In an Oval Office meeting at the White House Thursday, President Trump grew frustrated at a proposed bipartisan immigration plan that would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other “s—hole countries” coming into the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.
The president suggested instead that the U.S. should have more people from places like Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday, according to these sources.
The White House did not deny that the president made these remarks. Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah issued this statement to ABC News:
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. 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.”
A senior White House official, speaking on background to ABC News, acknowledged that the president “grew frustrated when the conversation turned to the issue of the visa lottery deal.”
According to a separate source, the president was set off after Senators Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who are part of a more moderate group of senators working on an immigration deal, proposed cutting the visa lottery program in half. The president, who has said he wants the program eliminated erupted at that point, according to the source, asking why they should allow people from Haiti, Africa and other “s—hole countries” to come to the United States. One official said salty language was used on both sides.