Polk County is home to a large Haitian immigrant population who are upset with President Trump for his alleged vulgar remark about Haitian migration during a DACA meeting at the White House on Thursday.
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"I'm thinking he has problems with Haitians, he has problems with Africans,” said Pierre Fraycien Francois, 35. "Mr. Trump should apologize.”
Francois said he moved to Winter Haven 11 years ago from Haiti and is the President of the Haitian Youth Association of Polk County. The community leader points out that Haitians own and operate a fashion store, barber shop, restaurant and grocery store in Winter Haven.
“The reason why we’re not taking that from you, ‘going back’, because you are the President of an immigrant country,” he said. “We participate in this immigrant country. You cannot tell us to ‘go back’ because we’re part of this country.”
Luron Bellezy, 33, said he moved to Polk County from Haiti two years ago. Bellezy said President Trump’s alleged racist comment brought him to tears.
“I cry a little bit because somebody disrespect my country. Somebody disrespect my personality, my Haitian people,” he said. “We do want the President to apologize to the Haitians because we don’t deserve that… we come here and we work hard.”
President Trump sent out a tweet on Friday denying he said anything derogatory about Haitians during that DACA meeting. Senator Richard Durbin, who attended that same meeting, said Mr. Trump’s denial is false. Durbin said the President used the hate filled words repeatedly.
The Haiti government also weighed in calling the President’s migration comment a “racist view of the Haitian community.”
“I know Trump has been using those racism words so many times and I’m not surprised,” Francois said. “We're not an s-hole country."