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Trump Administration Sets the Stage for Mass Deportations; GOP Lawmakers Face Hostile Constituents Back Home. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired February 22, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The No. 1 priority is making sure that people who pose a threat are immediately dealt with.
[05:58:44] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have some bad hombres here, and we're going to get them out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New DHS guidelines could target millions of undocumented immigrants.
TRUMP: We have to fight hatred in all of its very ugly forms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president can't condemn anti-Semitism and have the chief architect of the alt-right in his West Wing.
SPICER: No matter how many times he talks about this, it's never good enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tensions run high at town halls across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answer the question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you answer any of that, I'll sit down and shut up.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We've been getting a lot of heat.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Things are getting hot out there.
CUOMO: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, February 22, 6 a.m. here in New York.
And up first, millions of people living illegally in the United States could be targeted for deportation. Now listen: crossing the border illegally automatically means you could be deported by the letter of the law, but enforcement had always been tailored to felons. Dangerous criminals, priorities. Now the policies have changed. We're going to show them to you, and you can judge the White House rejecting the charge that President Trump is pursuing mass deportations.
CAMEROTA: This as the Muslim community awaits details of the president's new travel ban. And the Jewish community reacts to President Trump's condemnation of anti-Semitism.
It's day 34 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin our coverage with CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns, live at the White House -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
The administration says it's only enforcing existing law, but the new guidelines authorize a more robust enforcement of existing law. The Obama administration used to focus only on the most serious felons, people convicted of crimes. Now the focus can be on people who have been accused, even suspected of crimes.
TRUMP: We will have strong borders again.
JOHNS (voice-over): Under the new guidelines the majority of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants could now face deportation.
SPICER: Everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time, but the priority that the president has laid forward and the priority that ICE is putting forward, through DHS's guidance, is to make sure that the people who have committed a crime or pose a threat to our public safety are the priority of their efforts.
JOHNS: But the Trump administration's new guide lines direct immigration and border agents to deport any undocumented immigrant, charged, convicted or even suspected of a crime. Even minor crimes like a traffic violation or shoplifting; and crossing the border illegally is technically criminal.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Anyone who is found in an undocumented status would ultimately be apprehended and deported, with due process totally eroded.
JOHNS: The rules, replacing more restrained policies followed by previous administrations. Under Obama, ICE focused mainly on deporting those convicted of serious crimes. And anyone arrested within two weeks of illegally crossing the border could face expedited deportation. Now, anyone arrested within two years of crossing the border could be deported without due process.
Immigration officers now have greater authority to decide who stays and who goes.
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: The tightrope that the administration will have to walk will be what do they do with the people that are here? What do they do with the young people? Someone who was 2 years old when they were brought to this country. And that's going to be difficult. JOHNS: The White House emphasizing that President Obama's program
protecting DREAMers, those brought to the U.S. as children, won't be targeted.
TRUMP: They were brought here in such a way. It's a very -- it's a very, very tough subject. We're going to deal with DACA with heart.
JOHNS: But the hardline immigration policy is sparking fear in immigrant communities.
GREISA MARTINEZ, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: We're concerned about what Donald Trump means for our family. Does that mean that we will be separated from our mother, just like we were separated from our father nine years ago?
JOHNS: Meanwhile, President Trump caving to pressure, condemning rising anti-Semitism during a visit to the African-American History Museum.
TRUMP: The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.
JOHNS: Before this, the president skirted the issue in news conference since taking office.
TRUMP: I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life.
JOHNS: President Trump meets today with his secretaries of state and homeland security before they fly off to meetings in Mexico. The president also turning his attention today to matters relating to the federal budget -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. Appreciate it.
Lots to discuss. Let's bring in our expert panel: CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief of The Daily Beast, Jackie Kucinich; CNN political commentator and political anchor of Spectrum News, Errol Louis; and CNN political commentator and senior columnist at "The Daily Beast," Matt Lewis.
All right. Errol Louis, you have, like, 19 degrees. One of them involves the law. When we -- when we look at this, you cross the border, you have committed a crime; you can be deported. Enforcement was about having different priorities and guidelines of what they looked at. It used to be dangerous felons. During the campaign, Trump had started in one direction but seemed to end up in the area of "Let's get rid of the dangerous ones."
This new language, let's put it up on the board for you guys at home to look at it. Forget about the first line. "Prioritize removable aliens who have been convicted of my criminal offense." OK. That's the way it's usually been. "Charged with a criminal offense that has not been resolved," which means there hasn't been complete due process. The argument on the other side will be they don't deserve due process. They're not citizens. "Or have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense or otherwise pose a risk to public or national security." Those last two phrases are going to be the ones that drive the controversy.
