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Trump Questions Why U.S. Welcomes People From 'Sh*thole' Countries

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resident Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington. resident Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington.

President Trump questioned why the U.S. is accepting people from "sh*thole" countries, when lawmakers suggested bringing back legal protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as a part of a broader immigration deal, CBS News' Nancy Cordes confirms, citing a person briefed on the meeting.

"Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?" the president said in the Thursday afternoon Oval Office meeting with a handful of members of the House and Senate. "We should bring in more people from places like Norway," he added. Norway's prime minister visited the White House Wednesday.  The Trump administration recently decided to soon end Temporary Protected Status for citizens of countries like Haiti and El Salvador, who came to the U.S. to escape natural disasters. 

The Washington Post first reported Mr. Trump's remarks. The comments shocked some lawmakers present, according to the Washington Post. 

The White House did not deny the president's reported remarks. 

"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 in a statement. "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.  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."

Democrats in Congress seized on the president's comments, and the Congressional Black Caucus said the remarks are, "further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda."

Republicans who responded — or, the few of those who did — were measured.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he would have to see more information. 

The president was meeting with a handful of lawmakers to discuss how they might reach an immigration deal. Senators attending the meeting included Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas; David Perdue, R-Georgia, Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; and Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida. 

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said senators and the White House had not yet reached a deal, although a slightly different group of senators later said they had reached an "agreement in principle." 

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