Haiti-born of­fi­cial de­fends his her­itage, fam­ily fol­low­ing di­vi­sive com­ments

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - By CLAIRE BALLOR Staff Writer cbal­lor@dal­las­news.com Twit­ter: @claire­bal­lor

mayor of Plano ob­jects to Trump re­marks.

The Haiti-born mayor of Plano said he was per­son­ally of­fended by the re­marks Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump made dur­ing an Oval Of­fice meet­ing this week when he re­port­edly used a vul­gar­ity to re­fer to Haiti, El Sal­vador and African na­tions.

Harry LaRosiliere, who has served as Plano’s mayor since 2013, called Trump’s com­ments “of­fen­sive on a per­sonal level” in a pre­pared state­ment re­leased Satur­day.

LaRosiliere said his par­ents moved to the U.S. from Haiti when he was 3 years old.

“My mother worked for 30 years, a third of those years clean­ing of­fices not far from Trump Tower, so my sis­ter and I could have an ed­u­ca­tion and be the first col­lege grad­u­ates of our fam­ily.

“And here I am, the mayor of a premier city in Amer­ica. And some­one like my mother is not the ‘worst of the worst.’ We need more peo­ple like her in Amer­ica be­cause that is what makes our fab­ric as a great na­tion,” LaRosiliere said in the state­ment.

He told The Dal­las Morn­ing News that he was en­cour­aged to speak out against the pres­i­dent’s re­marks af­ter re­mem­ber­ing the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “Our lives be­gin to end the day we be­come silent about the things that mat­ter.”

“Our pres­i­dent has said of­fen­sive things over the past year,” LaRosiliere said. “This one was per­sonal, ob­vi­ously, and I didn’t want to stay silent on it any­more.”

Trump’s di­vi­sive com­ments, while dam­ag­ing, help LaRosiliere in em­pha­siz­ing the fact that Plano is an en­clave of di­ver­sity, he said.

“If you look at the high schools in Plano, 60 per­cent are non-Cau­casian. My mes­sage to my cit­i­zens is that we are a glob­ally di­verse, in­clu­sive city that wel­comes all.”

Dal­las Mayor Mike Rawl­ings later weighed in on Twit­ter to ex­press his sup­port for LaRosiliere.

“We are for­tu­nate his par­ents came to the United States from Haiti. Back then, we didn’t have a pres­i­dent who es­poused ven­omous thoughts like we do now,” Rawl­ings said.

The set­ting in which Trump re­port­edly made the deroga­tory com­ments was a pri­vate meet­ing re­gard­ing an im­mi­gra­tion deal that would in­clude pro­tec­tions for peo­ple from Haiti and some African na­tions.

“Why do we need more Haitians?” he said, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post.

“Take them out.”

He then sug­gested that the U.S. should in­stead take in more peo­ple from coun­tries like Nor­way.

On Fri­day, Trump tweeted that he used “tough” lan­guage in the meet­ing, but de­nied ever mak­ing neg­a­tive com­ments.

“Never said any­thing deroga­tory about Haitians other than Haiti is, ob­vi­ously, a very poor and trou­bled coun­try. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a won­der­ful re­la­tion­ship with Haitians,” he said.

Some con­demn­ing the com­ments say they ex­posed the pres­i­dent as a racist.

“Pres­i­dent Trump said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was at the meet­ing and con­firmed the pres­i­dent’s com­ments.

But sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Trump evan­gel­i­cal ad­viser Robert Jef­fress, stand by the pres­i­dent’s mes­sage.

Jef­fress, the out­spo­ken pas­tor of First Bap­tist Dal­las, on Fri­day de­fended the pres­i­dent’s com­ments, say­ing that Trump was “right on tar­get” when he ques­tioned why Amer­ica should take in more im­mi­grants from Africa and Haiti.

“Apart from the vo­cab­u­lary at­trib­uted to him, Pres­i­dent Trump is right on tar­get in his sen­ti­ment,” Jef­fress told the Chris­tian Broad­cast­ing Net­work.

Ver­non Bryant/Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

Plano Mayor Harry

LaRosiliere calls re­marks Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump made when he re­port­edly used a vul­gar­ity to re­fer to Haiti, El Sal­vador and African na­tions “of­fen­sive on a per­sonal level.”

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