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AT THIS HOUR

A.G. Sessions Announces End to DACA; Reactions to End of DACA Includes Protests; Cat-5 Hurricane Irma Headed for Florida. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 5, 2017 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: "But now there is more to do and the president has called on Congress to act. The president's announcement does not revoke permits immediately. It is important that those affected have clarity on how this interim period will be carried out. At the heart of this issue are young people who came to the country, through no fault of their own, and for many of them, it's the only country they know. Their status is one of many issues, such as border security and interior enforcement, which Congress failed to address over the years. "It is my hope," the House speaker says, "the House and Senate, with the president's leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent solution that includes ensuring those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country."

That is an initial reaction coming in from House speaker, Paul Ryan.

We are going to have much more on this breaking news from washington affecting some 800,000 Dreamers, their families, their employers. That's coming up next. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:35:04] BOLDUAN: We are following breaking news. The fate of some 800,000 so-called Dreamers in this country is now in question, and in the hands of Congress. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, moments ago, announcing the end to the DACA program, as it's called. It was put in place by President Obama through executive order. It protects young, undocumented immigrants brought here to the country illegally by their parents and protects them from deportation.

Joining me now for reaction from Capitol Hill, Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley, of New York, of the House Democratic leadership.

Congressman, I appreciate you coming in.

I hope you had a chance to hear the words of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. What is your reaction?

REP. JOE CROWLEY, (D), NEW YORK: It's more cowardly events to take place in this administration to the point where the president, who says he cares about these young Dreamers, he doesn't announce it himself. He leaves it to someone is called suspect in terms of his ability to do the job in Attorney General Sessions and has him make the announcement instead. Kate, there's no doubt, it falls squarely on the desk of Donald Trump.

This is his. He owns this. He's put 850 people and their lives in jeopardy right now, these cultural Americans. You know, I hope Congress can act. I hope what I just read from Paul Ryan is an indication they will do something. So far, this Congress hasn't been able to do anything.

BOLDUAN: That predates this administration when it comes to Dreamers.

CROWLEY: It does.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Congress hasn't been able to do anything. They have been debating it for 16 years.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Doesn't this also fall on the plate of Congress?

CROWLEY: Kate, the Senate did pass a bill. The House of Representatives, the Republican House of Representatives failed to bring the bill up to a vote on the floor. Republicans have had opportunity after opportunity to address the issue. They don't want to do it. Quite frankly, Kate, it's no different than any issue coming before Congress over these past years when Republicans controlled the House of representatives.

BOLDUAN: You called it cowardly just now. You also called the idea of this, misguided and immoral. Does this give you an opportunity to get for Dreamers what they haven't been able to have so far, which is protection by law, and not just an executive order that can be ended, as we see now, by any president at any point?

CROWLEY: I don't think that's the president's attention. He's throwing red meat to his base, once again. You know, if the end, by this callous ac, somehow Congress stirred to move on a bill to protect these young people, you know, I guess we can pat ourselves on the back at the end of the day. The president will certainly take credit for that as well. It's a crazy world we are living in today that these young lives, these cultural Americans and their lives are up ended in this way. The idea that after six months the DACA program will end, they will somehow have to deport themselves or be deported, not knowing their homeland, not knowing their relatives, not having visited there since they were brought here as young children or as babies. It's immoral and unconscionable.

BOLDUAN: Will you support legal protection, as this falls in the lap of Congress? Will you support legal protection for Dreamers short of citizenship?

CROWLEY: I would do anything right now to promote the Dream Act, to protect these young people here. I would like them to have a path to citizenship. I think they are culturally Americans. We need to say to them, if you produce, go to school, become productive, we want to see you become citizens and contribute to the growth of our nation. That's what we ought to be doing.

BOLDUAN: Do you want to hear from President Obama on this, Congressman? I ask because this is one issue the former president said, before he left office, that he would speak out, if this would happen. Do you want to hear from him?

CROWLEY: I would certainly welcome some statement from President Obama. I think that would go a long way to express the intent here. The notion idea that, whether you are a Democrat or Republican, we stand behind these young people, these young individuals, who are trying to improve their lives, who have no options.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you, on that, because it is in the hands of Congress. Congress is the one that makes immigration law. Congress has the power to do something about it. Yes, Democrats are in the minority, but you have Republican leaders who have been supportive of some form of protections of Dreamers. If folks are floating the idea that protections for Dreamers, DACA, would be linked to money for the border wall, if that happened, would you vote against protections for Dreamers?

[11:39:55] CROWLEY: I think if the president or the Republican Party linked this to the border wall, we should call the FBI. It's hostage taking. They will be taking these young people and their lives as hostages to build a wall, a $40 billion wall that does nothing for the economy of the United States, and doesn't make us any safer.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You would get legal protections, legal-by-law protections for Dreamers?

CROWLEY: It is morally a waste of money of the taxpayer dollars, $40 billion. We should not hold these young people hostage. We should deal with this issue on merits alone. That's what Congress needs to do. Deal with this on the merits alone, that is these 850 lives.

BOLDUAN: Congressman Joe Crowley, I appreciate your time.

