U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said a bipartisan Senate immigration plan would force the United States to admit people from “high crime” countries “doing badly,” and denied using a vulgar reference in comments decried as racist.
Trump denounced the deal reached by a group of six Republican and Democratic senators as too weak and insisted he did not use the word “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries.
U.S. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who was at a White House meeting on immigration on Thursday where Trump reportedly made the remarks, confirmed to reporters on Friday that Trump used “vile, vulgar” language, including “shithole.”
Reports of the president’s language referring to people of color from the other countries drew criticism from U.S. lawmakers of both major parties and critics abroad who said they could not be described as anything but racist.
Amid the furor the president criticized the immigration proposal. “The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards,” Trump said in a series of tweets on Friday.
The Senate group has been working for months to craft legislation that would protect 700,000 children who were brought to the United States as illegal immigrants and later given protection from deportation under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.