“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. NBC News confirmed the account. CNN reported that Trump said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” NBC added that someone in the room replied, “Because if you do, it will be obvious why.” The White House issued a statement in which a spokesman said the president “will always fight for the American people,” but did not deny Trump had made the remarks.
The president’s words are yet again shocking but not surprising. They are generally in fitting with his comments on immigration, but it is practically impossible to interpret them without consideration of race. Trump, who has a long history of racist comments, especially about African Americans, and xenophobic comments about non-Americans, singled out Haiti, a predominantly black country; El Salvador, a predominantly Hispanic country; and Africa as “shithole” places whose citizens are undesirable, while singling out Norway, an overwhelmingly white one, as a more salubrious source for immigrants. Late in 2017, The New York Times reported that Trump had complained that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and that Nigerians who came to the U.S. would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. The White House denied those comments.