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Texas Continues Cleanup Efforts; Federal Aid for Texas; Trump to Speak with South Korean President; Russia May Boost Missile Presence; Trump Expected to End DACA. Aired 9:30-10:00a ET

Aired September 4, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:04] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll from Hurricane Harvey has now risen to 53. And this morning, thousands of people there are still waking up in storm shelters. The cleanup is continuing. Houston officials now say 95 percent of the city is dry. But look at what is left in the wake of Harvey.

The mayor saying many businesses in Houston set to open tomorrow after the holiday. Of course, those are the businesses that were not destroyed by the storm. The damage estimates for the disaster still rising. Statewide, the governor says Texas may need more than $100 billion in federal aid to help in the aftermath of Harvey.

We have a team of correspondents on the ground.

First, though, let's go to our Stephanie Elam. He joins us in Houston.

I mean, Stephanie, it's dry, but the disaster remains.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, very much so. The work is still really very much ahead for people in neighborhoods like this one, where I am, Poppy. And as you can see behind me, this is all of the rubbish that these folks have had to pull out of their house because Hurricane Harvey ransacked through their homes in the middle of the night. At some point, some of the houses getting water as much as five feet high. One family getting their kids out by putting them on an air mattress and eventually finding a boat to go down their street. Imagine just how surreal that is.

And now to try to fight the mold here in the heat. They're pulling everything out of their homes. They're pulling out the drywall to hopefully get it to start drying. And scenes like this are all up and down this neighborhood here.

The big frustration for many of these people, though, that I've spoken with is getting in touch with FEMA and starting to work that process of putting their lives back together. For many of these people here, as you would imagine, Poppy, all of their worldly possessions were in these homes and now they're out there on the street corner. It's a very, very disheartening and sad situation that they're in.

HARLOW: And only about 15 percent of the homes in Harris County, we've heard, have flood insurance, which is just remarkable when you look at all the help that these folks are going to need.

Stephanie Elam, thank you very much for that.

The president has requested a starter payment of just under $8 billion of federal aid for Texas. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas says that is a tiny fraction of what they're going to need. Kaylee Hartung is live in Beaumont, Texas.

[09:35:12] He said yesterday a shocking number. I mean potentially more than $120 billion in federal aid. That would be more than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Poppy, President Trump says he expects his request for funding to be approved quickly. But he also says that that funding needs to be tied to raising the debt limit. And that's where this gets political. His treasury secretary agrees with him, saying he's got to be able to borrow more money and pay for it if Texas is going to get the funds that they need.

But that has raised concerns for many, like Texas Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, who said the people devastated by this flood cannot be used as political pawns in this discussion about the debt limit. He says Texas needs the money now and that debt limit conversation can be a separate one.

We expect to learn more with the battle ahead in Congress over these federal dollars today as Senator John Cornyn, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Congressman Randy Webber, who represents this district, will be in Beaumont today.

While Texas needs money, the city of Beaumont needs clean water to drink as this water crisis continues. Those officials will be here at this water distribution point set up by the city to help a line of cars that started lining up about an hour and a half ago get clean water to drink. Poppy, they'll start handing out water here in about 30 minutes.

HARLOW: Gosh. Kaylee Hartung, thank you, on the reporting from the ground there. Thank you so much.

Minutes from now, there's an emergency meeting set to take place at the United Nations on North Korea and the president is set to speak with South Korea's president in just moments as well. We are on top of both. Stay with us.


[09:41:04] HARLOW: At any moment, President Trump is expected to speak with South Korean President Moon on the phone. We're waiting for that. And this call will come just minutes before the U.N. Security Council kicks off its second emergency meeting in less than a week after North Korea tested that hydrogen bomb.

We've got live team coverage.

Let's begin with Paula Hancocks, who joins us from Seoul. Look, it is no secret that the president is frustrated with President Moon, thinks that South Korea has not done enough. The word he chose to use is "appeasement." So now what as these two leaders prepare to speak?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, it will be a very interesting phone conversation to be listening in to, certainly. The tweet that the U.S. president put out yesterday, talking about appeasement, a very loaded word and quite a shock, really, to many South Koreans, didn't go down particularly well. The (INAUDIBLE) felt that it had to respond soon after that. So about midnight there was a text message that went out to reporters saying that South Korea does agree that there should be pressure, there should be sanctions in order to try and get North Korea back to the negotiating table.

