ORLANDO, Fla. - Members of Central Florida’s Haitian community on Friday criticized reports that President Donald Trump used a vulgar remark to describe the country on the eve of the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake, one of the deadliest disasters in modern history.
On Thursday, Trump was in a private meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration when those who attended said he questioned why the U.S. would accept more people from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway.
Watch Gov. Rick Scott's response to Trump's Haiti comments below:
Orange County Commissioner Victoria Siplin, who is of Haitian ancestry, said Friday that Trump is misinformed about the island nation, the first independent country founded by freed slaves.
"I find President Trump’s reported comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African countries unacceptable and inaccurate," Siplin said. "Haiti has long history with the United States, dating back to the American Revolutionary War, (during which) 500 heroic Haitians volunteered to fight alongside the American troops for America’s independence."
Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
Siplin's district includes Orlando's tourist district, where many Haitian immigrants are employed.
“I’m very disappointed as a child of immigrant parents who came over here for a better opportunity, a better life,” said Ketsia Louima, an Orlando resident, whose parents are from Haiti.
She said her parents and other Haitian immigrants came to America in search of a better life.
“If you look, they are the most hard-working,” she said. Louima.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson called the president’s comment, “deplorable.”
In a series of Friday morning tweets, Trump said he used tough language during Thursday's meeting, but he denied using vulgarities.
The Trump administration announced late last year that it would end a temporary residency permit program that allowed nearly 60,000 citizens from Haiti to live and work in the United States following a devastating 2010 earthquake.
If you want to see what Haiti is really like & how you can help, tune into Channel 9 at 12:30 this Sunday with @GWarmothWFTV on “Central Florida Spotlight" - I'll see you there! #Haiti @TheHaitiProgram pic.twitter.com/RkOPnqjwgI— Brian Shields (@BShieldsWFTV) January 12, 2018
Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s government issued a strongly worded statement denouncing what it called a “racist” depiction of Haiti.
“The Haitian government condemns in the strongest terms these abhorrent and obnoxious remarks which, if proven, reflect a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community and its contribution to the United States,” it said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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