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Trump Faces Backlash Over Legal Immigration Plan; President Trump's Accomplishments So Far. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 3, 2017 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:30:23] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. military confirms two service members were killed and four others wounded in an attack on a NATO convoy in Afghanistan on Wednesday. The Taliban claiming responsibility for the attack in Kandahar province, a statement for the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission says the wounded soldiers are being treated at a coalition facility. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Opposition and pro-government groups are vowing to take to the streets of Caracas after Venezuela's president dismisses claims that votes for his all-powerful constituent assembly were manipulated. President Nicolas Maduro accuses the software firm behind the claim of bowing to U.S. pressure. Independent analysts and opposition leaders say turnout numbers were off. Madura announcing the new constituent assembly will be installed tomorrow rather than today.

CUOMO: Two people killed, nine others injured in a natural gas explosion at a school in Minneapolis. The blast collapsed a large section of the Minnehaha Academy. Officials saying it was caused by contractors doing renovations. Two of the people who died were both staff members.

The Christian school opens for the fall semester in three weeks. There are concerns about the structural integrity of the building that could now impact that starting date.

One of the people lost their lives just newly engaged. Her life was about to begin a new chapter. Now it's over.

CAMEROTA: I know. That's tragic.

Meanwhile, we have some weather news for you. Storms are hitting the Northeast, causing buckets of rain to fall in Boston. As you can see in your screen, the water was so high, it flooded this city bus, causing passengers to stand on their seats.

So, how does today look?

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

What are you seeing, chad? CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not that bad, that's for sure.

Standing on the seats of the bus, I mean, that's got to be three feet of water in the street. Now, there is some flooding this morning around Charleston and also some storms around Myrtle Beach. Maybe that morning round of golf will be delayed. But other than that, the East Coast looks really good.

The Midwest, a little bit stormy from Minneapolis down to about Chicago, maybe all the down to about Minnetonka could see storms later on today. But this is the area we're seeing probably more like a wind damage or small hail threat today. That's the real threat. No real big severe weather.

Decent weather across the east coast, only in the 80s in New York City, nice there. Still, the heat continues. In the West, it will be 105 in Portland, Oregon. That's almost 20 degrees, 25 degrees more than it should be.

CUOMO: All right. Chad, thank you very much, my friend. Appreciate it.

So, President Trump backing a plan to reduce legal immigration by 50 percent over the next 10 years. Critics call this merit-based criteria un-American that is being introduced. It's going to be a good debate for you, next.

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[06:36:58] CAMEROTA: The White House announcing its support for an overhaul of the immigration system. The bill proposed by two GOP senators aims to cut legal immigration to the U.S. by half over ten years. Not all Republicans are in favor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And I don't want an economy that doesn't recognize how diverse we are as a nation, and to take all the green cards and put them in one in the economy is jus I think ill advised, and I can't support that.

You just don't want every green card holder to be a computer engineer because the economy of America is more than just computer and high tech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us to discuss this, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, also known as FAIR, Dan Stein, and political director of Our Revolution and former national press secretary for Latino outreach for the Bernie Sanders campaign, Erika Andiola.

Great to have both of you here.

Dan, make the case for why the administration should cut legal immigration by half over the next decade. DAN STEIN, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM

(FAIR): Well, thanks. Look, it's a great opportunity for the Republican Party to consolidate its political gains in the blue states that enabled Trump to win. On this issue, major campaign promise of President Trump, great he's embraced the bill.

Look, what the bill does four things, makes immigration manageable, by decreasing unskilled immigration and enables us to actually as the American people select how many come every year. It makes it affordable. By decreasing unskilled immigration, it decreases the welfare burdens and the tremendous cost of low-skilled immigration. It helps the American worker by stopping the unfair labor competition.

