Trump denies offensive 'shithole' language, slams Senate immigration compromise

WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said a bipartisan Senate immigration plan would force the United States to admit people from "high crime" countries "doing badly," and denied using a vulgar reference in comments decried as racist.

Trump denounced the deal reached by a group of six Republican and Democratic senators as too weak and insisted he did not use the word "shithole" to describe Haiti and African countries.

U.S. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who was at a White House meeting on immigration on Thursday where Trump reportedly made the remarks, confirmed to reporters on Friday that Trump used "vile, vulgar" language, including "shithole."

Reports of the president's language referring to people of color from the other countries drew criticism from U.S. lawmakers of both major parties and critics abroad who said they could not be described as anything but racist.

RELATED: Trump holds bipartisan meeting on immigration reform

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Trump holds bipartisan meeting on immigration reform
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), flanked by Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), rubs his eyes and listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US Senator Dianne Feinstein (C), D-California, speaks to US President Donald Trump during a meeting with bipartisan members of the Senate on immigration at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ), flanked by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks as President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) speaks during a meeting about immigration with U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican and Democrat members of Congress in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. In addition to seeking bipartisan solutions to immigration reform, Trump advocated for the reintroduction of earmarks as a way to break the legislative stalemate in Congress. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, center, listens while U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, right, speaks during a meeting with bipartisan members of Congress on immigration in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Trump�indicated he's willing to split contentious immigration proposals into two stages, providing protections for young immigrants known as dreamers and increasing border security first, leaving tougher negotiations on comprehensive legislation for later. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump conducts a meeting on immigration in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. In addition to seeking bipartisan solutions to immigration reform, Trump advocated for the reintroduction of earmarks as a way to break the legislative stalemate in Congress. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09: Republican and Democrat members of Congress, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and others join President Donald Trump for a meeting on immigration in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. In addition to seeking bipartisan solutions to immigration reform, Trump advocated for the reintroduction of earmarks as a way to break the legislative stalemate in Congress. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Amid the furor the president criticized the immigration proposal. "The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards," Trump said in a series of tweets on Friday.

The Senate group has been working for months to craft legislation that would protect 700,000 children who were brought to the United States as illegal immigrants and later given protection from deportation under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The tentative deal also addresses border security, including a border wall, the diversity visa lottery and chain migration.

"Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly," Trump wrote.

The Republican president sought to walk back comments he reportedly made to senators on Thursday at the meeting, saying, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used."

Trump had questioned why the United States would want to accept immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as "shithole countries," according to two sources familiar with the comments.

SEE ALSO: Trump’s vulgar remark on Haiti, Africa leaves immigrants baffled

Trump on Friday denied saying "anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country."

The reported language was the latest in a long string of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments by Trump that have been condemned as racist. He also blamed "both sides" after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent.

The president's latest comments drew reactions from abroad on Friday.

In Geneva, the United Nations human rights office said the "racist" remarks would incite xenophobia.

"These are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States. There is no other word one can use but 'racist,'" U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a Geneva news briefing.

Trump's comments are extremely offensive to South Africa, said Jessie Duarte, a senior official with the ruling African National Congress. "Ours is not a shithole country. Neither is Haiti or any other country in distress," she said.

At the White House meeting Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham briefed the president on the newly drafted, bipartisan immigration bill.

The lawmakers were describing how certain immigration programs operate, including one to give safe haven in the United States to people from countries suffering from natural disasters or civil strife.

Trump said, "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're shithole countries ... We should have more people from Norway," according to one source briefed on the conversation.

"On behalf of Norway: Thanks, but no thanks," tweeted Torbjoern Saetre, a Norwegian politician on Friday. (Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Ed Stoddard in London; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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