- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2018

President Trump on Friday denied saying the U.S. doesn’t need people coming from “sh—hole countries” Haiti and El Salvador, a comment he reportedly made in private that has been denounced by Democrats and Republicans as racist.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

It was the first time Mr. Trump denied making the remark. The White House previously said the focus on the comment was a distraction but did not deny the president used the crude language.

In a subsequent tweet, Mr. Trump denied demeaning Haiti in any way and said he would start recording his Oval Office meetings to protect himself from false reports.

“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!” he tweeted.

Paul Altidor, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, had called the president’s reported remark an “assault” on his country and its people. He demanded an explanation from U.S. officials.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump derides need for immigrants from “sh—hole countries”

During a meeting Thursday with Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, the president allegedly made the crude remark about immigration from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.

“Why are we having all these people from sh—hole countries coming here?” Mr. Trump said in the Oval Office meeting, The Washington Post reported.

The president also reportedly said the U.S. should “bring more people from countries like Norway.” Mr. Trump ended protective status for 250,000 Salvadorans this week.

Mr. Durbin and Mr. Graham were presenting a proposed compromise to help “Dreamers” and tighten immigration, issues that have become obstacles to a budget deal needed before a Jan. 19 deadline to stop a government shutdown.

The comment sparked outrage across the political spectrum, and Mr. Trump’s foes on the left said it was proof of his racist viewpoint.

The controversy further complicated negotiations to fix the temporary deportation amnesty for “Dreamers,” the illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. They are currently protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but that program’s legality is questionable, and Mr. Trump has called for a permanent legislative fix.

The president demanded that the fix include tough border security and reforms of the family-based chain migration and visa diversity lottery that are intended to prevent another Dreamer crisis in the future.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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