Immigration talks on Capitol Hill foundered Thursday after the White House and some GOP lawmakers rejected a tentative deal from a bipartisan Senate group — and President Trump made incendiary remarks about people from developing countries.
In a midday immigration meeting with senators in which they discussed the fate of certain immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations, Trump became frustrated and made a reference to “shithole countries,” arguing that the United States should bring in more immigrants from Norway instead, according to several people briefed on his comments.
Those explosive remarks from the president roiled the debate as Democrats erupted in outrage and accused Trump of setting back prospects for any deal.
“This is like throwing gasoline to the fire,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. “It’s not consistent with what the behavior of a president should be.”
The fast-moving developments came as lawmakers and the White House try to come up with a solution for immigrants brought illegally to this country as children, who are losing temporary protections granted with executive powers by President Barack Obama under a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Trump plans to phase out the program completely in March unless Congress replaces it.
The president’s remarks came at a moment of frustration during an Oval Office meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers Thursday, as they were presenting an opening bid for a broad immigration package.
The deal included a solution for “dreamers,” as well as improvements to border security and changes to two other elements of the immigration system: one allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor certain relatives for citizenship, and the other, known as the “diversity visa lottery,” which distributes 50,000 visas annually to nations with low rates of migration to the United States.