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Annotated: White House justification of President Trump's racist remarks

In a meeting today with lawmakers about restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations, President Trump was reported as asking, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” 

The White House released the following statement regarding the report. For accuracy and context, the SPLC has annotated the statement:

Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. [1]

The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system [2] and chain migration [3] — two programs that hurt our economy [4] and allow terrorists [5] into our country.

Like other nations that have merit-based [6] immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger [7] by welcoming those who can contribute to our society [8], grow our economy [9] and assimilate into our great nation. [10]

He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures [11] that threaten the lives[12] of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway. [13]


[1] The hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have been sheltered from deportation by Temporary Protect Status have built lives and paid taxes in the U.S. — some for decades — because of dangerous situations in their countries of origin. Many of those immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens. Back to statement.

[2] President Trump continues to erroneously disparage the visa lottery system, which allocates 50,000 visas to people from countries with low immigration rates. As CBS News has reported, "Interested and eligible applicants can only apply electronically – which often means long lines at Internet cafes in developing countries during the weeks-long entry period – and they are not, as Trump argues, 'the worst of the worst,' handpicked by their country's government." Back to statement.

[3] Using the term "chain migration" is a scare tactic borrowed from anti-immigrant hate groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies. These groups back the concept through false data. Back to statement.

[4] Immigrants help the economy. Back to statement.

[5] Security experts say Trump's immigration policies are making the country more — not less — susceptible to terrorism. Back to statement.

[6] The "merit-based” system Trump has repeatedly endorsed represents a stealth attack on our immigration system that would begin to unravel the reforms of 52 years ago, when Congress discarded a racist quota system that discriminated against people who weren’t white and northern European. Back to statement.

[7] Study after study has shown that immigrant communities make our country stronger and safer. Back to statement.

[8] The White House's bar for immigrants who "contribute" to U.S. society is absurdly high. Back to statement.

[9] Immigrants of all education backgrounds and skill levels have historically contributed to this nation's economy. Back to statement.

[10] Anti-immigrant figures have used fears about the ability to assimilate to stoke opposition to certain immigrant groups over others (for instance, Haiti over Norway) since the nation began. Back to statement.

[11] Temporary Protected Status was created to protect people unable to return home safely due to conditions in their home country. Conditions in El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua — three countries that have lost TPS under the Trump administration so far — remain dangerous for many to return. Back to statement.

[12] This comment repeats one of the Trump administration's false assertions for stricter immigration — that immigrants commit more crimes than people born in the United States. Several studies have concluded that this is not true. Back to statement.

[13] There are legal pathways to come to the United States and to stay in the United States. Temporary Protected Status was, like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a legal way for immigrants to stay in the United States — and away from dangers that may be awaiting them in their country of origin. The future is uncertain even for those who have followed the strict guidelines of the U.S. government for staying in the U.S. DACA recipients, for example, do not currently have a path to obtain legal permanent resident status. Back to statement.