[06:05:05] So it's not just about being convicted. It's not even being about arrested. It's if I think, as an enforcement agent, you may be a risk of committing a crime, you're going to wind up having a huge basket of people. What's the plus-minus?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. The plus is that it enables them to sort of get on with the business and the political promise that he made to his base.
The minus, of course, is that you're going to stumble into due -- a due process minefield the minute you start allowing a field officer to sort of say, "I think you did something that might be a criminal offense."
CUOMO: But they did, because they already came in illegally. So does that cover them, in terms of they can take care of anybody they want?
LOUIS: You know what? It forces an issue that Congress kind of stepped around. This issue about two weeks or two years, you know, in other words that due process provisions don't kick in, because you just came over the border yesterday. Or two weeks or two years. Well, you can start getting harder cases: two and a half years. Three years. You're going to start getting conduct that's not clear at all, where people say, "Well, I wasn't shoplifting; and I have to sort of get that adjudicated before you can decide whether or not I'm deportable."
It's going to get very complicated very quickly. So I think they're trying to get the maximum amount of flexibility as they go charging into this campaign promise that they're trying to keep.
CAMEROTA: One of the other practical issues, Jackie, is that it says that they're going to rely on local police for enforcement. Some enforcement. They're going to rely on some local police departments.
Well, some local police departments don't want that added responsibility. They have their hands full with their own work. And so the idea of -- that anybody basically is a criminal now, this overly broad or this broad definition now, it just is hard to see how they are going to enforce it.
KUCINICH: And then there's the question of where they put all these people that they're arresting. They were already, under the Obama administration, there were a lot of problem with these detention facilities, the conditions there, how many people were there. Now multiply that.
This is going to be expensive. They're going to be -- more importantly, there are going to be humanitarian issues. If this happens, this will put a strain on local law enforcement, as you -- as you implied, Alisyn. There are just -- there are so many. And also whether this is enforced at various localities. I can't imagine California going headlong into this. And, you know, maybe some other states will be a little bit more forceful. It's just going to be a very -- it's unclear how this will be enforced across the board.
CUOMO: Matt, give us a quick take on why, for many conservatives and, you know, a big part of the base there, Louis was talking about this conversation as to whether it's right or wrong ends with whether or not these people broke the law when they came across the border.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. America is a sovereign country. We have a right to defend our borders. And, look, my whole life I've been hearing, "We don't need new laws. What we need to do is enforce the laws that are on the books." That's what this is. This isn't new laws.
This is enforcing, prioritizing, granting more discretion to border officers and others in the legal community. But at the end of the day, it's enforcing a law that's already on the books. As you've been saying, if you come here illegally, you have -- you're already an uninvited guest. And if you are not on your best behavior, you should have no expectation whatsoever that you will not be deported.
CAMEROTA: Yes, there you go. I mean, that's what so many people voted for President Trump, because they like the idea of this. They think that we have -- our borders are too porous. They think that we have invited people in and turned away, you know? And they're looking forward to this.
LOUIS: They're in for a real education. There are always these metaphors about get to the end of the line and wait your turn and all of these things that really don't exist. I think we're going to...
CUOMO: Why don't they exist?
LOUIS: I mean, there ain't no line. You know, there are ten different ways you can come into this country where you start out as undocumented and you can get some kind of legal status. Lots of different ways. Depends on who you marry, who you're related to, what kind of job you have, what kind of job you're applying for, on and on and on.
CUOMO: The reverse: most people who come and wind up being illegally here overstay a visa.
LOUIS: That's -- it's not about building a wall, right? You come in, you know, for a monthlong vacation.
CUOMO: On a travel visa.
LOUIS: And so -- so, you know, trying to sort of unwind this and undo this is going to be much more complicated. I think we're going to have a case study in unintended consequences, because the political and the economic and, frankly, the moral dimensions of all of this stuff have not really been thought through. CUOMO: The main evaluation is crime, though, Alisyn. We do have some
stats. I mean, we don't have the best picture of it, but what do we have?
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, one of the things that they say, Jackie, is that the language now reads that undocumented people, quote, "routinely victimize Americans." Well, that is open for debate...
CAMEROTA: ... because the crime stats suggest that, in fact, undocumented people are responsible for less crime. They want to stay in the shadows. They avoid trouble, because they don't want to be deported.
[06:10:14] Here is what the other side, here's a stat that they are using. I don't know if this really illustrates the point. But that, on average, the likelihood of being incarcerated if you're an immigrant is much lower than if you're a native-born American.
Then there's another stat about how immigration -- undocumented people has risen, obviously, in the past decade. But the violent crime rate has plummeted, down 48 percent. At the same time, in other words, that more people are coming in without documentation, the crime rate is -- over two decades, the crime rate is going down. So that's what people on the other side will say. That, in general, undocumented people are not responsible for violent crimes.
