Trump’s vile and racist remarks confirmed by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin

CHICAGO—Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., confirmed at a breakfast meeting here this morning that President Trump did indeed refer to a number of nations in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa as “shithole” countries. The horrific remarks were made in the White House at a bi-partisan discussion on immigration.

Durbin, who was at the White House meeting, confirmed that Trump had made the vile remarks which were first broadcast by print media and cable news networks last night. Durbin’s confirmation came almost immediately after Trump tweeted this morning that he had not used the expletive.

“He said those hateful things, and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin declared in front of a bank of television cameras.

Trump’s comments seriously endanger a bipartisan compromise on immigration, including protection of DACA recipients, that was presented to the president at the White House meeting.

Sens. Durbin and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were among those at the meeting who had hammered out the deal which is now in question not only because of the president’s remarks but also due to the resistance of hard-right GOP lawmakers. Sen. John Corbyn of Texas, the GOP whip, said a deal is “not going to be done by just a subgroup of the Republican conference and Democratic caucus.”

The deal would allow DACA recipients to stay, but to please right-wingers, it would authorize $2.8 billion for border security—including Trump’s demand for $1.6 billion for a border wall. The agreement would fund a partial fence and infusion of high-tech and training modules for border security.

But nothing seems to satisfy the hunger of right-wing lawmakers this year.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., not satisfied that the compromise policy would be cruel enough, called the compromise “a joke of a proposal.” Cotton is among people that reports say Trump is considering for leadership of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Durbin said in his remarks this morning, “The president said things that were hate-filled, vile, and racist. I use those words advisedly,” Durbin added, “I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, that any president has ever spoken the words I heard our president speak yesterday.” Durbin’s remarks were made to reporters at Chicago’s annual interfaith breakfast honoring the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lawmakers all over the country expressed their outrage over Trump’s remarks.

Chuy Garcia, a candidate for Congress and former mayoral candidate in Chicago, said, “Trump’s comments demonstrate his unfitness for the office. His ignorance, callousness, and incompetence make it difficult to distinguish him from a Klansman or a Nazi. As an immigrant and someone who has struggled to make our democracy inclusive of all, this is the most disgusting thing I have heard from a president of the U.S. in my lifetime.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the president’s remarks were “appalling.”

“It’s not enough to just respond with anger,” he said. “We have to build a political movement in this country which says that that is not who we are and we will not tolerate that type of moral inadequacy.”

At the White House meeting, Trump called for excluding Haitians from groups that are currently protected from expulsion. Durbin said at the breakfast that excluding Haitians led to an “obvious conclusion.” “These are black people, these are folks who bring a different aspect to temporary protected status than those who are from Central American countries. He [Trump] knew it, and we knew it,” Durbin said.

The president’s racist remarks came just days after he talked about Nigerians not wanting to “go back to their huts.”

The president’s remarks, in addition to being outrageously racist, reflect profound ignorance.

More than half the Nigerian immigrants coming to America have master’s degrees or higher. Many of them lived in modern apartment buildings or houses in large cities before they migrated to America.

The number of Ethiopian and African doctors in the U.S. outnumber those practicing in their own countries of origin.

In an article in The Nation today, the Rev. William Barber quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in order to underline the need for a movement in this country to take the racists out of their seats of power in the U.S. government. King had made the remarks less than 24 hours before he was assassinated:

“Now let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school—be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But we either go up together, or we go down together.”


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.