Sen. Dick Durbin: President Trump used ‘hate-filled, vile and racist’ language in immigration meeting


Mary Newman

Sen. Richard “Dick” Durbin, responds to a question about the Cairo housing crisis, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, during the Paul Simon Institute’s 20th anniversary at the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building auditorium. “I went to the Cairo school today and met with the sixth graders…they actually asked the question of the principal, ’is this school going to be here next year?’…if 180 families pick up and leave…what happens to the school district? What happens to the students that remain?” said Durbin. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin on Friday said President Donald Trump used “hate-filled, vile and racist” language when talking about immigrants from Haiti and Africa, and that media accounts of what Trump said have been accurate.

Durbin talked to reporters prior to the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Breakfast in Chicago. Asked what Trump said Thursday during the Oval Office meeting on immigration reform that Durbin attended, the senator described the president’s language.

“In the course of his comments, (Trump) said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist,” Durbin said. “I use those words advisedly. I understand how powerful they are.”


“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House and of that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday. You’ve seen the comments in the press. I have not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”

The Washington Post first reported the comments Thursday.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said.

On Friday Morning, Trump tweeted: “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made — a big setback for DACA!”

“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” Trump tweeted. “Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”

Durbin explicitly said Trump described nations from Africa as “shitholes” when discussing immigration from those countries during the meeting.

“And then (Trump) went on, when we started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure, that’s when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from shitholes,” Durbin said.


Beyond Durbin, the president’s comments have drawn swift rebukes from local Democrats.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also took a swipe at Trump at the Interfaith Breakfast, noting Chicago was founded by Haitian Jean Baptiste Point du Sable.

And the mayor invoked the story he often tells about Jews on a boat called the St. Louis in 1939, to point to past instances of immigrants being rejected because of where they came from.

“Those were the words that were spoken and the values that were spoken when Hitler put Jews on a boat in 1939, the St. Louis, the name of that boat, to show the world nobody wanted Jews,” Emanuel said. “And as it came to the shore it was rejected because they didn’t want those people in this country.”

Some Democrats in Congress pounced the night before, including Rep. Luis Gutiérrez of Chicago, a leading advocate for immigrants; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg, who was born in New Delhi, India, and came to the U.S. as an infant; and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston. She called Trump’s vulgarity “vile” and “unbecoming of the presidency” and challenged GOP colleagues to speak out. “Enough is enough. Silence is complicity,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago, in a tweet Thursday, said: “Disgraceful & disgusting don’t even begin to cover it. An utter embarrassment to our country & a direct attack on our founding principles. All Americans — Republicans & Democrats — must denounce these remarks & the hate they exude.” And Rep. Bill Foster, a Democrat from Naperville, on Friday called Trump’s reference “disgusting, divisive (and) racist.”

Durbin has been working toward an immigration agreement with Republican and Democratic senators, and on hours before news of Trump’s comments broke Thursday afternoon, the state’s senior senator released a joint statement from the group that said a “bipartisan agreement” was at hand.

“President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge,” the statement read. “We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act — the areas outlined by the President. We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress.”


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