President Donald Trump on Thursday questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from “shithole countries” after senators discussed revamping rules affecting those from Africa and Haiti, according to people briefed on the conversation. Members of the Haitian community react to Trump’s comments:
FILE- In this Jan. 9, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Trump used profane language as he questioned Thursday, Jan. 11, why the U.S. should permit immigrants from certain countries as he rejected a plan by a bipartisan group of senators that would have changed rules affecting entrants from Africa and Haiti, according to three people briefed on the conversation. The White House did not deny the comment. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
The comments angered Illinois state Sen. Kwame Raoul, whose Haitian parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s.
“I don’t think there’s any apologizing out of this,” the Chicago Democrat said of Trump. “He’s demonstrated himself to be unfit, unknowledgeable about the history of this country and the history of contributions that immigrants, particularly Haitian immigrants, have made to this country.”
Raoul, who was appointed to the Illinois Legislature to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama’s 2004 election to the U.S. Senate, added that it was a personal slight, too. His father worked as a doctor on Chicago’s South Side for decades, often serving poor and vulnerable populations.
“It makes me embarrassed to have this guy as the president of my country,” said Raoul, who’s running in Illinois’ March primary for state attorney general.
Farah Larrieux, a Haitian immigrant in Miami who represents a national alliance of people like her who have been granted protections against deportation after natural disasters in their nations.
“This is beyond politics. The guy has no respect for anyone. I am trying not to cry,” Larrieux said. “I can’t understand how someone goes from making a statement in Little Haiti saying ‘I want to be the biggest champion of Haiti’ to calling Haiti a ‘shithole.’ It makes me sick.” She referred to a 2016 campaign stop in Miami’s Haitian neighborhood.
“This is beyond bullying,” Larrieux said. “This is a racial campaign against immigrants.”
‘WORDS CANNOT AFFECT ME’
Djenane Gourgue, of the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, says she is not letting Trump’s remarks affect her anymore, adding “his actions can probably hurt more.”
“We spend too much time commenting or watching or being pissed off at what Mr. Trump says. That’s what he does well … ,” Haitian-born Gourgue said. “Those words cannot affect me. … He’s just being a bully.”