Friday 13 December 2019

Trump attacks US protections for immigrants from 'shithole countries’

US President Donald Trump inthe White House yesterday. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump inthe White House yesterday. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Harriet Alexander

President Donald Trump has reportedly expressed frustration at the United States’ immigration policy, asking a White House gathering of politicians why the US accepted people from “shithole countries” and couldn’t have more people from countries like Norway.

Mr Trump convened yesterday’s meeting to discuss reforming immigration policy, and one of the politicians inside the Oval Office suggested that a deal could be reached if Mr Trump agreed to restore protection for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” the president responded, according to two people who spoke to ‘The Washington Post’. The paper said he was referring to African countries and Haiti.

He then reportedly suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met on Wednesday.

His remarks reportedly left the assembled politicians “taken aback”, the paper said, with Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator for South Carolina, and Richard Durbin, Democratic senator for Illinois, among those in the room.

The two were reportedly surprised to be joined by immigration hardliners Bob Goodlatte, a Republican congressman for Virginia, and Tom Cotton, senator for Arkansas.

The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls on yesterday morning, Capitol Hill aides said.

They had raised the issue of reducing the visa lottery, and restoring protections for countries that have been removed from the temporary protected status programme, in return for an additional $1.5bn (€1.24) for a border wall.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on Mr Trump’s remarks.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump’s expected “working visit” to Britain in February has been postponed, Downing Street has confirmed.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was the first world leader to visit Mr Trump in the White House, and the US president accepted at the time an invitation for a state visit.

But that idea was fairly swiftly pushed into the long grass, given the scale of expected protests and opposition within the UK. A petition against a state visit gained more than a million signatures last year.

Mr Trump was then reported to be considering a “working visit”, with some publications reporting that a date had been set for the end of February.

Mr Trump was also scheduled to hold talks with Mrs May in No 10, with February 26 and 27 marked in the diary. Downing Street had hoped to confirm the dates this week.

The President was not due to meet the Queen until a full state visit at a later date.

But now Mr Trump has decided to postpone even the scaled-down February visit.

Sources claimed that the lack of “bells and whistles” and royal involvement in next month’s planned visit may have discouraged him.

Mrs May and Mr Trump fell out spectacularly in November over his retweeting of anti-Muslim videos posted online by the deputy leader of the far-right Britain First group, Jayda Fransen.

At the time, Mrs May said Mr Trump was “wrong” to retweet the videos, and the US president hit back at her on Twitter by telling her to focus on “destructive radical Islamic terrorism” in the UK, rather than on him.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Trump spoke to ‘The Wall Street Journal’, and claimed that he has developed a positive relationship with North Korea’s leader.

“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un, ”said Mr Trump, despite there being no formal contact between US and North Korean officials in decades.

“I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”

Asked if he has spoken with Mr Kim, Mr Trump replied: “I don’t want to comment on it. I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment.”

The president has called the nation’s leader a “maniac,” a “bad dude,” mocked him as “short and fat,” and referred to him repeatedly as “rocket man.”  Mr Kim in response has warned he would “tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire”.

Mr Trump told the paper, however, that his Twitter insults were simply part of his game plan. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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