U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, is among the Republican lawmakers criticizing President Donald Trump’s comments that the United States doesn’t want immigrants from “shithole countries.”
Scott, the only African-American Republican senator, called the president's comments “disappointing,” according to CNN.
“The American family was born from immigrants fleeing persecution and poverty and searching for a better future,” the South Carolinian said in a statement. “Our strength lies in our diversity, including those who came here from Africa, the Caribbean and every other corner of the world. To deny these facts would be to ignore the brightest part of our history.”
Scott is one of several politicians who criticized the president’s remarks, reportedly made in the Oval Office as a group of senators presented a plan to reform the immigration system, especially the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program for young immigrants brought into the country as children.
Trump reportedly surprised the lawmakers present by saying th U.S. should not accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa. Trump also said the U.S. should accept more immigrants from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met with this week.
The president later tweeted, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.”
Trump also described the meeting as a “big setback for DACA!”
Trump has said he wants to end the DACA program in March unless Congress takes action.
South Carolina’s other senator, Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, is one of the senators working on a deal and was in the Oval Office when Trump made the remarks.
When speaking to reporters afterward, Graham declined to say how the president responded. But, he added, coming up with bipartisan support in the coming days “will matter to the president.”
The next day, Graham said he expressed his concerns to Trump at the time.
“Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” Graham said. “The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.”
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., confirmed Trump’s comments to reporters and praised Graham’s reaction in the meeting.
“My colleague, (Sen. Graham), spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said,” Durbin said. “For him to confront the president as he did, literally sitting next to him, took extraordinary political courage, and I respect him for it.”