Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) was present in the Oval Office meeting Thursday where President Trump allegedly called Haiti and El Salvador "shithole countries" and questioned why the U.S. doesn't have a merit-based immigration system.
Durbin said the president used the word "shithole" to describe African and Latin American countries "not just once but repeatedly," and asked why current illegal immigrants should be given the right to bring their families with them, so-called' Chain Migration.'
Durbin continued: "When it came to the issue of, quote, 'chain migration,' I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains and when you talk about chain migration, it hurts them personally. He said, 'Oh, that’s a good line.'"
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): In the course of his comments of said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist — he used those words. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.
You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things. And he said them repeatedly. When the question was raised about Haitians, for example, we have a group that have temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group’s El Salvadorians. The second is Honduran and the third is Haitian.
When I mentioned that fact to him, he said, “Haitians, do we need more Haitians?” Then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That’s when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from “shitholes,” The exact word used by the president — not just once but repeatedly.
That was the nature of this conversation. When it came to the issue of, quote, “chain migration,” I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains and when you talk about chain migration, it hurts them personally.
He said, “Oh, that’s a good line.” And then when I talked to him about the impact this has on family unification in a nation that values families with the flag as the most important symbols of our future, they scoffed at this notion. It was a heartbreaking moment. But I will tell you this, I’m not going to quit. I have a singular mission. And the mission is this: To give these DREAMers and as many members of their families as possible a chance to be part of America’s future in a legal status.
I am convinced that there’s a majority in both the House and the Senate of Democrats and Republicans who support that concept. I know there’s an overwhelming majority of Americans who support that concept.
So here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to prepare our bipartisan agreement for introduction into the Senate next week. If the Republican leadership has a better alternative, bring it forward. If they don’t, for goodness sakes, give us a vote. I’ll be on the phone today with my Republican colleagues and my Democratic colleagues begging them to support this measure.
Time is running out. We have to get this done. I thought we might get a bipartisan agreement approved by the White House, died yesterday. We have to do this and show leadership in Congress to solve this important challenge.