CROWLEY: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Add this to the longer list of to-dos that Congress has. I appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We are going to have more on this breaking news coming from washington, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:44:57] BOLDUAN: We are taking a live look. I want to show you these pictures we're seeing also for the first time. This is Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower in New York. We're being told that dozens of people are being arrested. Some were laying in the streets in protest of the announcement that just came from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. You can see people there with zip ties. They're being arrested by police as the protests have been playing out. That's at Trump Tower. We saw protests outside the White House. That is playing out live, as we are getting reaction and response to the announcement from the administration to rescinding the DACA program.

Joining me now for more reaction is Bruce LeVell, the executive director of the National Diversity Coalition for President Trump.

Bruce, can you hear me?

BRUCE LEVELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITION FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP (via telephone): Yes. How you doing? Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for jumping on. I appreciate it.

What is your reaction to the announcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

LEVELL: It's a great reaction. I'm hopeful and optimistic that Congress will come together, you know, by the people, for the people, which this Constitution was designed for, to get a comprehensive plan. You know, Kate, respectfully, I wish this would have been dealt with back when President Obama campaigned that he would have some level of immigration reform and, you know, when he had a Congress and had a rubber stamp to get it done. You know, respectfully, I think, historically, Republicans and Democrats in the past have kicked the can down the road. And when President Obama had a chance to address this, now it's in President Trump's lap. I'm very hopeful and optimistic that Congress will come up with a great plan that will help these 800-plus thousand, you know, youngsters around the country. So --

BOLDUAN: Bruce, you said it is squarely in this president's lap, but President Trump didn't make the announcement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions did. That's one of the many things Democrats are responding to and reacting to this morning.

A Democrat was just on my show, Congressman Joe Crowley, calling it cowardly the president wouldn't make the announcement himself. What do you say?

LEVELL: It's cowardly the fact he represents the people by the people in Congress that they will come up with a plan, which they should have done, like I said, back in 2012. So, you know, people can point the blame. At the end of the day, unfortunately, both sides of the aisle have failed immigration, you know, miserably in the past. Now, you have a president that told the truth, and said what he was going to do during the campaign. President Trump and the administration is keeping their promises. But, you know, however, I want to say this, too, though. I know the president is a very compassionate man. I'm very optimistic, like I said, that our Congress will come up with a good plan that can help these youngsters have a pathway or something that relates to some level of immigration reform. I'm very optimistic, you know, I really am. BOLDUAN: Big question is, if Congress passes something, a major "if,"

will the president will sign it? I hear from you, you would like the president to sign it, if it makes it to his desk, that would be protecting these Dreamers, whose future is in question.

Bruce LeVell, I always appreciate your time. Thank you for jumping on. I appreciate it.

LEVELL: All right, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Let me bring in the panel.

Dana Bash, are you with me or have you left me? I just want to make sure, my friend

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm with you.

BOLDUAN: As we are hearing this reaction, there's a lot coming in. You heard Bruce, a supporter of the president, saying his reaction to this is hopeful and optimistic. You heard from Joe Crowley, calling this cowardly.

BASH: That's right. Actually, the two, they don't have to necessarily be mutually exclusive. You're right. You are getting an e-mail, as I am, statement after statement from Republicans and Democrats with varied responses. But, as much as the pressure is there, and it is there in a big way, as we talked earlier in your hour, Kate the reason Jeff Sessions was the person to give this announcement, was as a way to reassure the conservative base who want to do away with DACA and have it be done with, because they believe anything else would be amnesty.

The other side of that is we are seeing a lot of statements from Republicans who don't agree with that, starting with the speaker of the House, who would be the person who would have to put any bipartisan legislation on the House floor to do this legislatively.

I do think that, look, you and I covered the Hill for a while, as we have seen Congress grapple with this, particularly the Republican Party grapple with this. They haven't been able to do real immigration legislation for 10 years. It was 10 years ago or more, I guess, at this point, that the last Republican president, George Bush, tried to do comprehensive reform and fell flat. It was a disaster for him within the Republican Party. The flip side is this is different. This is a segment of the undocumented immigrant population that a lot of Republicans and Democrats have compassion for. So this is a real test -- a real test -- whether Congress can finally get their act together --

[11:50:29] BOLDUAN: Yes.

BASH: -- work in a bipartisan way, whether the leaders of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party can sort of shun their bases, work together, and actually get something done legislatively for these very, very specific and -- and you know, people in this country who a lot of people understandably have a lot of compassion for.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, this is -- the reaction -- one of the reactions we're hearing across the board is, Congress should do something. From Democrats, Republicans, and even conservatives. Of course, hearing very -- some hardline immigration folks who just want to see DACA ended with no fix. I'm telling you, that is the different element on this.

