As 'shithole' remark snowballs, Trump says 'I'm not racist'

As 'shithole' remark snowballs, Trump says 'I'm not racist'

"No, No. I'm not a racist", Trump said Sunday, after reporters asked him to respond to those who think he is. Trump said on Sunday: "I'm not a racist".

The debate over immigration policy became increasingly acrimonious after it was reported on January 11 that the Republican president used the word "shithole" to describe Haiti and African countries in a private meeting with lawmakers.

The row broke out after lawmakers from both parties visited the president on Thursday to work on a proposal for a bipartisan immigration deal. Trump also questioned why the United States should admit more Haitians. All four senators were at the meeting.

Sen. Dick Durbin of IL, the only Democrat at Thursday's meeting, said Trump had indeed said what he was reported to have said. "Sometimes he says things which are silly or he doesn't really mean them ... but he's definitely not racist". Mr. Trump said, with McCarthy standing next to him.

It's at this meeting last Thursday where Trump is said to have used a vulgarity to describe African countries.

When the comments were first reported, the White House did not issue a denial, with a spokesman saying Mr Trump wanted to welcome those "who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation".

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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) speaking at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Nov 27.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, also present during last week's meeting, offered an explanation for the President's comments.

Georgia Sen. David Perdue said Trump "did not use that word" and called the assertions that he did "a gross misrepresentation".

He said in his conversations with Trump, the president has pushed for "merit-based immigration" that would not tie someone's admission to the United States to their country of origin.

The US should be taking in migrants from countries like Norway, he is reported to have said. "I stand behind every word that I said in terms of that meeting", Durbin said, before Trump's tweet on Monday afternoon.

Democrats are pushing to action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows young people brought to the US when they were minors to stay here, in return for approval of a bill to fund the government.

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