President Donald Trump has sparked fresh outrage, with reports that he used foul-mouthed language in the White House, as he questioned why the US would want immigrants from African nations and Haiti.
He referred to "shithole countries," according to two sources familiar with the comments.
'The Washington Post' first reported the remarks, saying they were made as Trump discussed a bipartisan immigration deal with senators in the Oval Office.
One of the sources who was briefed on the conversation said that Trump said, "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're shithole countries ... We should have more people from Norway."
The second source familiar with the conversation, said Trump, who has vowed to clamp down on illegal immigration, also questioned the need for Haitians in the United States.
Many Democrats and some Republican lawmakers slammed the president for his remarks.
Republican US Representative Mia Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the comments were "unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values" and called on Trump to apologise to the American people and to the countries he denigrated.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a frequent Trump critic, said the president's comment "smacks of blatant racism, the most odious and insidious racism masquerading poorly as immigration policy."
The White House hasn't denied Trump made the remarks.
Asked about them, White House spokesman Raj Shah said: "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people."
"Like other nations 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."
In November, the Trump administration decided to end special status for immigrants from Haiti and Nicaragua.
This week, Trump moved to end special status for immigrants from El Salvador, which could result in 200,000 being deported, beginning in September of next year.