US President Donald Trump used vulgar terms expressed frustration behind closed doors with people coming to the US from.
"Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?", asked Trump during a meeting with lawmakers at Oval office on Thursday.
A UN spokesman later condemned Trump’s comments as "shocking", "shameful" and "racist".
Trump was apparently referring to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.
The White House made no attempt to deny the comment.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been trying to limit the number of family members of immigrants who can enter the US.
He has also moved to end the protected status of thousands of immigrants already in the US, according to global agencies.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin had just been discussing US temporary residency permits granted to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics, according to US media.
The US president told lawmakers the country should instead be taking in migrants from countries like Norway, whose prime minister visited him a day earlier.
Washington Post quoted him as saying, "Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out."
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, was in Thursday's meeting at the White House, but would not comment on the president's reported slur.