A recent report from The New York Times, detailing Trump’s aggressively xenophobic and ill-considered immigration policies, also included a disturbing write-up of the way that Trump talks about immigrants behind closed doors. According to the Times‘ sources, Trump said that Nigerians live in huts and Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS.”
Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.
Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.
Trump’s racism and xenophobia are a well-established part of his rhetoric, and it’s not surprising that Haiti and Nigeria received particular vitriol from him. They are not only foreign countries, but majority-black foreign countries. Trump’s anti-black animus, from his racial discrimination suitsto his hatred of the exonerated Central Park Five, has been well-documented, and when it collides with his hatred of immigrants, you get this cloud of vicious ignorance.
It feels rather ridiculous to even justify these comments with a factual response, but just in case, let’s remind the racists of reality. Nigeria is, of course, Africa’s largest economy and the world’s 20th largest, and Nigerian-Americans are one of the most highly educated demographics in the United States. With an approximately 2.1% prevalence rate in adults, Haiti does have one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the Caribbean, and they deserve UN and US aid to combat this. But that rate is still only 2.1% of the population.
Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration denies that this exchange ever occurred. “General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”