You know, Chuck Schumer stands up and talks about the threat of foreign labor competition in the context of the trade, but the Democrats have abandoned any concern about how immigration is affecting American wages and working conditions. So, it makes it more -- it really puts the American worker first, which is a big part of the Trump promise, and it also makes immigration serve the American people and our priorities to make immigration once again great for America, not special interests on Wall Street and not as the life support system for the American political left.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, before I get to you, Erica, Dan, I just don't know the facts support what you're saying. You heard Lindsey Graham say cutting this amount of legal immigrants would devastate his state because of the service industry, the tourism industry and the agriculture industry. That's who takes these jobs in his state of South Carolina and his state and many other states need those people to take those jobs. Quickly, your response?

STEIN: I mean, look, remember, the American middle class has been disseminated by low skill competition and international trade. There's two reasons wages are stagnant, one is productivity, for reasons people don't quite understand. The second reason is the massive artificial increase in labor supply through uncontrolled immigration for the last, what, 30, 40 years.

Remember, this bill represents the best thinking of recommendations from commission after commission after commission, Barbara Jordan, Theodore Hesburgh (ph) for the last 40 years. It is good public policy.

CAMEROTA: OK. Erica, your response?

ERIKA ANDIOLA, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, OUR REVOLUTION: Yes, I mean, I think it's time to stop scapegoating immigrants when it comes to this entire conversation.

[06:40:01] Trump started his campaign saying the reason why the American people cannot find jobs is because of immigrants. And that's not the reality. The reality is that there's so many other things we can do in this country.

I did work in the Bernie campaign. We talked about creating a $15 minimum wage, actually having protection for workers and stop talking about immigrants as if we are the ones --

CAMEROTA: But, Erica, just address what Dan is saying specifically, that he's saying that the economy and wages have been depressed because there's been this influx and flood of immigrants.

ANDIOLA: Absolutely not, absolutely not. The fact is we do need immigrants to come and pick the food we eat every single day. We need to give people the opportunity to come here and escaping violence. We need refugees to have somewhere to go.

And the fact that this bill does exactly the opposite. It actually goes against what this country is about. It's actually opening its arms to people who are seeking refuge.

My mother is one of those people. My mother actually came from Mexico. I came from Mexico. My mother is a victim of domestic violence.

The fact is we applied for a visa and we couldn't find a way to come to this country, and that's the only way we could come here. This is what this country is about. This bill does exactly the opposite of it.

CAMEROTA: In fact, our White House correspondent Jim Acosta had this very exchange about this philosophy of what the country was founded on with Stephen Miller, one of the White House advisers. Let me play a little portion of it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Statue of Liberty --

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: Jim, let me ask you a question --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: -- hope for the world for people to send people to this country and they're not always going to speak English. They're not always going to be highly skilled.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: Jim, Jim, Jim, I appreciate your speech. Jim, I appreciate your speech. So let's talk about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: There's this philosophy, right, Dan, and then there are the numbers, the hard data. Let me pull up a full screen for you and our viewers about what immigrants contribute to the economy, right? So, 2.9 -- about 3 million foreign-born entrepreneurs, OK? There's all sorts of data that immigrants create small businesses. They generated $65.5 billion in 2014, OK? So, that would obviously be decreased. Immigrants represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, but make up 21

percent of all entrepreneurs in the country. So, obviously, they are doing more than their share. Nearly 6 million workers employed at immigrant-owned businesses, and 40 percent of firms on Fortune 500 lists were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. That's a good track record, Dan.

STEIN: Alisyn, look, immigration is a broad and complex issue that certainly serves many different interests, but right now -- we don't agree with a lot of those data. But right now, we have an immigration system that doesn't work for the American people.

Obviously, if you're going to admit a haystack, you're going to get a few needles, there were entrepreneurs and people who might extend our productive potential. But in the end, we need to modernize our immigration system by restoring traditional levels of immigration, bringing it back down to the proper level so we can absorb and assimilate so that wages go up, American workers can live the American dream again.

Innovation is spurred because of the labor tightening effects of less immigration. All these great things would happen if we would reduce immigration. But it's hard to get past the special interest pressure.

