Haitian and U.S. activists as well as U.S. lawmakers, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, joined many in the U.S. and abroad in slamming President Donald Trump's latest immigration comments calling it "morally inadequate," and "racist". Earlier on Thursday during a meeting with Senate and House members, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly asked "Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?"
The insulting comments generated an immediate backlash from journalists, political figures, and activists all over the globe.
in an an interview with CNN shortly after Trump's comments, Senator Sanders spoke of part of his personal story to highlight how Trump's comments affect not only immigrants but also first generation U.S. citizens. "I am a first generation American, and my dad came from what I guess Trump would call a shithole, that was a very rural and a very poor area from Poland," Sanders said and further expressed his admiration for immigrants coming to the U.S. at a young age. "I cannot believe the courage that that took."
Prominent Haitian left-wing activist Rene Civil blasted the U.S. president for his comments calling him “a cancer on the world” and demanding that he apologizes to both Haiti and the African continent. "Haiti is not a 'shithole.' It's a great country. It's the mother of liberty,” Civil said in an interview with Reuters Thursday night as he kissed the Haitian flag.
He also demanded Trump “apologize before the entire African continent as well as before Haiti, the country whose blood has been used by ancestors who have served with their minds and bodies to liberate the United States itself from slavery."
United States scholar Steven Salaita criticized Trump's remarks calling them "racist" and blasting Trump for likening "Blackness to shit." The countries targeted by Trump were overwhelmingly Black countries like Haiti, of which he said: they "have sent 15,000 people, they all have AIDS."
The American Civil Liberties Union also slammed Trump's comment a "racist", while National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, lamented: "As our nation fights to move forward, our President falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia."
Meanwhile Latino journalist Julio Ricardo Varela responded to Trump by reminding him of the U.S.'s role in regional crisis and instability. "Last time I checked, the USA has an amazing ability to create shitholes," Varela claimed in relation to Washington's role in Central America. El Salvador was another country targeted by Trump's remarks.
White House CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins argued that Trump's "shithole" comment "will resonate with his base." And this is probably true. President Trump ran on a racist platform, and during his campaign he didn't shy away from calling Mexican immigrants "rapists and criminals." Furthermore, after white supremacist violence in Charlottesville resulted in one dead woman, Trump refused to condemn white nationalism and described some of the neo-Nazi protesters as "very good people".
Even lawmakers from Trump’s own party blasted his comments. Republican U.S. Representative Mia Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the comments were "unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values" and called on Trump to apologize to the American people and to the countries he denigrated.