WASHINGTON — GOP Rep. Mia Love of Utah, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said President Donald Trump’s aleged comments questioning why Haitian, Salvadoran and African immigrants from “s***hole” countries should be protected in immigration legislation are “unkind, divisive, elitist and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”
“My parents came from one of those countries, took an oath of allegiance to it, and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with,” Love said in a statement she posted on Twitter.
“The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned,” Love said.
Some of Love’s Republican colleagues joined her in condemning the remarks. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah called for a “detailed explanation” of the comments, and said immigrants, “regardless of their country of origin,” make America “special.”
Meanwhile, South African Broadcasting Corp. anchor Leanne Manas tweeted on Thursday: “Good morning from the greatest most beautiful ‘s***hole country’ in the world!!!”
Her reference is to what Trump said allegedly during a White House meeting Thursday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers negotiating renewal of Temporary Protection Status for Haitians, Salvadorans and other immigrants as part of a broader immigration reform package. The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump said, “Why are we having all these people from sh**hole countries come here?”
In a tweet on Friday morning, Trump denied making the remarks, although a White House spokesperson on Thursday evening did not specifically denied that the president had made the comments.
El Salvador’s Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez tweeted about Salvadoran contributions to the United States, saying “a good part of those who helped rebuild New Orleans after Katrina were Salvadoran. I feel proud to be Salvadoran.”
Former adviser to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign Michael Steele told Meet the Press it was a “borderline racist, stupid comment.” MSNBC host Chris Matthews thought the comments showed Trump is “unfit for office.”
Republican political pundits also jumped on some comments, some defending him.
Fox News host Jesse Watters said, “This is how the forgotten men and women in America talk in the bar. This is how Trump relates to people.”
Fellow Fox host Tucker Carlson suggested El Salvador may be a “s…hole,” and conservative commentator Ann Coulter approved of Trump’s remark, saying “he’s trying to win me back.”
The African Union continental body told The Associated Press it was “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s alleged comments.
Trump’s alleged comments highlight months of concerns about his lack of focus on Africa, including empty ambassadorial posts in key countries such as South Africa, Egypt, Congo and Somalia.
Foreign policy experts note that a U.S. diplomatic retreat from the world’s second-largest continent — home to 40 percent of the world’s poor but also billionaires, reality TV shows and a growing middle class — increases China’ growing influence as Africa’s biggest trade partner.
Foreign policy experts note China has expanded its economic ties to the continent and become Africa’s biggest trade partner.