Hoyer: Trump’s immigration comments are ‘racist and a disgrace’

Hoyer: Trump’s immigration comments are ‘racist and a disgrace’
© Getty Images
“They do not reflect our nation’s values,” Hoyer said in a statement. “Immigrants from throughout the world of all races, nationalities, and religions have built this country and are contributing today to its improvement.”
The comments marked the latest criticism from lawmakers of both parties reacting to reports that Trump is spurning bipartisan efforts to protect the influx of immigrants — even in reduced numbers — from Africa, Haiti and El Salvador.
In a bombshell story published Thursday afternoon, The Washington Post reported that the president, meeting with lawmakers of both parties seeking a deal to protect immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, had dismissed the notion of accepting residents from those three places, characterizing them as “shithole countries.”
The remarks have upended the delicate talks surrounding the fate of those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program just as bipartisan negotiators were claiming progress on a deal earlier Thursday.
Trump announced in September that he would rescind the Obama-era program, but he gave Congress until March 5 to enact protections for those affected by his decision to eliminate the initiative.
Hoyer, the House Democratic whip who’s been central to the DACA negotiations, had met Tuesday at the White House with Trump and a bipartisan group of more than 20 lawmakers haggling over the particulars of a deal.
The Democratic leader said afterwards that while there were disagreements over the details — particularly the GOP’s insistence on new restrictions surrounding family migration and the diversity visa lottery — the meeting “did change the momentum … [and] the urgency” surrounding a deal.
On Thursday night, following the Post report, Hoyer was singing a different tune — one that raises new doubts about the capacity of the sides to come together and reach a bipartisan agreement.
“These comments clearly reflect the President’s true feelings on immigrants and make it extremely doubtful that he will work in an honest, decent way that reflects America’s best values on legislation to protect DREAMers,” Hoyer said, referring to those qualified for the DACA benefits.
Democratic leaders are facing heavy pressure from immigrant rights advocates on and off Capitol Hill to secure a DACA fix before the March 5 deadline.
While both sides say they’re invested in granting legal protections to the so-called Dreamers, the negotiations have been entangled in a fight over the Republicans’ demands that a DACA deal be combined with new restrictions on family-based migration and diversity visas, which benefit those seeking passage from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.
The debate has become increasingly embroiled in thorny issues of race and ethnicity, as members of the Democrats’ minority caucuses — who have long accused Trump of advancing white nationalist sentiments — are sounding new alarms that the president is hell-bent on preserving the country’s European roots at the expense of immigrants from elsewhere.
During the Oval Office meeting Thursday, while questioning why the U.S. was accepting so many immigrants from Haiti and African countries, Trump reportedly suggested that the U.S. instead bring in people from more countries like Norway, whose prime minister he had met with the previous day.
Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondState Department: Allegations of racism 'disgusting and false' Congressional Black Caucus says Kavanaugh would weaken Voting Rights Act protections Democrats move to limit role of superdelegates in presidential nominations MORE (D-La.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Trump’s “shithole” remark only “reinforces concerns that we hear every day, that the President's slogan Make America Great Again is really code for Make America White Again.”