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WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and African countries, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from "shithole countries" rather than people from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.

Trump's remarks left members of Congress attending the meeting in the Cabinet Room alarmed and mystified. They were there discussing an emerging bipartisan deal to give legal status to immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When Trump heard that Haitians were among those who would benefit, he asked if they could be left out of the plan, according to the people familiar with the conversation, asking, "Why do we want people from Haiti here?"

In a written statement Thursday, Raj Shah, the White House deputy press secretary, did not deny the account or directly address Trump's comments during the meeting.

"Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people," Shah said. "Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation."

The episode -- first reported by The Washington Post -- unfolded as Trump was hosting a meeting with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., who are working to codify the protections in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Trump grew angry as the group detailed another aspect of the plan -- a move to end the diversity visa lottery program and use some of the 50,000 visas to protect vulnerable populations who have been living in the United States under so-called Temporary Protected Status. That was when he asked about Haiti.

When the discussion turned to African nations, Trump asked why he would want "all these people from shithole countries," adding that the United States should admit more people from places like Norway.

NW News on 01/12/2018

Print Headline: Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa

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