Trump Describes African Countries As 'S***holes' During DACA Negotiations President Trump used vulgar language to refer to African countries in a meeting about immigration, as a bipartisan group of senators worked toward a deal on protections for young immigrants.

Trump Describes African Countries As 'S***holes' During DACA Negotiations

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The discussion over immigration apparently got heated at the White House today. Sources tell NPR President Trump used a vulgar slur in reference to African countries in a meeting with senators. In the same meeting, the president rejected a bipartisan deal among lawmakers on immigration. It addressed border security as well as a solution for roughly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

NPR's Kelsey Snell is on Capitol Hill and following all this, and she's with us now. Hey, Kelsey.


MCEVERS: So let's start with this White House meeting where the president reportedly used vulgar language. What more do we know?

SNELL: A bipartisan group of senators went to the White House to brief President Trump on a plan to pair border spending - border security spending with protections for those roughly 700,000 immigrants you mentioned commonly known as DREAMers. So Congress is working against a clock here. President Trump announced that he was ending the DACA program back in September, but lawmakers want to get a deal done by the end of next week.

So the people I spoke with said that Trump made the comments during a part of the discussion on the visa lottery system. He asked why the U.S. would want to accept immigrants from countries in Africa and places like Haiti and expressed a preference for people to come from places like Norway instead. And there are a lot more details of that conversation, and people can go to our website if they want to read more about it.

MCEVERS: The president also rejected a deal that had been announced by a bipartisan group of senators. Explain what happened there.

SNELL: We first heard about this deal early in the afternoon when one of those negotiators, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, told reporters that a deal was done. Here's what he said.


JEFF FLAKE: We've got this bipartisan group. We're at a deal, and so we'll be talking to the White House about that. And I hope we can move forward with it. It's the only game in town.

SNELL: Flake was standing down in the Senate subway. We heard the door to the Senate subway shutting there. And he was excited. He was telling us that it was time for them to get moving, and it sounded like things were hopeful.

MCEVERS: But then a few hours later, things changed, right? And now we seem back at square one. What happened?

SNELL: Shortly after, we heard back from these bipartisan senators who had gone to the White House, and they seemed a lot more dour. And we ran into Senator John Cornyn. He's from Texas. He's the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. And he said that there was a lot more negotiating to be done. And this group of people that had been working together that said they had a deal - maybe it wasn't a deal for everyone.


JOHN CORNYN: Again, six people can't agree to something that will bind Congress and the House.

SNELL: And that may well be true. There are some questions about whether or not what this group came up with would be enough to satisfy the House, where you have a lot more conservative members.

MCEVERS: So there's this deadline coming up. It's one week from tomorrow. The government will shut down unless Congress passes a spending deal. Democrats want this immigration agreement to be part of that. How likely does that seem now?

SNELL: It seems pretty unlikely that they will be able to vote on any part of this agreement. Even Flake when he was telling us at the height of his happiness about this deal that - he said even then that he didn't think that there would be a vote by the end of next week. Here's what he said.


FLAKE: I have a hard time seeing it done by the 19th. But the commitment from our majority leader was get a bill on the floor by the end of the month. We need some runway between, you know, then and March 5, so...

SNELL: And now, that commitment is important because what I've heard a lot of the negotiators say is that if they had a deal in hand and the White House had signed off and the House had signed off and the Senate had signed off, then they could move forward to the spending deal and vote maybe later at the end of January or early in February, and all sides could still be satisfied. But they would still have to come to a deal in the next couple of days.

MCEVERS: NPR's Kelsey Snell at the Capitol, thank you very much.

SNELL: Thank you.

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