Here in Louisiana, we know what it’s like when those who live elsewhere dismiss us, sometimes crudely, as a global backwater.

So we’re naturally saddened by reports that President Donald Trump, during negotiations on immigration reform, asked why the United States should permit more immigrants from “s***hole countries” such as Haiti and the nations of Africa.  Trump has denied using the slur, but senators from both parties present at the meeting say he did. 

Haiti and many parts of Africa are, indeed, deeply distressed, which is why a number of people who live there seek a better life in America. Those aspiring immigrants are, by definition, some of the world’s most ambitious souls, bringing with them the kind of energy and resourcefulness that has made the United States, a nation of immigrants, into a global superpower.

Slavery first brought Haitians and Africans to Louisiana. In a sublime miracle, that legacy of bondage produced perhaps the liveliest and most liberated culture on the planet, creating the cradle of jazz and Creole cuisine.

Immigrants have and will always be the wellspring of civic renewal – here in Louisiana, and across America. The president ignores that reality when he speaks of places beyond our borders in language more befitting a bar stool, not the highest office in the land.

Trump Immigration

In this Jan. 9, 2017, photo, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., left, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md. listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Bargainers seeking a bipartisan immigration accord planned talks as soon as Wednesday as President Donald Trump and leading lawmakers sought to parlay an extraordinary White House meeting into momentum for resolving a politically blistering issue.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)