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President Trump's New Immigration Enforcement Guidelines Examined; Interview with Congressman Lee Zeldin; Interview with Congressman Adriana Espaillat of New York. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired February 22, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He wants to keep that support. When he is talking against the media, when we all remember during his rallies, people shouting "Jew-SA, Jew-SA" and looking at the media. And I think one has to do with the other. I think there is a correlation between his attacks on the media and a lot of these anti-Semitic feelings.
But what I would say to America is, we've got to do it ourselves. We've got to be vigilant against anti-Semitism, against hate crimes, against any community ourselves. When we see something, we must fight it, we must denounce it, we must condemn it, we must report it. Forget President Trump. Forget relying on him. He's not going to fix this. He's not going to be full-throated about it. It's up to us, folks. And I think each one of us has got the power to be a soldier against this war on hate.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Look, we've learned the lessons through history too many times, and it's always bitter. That which you refuse to reject, you often encourage. Gentlemen, ladies, thank you very much. Appreciate it. We're following a lot of news. What do you say, let's get to it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The number one priority is making sure that people who pose a threat are immediately dealt with.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have bad hombres here and we're going to get them out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And 11 million immigrants could now face deportation.
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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter how many times he talks about this, it's never good enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tensions run high at town halls across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answer his question!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you answer any of that, I'll sit down and shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning, Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, millions of people living illegally in the United States could be targeted for deportation. Crossing the border illegally automatically means you could deported. By the letter of the law you've broken the law. But enforcement has always been tailored to felons and dangerous criminals. Maybe not anymore.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is rejecting the charge the President Trump is pursuing mass deportations. This is as await details of the president's new travel ban. We are in day 34 of the Trump presidency, so let's begin our coverage with CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. This is a potentially very expensive proposition for the government and not clear at all how the administration expects to pay for it, but they do say they are taking the shackles off of immigration's officers, and they say they are just enforcing existing law, though it's clear this is a much more robust enforcement of existing law.
TRUMP: We will have strong borders again.
JOHNS: Under the new guidelines, the majority of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants could now face deportation.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time, but the priorities 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 guidelines 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 those deported 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 tight rope that the administration will have to walk will be what do they do with the people that are here, what do they do with young people, someone who was two-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: If they were brought here in such a way -- 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.
GREISHA MARTINEZ, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: We're concerned about what Donald Trump means for our family. Will it mean that we will be separated from our mother just like we were separated from our father nine years ago?
[08:05:00] 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 conferences since taking office.
TRUMP: I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life.
JOHNS: And President Trump meets this morning with his new secretaries of state and homeland security before they fly off to Mexico later today. They have got a big challenge to go and try to establish relationships in a country that's really become quite angry over President Trump's rhetoric. Chris and Alisyn?
CUOMO: Joe, appreciate it.
Joining me now is Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York. He's a member of the House foreign affairs committee and an Iraq war veteran. You also happen to be my congressman of the first district out there on central and eastern Suffolk County included. We've talked many times. You have some unique challenges coming your way, congressman, because that first district, your area, could be ground zero for the reality of these new policies. Are you concerned that this broad a scope of enforcement will lead to mass deportations in your own district?
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: Well, we are a nation of immigrants and people should be able to come to our country and my district to pursue the American dream and hope and opportunity and education. It's a unique district out here because we have a lot of people who come here legally, seasonally. We have the vineyards, the farming of the north fork, the tourism and hospitality industry of the south fork.
We also have a big issue here with regard to MS-13, gang violence, a lot of people who are here illegally and are disrupting communities and destroying lives. So the implementation of this new order is going to be incredibly important. I want to see a priority of effort placed on where I see that disruption of a local community, that disruption of the family as opposed to putting the higher priority on others who may be here who love our country, who want to be great citizens of our community.
I also want to see an implementation of this in a way that those who aren't here yet because they went to their local embassy to figure out how they can come to America and they are waiting in line, we also should put a priority and effort in making sure that they can come here as well.
CUOMO: Right. But it is that neglected group in this. If you're a MS-13 guy, if you're a gang member and you're creating criminal activity, that's a no-brainer, right. And if you're a seasonal worker, you have your pass and your documents. That's a no-brainer. We're talking about this other group that looms large in your district, and you know this. The schools are filled with them. The local homes are filled with them. They're people who are here. They are undocumented but they have assimilated into the communities. They have families there, they are working, they are law-abiding. They are vulnerable more than ever under these new guidelines. Can you stand for that?