And certainly we've seen from President Moon Jae-in over the past week or so, we've seen some fairly significant live fire drills in response to what we've seen from North Korea. One happened just this Monday morning. Fighter jets, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. A very visual live fire drill showing that they had willingness to destroy North Korean assets and the leadership as well. So, certainly, a very clear threat to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un there.

But we do know, as you say, that the White House officials -- senior White House officials have told CNN that Mr. Trump feels frustration at Moon's stance toward North Korea, feeling that it's too soft. And certainly we saw that frustration play out in that tweet.

Also, on top of that, you've got the fact that the U.S. president wants to renegotiate the free trade deal, which certainly many inside Korea thought was signed, sealed and delivered. They don't want to, but they will.

HARLOW: It was, but the president certainly has the authority to pull out. A big promise that he made to a lot of his base. We'll see what happens and what it all means for one of our key allies in the region.

Thank you very much, Paula Hancocks, in Seoul.

Let's go now to Fred Pleitgen, who joins us in Moscow.

So you've got Russia, also a key player here, ramping up its military preparedness. What are they actually doing in the face of this increased North Korean aggression?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russians have said that they're very concerned about that nuke test by the North Koreans. They've also monitored the situation very closely. And we have to keep in mind that the Russians also have a common border with North Korea.

But, Poppy, what the Russians are also doing is they're also criticizing the U.S. They accuse the U.S. of saber rattling. They say, look, none of the rhetoric that's been coming from the Trump administration has been particularly helpful in all of this. And the one thing that the Russians are very critical of, and very concerned about, is obviously the U.S. moving assets into the Pacific theater.

And the Russians have actually even talked about increasing their own missile troops in response to the U.S. moving some assets in there. So it certainly is a situation where on the one hand the Russians are saying, look, we don't condone any of what North Korea is doing. We consider it a major threat, especially nuclearizing the Korean peninsula. But on the other hand, they're also criticizing the U.S. as well.

But then you have China, which is, of course, by far, North Korea's biggest trading partner and really its lifeline in many ways. And they've said, look, on the one hand, we also condemn this nuclear test. They say it's absolutely unacceptable. But they also criticize the Trump administration as well, especially that threat that he put out -- that President Trump put out on Twitter, cutting off or threatening to cut off any sort of trade ties with countries that do business with North Korea. The Chinese saying that's unfair and unacceptable. They say, look, we're trying to help in this situation. Don't threaten us. Even though the U.S., of course, says that they believe that China could do a lot more than it actually is, Poppy.

HARLOW: And it certainly could. Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much, reporting from Moscow. We appreciate it.

[09:45:01] Hundreds of thousands of dreamers waiting to see what the president will decide with DACA. Some word from sources at the White House on that. And this dreamer will join us next.

And tonight on CNN, an unprecedented look into the Reagan presidency, including the time that he called the Soviet Union the evil empire for the first time. Watch this.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.


HARLOW: "The Reagan Show," a CNN film, tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

We'll be right back.


[09:50:02] HARLOW: We now know that President Trump is expected to end the program that protest immigrants who were brought into the United States as children, undocumented, often by their parents. That would leave about 800,000 of these so-called dreamers facing deportation. Among them is the young man on your screen, Santiago Tobar Potes. His parents brought him to this country from Colombia when he was four years old. He's now a sophomore at Columbia University. He has a pretty impressive resume. He speaks six languages. He interned for Senator Marco Rubio. He is an accomplished violinist and he is with me now. Thank you for joining us.

SANTIAGO TOBAR POTES, DACA RECIPIENT: Thank you very much for having me.

HARLOW: I went to Colombia, so congrats on getting through your first year.

POTES: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: And in doing so well so far.

On a very serious note, why did your parents flee Columbia to this country? Why did they bring you here and remain undocumented in this country?

POTES: Right. So the part of Columbia that I was from, Cali (ph), in the south part of Colombia, it was rife with all types of conflict and terrorism from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who killed any grandfather and my mom thought it best to come to the United States to -- to give -- to have some type of life here.

HARLOW: You've said that through your years growing up, and certainly before President Obama passed the executive order that protected you and other so-called dreamers, you felt like you were a fugitive in hiding.

POTES: Right.

HARLOW: So knowing now what the president will decide, it's believed he will grant a six month delay, but say if Congress doesn't figure it out, dreamers like yourself will be deported.

POTES: Right. Well I can definitely appreciate the -- this kind of ultimatum that the president is giving to Congress. I don't think that anything concrete will happen from this six month very short amount of time. You know, so many of us have -- have lived entire lives in hiding, fearing that we'll be discovered. And I just think that this -- this -- this type of -- unless this problem with immigration is solved, I really feel that my experiences have showed me that we've lived lives as second class citizens. We don't have the agency over our lives with this that happened to us.

