Group calls on senators to denounce alleged Trump comments on immigration

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The National Action Network called on state senators to publicly denounce comments attributed to President Donald Trump on immigration at a White House meeting.

The group wants Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. Tim Scott to speak out against  Trump's "vile and racist language" he allegedly used in referring to Haiti and African nations, according to a press release from the group.

Trump reportedly used a vulgarity to describe Haiti and African countries according to several reports. There is no transcript or recording of that meeting.

But the group called for public condemnation of the comments by South Carolina's senators.

"We're now well into the 21st century, and the president of what is purported to be the most powerful nation on earth just set a new low in our policy," NAN National Vice President the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III said. "He said blatantly what many of us know that he believes because he has said too many times to be mistaken: that immigrants from Africa, the continent of Africa, and from Haiti, are not welcome because of their color and their place of origin, to the United States."

Rivers said Trump took the torch out of the hand of the Statue of Liberty with his remarks.

"President Trump has been and is a racist. He has a record replete with racism," Rivers said. "The challenge for us now is now what he said but how we respond."

Speaking at the Charity Baptist Church in North Charleston, the group says it sent letters to Graham and Scott expressing their outrage.

"It cuts like a knife," National Action Network State President Elder James Johnson said of the remarks.

Graham was present for the meeting Thursday, and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, has said Graham objected to the president's phrasing during that meeting.

"My colleague, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said. I was very proud of him, it took courage for what he did," Durbin said.

Graham has not said whether Durbin's comments were accurate. But he did issue a statement Friday which read in part:

"Yesterday Senator Durbin and I met with President Trump at the White House to discuss our bipartisan proposal on border security and immigration.

Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.  I've always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals. 

The American ideal is embraced by people all over the globe.  It was best said a long time ago, E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One. Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness.  In reforming immigration we cannot lose these American Ideals." 

Graham's statement did not detail what Trump said or what Graham told the president in response.

The National Action Network went as far to say the mayors of Charleston and North Charleston should not attend any events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King unless they denounce the president immediately.

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