Trump made the comment in an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers during a discussion of protections for immigrants from several countries, according to The Washington Post.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to multiple people briefed on the meeting.
He reportedly suggested the U.S. should bring in more immigrants from countries such as Norway.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said when asked to comment on the Post story, before outlining Trump’s requirements for an immigration deal.
“The president will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration — two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country,” the spokesman said. “Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”
Trump has been quoted criticizing immigrants from these countries in the past. The New York Times reported in December he once suggested Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS,” and Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” if granted entrance to the U.S.
The White House denied those allegations at the time.
In the meeting, lawmakers reportedly floated reinstating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for countries that have been removed from the program as part of an immigration deal.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would end TPS for more than 260,000 immigrants from El Salvador.
Trump campaigned on a hardline immigration stance and has tried to enforce limits through his travel ban, which has been challenged multiple times in courts.
Updated 5:15 p.m.