HARLOW: So how did you wake up then feeling this morning gearing this news?

POTES: Yes, it was extremely disheartening. I was -- I'm still very terrified because I don't know what would happen to my life. So many of the arguments against DACA talk about some type of like rule of law. But so many -- and so many times the U.S. has not shown that rule of law is the best way to go. Japanese internment was viewed as constitutional. Racism, systemic institutionalized racism was viewed as rule of law for a part -- for a large part of American history. Sometimes rule of law is not the best way to go. We have to examine what is the best type of life that we should live.

HARLOW: So here is some pushback from a man I'm going to have on the show next hour.

POTES: Sure.

HARLOW: His name's Dan Stein (ph). He runs the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He wrote an op-ed in "USA Today." He writes, "amnesty is not immigration reform. It simply excuses past violations for our immigration laws and encourages the next wave of illegal immigrants." Do -- what do you say to him?

POTES: Right. Well, it's very difficult because I -- while I don't -- while I don't think that mass amnesty is the right way or the solution to this, I do not think that mass deportation is also the right way to this. There should be more systemic -- and even -- I would support a meritocracy based type of immigration where immigrants that have contributed, or are very likely to contribute to some type of economy in the U.S., are those that have first priority to stay. I don't think that everybody should be asked to leave. I do think that those with skills should be -- with promise should be allowed to stay before --

HARLOW: You went -- you went to the White House not that long ago. A few years ago. You met with former First Lady Michelle Obama.


HARLOW: Let's say you go back to the White House.


HARLOW: If you were invited back to the White House and if you were sitting down and having a meeting with President Trump --

POTES: Right. Right.

HARLOW: Have you thought about what you would say to him?

POTES: Right. In fact, I would challenge President Donald Trump to speak with some kind of DACA beneficiary because we -- he has to -- we need to understand that these are things that effect lives. There are no true arguments against DACA. And I would say to him that this is -- this is something that could ruin peoples' lives. If I -- the only action that I could have in this, is to return to my home country of Colombia, which is still has much to -- much to improve on, is still very unsafe and I don't think that many of us that would return to our countries would be -- would be able to have access to such great lives.

HARLOW: You wrote an op-ed for about this a few months ago.


HARLOW: And you talked about a message that you would like to send to President Trump about his own grandfather.


HARLOW: What's that? POTES: I think -- well, just in the same way that he -- well, this is

potentially going to send so many DACA beneficiaries back to their home countries. So I would ask him, what would he -- what would he feel if he were sent -- if sort of (INAUDIBLE) -- if he were sent back to Germany, where it was -- where he's originally from, and asked to start a life there, not speaking German fluently, not knowing Germany --

HARLOW: Where his grandfather was from.

POTES: Right. Exactly, where his grandfather's from.

HARLOW: So one of the points that you make -- I mean you speak six languages. You're fluent in Spanish. You could go -- you could communicate if you went back to Columbia.

POTES: Right. Right.

HARLOW: But you make the argument that for a number of dreamers --

POTES: Right.

HARLOW: All they know is America.

POTES: Exactly.

HARLOW: I mean Paul Ryan said, the Republican House speaker --

POTES: Right. Right.

HARLOW: These kids only know America as their home.


HARLOW: What are the challenges that other dreamers face if they were sent back home?

POTES: Right. I mean just because you can speak Spanish in a conversation level does not -- does not mean that you have the Spanish to be able to enroll in university and use it in a very academic context. You don't know -- you don't necessarily know Spanish in business-typesetting. It's -- there's so many -- at least with languages, there's so many obstacles in place. And these are foreign countries to us I mean I would even say. I love Columbia, which is where I was from, and identify culture wise, but it's a very different country from the one -- the only one that I know, which is the United States.

[09:55:18] HARLOW: And you want to become --

POTES: One day I would like to be president of Colombia.

HARLOW: Nice to have you. Thank you very much for joining us.

POTES: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: All right, Santiago Tobar, we appreciate it.

Coming up for us next hour, as I mentioned, we're going to speak with the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Dan Stein. What does he say to Santiago's argument? That's ahead for us.

Moments from now, the U.N. Security Council holds an emergency meeting on North Korea. We'll have all of that for you live. Stay with us.


[09:59:59] HARLOW: Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Good to have you with us.

The U.N. Security Council about to begin its emergency meeting on North Korea.