At least two black bar associations in Florida have denounced President Donald Trump’s reported description of Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries.”
“On the eighth anniversary of an earthquake that nearly devastated Haiti, we members of the Haitian Lawyers Association unfortunately find ourselves addressing disparaging remarks attributed to President Trump,” reads a letter issued Friday by the bar association. “We ask him to clarify why citizens of one country are ‘more desirable’ than those of another and why the U.S. does ‘not need more Haitians.”
The Washington Post Thursday broke a story that Trump used the expletive during bipartisan talks with lawmakers discussing legislation to protect immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to the report, advocating instead for immigrants from Norway.
The news drew rapid and international backlash—the latest coming from The Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association, Miami-Dade’s oldest and largest group of black attorneys.
“We here at The Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association were dismayed, like so many of you, at the disparaging remarks of the president regarding his administration’s view of persons of color who seek to build a better life for themselves and their families in the United States,” association president Trelvis D. Randolph said in a statement issued Friday. “We rebuke and disavow the words of the president as not representative of the majority of Americans, whom he has sworn to represent.”
“We stand in solidarity with the Haitian Lawyers Association and all of those who speak out against systematic racism and those whose words and deeds embolden these repugnant policies,” the statement continued. “We also condemn those who would sit idly by and not speak truth to power regarding this hateful rhetoric in furtherance of their own personal gain. We believe that each of us has a responsibility and a voice. Now more than ever we need to hear your voices. We urge you to stand up for justice and quality in this country. 2018 is an election year. Make sure your voice is heard.”
Trump has since denied making the disparaging remarks against the countries, and also denied reports he called for excluding Haitians from discussions on providing protected status for some immigrants, according to a news report Friday from CNN.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump tweeted. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made—a big setback for DACA!”
He added: “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings—unfortunately, no trust!”