Fri, 19 Oct 2018

President Donald Trump's vulgar comments to U.S. lawmakers explaining his opposition to Haitian and African migrants sparked condemnation at home and abroad.

The U.N. human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, called the comments racist.

'It's about opening the door wider to humanity's worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and destroy the lives of many people.'


The African Union said it is 'frankly alarmed' by the president's reported statement. AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo told the Associated Press 'given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.'

She said 'this is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.'

The African National Congress, South Africa's ruling party, said Trump's remarks are 'extremely offensive.'


The U.S. State Department said Friday American diplomats in Haiti and in Botswana had been summoned by government officials to discuss the remarks.

FILE - Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, speaks to the Utah Senate, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City, Feb. 23, 2017.

U.S. Republican Representative Mia Love, whose family came from Haiti, said the president's comments are 'unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation.'

Love, of Utah, called on Trump to apologize to the people of Haiti.

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida said in an interview 'it's incomprehensible that these words came out of the mouth of the president of the United States of America, a country that was founded on being free from discrimination and treating people fairly and having people come here, the land of the free. ... This is a president that has had a sordid, terrible history of making racist statements.'

Ros-Lehtinen also tweeted Trump's 'calling Haiti a 's - hole country' ignores the contributions thousands of Haitians have made to our SoFla community and nation. Language like that shouldn't be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn't be heard in the White House.'

Republicans, Democrats weigh in

Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar, who in 2016 became the first Somali-American elected to a state legislative office in the United States, released a statement, saying, 'I am not ashamed of the country where I was born. I am not ashamed to call myself an American now. I am a proud immigrant, refugee, Minnesotan and a proud State Legislator.

FILE - New State Rep. Ilhan Omar (L) confers with another lawmaker in her office two days after the 2017 Legislature convened in St. Paul, Minn.

'But make no mistake,' continued Omar, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, 'I am ashamed, disturbed, and outraged that the leader of the United States can't see beyond his own embarrassing privilege to embrace the diversity that has made this country great for generations,'

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, also a Republican, said he wanted more details 'regarding the president's comments.'

'Part of what makes America so special is that we welcome the best and brightest in the world, regardless of their country of origin,' Hatch added.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, tweeted late Thursday, 'My ancestors came from countries not nearly as prosperous as the one we live in today. I'm glad that they were welcomed here.'

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat, said in a tweet, 'Immigrants from countries across the globe - including and especially those from Haiti and all parts of Africa - have helped build this country. They should be welcomed and celebrated, not demeaned and insulted.''

Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said 'President Trump's comments are yet another confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views. It also reinforces the concerns that we hear every day, that the president's slogan 'Make America Great Again' is really code for 'Make America White Again.''

The White House released a statement Thursday that defended the president's views, without referencing his specific comments.

'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,' the statement said. '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.'

VOA correspondents Cindy Saine, Natalie Liu, Steve Herman and Michael Bowman contributed to this report.

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