Paul, let me bring you in on this, because I still do have a lot of questions and want to know what your questions are. We're seeing protests play out. An announcement from Jeff Sessions. What remains unanswered in the interim, in the next six months for the Dreamers?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There's a huge number of unanswered questions. Number one, Sessions has said the Justice Department views President Obama's extension of, you know, rights to these young people to be unconstitutional and illegal. And he's going to defer it now for a period of time so that the program can be wound down. But what happens in court? What happens if the state of Texas, for instance, decides to go into court anyway, saying that this is unconstitutional and should be struck down? How does the Justice Department defend in this situation when Sessions himself said DACA is illegal? I think the Justice Department has boxed itself in.

And, two, I think, the one bit of hope I hold out is that people still have an opportunity to stay in this country and there's an escape hatch. The Trump administration could extend this wind-down if they wanted to, if Congress can't immediately come up with a solution.

BOLDUAN: We shall see.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Someone is trying to get in. I'm not sure who it is.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

TOOBIN: You know, it's all well and good to talk about wound-down as if this was some clock. I mean, these -- these 800,000 people gave their names and addresses to the federal government, because they wanted the protections of DACA. So the federal government knows where they all live. They are all in jeopardy, maybe in six months - certainly, in six months, probably now. And the idea that the federal government is going to do anything to protect them is preposterous. These people are in jeopardy of being thrown out of this country. You know, certainly, in six months, and probably --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

ALFONSO AGUILAR, PRESIDENT, LATINO PARTNERSHIP FOR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES: The point is, the White House, there was a call with the White House minutes before the actual announcement, and they're saying they're being compassionate, because the priority is not going to be to deport the DACA recipients. The priority is to go after criminals.

Now, to Jeffrey's point, they're not going to go after the DACA recipients, but the problem is that, in the enforcement process, if you're going after criminals and, in the process, you detain a DACA recipient with no criminal record, there's no guarantee that that person's not going to be removed. There's no guarantee they're not going be deported. Not systemically removed from the country, but no guarantee they won't end up being deported, if they get -- and end up being detained, enforcement action.

The other practical point, once this program ends, they're not going to have an employment document to allow them to work, so many will be without a job.

BOLDUAN: And, Alphonso, that is actually important part of this.

And, Mr. Secretary of state, I want to bring you in on this, because it has to do with your state, California.

Tim Cook, of Apple, tweeted out that 250 Apple employees are Dreamers. This isn't just -- this conversation we're having, importantly, of course, about some 800,000 Dreamers, but we're talking about their employers, the U.S. military, university admissions officers, considering folks are getting into college right now. This is -- this reaches further.

[11:54:53] ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Exactly. We're talking about 800,000 Dreamers that are employers, they're communities, they're families, the very fabric of communities across the country here. So thank you, and thank Dana for clarifying who it is we're talking about here. DACA participants are young men and women who were brought here by their parents at a very young age. We're talking infants, toddlers. And have no other country than America, and have pledged allegiance to this country almost their entire lives. And to participant in DACA and enjoy the protections, you have to have cleared the background check, be active or a veteran of the armed services in the United States, either in school or have graduated from school. These are contributors to our country. Not the -- not the image of rapists and drug dealers the president wants you to believe.

An important message to convey this morning as well, is to all Dreamers out there, not just in California, but across the country, there are a lot of elected leaders and others who hear you, who know you, who see you, and are going to do everything in our power to protect you.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Guys, hold on one -- give me one second.

Control room, tell me what you were trying it tell me again.

Sorry. We need to wrap it up, guys. I'm leave you with one thought. A lot more reaction to come. I think

the president's tweet this morning stands right now, and we can leave it with everyone, Congress, get ready to do your job. Congress, DACA, it's on your plate now, because the president just announced he's rescinding this program through his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. At the very at least, that we know.

Thank you for joining me this hour. Appreciate you walking through this with us.

We are following other breaking news on the growing hurricane threatening the southeastern United States. Hurricane Irma is now a category 5 storm. Store shelves already in southern Florida looking bare. People starting to prepare for the worst. The least of their problems, preparing for the worst. Details on the path of the storm and new forecast and track is right ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: All right. Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a category 5, making it the strongest storm to hit the Atlantic in a decade.

CNN's Chad Myers is tracking the storm in the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, Category 5 is a terrifying number to talk about now. Where is it going and what do you see?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Look at the other number to the top right, 180 mile-per-hour sustained winds. Headed to the northern Leeward Islands, the BBI, British Virgin Islands, which means Anguilla, St. Martin. That area up there, right here where the islands are, where it's headed for now. No indication this is losing any intensity. The pressure is still going down. A devastating storm for anyone impacted by that eyewall. Not only the eyewall will have 180. But even around it will have 140, 150. Move you ahead, the category 4, possible very close to the Keys, very close to the Florida Keys, in the Florida Straits, somewhere by the end of the weekend, maybe. I would even say 6:00 a.m. Sunday, we would really have a lot of impact into Key Largo, if this is the course. Now, we could still see it. Look at this island. Could be here. Could be here. Right now, Florida in the middle -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Sticking there for the past couple days.

Thank you so much, Chad. Really, really appreciate it.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

Breaking news out of washington, a major moment for this administration, for this president, for this White House. Announcing the ending of the DACA program. What does that mean now?

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now. [12:00:08] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Kate. Welcome to INSIDE

POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us. Major breaking immigration news.