US President Donald Trump has reportedly lashed out at immigrants in a foul-mouthed 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.
Before the alleged outburst, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin had reportedly been discussing US temporary residency permits that are granted to citizens of countries experiencing strife such as natural disasters, war or epidemics.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, was also in the meeting, but declined to comment on Mr Trump’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.
The backlash to his latest alleged remarks came quickly.
Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democratic lawmaker, tweeted: “I condemn this unforgivable statement and this demeaning of the office of the Presidency.”
A spokesman for the Salvadorean embassy in Washington DC declined to comment.