US President Donald Trump lashed out at lawmakers from both sides of the aisle regarding immigration reform in language that has since been described as racist and shocking. During the meeting with Senators and House members, he is reported to have referred to countries like Haiti and African nations as “shithole” countries.
US President Donald Trump is a polarizing figure in world politics. He has found himself being criticized for his actions and his statements in the past. He has been accused of sexism, misogyny, racism and more. Business leaders like Elon Musk have left councils within the administration due to statements made by Trump. The President has also been criticized by Republicans for failing to forcefully condemn racism in the wake the alt-right rally that took place in Charlottesville in August 2017. Trump later doubled down on his own rhetoric and claimed that there were “fine people” on both sides of the conflict. He has also drawn ire for seemingly equating white supremacist groups to the anti-fascist protestors. Most recently, top athletes like LeBron James have condemned him. He also initiated a travel ban that barred visitors from largely Muslim nations from travelling to the US.
Illegal immigration was a signature issue of U.S. President Donald Trump's presidential campaign. It has continued to play a big role in his policies after he took office as well. He has repeatedly blamed immigrants on multiple problems within America. During the campaign he stated that many of the immigrants who come in from Mexico were “rapists” -a comment he was widely criticized for. He also proposed to build a big wall along the US-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration. He said that Mexico would pay for this structure – a claim that has been denied by the Mexican government.
Since assuming office, the US President has repeatedly tried to introduce stricter immigration policies in the country. He has taken a highly protectionist stance and has pushed for an “America First” stance. He has also openly criticized other nations over their soft stance in immigration and has linked it to terror activities.
In January 2018, he made shocking comments regarding African countries during a bipartisan meeting on immigration with US lawmakers. He reportedly asked the lawmakers present: "Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?” He was referring to Haiti and African countries. The comment was first reported by the Washington Post and has since been confirmed by multiple outlets.
The President then went on to suggest that the United States should welcome immigrants from places like Norway. Trump had met with the Prime Minister of Norway earlier this week. The meeting was regarding a bipartisan plan that had been worked on by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. It proposed that the current lottery system (granting Visas) should be cut in half. The plan also stated that the rest should go to underrepresented countries like Haiti and other African nations. According to media reports, the atmosphere at the meeting was tense with many Republican hardliners unwilling to make the compromise. It was during this period when the President made his comment. According to CNN, he also went on to note, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”
At the centre of the controversy is the policy that had been initiated by former President Barack Obama called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. The Trump administration rescinded the policy in 2017. Policymakers were given six months to come up with a solution on whether DACA recipients would be deported. There are around 800,000 of these DACA recipients and the President is working to figuring out on the next step in handling this issue.
The story about the President’s remarks broke just as Trump was taping a message about Martin Luther King – the African American icon who fought for civil rights in the nation. The Washington Post stated that multiple lawmakers in the room were “shocked” having heard the President’s comments. Analysts and the general public have reacted to the President’s remarks deeming it to be racist.
The White House released a statement regarding the story and did not deny that the President made those remarks. However, the statement argued that he was working in the interests of American people. "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people," White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told NBC Thursday. "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."
The New York Times reported in December 2017 that Trump said Haitian immigrants "all have AIDS," during a summer 2017 meeting about immigration. Historically, people from Africa were brought to America as slaves and were used as labor to build the nation.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) accused the president of falling "deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia".
Our assessment is that the US President has been accused of bigotry and racism in the past. The latest outburst could potentially damage Trump’s standing not only with African nations but also across the world. Domestically, his approval ratings have not improved. According to the latest polls, only 36% of Americans approve of the job done by the President. We believe that it’s unbecoming for the stature of a President of one of the world’s largest democracies to make such disparaging remarks. It is definitely a low in international diplomacy and what Trump might have achieved by supposedly espousing the cause of ‘Americans First’ is to have the world look down further on his Presidency.