ZELDIN: We're going to have to see how it ends up getting implemented. It's difficult for me to comment on exactly how many people are going to get deported, how this is going to get enforced in the coming weeks, months and years.
What I am encouraged by is that when the executive order on the travel ban was first signed off by the president, it seemed like the Secretary Kelly wasn't involved enough in that process. We didn't see the memos being signed out of the gate from the secretary of homeland security to be able to do the questions and answers. But what we're seeing now with the memos that were signed, if you go on the DH website this morning, you're able to get a lot more answers than the rollout of some of the prior executive orders.
So we know what we know now, but it's difficult to guess exactly what the numbers will look like, the implementation and the process. And if it crosses a line and there is an improvement that needs to be advocated for, I'm all for it.
CUOMO: When are you going to have a town hall? You haven't had one yet. You see what's happened. You're going to be vulnerable to that. Now, for the audience, Lee came in in 2015. He beat someone who had been there a long time, a Democrat named Tim Bishop. You won the election fair and square. You've got a lot of popularity.
But when you go into a town hall with this being out there right now, what are you looking forward to?
ZELDIN: I would say a few things. One is I had several meetings yesterday, actually, with people on the other side of the aisle, people who maybe are involved in a protest and doing the same thing today. Tomorrow night, I'll do a tele-town hall where I'll speak to thousands of my constituents at once and answer questions.
[08:10:17] CUOMO: A tele-town hall, did you say?
ZELDIN: Yes. I've been doing them for years. It's great. People love them. You get thousands of people on the phone. They literally don't have to leave their own house. They ask questions.
CUOMO: You're not in face-to-face contact and wind up --
ZELDIN: Again, so next week, we're having mobile office hours where people come in and they're able to walk in off the street and ask me whatever questions they want. I'll tell you with what I'm watching from first off, the people who are upset and saying that they are not meeting with their members of Congress who aren't actually requesting meetings. You have a lot of people asking for town halls for the purpose of disrupting a town hall with no sense of decorum.
What's important when you have this type of setting, I'll stand inside of a room with 6,000 people and all 6,000 people can spend the entire time standing up and voicing opposition to the president or a position that I have, they can ask a question, what's important for me in those settings is that I'm at least given an opportunity to answer it.
As I watch some of these town halls that are taking place, it's turning into political theater. People take out their phones out and they want to get their 19 seconds of fame. What's disrespectful are those in that room who actually want to hear what their member of Congress has to say. So actually what those tactics of shouting down that member one or two words into their answer, it's disrespectful to everyone else in the room.
CUOMO: People are angry, congressman. You know that and you know how it plays, and that's part of the role of leadership is how you handle it. We've seen that manifest in a different way. Lee Zeldin is a veteran. He's served this country. He's also a proud member of the Jewish faith. You know that these reports of anti-Semitism and these increased threats, they resonate. They create fear. And one of the reasons that the Jewish community can live safe in the knowledge that it's not going to be victimized in a real way is because everyone takes their back starting at the top. Do you believe that the president of the United States dealt with the anti-Semitic threats the way he should have?
ZELDIN: Two things. One was when he was asked the question in his press conference -- and you mentioned it on your network on Friday when I was asked about it -- it was like he was answering a different question. It was an opportunity for him to show leadership in a way that maybe a whole lot of people who didn't vote for him would be nodding their head in agreement because he would be talking strongly with the need to tackle the rising tide of anti-Semitism all over our country, the bomb threats targeting JCCs, the anti-Semitism on college campuses.
And as the leader of the free world, there's a rising tide of anti- Semitism abroad. I was critical of the president that he had left the reference to Jews off his holocaust remembrance day statement. I am encouraged that he's now speaking up against what we're seeing, targeting of JCCs. There's a lot more to be said and done to tackle anti-Semitism. There was --
CUOMO: But Lee, if you don't call out what's not being said, isn't that a way of encouraging more of the same? You have not heard the president talk about this objectively the way he does other things that piss him off. If he doesn't like something, he's full-throated, he's on social media, he is banging it down even if the facts are not on his side. On this one, he has the facts on his side and he's not been as vociferous as he has on other issues, true or false?
ZELDIN: It's true. He hasn't come to me asking for advice on how to handle it. I don't know exactly what the process is with the people around him. For me personally, it's pretty instinctive when I'm asked a question about bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers, anonymous bomb threats that are instilling fear inside of a community, it should be to fully investigate, you know, with all resources, all law enforcement tools to figure out who they are making these calls to crack down on it and to send a message that there is absolutely no room in America for anyone to be instilling fear on people based off of the fact that they are Jewish.
