Local immigrants worry about Trump remarks

Updated: Jan. 12, 2018 at 4:08 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - President Donald Trump's reported comments calling some countries, "sh**hole" nations is sparking outcry in  local African-American and immigrant communities.

Though the president  said he has been misquoted, the damage may have already been done.

"Two hundred dollars in my pocket," said a Nigerian immigrant who came to the U.S. with a dream and a few dollars. "Worked as a dishwasher in Washington D.C."

He is now a SUNO professor. Victor Upkolo earned his PhD while working nights. He wound up serving as SUNO president for 10 years. He was taken aback by remarks attributed to President Trump, referring to some immigrant nations as "sh**hole" countries.

"It is baffling to the world to hear the leader of the free world say things like this," said Upkolo.

The president has denied using the language, but one senator who was in the room says there was no doubt.

"To no surprise, the president has begun tweeting that he did not say this...It's not true. He used those words and said it repeatedly," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

"Talk about putting your foot in your mouth when you were about to have a good week," said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.

Sherman said the president may have undone any bipartisan momentum toward immigration reform.

"It seems like the damage the president has caused among those who don't support him is probably irreparable at this time," Sherman said.

Though many people find the president's remarks distasteful, Sherman doesn't believe there was anything said that was impeachable.

"If there was ever going to be an impeachment move, it would have to come from the Republican caucus," he said. "Donald Trump is still wildly popular in the Republican base."

Upkolo said nearly half of all African immigrants have college degrees.

"Xavier is led by Reynald Verret, who is an immigrant from Haiti," he said. "I came here and ran SUNO, and I'm from Nigeria."

He said he now worries that the dream this country was built on may be slipping.

"We are living in trying times, brother," said Upkolo.

Upkolo said China has been investing heavily in Africa, and he believes if anti-American sentiment grows, it could hurt U.S. businesses in his country.

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