President Donald Trump has expressed frustration over efforts of some US lawmakers to protect immigrants from Haiti and African countries, asking why America should accept citizens from "shithole" countries, triggering an international outrage over the remarks.
Trump, however, denied using the derogatory remarks during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform, but admitted he used "tough" language in that meeting.
Trump, in a series of tweets, defended his immigration stance and claimed that the remarks attributed to him were not accurate.
"Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump was quoted as saying by multiple media reports.
The president was referring to African countries and Haiti, and then suggested the US should welcome immigrants from places like Norway, whose prime minister met with Trump on Wednesday.
His comments, which have been slammed by Democratic lawmakers, was first reported by The Washington Post. The New York Times later reported the same comment.
Trump today rejected reports that he told lawmakers that the US should block immigrants from "shithole" countries.
"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," Trump tweeted.
The White House did not deny his remark but issued a statement saying Trump supports immigration policies that welcome "those who can contribute to our society".
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme shields from deportation nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Trump, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt they help the US economically, the report said.
"Sadly, Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers in order to give a sweetheart deal, not a fair deal, for DACA. Take care of our Military, and our Country, FIRST!" Trump said in another tweet.
Trump has been calling for merit-based immigration, of which people from countries like India could be a major beneficiary.
"I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs," said the US president, criticising the proposed bipartisan deal.
"I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten 'shutdown', but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump said.
The African Union and several Democratic lawmakers slammed Trump for his comments and described them as "racist".
The African Union said that Trump's description of African nations as "shithole countries" was upsetting.
"President Trump's comments are racist and a disgrace. They do not reflect our nation's values. Immigrants from throughout the world of all races, nationalities, and religions have built this country and are contributing today to its improvement," said House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer.
These comments clearly reflect the President's true feelings on immigrants and make it extremely doubtful that he will work in an honest, decent way that reflects America's best values on legislation to "protect DREAMers", Hoyer said.
"As an American, I am ashamed of the president. His comments are disappointing, unbelievable, but not surprising. We always knew that president Trump doesnt like people from certain countries or people or certain colours," alleged Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
"Language like that shouldn't be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn't be heard in the White House," said Congresswoman Ilena Ros-Lehtinen.
In a statement, Shah said the President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration two programs that hurt American economy and allow terrorists into the country.
"Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation," White House spokesman Raj Shah said.
"He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway," Shah said.
A top Democratic Senator present in the Oval Office meeting challenged Trump on his denial.
"In the course of his comments, (Trump) said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist"," Dick Durbin said today.
"I cannot believe in this history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday," he said.
Durbin said Trump's alleged "sxxxhole" remarks were accurate.
"You've seen the comments in the press. I've not seen one of them that's inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly," he said.
"It's not how a president should speak. It's not how a president should behave. Most of all, it's not what a president should believe. We're better than this," Biden said.
Earlier in the day, in an interview to The Wall Street Journal, Trump asserted that he will not accept any immigration deal that does not hasa provision to build a wall along the Mexico border.
"We have to have a wall. We don't have a wall, we are not doing the deal," he reiterated.
Trump, who has had a series of meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform over the past several days, said he has a good chance to make a deal.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)