We'd have to borrow a few choice words from the Donald J. Trump lexicon to properly describe the president's appalling attitude when it comes to immigrants. Just when you think the man can go no lower, he digs in deeper.
Trump's shameful rant Thursday against Haitians and people from African nations is an embarrassment to a nation that has long opened its doors to a diverse sampling of people of all races, colors and creeds. Certainly Lady Liberty must be weeping. Again.
During a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as "s---hole countries," various news sources, including NBC, reported. The Washington Post reported that the slandered nations also included El Salvador.
On Friday - a day later - Trump in a tweet appeared to deny using the vulgarity, but admitted he used “tough” language during a discussion about an immigration deal with lawmakers.
It's particularly discouraging that such disparaging comments would come on a weekend when our nation is supposed to be celebrating a man who gave up his life fighting against hate. Martin Luther King Jr., was murdered half a century ago defending oppressed people, whose ancestors were herded aboard slave ships and brought to this country against their will. From African nations.
Ironically, Trump was taping a message in the State Dining Room for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the day the latest story unfolded.
Regarding Haiti, a nation whose people have long suffered political and personal tragedy and turmoil, Trump said: “Why do we need more Haitians, take them out.”
White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny the "s---hole" remark, but instead said in a statement that 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."
Maybe Trump should visit Utica to see how that's done.
His tirade is particularly unsettling here, where an immigrant/refugee population is especially vibrant, adding to the diversity of the community and helping it to prosper. In fact, on the same day the president was shamelessly spewing his venom in Washington, the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees announced that it has received awards totaling nearly $1.75 million through the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council - funding to be used for building acquisition and renovations at their new 201 Bleecker St. location. The building is the former site of the Utica School of Commerce, which closed in December 2016.
An MVRCR news release stated that the investment will establish a “One World Welcome and Opportunity Center” in the heart of downtown Utica. This impact center will not only allow the center to expand their services to provide workforce and vocational training to the Mohawk Valley’s entire six-county region, but will also create shared work space for partner organizations to create a “one-stop shop” for individuals to access services.
“This has been a challenging year in refugee resettlement nationally and we are grateful that our community, our state and our governor support diversity and tolerance, welcome refugees and immigrants, and truly believe that we are stronger together,” MVRCR Executive Director Shelly Callahan said.
At a time when refugees and immigrants - the backbone of this nation - have become targets of animosity and perceived as threats to our nation, Utica can stand proudly as a welcoming place to people from diverse backgrounds who have come to these shores and have vastly improved the community. For centuries.
It's a shame that the president doesn't understand that.