US President Donald Trump has reportedly lashed out at immigrants in a four-letter Oval Office outburst.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Mr Trump told lawmakers on Thursday, according to the Washington Post.
The remark was reportedly in reference to people from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.
The White House did not deny the comment, which has been confirmed by other US media.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” a White House statement said.
It continued: “Like other countries that have merit-based immigration, 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.
“He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”
Mr Trump’s remark reportedly came as lawmakers from both parties visited him to propose a bipartisan immigration deal.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin had just been discussing US temporary residency permits granted to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics, say US media.
According to the Post, Mr Trump told lawmakers the US should instead be taking in migrants from countries like Norway, whose prime minister visited him on Wednesday.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, was also in the meeting, but would not comment on the president’s reported slur.
The New York Times reported three weeks ago that Mr Trump had said Haitians “all have Aids” during a June meeting about immigration.
A backlash to his latest alleged remarks was swift.
Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democratic lawmaker, tweeted: “I condemn this unforgivable statement and this demeaning of the office of the Presidency.”
Another black Democratic lawmaker, Cedric Richmond, said Mr Trump’s comments “are further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda”.
A spokesman for the Salvadorean embassy in Washington DC declined to comment.
In Thursday’s meeting, lawmakers reportedly proposed restoring so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) permits for certain countries, while offering $1.5bn (£1.1bn) for a wall that Mr Trump wants built on the US border with Mexico.
This week the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing TPS for El Salvador.
The decision gives Salvadoreans who have been living in the US for nearly three decades until next year to leave, seek lawful residency or face possible deportation.
They were granted provisional US residency after an earthquake devastated the Central American country in 1991.
But the State Department said on Monday that much infrastructure damaged by the tremor has since been repaired.
TPS permits have already been withdrawn from Haitians and Nicaraguans.
Hundreds of thousand migrants face possible deportation from the US.
Trump’s first year
Trump ‘in Oval Office foul-mouthed outburst about migrants’