Politics: Trump defends 'tough' language but denies calling Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations 'shithole countries'

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U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018.

President Donald Trump defended using “tough” language to describe Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations, but denied calling them “shithole countries.

  • President Donald Trump defended using “tough” language to describe Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations, but denied calling them “shithole countries.
  • Trump called a bipartisan bill from lawmakers that sought to extend protection for children brought to the US illegally “outlandish.”
  • Trump has consistently taken a hard line against immigration and shocked much of the world with his reported “shithole countries” comment.

President Donald Trump defended using “tough” language to describe Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations, but denied calling them “shithole countries” on Twitter on Friday morning.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” Trump tweeted, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law that protects children illegally brought to the US from deportation.

But Trump's “shithole” comment was widely reported and confirmed by several sources to have taken place at a meeting with many people present. The same sources said Trump then asked why the US couldn't accept more immigrants from countries like Norway, leading many to conclude Trump was expressing a racial bias.

Trump's reported remarks came after leaders from around the world condemned his explicit comment, with the UN's human rights body saying “there is no other word one can use but 'racist',” to describe it.

In another series of early morning tweets, Trump blasted the immigration meeting where he made his comment as a “big step backwards for DACA” twice.

Trump again pushed for a merit-based system of immigration, though he seemingly ignored the fact that merit-based immigration would still allow immigrants from what he called “high crime countries which are doing badly,” as long can demonstrate their merit.

The proposal made by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that Trump dismissed as “outlandish” would offer a pathway to citizenship for those protected by DACA, but only after at least 10 years, a source familiar with the negotiations told Business Insider.

It would also make headway toward reforming family-based immigration — sometimes referred to as “chain migration” — by offering three-year, renewable work permits to the parents of Dreamers, but making them ineligible to be sponsored for citizenship.

Trump has blasted chain immigration in the past after the revelation that a man from Bangladesh attempted a bombing in New York City's subway had entered the country through the program.

Trump has also majorly reversed his opinion on DACA, as his administration previously announced plans to end the program, before Trump pivoted away, calling the move “mean.”

In September, Trump struck a deal with Democratic leaders in the Senate to preserve DACA and avert a government shutdown, much to the dismay of Republican immigration hardliners.

But on Friday, Trump appeared game to relitigate that battle, again weighing the possibility of a government shutdown, and a defunded US military, against an immigration deal he found unfavorable.