A lot of people committed a crime by coming into this country illegally in the first place. But again, to cite both of my -- my fellow panelists, as Errol said, this is going to be a study in unintended consequences when you have -- you know, I know gymnasiums full of people who have been arrested. I just -- I don't know how this works practically.
CUOMO: Well, Matt, you know the only problem with the argument, the absolutist argument that you're making is all enforcement is selective. Not everybody who speeds gets a ticket. Not everybody who commits assault gets prosecuted, let alone convicted. So it's not just about having the right to prosecute these people or deport them in this case. It's about whether or not it's right on different levels.
LEWIS: Yes, absolutely. And I mean, look, I think we could ask, like, is this morally, ethically -- is this prudent? Is this compassionate? I might do something different.
But I think the American people, or at least the elect -- the Electoral College sent a very strong signal this is the direction that they want to go; and Donald Trump is going to do that.
Now, look, the problem, of course, is you know, even if this 90 percent goes well, right, and it's pretty effective, there are going to be a lot of example, a lot of sob stories, a lot of people, families that are broken up. And the media will cover that, so there will be some -- I'm sure this story won't go away any time soon. CUOMO: Now, they say the DREAMers will be insulated from this
expanded enforcement. Those are people who are brought over as children or even teens by their parents, that they won't be affected by this. We'll have to see.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. We have much more to talk to you about. Stick around.
So lawmakers have been getting an earful from angry constituents at these raucous town-hall meetings in their home districts. Who are these furious people? Have they been put up to it? Our panel discusses that next.
CAMEROTA: All right. So many Republican lawmakers are facing their hostile constituents at town halls in their home districts. Here is just a little taste, some of the spicy flavor from last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have in the White House right now the notorious white nationalist as a special adviser to president of the United States. I'd like to know your thoughts on that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First of all, I don't speak for the president. I think the president...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know how you feel about it. You're our congressman -- congresswoman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to acknowledge that we've got too damn many people on Food Stamps in Kentucky.
These coal jobs are not coming back, and now these people don't have the insurance they need because they're poor. If you can answer any of that I'll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Mitch McConnell likes that one, likes the Elizabeth Warren reference at the end there.
Our panel's back to discuss this. Jackie Kucinich, Errol Louis, Matt Lewis.
Matt, I want to start with you, because you are on the right side -- right-wing -- side of things and, you know, Donald Trump, as well as many Republicans are trying to suggest that this is not organic. This is not a grassroots feeling that some of these people have been sent by left-wing agitators or some sort of professional group. But when you hear all of the anger and sort of the disparate points they bring up, it sounds as though it is an organic groundswell. How do you see what's going on out there? LEWIS: FDR used to say nothing happens in politics by accident.
Conservative leader Morton Blackwell says nothing moves in politics unless it's pushed. That is how things work.
Do people -- is this organized? Of course it is. Are there liberal agitators and activists tracking down where town hall meetings are and then e-mailing and communicating, tweeting, "Hey, let's all go to this -- let's go to this town hall"? Of course they are. That's how it works.
That doesn't diminish from this process. I think that it's still perfectly legitimate. People are very passionate about it. This -- but this is how politics works. Of course it's organized, but there's nothing wrong with that.
CUOMO: Right. But also, Another wise man once said quoting weighty words does not necessarily add weight to an argument. There's nothing quantifiable, Errol, about this being baked in, you know, or this being non-organic. Sure, to Matt's point, there's a little bit of everything we see this kind of thing.
But you listen to those accents. If you listen to the tapes, the raw tapes of where the people are from, there are a lot of real constituents concerned about real issues. Is it a mistake to dismiss it as artifice?
LOUIS: Well, yes. And the reality is they're dismissing it, I think, to cameras. You've got to say something. Right? Why did 200 people just come and shout down the local Republican congressman? You've got to have an answer for that.
The reality is they're going to have to get very strategic about this. Because once the big players get involved and they look at what I consider, probably, an authentic groundswell from a lot of different corners. Some people are feminists. Some people are union workers. Some people are concerned about their health care. Lots of different reasons that people are coming out.
What everybody in the political profession is going to look at is what does this mean for 2018? Will the Democrats figure out which 23-24 seats they can try and flip in order to take control of the House of Representatives. How will the Republicans -- really, what this is going to very quickly turn into, the big players are going to come in and sort of step all over this authentic groundswell of public sentiment. This is what we saw happen in the 2010 elections with the Tea Party.
