Trump's racist comments are a perfect precursor to an impending government shutdown

What little hope there was of reaching a bipartisan agreement on immigration seems to have been destroyed

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 16, 2018 8:11AM (EST)

 (AP/Evan Vucci)
(AP/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump's disparaging references to Haiti, El Salvador and the countries of Africa may have made a government shutdown inevitable.

One continued sticking point that has made it difficult for Republicans to work together is the ongoing dispute over whether Trump referred to a number of nations as "s**thole countries," while saying that he'd rather have Norwegian immigrants, according to The New York Times. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., attended the meeting in question and has stuck by his story, while Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., have increasingly supported the president in his assertion that those comments were never made.

"Since the meeting I don’t remember things differently. I know what I heard, and I know what I said to the president," Graham told the Times.

The Democratic side has also suffered a rift between its ideological and pragmatic factions. On one side are the Democrats who are considering running for president and as a result want to please their party base, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. They have insisted that any deal to avoid a government shutdown include protections for Dreamers, even as Democrats from red states who are running for reelection this year (like Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri) have hoped to arrive at some sort of compromise.

The DACA meeting itself was in many ways emblematic of the deeper problems that have made a government shutdown possible. Both Durbin and Graham had worked on a bipartisan deal with other senators from both parties, including Democratic Sens. Michael F. Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Cory Gardner of Colorado, according to The Washington Post. But, when they went Thursday morning to speak with Trump, the president — who seemingly assured the moderates that the bipartisan measure would have his full support — they were met by a number of conservative legislators who changed Trump's mind, namely Cotton, Perdue and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

While the prospect of a government shutdown is ominous enough, the possibility that thousands of innocent people could be deported if a compromise isn't reached on DACA could also have serious consequences.

"The DACA program, it's something that you need to be not a criminal to receive DACA. Like, you literally have to pass an extreme background check and you need to do it every two years. So if it any point you committed a crime within the two years you had DACA and reapplied again, that is taken away from you," Pamela Chomba, northeast organizing director for, told Salon in September.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa