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Trump's vulgar term disgusts, saddens Utahns with ties to Haiti, Africa


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SALT LAKE CITY — Ogden resident Chareyl Moyes does Haiti all day, every day.

As co-founder of Utah-based Haitian Roots, she keeps tabs on the La Maison de nos Petite Enfants orphanage and schools the nonprofit runs in the Caribbean island nation. Her full-time job as a case manager with Wasatch International Adoptions also keeps Haiti on her radar.

Moyes has traveled to Haiti numerous times the past 14 years — she's going again next month — and saw firsthand the death and devastation of the 2010 earthquake that rocked the country eight years ago Friday.

To have President Donald Trump disparage a place and a people she loves cut deeply.

"I get that there are troubles in Haiti and it needs help. But for the leader of our country to refer to it as a s---hole is hurtful," she said. "It's hurtful to a nation that's constantly trying to recover from things that they have no control over."

Americans shouldn't give the president a pass but demand he apologize, Moyes said.

"Many of us work in those countries. I don't want to be embarrassed when I'm in that country. I don't want me to be a reflection of him," she said.

Trump on Friday denied that he had insulted Haitians amid an uproar about his reported description of African nations as "s---hole countries" during a meeting on immigration with lawmakers.

"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!" he tweeted.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was present at the meeting and spoke to reporters Friday, confirmed the president's remarks and said the media reports were accurate, according to NBC News.

Trump's response:

In recounting the meeting, Durbin suggested that Trump's slur was aimed at African nations.

Two sources and Durbin said that when the discussion turned to Haiti, Trump questioned why Haitians should be given specific consideration, according to NBC.

"Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out," he said, according to sources.

Somali native Aden Batar said he wasn't surprised at Trump's vulgar remark given his previous comments about refugees and immigrants. But he said it's not what people expect from a president.

"It's not who we are as Americans," he said. "That was very offensive to the people in our community."

Many of us work in those countries. I don't want to be embarrassed when I'm in that country. I don't want me to be a reflection of him.

–Chareyl Moyes

Batar, the immigration and refugee resettlement director for Catholic Community Services, said people come to the United States looking to make better lives for themselves.

"These individuals he's calling names, they deserve respect. Refugees go through so many difficulties in their lives and in their countries. They escaped war and persecution. They're looking for a safe place to raise their children and their families," he said.

Batar said he also worries that Congress stays silent and doesn't hold the president accountable when he makes offensive statements. It also needs to pass immigration reform, he said.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, whose parents immigrated from Haiti, had the strongest reaction among Utah's congressional delegation. She blasted Trump on Thursday and demanded he apologize.

"I doubt that a comment like that would have been made if somebody like me was sitting across the table from him," Love said. She said the president's remark was "obviously disheartening" but presented an opportunity "to rise above it and say, 'I'm going to be an example of kindness, of compassion.'"

Local politicians react:

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Friday called the comments attributed to the president "insulting and distracting."

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, described himself as dismayed.

"We should let in immigrants based on who they are — not their country of origin. It's what you do when you get here, not where you come from that makes us a great and united nation," he said.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, didn't address Trump's remark directly but said immigrants are the lifeblood of America.

"Utah itself has a long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees into our communities. We should continue to do so with respect and dignity," he said.

Stewart said he recognizes the immigration system is broken and that he looks forward to legislation that brings clarity to the process and security to the country's borders.

Shannon Cox, a Haitian Roots co-founder who now lives in Dallas, said she felt "disgusted and sad" at Trump's remarks.

It's not who we are as Americans. That was very offensive to the people in our community.

–Aden Batar

She plans to sit down with her 13-year-old Haitian-born son to talk about Trump's "deeply offensive" remark about his home country. She'll try to explain why the most influential person in the United States called "his country, his culture, that part of his identity a s---hole. That pretty much sucks as a parent."

Cox said she'll tell her son that she respects the office, but the president "makes a lot of mistakes and says a lot of really disrespectful things, and that that was very inappropriate and hurtful."

Isson Joseph, a native of Haiti who earned a bachelor's degree at Weber State University and a master's degree at Brigham Young University, said he doesn't think Trump's comment diminishes what Haitian immigrants, himself included, are able to accomplish.

"History has shown that when Haitians come to the United States, they work," he said.

Joseph, who helped start Haitian Roots and worked in the Haitian consulate in Miami, said he doubts Haitian care much about the comment considering where it came from.

"The fact is we are important," he said. "We are going to continue to strengthen the community."


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