The White House denied the "outrageous claims" in a report that said President Trump complained during an Oval Office meeting about immigrants – going so far as to say Haitians "all have AIDS" and once Nigerians see what life in America is like, they would never "go back to their huts."
The remarks came in June, according to a New York Times report, in which Trump was upset at how immigration efforts were going. Sources said Trump's domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller had just given him a document that listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the U.S. in 2017.
The president complained about the number of immigrants that had come in from Afghanistan – 2,500 – and was said to have described the country as a terrorist haven. The report details that then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to explain to the president that many were short-term travelers making one-time visits. But Trump continued his outburst, causing Kelly and Miller to get upset at Tillerson and blaming him for the influx of foreigners.
Tempers flared, and Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members, but even then aides could still hear Trump berating his most senior advisers. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the report.
“Gen. Kelly, Gen. McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen, and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser, and the secretaries of state and homeland security. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”
Immigration was a top priority of Trump's throughout his presidential campaign and in the first year of his presidency.
Trump's travel ban on Muslim-majority countries plus Venezuela and North Korea has been rewritten a handful of times after running into legal hurdles.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the third version of the travel should be blocked, but the ruling will not take effect pending review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va., and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rather than take apart the entire ban, however, three members of the 9th Circuit ruled that only the prohibitions on "foreign nationals who have a bona fide relationship" within the U.S. should be stopped.
Trump has also promised a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but the administration has yet to secure federal funding for it.