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African ambassadors condemn Trump remarks as 'racist'  3 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s remarks about African countries and Haiti drew condemnation from a group of African ambassadors to the United Nations who called them “outrageous, racist and xenophobic” and demanded a retraction and apology.

Samantha Power, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, shared the ambassadors’ statement on Twitter. “Whoa. I’ve never seen a statement like this by African countries directed at the United States,” she wrote.

The statement, issued late Friday after the African ambassadors held an emergency meeting, comes amid an international outcry over Trump reportedly saying he’d rather have more immigrants from Norway and fewer from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa.

Trump has seemed to deny using those words but acknowledged on Twitter that he used “tough” language during White House negotiations this week with lawmakers on an immigration bill.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the only Democrat at the meeting with Trump, confirmed the vulgar comments, telling reporters the president said “things that were hate-filled, vile and racist.”

Republican lawmakers who were in the Thursday meeting generally sidestepped questions about precisely what Trump said. Two Trump allies who were in attendance, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, issued a joint statement, saying they did "not recall the president saying those comments specifically.”

In their statement, the African ambassadors said they were concerned “about the continuing and growing trend from the US administration toward Africa and people of African descent to denigrate the continent and people of color.”

The controversy, stemming from discussions about whether to include immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and African countries in an immigration bill, appears to have dimmed chances of reaching a deal on immigration in the coming weeks. 

Lawmakers are under a March 5 deadline to write legislation to fix the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

The program extends legal protections to 800,000 immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children. Trump ended the program and finding a legislative solution is a key issue in negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats on immigration policy.

On Saturday morning, Trump took to Twitter to slam the Democrats over the controversy: “The Democrats are all talk and no action. They are doing nothing to fix DACA. Great opportunity missed. Too bad!”

An hour later, he reiterated that sentiment:

"I don’t believe the Democrats really want to see a deal on DACA. They are all talk and no action. This is the time but, day by day, they are blowing the one great opportunity they have. Too bad!"

Trump's allies have argued that the controversy over his remarks is overblown. 

"Apparently he and I are the only two people that use a few curse words here and there," Scaramucci wrote on Twitter. "Certainly journalists don’t talk that way. Who knew lived in such a puritanical society!"

And other Trump backers said the president's remarks show he's aligned with a long-standing conservative push to reshape immigration policy into a merit-based system rather than one based on family ties or admitting those from countries beset by poverty.

 

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