President Trump questioned why the U.S. would admit people from “shithole countries,” roiling discussions over a bipartisan Senate deal to protect young undocumented immigrants, the Wall Street Journal reports. Trump made the comments at a private White House immigration meeting that included a bipartisan group of lawmakers, asking why the U.S. would want to admit people from Africa. The president called the proposed DACA deal “a big step backwards.” He added, “Why do we want all these people from these shithole countries here? We should have people from places like Norway…” One witness said he asked, “What do we want Haitians here for?” On Friday, Trump appeared to deny using the vulgar term.
The back-and-forth came as a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement to give a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers and make other immigration policy changes. They presented their plan at the White House, but it was met with opposition from conservative lawmakers who also attended the meeting. Marc Short, the White House legislative-affairs director, said more work was needed. “There’s a long way to go,” he told reporters. The White House and lawmakers in both parties say they want to reach an agreement, but conservative Republicans are demanding a long list of immigration-policy changes that Democrats oppose. Democrats have leverage as their votes are needed to keep the government running past next Friday. It was unclear whether they would be willing to force a partial shutdown over the immigration dispute.