Trump asked lawmakers during an Oval Office meeting on immigration reform, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” a source briefed on the meeting told CNN.
The Washington Post first reported the comment Thursday afternoon, citing two people briefed on the closed-door meeting.
“The (President’s) comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values,” Rep. Mia Love, whose parents came to the US from Haiti, said in a statement. “This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation.”
Love, a Utah Republican, demanded an apology from the President.
“My parents came from one of those countries but proudly took an oath of allegiance to the United States and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with,” Love’s statement continued. “They never took a thing from our federal government. They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream. The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, called the reported comments “disappointing.”
“If these comments are accurate, they are disappointing.” Lankford said. “I would not talk about nations like this, because I believe the people of those countries are made in the image of God and have worth and human dignity.”
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted following the news of the remark, “America was built on the backs of immigrants from around the globe. We must honor that history, not reject it. It starts with respectful rhetoric and signing bipartisan DACA legislation.”
Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, tweeted: “America’s president is a racist and this is the proof. His hateful rhetoric has no place in the @WhiteHouse. Every single Republican must denounce these comments now.”
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, of Utah, said in response to the vulgar remark, “I look forward to getting a more detailed explanation regarding the President’s comments. Part of what makes America so special is that we welcome the best and brightest in the world, regardless of their country of origin.”
Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, of California, also reacted on Twitter.
“@realDonaldTrump — You would never call a predominantly white country a ‘shithole’ because you are unable to see people of color, American or otherwise, as equals,” she wrote.
California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris said immigrants “should be welcomed and celebrated.”
“Immigrants from countries across the globe — including and especially those from Haiti and all parts of Africa — have helped build this country,” Harris tweeted. “They should be welcomed and celebrated, not demeaned and insulted.”
When asked about the story in The Washington Post, White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny the President’s reported comment.
A person briefed on the meeting told CNN that the comment came when Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, was listing countries that would be covered by Temporary Protected Status.
“Once again, @POTUS has made a fool of himself & our nation on a worldwide stage,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-New Jersey, tweeted. “He’s showing his bigoted tendencies in ways that would make Archie Bunker blush. White House statement makes it even more obvious that this President needs some help — what a national disgrace!”
By Sophie Tatum and Ashley Killough, CNN