction of a new southern border wall in one year, which is different from his request of $18 billion to build a new border wall over the next decade.
Instead, lawmakers were proposing to pay only part of the money for border wall construction.
After Nielsen’s comment of failing to remember what took place in the Oval Office meeting, CBC member and Senator Cory Booker responded calling the secretary of homeland security comment “unacceptable.”
“I hurt, when Dick Durbin called me, I had tears of rage when I heard about this experience in that meeting and for you [Nielsen] not to feel that hurt and that pain and to dismiss some of the questions of my colleagues saying, ‘I’ve already answered that line of questions when tens of millions of Americans are hurting right now because of what they’re worried about right now in the White House. That’s unacceptable to me. There are threats in this country, people plotting. I receive enough death threats to know the reality.
“Your [Nielsen’s] silence and your [her] amnesia is complicity,” he concluded.
Trump campaigned and began his presidency around his stance on immigration. He pledged to build a wall along the Mexican border and cut legal immigration in half. However, Trump insists that he is not a racist.
“I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed,” he told reporters. “That I can tell you.”