Trump blasted for ‘racist’ re­mark

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD - AP

WASH­ING­TON: Don­ald Trump was un­der fire from sev­eral quar­ters last night af­ter he ques­tioned why the US should per­mit more im­mi­grants from “shit­hole coun­tries” un­der re­vamped im­mi­gra­tion rules.

African na­tions and the UN hu­man rights agency blasted the US Pres­i­dent’s com­ment as shame­ful and racist.

Mr Trump made the re­mark in the Oval Of­fice as two sen­a­tors de­scribed de­tails to him of a bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise among six sen­a­tors that would ex­tend pro­tec­tions against de­por­ta­tion for hun­dreds of thou­sands of young im­mi­grants and strengthen bor­der pro­tec­tions.

The sen­a­tors had hoped the Pres­i­dent would back their ac­cord, end­ing a months-long, bit­ter dis­pute over pro­tect­ing so-called Dream­ers. The White House later re­jected their pro­posed agree­ment, plung­ing the is­sue back into un­cer­tainty just a week be­fore a dead­line that threat­ens a gov­ern­ment shut­down.

Dur­ing their con­ver­sa­tion, Dick Durbin, the No 2 Demo­crat in the Se­nate, was ex­plain­ing that as part of that deal, a lottery for visas that has ben­e­fited peo­ple from Africa and other na­tions would be ended, the sources said, though there could be some other way for them to ap­ply.

Se­na­tor Durbin said peo­ple would be al­lowed to stay in the US who fled there af­ter disas­ters hit their homes in places in­clud­ing El Sal­vador, Gu­atemala and Haiti.

Mr Trump specif­i­cally ques­tioned why the US would want to ad­mit more peo­ple from Haiti. He also men­tioned Africa and asked why more peo­ple from “shit­hole coun­tries” should be al­lowed into the US, White House sources said.

The Pres­i­dent sug­gested that in­stead, the US should al­low more en­trants from coun­tries like Nor­way, whose Prime Min­is­ter, Erna Sol­berg, he met this week.

Ru­pert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights, said Mr Trump’s re­mark could “po­ten­tially dam­age and dis­rupt the lives of many peo­ple”.

Re­peat­ing the term at­trib­uted to Mr Trump, Mr Colville said: “You can­not dis­miss en­tire coun­tries and con­ti­nents as ‘shit­holes’.’’

He said the com­ments, if con­firmed, were “shock­ing and shame­ful” and “I’m sorry, but there’s no other word one can use but racist”.

Mr Colville said the com­ment could en­dan­ger lives by po­ten­tially fan­ning xeno­pho­bia.

“It le­git­imises the tar­get­ing of peo­ple based on who they are,’’ he said. “This isn’t just a story about vul­gar lan­guage, it’s about open­ing the door to hu­man­ity’s worst side.’’

South Africa’s rul­ing party called the com­ment “ex­tremely of­fen­sive”. Deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Jesse Duarte of the African Na­tional Congress said de­vel­op­ing coun­tries did have dif­fi­cul­ties but the US had mil­lions of peo­ple out of work or without health­care.

“We would not deign to make com­ments as deroga­tory” as Mr Trump’s, she said.

The African Union said it was “frankly alarmed” at the state­ment. “Given the his­tor­i­cal re­al­ity of how many Africans ar­rived in the United States as slaves, this state­ment flies in the face of all ac­cepted be­hav­iour and prac­tice,” AU spokes­woman Ebba Kalondo said.

“This is par­tic­u­larly sur­pris­ing as the United States of Amer­ica re­mains a global ex­am­ple of how mi­gra­tion gave birth to a nation built on strong val­ues of di­ver­sity and op­por­tu­nity.”

South African me­dia out­let Daily Mav­er­ick said: “Ca­sual Fri­day at the White House is soon to in­clude hoods and tiki torches at this rate.”

Asked about the re­marks, White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny them. “Cer­tain Wash­ing­ton politi­cians choose to fight for for­eign coun­tries, but Pres­i­dent Trump will al­ways fight for the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” he said.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced late last year that it would end a tem­po­rary res­i­dency per­mit pro­gram that al­lowed nearly 60,000 cit­i­zens from Haiti to live and work in the US fol­low­ing a dev­as­tat­ing 2010 earth­quake.

The agree­ment that Se­na­tor Durbin and Republican Lind­sey Gra­ham de­scribed to Mr Trump also in­cludes his $US1.6 bil­lion ($2bn) re­quest for a first in­stal­ment on his long-sought bor­der wall, aides fa­mil­iar with the agree­ment said. Mr Trump’s re­quest cov­ers 120km of bor­der wall as part of a 10-year, $US18bn pro­posal.

Democrats in­clud­ing Se­na­tor Durbin had long vowed they would not fund the wall but are ac­cept­ing the open­ing re­quest as part of a broader plan that pro­tects from de­por­ta­tion about 800,000 younger im­mi­grants brought to the coun­try as chil­dren and now here il­le­gally, the Dream­ers.

The deal also in­cludes re­stric­tions on rules al­low­ing im­mi­grants to bring some rel­a­tives to the US.

AP

Maria Hunken was one of 18 peo­ple ar­rested in New York yes­ter­day protest­ing against the de­ten­tion of im­mi­gra­tion rights ac­tivist Ravi Rag­bir, a ci­ti­zen of Trinidad who has been fight­ing de­por­ta­tion af­ter a fraud con­vic­tion

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