According to United States media reports, citing people with knowledge of the conversation, Trump asked during a conversation about immigration: "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"
After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the president reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from "shithole countries", rather than - for instance - wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.
"Ours is not a s--hole country, neither is Haiti or any other country in distress", said South Africa's Jessie Duarte, a deputy secretary-general of the African National Congress. On Friday the president tweeted that his language was "tough" but insisted he did not say anything derogatory about Haitians aside from noting it's a poor country. "We've come too far and made too much progress to go back to fan the flames of racism and bigotry". "I expect that our assistance program would continue pretty much as they are", Jackson told Joy News.
The ANC is not in a position to stop any president from any country from saying anything they wish, she said.
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Senator Durbin, a member of the Democratic Party, was at the White House meeting on Thursday.
On Friday, Mr Trump on Friday tweeted that his language he used at the private meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration legislation had been "tough". The details of the proposal have not been publicised, but the President said: "The so-called bipartisan DACA deal. was a big step backwards".
When asked what Trump had said in the meeting, Durbin said, "I can not believe that in the history of the White House and of that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday".
"I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians", he said on Twitter, adding that Democrats had made the accusations up. And for all of you who over the last few years who have uttered that exhausted, lazy, uninformed, uneducated, ignorant, response of calling me and others who point out racist behavior "racist"?
Ghana, located in west Africa, is one of the region's most politically stable countries and has long enjoyed friendly relations with the United States. Republican leaders have said an immigration bill must include other Republican goals, like funding for increased border security.
Senior congressman Mike Simpson said: "The rhetoric just makes it more hard, and that's unfortunate".