The Democratic Party now relies on immigration for its future electoral support.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, Lindsey Graham is not a Democrat.

STEIN: And the Republican Party is beholden to the financial sector of Wall Street. And it's hard for the American people to get their voices heard.

CAMEROTA: Look, Congress is not filled with just Democrats, as you know. Lots of Republicans don't support this.

Erica, I want to give you the last word in the remaining seconds.

ANDIOLA: Yes, absolutely. And again, we do need to fix our immigration system, but this is not the way to do it. We want people to come here in a way that they're not going to risk their lives crossing the desert like my family did. We need to find a way to open our arms to people who are coming here to work, to pick our food and also to work in companies.

And so, we cannot close the door to immigrants because this is what this country has been about for so many years. And even your ancestors were probably perhaps people who came here without speaking English and who found a way.

CAMEROTA: For sure mine, and I'm sure Dan's as well. This country was found --

STEIN: Mine followed the law, mine respected the law.

CAMEROTA: This is about legal immigration. This is about legal issues.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: We all follow the law. This is what we're talking about, legal immigration being reduced by 50 percent. We have to leave it there.

Erica, Dan, thank you very much for the debate.

ANDIOLA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Given the daily drama, it's hard to imagine the White House could be getting anything done quietly, but that happens to be the case. We will give you an accounting of all the actions that are actually under way and what their impact could be on your life, next.

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[06:48:29] CUOMO: The chaos coming out of the White House and the defeat of health care can mask the fact that this administration is actually getting stuff done in a variety of areas, moves that could impact your life for years to come.

President Trump got his pick, Neil Gorsuch, on the Supreme Court. He could have the opportunity to nominate more justices. But Trump is also quietly filling up lower courts with lifetime appointees, and that can impact the judiciary for decades.

Environmental policy, Trump famously pulled out of the Paris accord, but he's also moving to roll back the clean power plants, the waters of the United States rule that protects smaller bodies of water and the Arctic drilling ban.

President Trump has slashed or delayed hundreds of business regulations. He's also attempting to roll back parts of the Dodd- Frank bill, passed in the wake of the financial crisis, effectively making it easier for those on Wall Street to once again gamble recklessly. He's also hobbling the Consumer Protection Agency.

Despite Trump's displeasure with his attorney general, he is getting it done for Trump, Mr. Sessions, strengthening civil asset forfeiture rules, allowing police to seize cash and goods from people only suspected of crimes, also supporting Texas's controversial voter ID law and pursuing the harshest of senses for the lowest level drug offenses. That will put people in jail long after President Trump is no longer in office.

So, what else do we know about what's getting down and what it will mean?

Joining us now, David Graham, staff writer at "The Atlantic," just wrote a piece called, quote, "Trump has quietly accomplished more than it appears." [06:50:08] First, Mr. Graham, thank you for joining us, David.

And what do you make of the quietly part, what is sometimes called the shadow government, the faces behind the big names and the brash talk?

DAVID GRAHAM, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: So, I think there's a couple things going on. One is that Trump is creating so much news and so much chaos at the White House level and a lot of the kind of big name, big topic areas that it's hard to see these things going on.

The other thing is, these are not necessarily -- the priorities Trump talked the most about during the campaign. These are in many cases kind of traditional conservative Republican priorities, rolling back regulations, making things easier for business, cutting on environmental protections. So, they're not necessarily the red meat for Trump's base so much.

CUOMO: So, do they have a point, the White House, when they say you guys are ignoring all we're getting done?

GRAHAM: Well, I mean, I think it's interesting. The things I think are maybe their greatest accomplishments are often not the ones they talk about. They talk a lot about Gorsuch, and I think rightly so. You don't hear them talking much about the regulations and things.

I also think that when you're creating the kind of chaos they are, it's disingenuous to complain the media are not covering the things they're doing since they're making a lot of fuss. So, you know, I don't know about that. The other thing is, they talk a lot about things like the stock market and the way the stock market is working and job increases.

