But neither he nor the White House disputed the most controversial of his remarks: using the word "shithole" to describe Africa nations and saying he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead. It was in the Oval Office as lawmakers were discussing protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal. "There is no other word one can use but 'racist, '" United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a Geneva news briefing. Dancing around the issue in a series of tweets, he disputed reports that he used those specific words while copping to using "tough" language. "You can not dismiss entire countries and continents as "shitholes", whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome".
The comment "truly flies in the face of accepted behaviour and practice", said Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU chief Moussa Faki. "But we do regret what allegedly the president said about Haitians and other groups".
Less than three hours later, Durbin and a Republican colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, drove away from the White House with the deal in pieces and a controversy over offensive language about to reverberate worldwide.
"Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" So the president's remarks Thursday, in which he reportedly called African nations "shithole countries", left Barber in an awkward position. "People come here because they're trying to improve their lives, not make it worse", she said. "Trump has to go", Marie Lourdes St. John Beaute, spokesperson with the immigration advocacy group KOMOKODO, said.
Trump's insults - along with his rejection of the bipartisan immigration deal that six senators had drafted - also threatened to further complicate efforts to extend protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, many of whom were brought to this country as children and now are here illegally.More news: New England Patriots: Alan Branch's return is key to slowing Derrick Henry
In exchange, the deal would end extended family "chain migration".
The president and lawmakers are in the midst of intense negotiations about how to shield almost 800,000 "dreamers" from deportation.
Trump's contemptuous blanket description of African countries startled lawmakers in the meeting and immediately revived charges that the president is racist.
Earlier in the week, Trump had assured lawmakers that he would accept any agreement crafted by Congress. "These are human beings, not commodities". "I can not believe that in the history of the White House and that Oval Office any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday".
Durbin said Graham immediately spoke up against Trump's comments, and he commended the Republican senator for doing so.
At the same time, two Republicans who were in the Oval Office with Trump said they "do not recall" him talking about "shithole" countries in Africa. "Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"More news: Health Alert: FDA warns of opioids in cold medicines
"I don't think the Present Trump is a racist in the traditional sense as we know in this country", Isaac Newton Farris Jr. told CNN".
"President Trump's comments are racist and a disgrace", said Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House.
Some Republicans were also unhappy.
Media captionDick Durbin: "Trump said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly" What did the African Union say?
He also denied demanding that Haitians be removed from negotiations about protected status for people from certain countries.More news: Feinstein's Unauthorized Transcript Release Called Legal but 'Bizarre'