And for me I would obviously be answering this a little bit differently. It would be great if he came to me asking for advice on how to handle it. He's not doing that. And this is a great opportunity for him to take what he said in the most recent day or two and take it to the next level and not stop until it's actually eliminated.
[08:15:04] CUOMO: And part of the concern is, why would it be any different coming from you? Just because you're Jewish? Leadership is leadership.
I want to get your head on something for me. We had -- our Jeff Zeleny talking to Sean Spicer, the press secretary, and the idea of whether or not General McMaster would have the ability to put whoever he wants in the NSC, the National Security Council, including removing Steve Bannon, if that's what he thinks is the right thing to do. Here's the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that we've got an amazing team. He's been impressed with them. But he president has, as he did with other candidates, told them that they would leave the team and that he would have the discretion with -- Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A follow on that. You said that he has the full authority to structure his office as he sees fit. Does that extend to the principals committee as well? After he comes in and takes a look at the whole apparatus, if he advises the president that he would prefer not to have the chief strategist as the member of the principals committee, would the president --
SPICER: I think -- the president has made clear to him, as I said (ph), he's got full authority to structure the national security team the way he wants. Obviously with something like that he would come to the president and make that recommendation, but the president would take that under high -- you know, serious consideration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What do you make of that? Do you think there's any chance that the president would allow his national security adviser to remove Steve Bannon from the principals committee?
ZELDIN: Could be. It could be possible that he allows that.
I think that you need to have the right chemistry on that committee. You need to be surrounded by people who, at times, may be telling you what you want to hear and other times telling you what you don't want to hear, just giving you the best possible advice so that you can make the best decisions.
I don't know Steve Bannon. I don't know General McMaster. I don't know the chemistry between the two.
At the end of the day, you need to have the committee aligned in a way that is going to allow the president to make the best possible decisions he can. And a conversation between the president and his new national security adviser, that decision is made to keep or remove Steve Bannon.
What's most important at the end of the day is the president is making the right decision to keep America safe and to do his job to the best of his ability. But I don't know whether or not he will, what kind of changes are coming.
I really do wish our president success. I want him to be successful. I actually remember when I first came in the state Senate, giving a speech in Stony Brook, Governor Cuomo of New York had just gotten elected and I said I wanted him to be successful. His success is our success as New Yorkers.
You know, whether you voted for president Trump or you didn't, his success is our success as Americans. President Obama was my president even though I didn't vote for him. President Trump is my president. I did vote for him. And I just want him to make the right decisions and be surrounded with the people that will allow him to be an effective president as much as possible.
CUOMO: I didn't agree with you with what you said about the governor, but I understand why you're saying it about the president. We all hope for better days ahead.
Congressman, thanks for outlining these issues for us. You're right. We'll see how the enforcement goes. We'll have you back and you judge how it's affecting your district. Take care.
ZELDIN: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Well, these White House plans for more rigorous immigration enforcement are raising concerns about mass deportations.
So, up next, we have the first Dominican-American who is in Congress. He also is the first formerly undocumented immigrant to be in Congress. We'll talk to him next, here.
[08:22:09] CAMEROTA: Well, the White House is expanding the criteria for deportations of undocumented immigrants, possibly setting the stage for mass deportations. This banner that you're about to see reflects what's going on. It's been put at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty. It says "refugees welcome" and it was briefly draped there at the base yesterday.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat from New York. He is the first Dominican-American to serve in Congress. He is also the first member of Congress who was once an undocumented immigrant.
Congressman, thanks for being here.
REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: Thank you. Thank you so much for inviting me.
CAMEROTA: So, you have a fascinating perspective. But I want to ask you about your personal story first. When were you an undocumented immigrant?
ESPAILLAT: Well, I came here at the age of 9 with my parents, with my mother and my father, my brother and sister. We were here on a visa and overstayed.
CAMEROTA: As so many people do.
ESPAILLAT: As so many people do. We were actually here without any documents and had to go back to the Dominican Republic to get our green cards. So, we faced the predicament that had we not gotten our green cards, we would have been stuck there.
CAMEROTA: What was your life like during that time when you were undocumented?
ESPAILLAT: Well, I was a young boy but I remember my grandparents talking to us about being careful where we went, not approaching any strangers and so, it sent sort of a chilling effect to anybody who doesn't have any documents.