And, frankly, those are things the president has limited control over, especially so early in his term. So, they're focusing a little bit on accomplishments that maybe they don't deserve as much credit for and not talking about the ones that they do.

CUOMO: So, you have the undo Obama desire, right? We see that a lot in terms of what's being rolled back in terms of regs and the EPA. What about the big ticket promises during the campaign? Obviously, there's going to be a temptation to measure the effectiveness by the big tickets.

GRAHAM: That's right. I think there's an irony here. We had Steve Bannon talking at the beginning of this administration about dismantling the administrative state.

What we're seeing is where Trump is getting things done is almost exclusively through what the administration state can do, undoing regulations here and there. On the big ticket items, you still don't see a lot of motion. Obviously, health care has been a bit of a fiasco and Congress has blocked other legislative priorities, the wall is not built, the immigration ban has struggled in court.

So, on the big ticket things, the stuff Trump talked about most during the campaign, we're not seeing a who lot of motion. CUOMO: The way you see it in the piece, the by product of the bluster

is giving cabinet secretary and agencies able to get things done with lighter scrutiny. How so?

GRAHAM: Well, you know, when there's so much news coming out of the White House, we are inclined to focus our attention on that, and rightly so, and these are big stories that are coming out. I often hear people complaining that the White House is distracting from what's going on.

You know, I'm not sure that's intentional. In any case, these are not stories we should ignoring. On the other hand, there's a limited amount of time and attention that can be given.

Ben Carson in an interview recently with "The Washington examiner" said he was glad to see Trump taking the hit so he could get things done at his level. I think that's uniform across the cabinet. When the White House is the big story, the press can't focus as much on what the Justice Department or Health and Human Services or the EPA are doing.

CUOMO: We are blessed with an audience that likes to do its research and find things out. What would you direct people to look at in terms of being able to assess the impact of this administration?

GRAHAM: I mean, I think keep reading those stories about things -- and watching the segments about things not going on at the White House. Pay attention to regulation. Look at the ways that regulation affect things way out into the future, and that's really where the motion is. That's often more important in the long run than the daily circus around Trump.

CUOMO: David Graham, got to love the counterintuitive reporting. Thank you for directing us to what the impact has been thus far. Appreciate having you on the show.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. President Trump's approval rating this morning is at a new low. How can he turn it around? We'll hear from one of the president's GOP critics, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, and what he suggests, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Statue of Liberty says, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The poem you're referring to added later, not part of the original Statue of Liberty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think our problem is an excess of new Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no way this proposal will see the light of day in the U.S. Senate.

CUOMO: The president signing the Russia sanctions bill before calling it unconstitutional.

GRAHAM: It makes one wonder why the Trump administration is so different than everybody else on Russia.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The conversations took place, they simply didn't take place over a phone call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has said a lot of strange things, at times that were not accurate. This begs to the larger issue of trust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a pattern, we're going to have to save a breaking news banner for when the guy tells the truth.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to your NEW DAY.

President Trump facing bipartisan backlash over his support of a bill to slash legal immigration in half over the next decade. The proposed system would favor English speakers and sharply reduce bringing relatives of immigrants to the U.S. Critics of the plan say it would actually slow economic growth and keep out badly needed low wage workers.

CUOMO: Meantime, the president's credibility has taken another hit. The White House admitting the two phone calls the president claims he got never happened. All this as a new national poll has President Trump's approval rating hitting a new low, 33 percent.

So, he's getting set to rally his base heading to West Virginia tonight for another campaign event. We have it all covered.

Let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray live at the White House.

This new poll suggests the base ain't enough, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. But what Trump is doing is continuing to make this play for this core group of supporters who landed him here at the White House.

As you pointed out, he's headed to West Virginia tonight. His new chief of staff, John Kelly, also made a call to Jeff Sessions.