Legislators, a city councilman and several candidates running for office widely denounced comments made by President Donald Trump that referred to immigrants coming from “s***hole countries.”
The comments, which White House officials did not deny Thursday but Trump denied saying them Friday, were made during a meeting between Trump and congressional legislators on extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“The language used by the president yesterday was offensive and inappropriate,” said Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, on social media Friday. “We must speak about immigration and our policies towards other countries with empathy and respect.”
The president denied making the statements, despite legislators present in the meeting telling media outlets he did.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” he tweeted Friday. “Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”
Knight’s three main challengers in the upcoming midterm election in November, all seeking the Democratic nomination, posted similar statements to Twitter.
“These are the types of comments that made Donald Trump president,” Katie Hill wrote Thursday. “He rose to power by exploiting racial resentment, cultural anxiety, and fear of difference. Let’s elect leaders who represent the best of our country, rather than the worst of it.”
Bryan Caforio added Friday: “.@realDonaldTrump’s comments are disgusting and despicable, but sadly not surprising. Dr. King said it best: ‘Let us march on ballot boxes until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.’ America is better than this. Trump and his enablers must go – onward to November!”
Jess Phoenix said the country has welcomed diversity from all over the world.
“One thing I love about the U.S. is how so many people from around the world have made their homes here,” she wrote Friday. “Trump’s words were just plain wrong, like so much of his presidency. Diversity equals strength. Nothing Trump or anyone else says can change that.”
Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, said Friday lawmakers should focus on what unites Americans together.
“If the comments attributed to the president are accurate, they are unacceptable,” he said. “Focus on what brings us together as the greatest nation on earth, not on what divides us.”
Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, noted on Facebook the forthcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“America is more than just a place, it is an ideal,” he said on Facebook Friday. “The president’s comments yesterday fall far short of the values that make us great. On Monday, we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — a reminder that people should be judged by the quality and content of their character…not the color of their skin.”
Santa Clarita City Councilman Cameron Smyth said Trump’s comments were unacceptable from a commander-in-chief.
“The comments from the President today were truly embarrassing,” Smyth wrote on Twitter Thursday. “Not acceptable from the leader of this amazing nation built by people from s***hole countries.”
Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, whose district includes the far northern portion of the Santa Clarita Valley, echoed Smyth’s comments.
“President Trump’s reference to Africa today was unacceptable,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday. “We expect better!”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior representative in the U.S. Senate, said on Facebook and Twitter Friday the president’s comments were not fit for his office.
“If the president can’t control himself and lead this country with the authority, dignity and leadership it requires, then he shouldn’t be the president,” she said. “There’s no room for racism in the Oval Office.”
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said Friday that immigrants should feel welcome on American shores.
“Immigrants from countries across the globe—including and especially those from Haiti and all parts of Africa—have helped build this country,” she said. “They should be welcomed and celebrated, not demeaned and insulted.”
Harris added an hour later: “Unless you’re Native American or your ancestors were kidnapped and brought over on slave ships, everyone in this country has an immigrant background. We are a nation of immigrants.”