How do you move around? How do you go to school? How do you go to a store? How do you -- you know, you move around the neighborhood. It sends a chilling effect to anybody who doesn't have any papers, these kinds of actions are occurring now.
CAMEROTA: Because you do sort of live in the shadows?
ESPAILLAT: That's true. There's no question about that.
And what I find is many people are afraid. I hear in my district office, people calling in concerned. They don't know how this new guidelines will apply to them. People are afraid to go out during the daytime. I heard of folks that only go out at nighttime. And so, there is concern. There is fear out there.
CAMEROTA: But so you -- then what happened? You lived here for a year and a half as an undocumented child and then you and your family had to return to the Dominican Republic and you had to, basically, correct me if I'm wrong, go through the proper procedure to come here legally.
ESPAILLAT: That's correct.
CAMEROTA: You know what Mr. Trump's supporters would say, why doesn't everybody do that? That's what everybody would have to do.
ESPAILLAT: Yes. But, you know, I was a child, just like many other young kids coming in because their parents bring them here. Should they be penalized? They were raised here in America. They speak English, they do into school here, many of them don't even speak the language of the country of origin.
CAMEROTA: Yes, they're American for all intents and purposes, however, his new guideline don't seem -- you would have been called a dreamer. Had that term been invented during your day, you would have been called a dreamer and his guidelines don't touch the --
ESPAILLAT: But it unleashes the hound dogs, if you may. It sets fear as a mass deportation guidelines that he set out.
[08:25:04] You know, it expedites removal. It fractures families.
You know, removal is not a straight and narrow procedure. You know, there are families that are here undocumented whose children were born here. So if you remove the father, let's say, that family now will not have a father figure there. If you remove the mother or both of them, what would happen to the children that are U.S. citizens? They have rights and privileges just like you and I have. And so, it is not a straight and narrow procedure. It will have
implications across the board. And so, we are very concerned about these guidelines.
CAMEROTA: But what do you say to all of the people who say there are laws in this country. We are a sovereign nation. People have to do it right and have to wait in line like ultimately your family had to. I mean, how could --
ESPAILLAT: There are laws and we're not asking for people to break the law. You know, we're not saying that if someone committed a violent crime, they should not be arrested and deported.
But we are a country of aspirations. Are we a country of deportation or a country of aspirations? I think that's what's on the table right now. Have we changed the course of America?
We're now a heavy-handed bullying country or are we a country that anybody could do anything, including an undocumented young boy that's now a member of Congress.
CAMEROTA: Your personal trajectory is remarkable. We know a few details of what Mr. Trump's plan looks like. Let me read to you. He would add 10,000 ICE agents to help with deportation, 5,000 border patrol officers would be added. Additional detention centers and an expansion of immigration courts. The estimated cost is $1 billion to $4 billion.
What concerns you the most?
ESPALLIAT: I think that, first of all, do we have the money to implement all of this? Is this the best way to spend our money?
Or should we be building schools? Should we be building infrastructure? Should we be doing positive things with this money?
Or are we in a lockdown, as they say in my district? Is the nation going to be in lockdown? Is it martial law? Are you unleashing the hounds?
Are people going to be afraid to walk down the street even if they have their green card, even if they're a U.S. citizen because they look and speak a certain way? Is this America? Is this really America?
And so, that's what's on the table. We're not saying that people should break the law and come here but many people come here. They aspire to come to the United States. They aspire for their children to eventually be Americans. That's why this nation is great.
So these policies that are being implemented by President Trump are heavy-handed policies. They set the guidelines for mass deportation plan. Are we going to see deportation trucks, vans going through the neighborhood?
Are they going to go to churches? Are they going to go to schools? Are they going to take away caregivers even though they are undocumented? People that take care of the children, of the frail and elderly. Is this what America about?
CAMEROTA: Congressman Espaillat, thank you very much for coming in and sharing your personal story. You're certainly a role model to all sorts of Americans and immigrants as well as the undocumented. Thank you.
ESPAILLAT: Thank you so much.
CAMEROTA: We have a quick programming note for you: Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo will moderate a primetime debate tonight. The eight candidates who want to lead the Democratic National Committee will be there just days before the vote. So join us, please, tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
Looking forward to it, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Republican lawmakers are catching heat as they meet with constituents in their home districts. This is happening all across the country. Why? Ron Brownstein with the bottom line on whether it matters, next.