Jacksonville immigrants closely watching 'sh--hole' controversy

President Trump denies making remark about nations in Africa, Caribbean

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Controversy is swirling about claims that President Donald Trump made a vulgar comment about struggling countries and their immigrants.

The news broke late Thursday afternoon that during a meeting with lawmakers, Trump described some countries in Africa and the Caribbean, like Haiti, as “sh--hole countries.”

The meeting was over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows immigrants who entered the country as minors to defer potential deportation.

Friday morning the president defended himself, tweeting, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.”

The controversy -- and the president's actions -- are being watched closely by Jacksonville's immigrant community, including Haitian immigrant Patrick Jacques.

Jacques immigrated to Jacksonville in 2009 and now helps other immigrants from his home country. 

He didn’t appear that outraged over what some claim the president said, but he said it will be tough to keep his country’s respect with such language.

“As a human, when people say that, I don’t think that’s what we expect from the President of the United States to talk about another ethnicity.  But hey, once again, he’s a human. And that’s not the first time he’s said stuff like that,” Jacques said.

Rebecca Black, an immigration lawyer in Jacksonville, said the city has immigrants from all over the world, and they are closely watching the DACA issue.

She said that while the president and critics may argue over what was said in the DACA meeting, many in the immigrant community will remember the initial vulgar quote that was reported.

“That gets on the news, it gets translated into their news, whether it’s print, radio, TV -- and I think it hurts,” Black said.

Despite the hurt, she said the immigrant community is a tough one.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.