U.S. President Donald Trump was so incensed by the number of foreigners entering the U.S. earlier that his year that he went on an angry rant in the Oval Office, using racially insensitive language to describe immigrants, the New York Times reports.
The crude remarks reportedly came during a June meeting involving President Trump and a handful of top officials.
Learning that 15,000 Haitians had received visas to enter the U.S. in 2017, Trump is said to have remarked that “they all have AIDS.” He then complained about 40,000 people arriving from Nigeria, who he said would never “go back to their huts” once they set their eyes on the U.S.
According to the New York Times, the meeting swiftly descended into a blame game, with then-secretary of homeland security John Kelly and domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller pointing the finger at secretary of state Rex Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners.
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The White House vehemently denied the reports.
“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Saturday. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”
Trump’s director of legislative affairs Marc Short echoed the denials in an interview on Fox News, but insisted that the number of immigrants arriving from Haiti was inordinately high.
“The people here from Haiti are here from an earthquake that happened roughly 10 years ago — under Temporary Protected Status,” Short said.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows nationals from certain countries to stay in the U.S. if those countries have been deemed unsafe. In November, the Trump administration announced it would be terminating the TPS designation for Haitian immigrants.
Even prior to that announcement, Canada saw a large influx of Haitians crossing into the country, particularly over the spring and summer.
However, only around 10 per cent of them are being granted refugee status.
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While the White House is denying Trump’s alleged remarks, his critics say comments like those are in line with his stance on immigration.
“This comes down to questions about double standards,” Karen Attiah, editor of the Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, told Global News. “Would he be saying or thinking these things about immigrants from the European Union, from the U.K.?
“It really just speaks to a sort of disturbing — and irrational, frankly — undercurrent to the president’s approach to people of colour who come from other countries.”
— With files from Jennifer Johnson