[06:20:21] Jackie, some of these senators are trying to be more strategic, to Errol's point, for instance Senator Joni Ernst in Iowa. She tried to keep it narrow so that it wasn't this influx of angry people. We tried to just have it in a room that held 100 people. She said it was going to be just contained to veterans' issues. So people obviously won't shout down veterans. It didn't work so people were, you know, standing room only, lined up down the hall, because people are looking for an outlet. KUCINICH: Yes, and they do this at their own peril. That's right.
Maybe some of this is -- some of this, I'm sure, is organized. That said, you know, I'm old enough to remember the Tea Party in 2010, when Democrats said that they were Astroturf, and then they lost the majority.
So this is something that could turn into a bigger movement, and, you know, Republicans shouldn't ignore that. And I think the ones that so far have handled this the best. And said, "Yes, these are my constituents, too." Mark Sanford, for example. "And I need to listen to them." Whether or not they agree, that's their job. Their job is to listen to all of their constituents, not just the ones that agree with them.
CUOMO: And I'll tell you, boy, when you go home, it's so much different than D.C., Matt. I mean, that's the real point. You saw our friend Marcia Blackburn there. You know, she ducks our questions on a regular basis. It's different when you're sitting with a constituent, and you duck their question. They put it right back in your face. And now it's not about the theatricality of an interview anymore. You have some accountability. And it's going to be real everywhere, right? I mean, this notion that the only people that are upset are the people who voted for Trump. He had well over 2 million people voted against him because they were equally angry, and you're seeing that play out.
LEWIS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you go back home in your district, and it's people you know. People you might even run into on the street. And you have to have answers. I tell you, I think that it's very important. You can have videos of constituents saying things and being rowdy. That won't hurt a politician. What hurts a politician is if they are under pressure, and they slip up and say something stupid.
And so if you have a candidate or, you know, politician like a John McCain, put them out there. Let them -- bring on the questions. But if you have a candidate who's not going to be comfortable with this, you're seeing things like tele-town halls, right? Where they're ducking the town halls. They're just doing conference calls. You're going to see different strategies to try to manage this.
CAMEROTA: All right. Let's talk about the wave of anti-Semitism across the country. We've seen bomb threats, as we know, called into various Jewish community centers. So there have been a call for President Trump to speak out vociferously about this. Yesterday, he did speak out about it. So let me play this for you, Errol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So Errol, what does this tell you? That he was listening to people who said he had to come out and address it head-on?
LOUIS: It's a rare reaction. I think the public pressure, for sure. Even his daughter was sort of tweeting some sentiments in the direction of, "Hey, you can't just pretend this doesn't exist."
On the other hand, there's an oddly passive quality to that. If you even just listen to the phrasing. Right? We saw him at the convention and, really, on most issues, Donald Trump says, "I alone can fix it." He says, "I'll get us 4 percent growth. I'll take care of ISIS. Everything is going to turn around as soon as I get involved."
On this, he says, "Well, gee, this is -- this is pretty awful. Somebody ought to do something."
So, you know, for people who feel very embattled -- and it's a very real feeling -- this is not even going to get the ball started. I mean, this is literally the bare minimum he could have done. And I think the question still remains why haven't we heard from you before? How come this always escapes your Twitter feed? When are you going to actually do something about this?
CAMEROTA: Right. Panel, thank you very much for talking about all of this with us.
CUOMO: There's no question the new administration is creating opportunities. The question is what will the Democrats do with those opportunities? That comes down to leadership. Quick programming note: Dana Bash and I are going to moderate a primetime debate tonight. All eight candidates who say they should be the leader of the Democratic National Committee and take that party forward, just days before the vote. This is their last big chance to impress people. Join us tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
CAMEROTA: I cannot wait to watch that. All right.
Meanwhile, an international murder mystery. How did assassins poison Kim Jong-un's half-brother at an airport? There are some stunning new details that have emerged in this investigation. We'll take you to a live report next.
[06:28:57] CUOMO: All right. We have breaking news. Malaysian police say the murder of Kim Jong-un's half-brother has taken another turn. New details and new video shows how the assassins poisoned him at an airport.
CNN's Saima Mohsin is live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with the breaking details. What do we know?
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this story gets more and more extraordinary each time we speak. Now today for the first time, the top police chief here in Malaysia explained to us exactly what they believe to have happened in what is now being described as a carefully planned specifically targeted attack on Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Now, how he describes it is that the two women, with the help of four other suspects. Those four men, apparently, poured a liquid on these two women's hands. They approached Kim Jong-nam. And this is how he described it. They swabbed his face with a toxic substance, ran off with their hands in the air to wash them immediately.
Now there are many layers to this investigation. He also revealed more about the suspects, four North Korean suspects believed to have fled the country on the same day of the attack. They believe they are now in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.