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Can Any Country Be Called a Sh*thole? Counterpoint

Helen Tadesse, Staff Writer

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   On January 12, The Washington Post reported President Donald Trump stating, “Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?” while in a meeting discussing protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and many African nations. He then went on to say that we should be accepting more people from countries like Norway ( These remarks disregard the individual identities of immigrants coming to this country, and of those already living here. The comment was ignorant, insensitive, and racist.

   Some claim that what Trump said was justified because of the economic state of the countries mentioned. Most people understand that despite the vast culture and beauty that lies within these nations, there is also much poverty and corruption. But when Trump opened his mouth in that meeting, he was not talking about the countries’ economic states. He was talking about the people who live there who have been cheated out of opportunity their whole lives.

   Stanford University Assistant History Professor Ana Minian explained that when Trump said African countries are shi*tsholes, and that the United States would prefer people from Norway, he meant, “This is the population we want: people from places like Norway. White people. We don’t want people from African countries or from Haiti” ( Trump specifically said he did not want the people from predominantly Black nations to come to our country. He made a generalization about the stereotype of poverty in these nations and attached this stereotype to every immigrant who has come from these places.

   He assumes that this poverty is a part of who they are, and that it is bad for the US. Trump made assumptions about a whole group of people, just like he did when calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, or assuming all Muslims are terrorists. Trump continuously makes harsh generalizations about minorities and seems to base many of his policies on these unsupported assumptions.

   “It’s an unfair characterization of a whole continent.” said Senior Bethlehem Manakeleu. “My family and I came from Ethiopia when I was eleven. My mom has worked all of the years she’s been here, and she pays her taxes like everybody else. She is contributing to this society that she’s living in,” added Manakeleu. Manakeleu’s mother is not alone. According to the Migration Policy Institute, African immigrants tend to be more highly educated and speak English well in comparison to immigrants from other nations. In 2007, 71.2 percent of African immigrants reported speaking English proficiently, with most of them speaking English only. In addition, 42.5 percent of African-born adult immigrants ages 25 and up had bachelor’s degrees or higher. They were also reported to be more likely to work when arriving in America, and more likely to work as registered nurses, physicians, in social services, or in legal occupations. (

   Following the initial report, a White House spokesperson defended Trump’s statement by saying “President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation” (

    But how can African immigrants not help grow our economy, when they are highly likely to work upon arrival? How can African immigrants not assimilate into this country when most of them already speak English and achieve a high education level? What is it that the White House is referring to when it implies that Africans are unable to contribute to our society? Africans are people that are worthy of everything that Americans are worthy of. They work hard, have routines, feelings, families, friends, and passions.

   The idea that immigrants from these so-called “sh*ithole” countries can’t fit into American society is based on nothing but ignorance and racism.

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Can Any Country Be Called a Sh*thole? Counterpoint