During immigration negotiations between congressional leaders, it’s been widely reported that President Trump said why are we letting people from “sh*thole countries” come here. We have some people who confirm he said these remarks, while others don’t recall it. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) said in a statement:
“In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest. We, along with the President, are committed to solving an issue many in Congress have failed to deliver on for decades.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is the one who confirmed the president said these remarks; Trump has denied such language was used. Here’s a clip of Durbin recollecting the incident (via RCP) [emphasis mine]:
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): In the course of his comments of said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist — he used those words. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.
You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things. And he said them repeatedly. When the question was raised about Haitians, for example, we have a group that have temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group’s El Salvadorians. The second is Honduran and the third is Haitian.
When I mentioned that fact to him, he said, “Haitians, do we need more Haitians?” Then he went on and 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,” The exact word used by the president — not just once but repeatedly.
That was the nature of this conversation. When it came to the issue of, quote, “chain migration,” I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains and when you talk about chain migration, it hurts them personally.
We’ll get back to that in a second. First, you know, Dick Durbin has said some colorful things himself. In 2005, he compared U.S. troops to Nazis, remarks that he was forced to apologize for on the Senate floor (via WaPo):
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism.
Durbin, the Democratic whip, acknowledged that "more than most people, a senator lives by his words" but that "occasionally words will fail us and occasionally we will fail words." Choking up, he said: "Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies."
Second, Durbin is not the most reliable source when it comes to White House meetings. In 2013, during the debt ceiling negotiations, Dick was caught straight up lying, alleging that one GOP congressional leader told the president, “I can’t even stand to look at you.” This never happened (via Politico) [emphasis mine]:
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, said in a Facebook post that a House Republican leader told off President Barack Obama during a negotiation meeting, and that GOP leaders are so disrespectful it’s practically impossible to have a conversation with them.
But Wednesday afternoon, both the White House and House speaker’s office denied his claims.
“In a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you,’” Durbin wrote in a post on his Facebook page over the weekend.
Asked about the post in the White House daily briefing, press secretary Jay Carney said he checked with a participant of the meeting in question.
“I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting and it did not happen,” Carney said.
The Obama White House quickly provided Durbin with some cover, saying there was a misunderstanding, or something (via Business Insider):
While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the President is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding," the White House official said in a statement.
Now, circling back to the "chain migration" part, that's problematic for Mr. Durbin now? What changed? In 2007, a statement from his office included a portion, where it said the DREAM Act wouldn’t lead to “chain migration”:
The DREAM Act would NOT lead to “chain migration”. DREAM Act beneficiaries would have very limited ability to sponsor family members. They could never sponsor extended family members and they could not begin sponsoring siblings or parents for at least six years. The visa backlog for siblings is decades long and parents who are illegally present in the U.S. would have to leave the country for ten years before they could gain legal status.
Yesterday, the phrase was used in a joint press release for a rejected proposal hashed out by Durbin and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
That's an entirely different debate, one that's part of the wider political correctness nonsense sweeping the country. As for what happened in that meeting, could Durbin be peddling inaccuracies again? It’s possible.