Senators to pursue immigration deal over president's objections


But neither he nor the White House disputed the most controversial of his remarks: using the word "shithole" to describe Africa nations and saying he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

In an oddly-timed coincidence, the U.S. president on Friday signed a declaration honoring the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr, three days before the federal holiday celebrated in his honor.

The comment was widely condemned as racist, although Trump later denied saying "anything derogatory" about the people of Haiti.

"Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday".

Botswana summoned the United States ambassador to the country to "clarify if Botswana is regarded as a "shithole" country", according to a foreign ministry statement which called Mr Trump's comments "irresponsible, reprehensible and racist".

Dodging the questions, the President said goodbye to his guests and rushed out of the room.

Durbin said that Trump specifically asked, "Do we need more Haitians?", before launching into a diatribe about African immigration.

"Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"

Trump met this week with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

"Other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country", he posted on Twitter. "Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and US would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly".

"(I) have known many fine Haitians - including a former governor general of Canada", Campbell said in a tweet.

The reference to Norway may have been prompted by Prime Minister Erna Solberg who visited the White House on Wednesday when the president praised Norway for running a trade deficit with the United States and for buying USA military equipment.

He said the bill was a step backwards because it would force the United States "to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly".

Democrat members of Congress said the remark clearly showed Mr Trump was racist.

In a tweet Friday morning, Trump said he used "tough" language at the meeting.

"I don't know what kind of brain he has because he just forgets the history of the world", Villefranche said.

President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., listens during a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House on January 9, 2018. "They're shithole countries. We should have more people from Norway".

Trump's comments added uncertainty to already contentious talks about legislation to shield hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation and boost border security measures.

"He didn't just name a white country, he named the whitest - so white they wear moon-screen", he said.

President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said that the reported comments "assault the dignity of our people".

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the chamber's lone black Republican, told the Charleston Post and Courier, "if that comment is accurate, the comment is incredibly disappointing".

Trump's alleged statement drew global condemnation. "Our bipartisan group continues to build support for the only deal in town".

Trump ignited a storm of controversy on Thursday after denouncing immigration to the United States from "shithole countries" during a meeting with lawmakers.

Leaders in the House of Representatives - both Republicans and Democrats - issued a joint statement Friday afternoon condemning what Trump was reported to say.