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If Haiti Weren’t A ‘Sh-thole,’ Its Citizens Wouldn’t Need Refugee Status In The U.S.


America has the potential to take people from terrible countries and turn them into great Americans.


President Trump derides protections for immigrants from ‘shithole’ countries. 

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting. ‘Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?’ Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.

Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met withWednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.

Let’s be clear about one thing here: Haiti is a shithole. I’ve been there twice. It has a cholera epidemic thanks to the United Nations and a burgeoning child sex trafficking problem thanks to the predilections of evil people. It is really a hellish place. But the whole point of the temporary status welcoming immigrants from these countries is based on them being real shitholes – places so dangerous and awful that we won’t send refugees from them back to the countries because they’ll probably die, or worse. That’s the whole point of granting this policy in the first place.

When this story broke yesterday, people immediately seized upon it as indicative of the president’s racism. That’s wrong – contra Noah Rothman, who maintained without any basis whatsoever that Trump was referring to the entire African continent as opposed to those nations covered by TPS, I’m sure Trump knows the difference between Somalia and Egypt and would not refer to them in the same way. Fresh from his Asia tour late last year, he has no such insults to direct toward those countries. But for those eager to tag him as a white supremacist – as an opinion editor of the Washington Post did yesterday – this was an easy opportunity to do so.

The problem emerges when you actually deal with the question at hand. Witness this back and forth on CNN, where Joan Walsh was caught flat footed when Rich Lowry asks if she’d rather live in Haiti or Norway.  This is an easy question, and pretending otherwise doesn’t help matters. Anti-immigration appetites are fed when people are unwilling to admit the truth about what they are arguing.

In this case, I’d gladly argue that America has the potential to take people from shithole countries and turn them into great Americans. In fact, America has been doing this for a very long time. That is one of the wonderful things about our nation – that it takes the rejected refuse of the world and turns them into citizens, with the same rights as those born here, and the same potential to be men and women who do great things. That is part of what makes us exceptional. I wish our president understood that.