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Trump Ends Protection for 'DREAMers'; Monster Hurricane Headed for Puerto Rico, Florida; Trump: 'I'll Revisit DREAMer Decision if Congress Can't Fix in 6 Months'. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired September 6, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SCOTT: ... very -- very specific last week. We do have to secure our border. We do have to make sure the citizens that came here did, not of their own volition, their parents brought them. They have an opportunity to pursue the dream. I don't believe in illegal immigration, but Congress has got to act.
[07:00:17] What President Obama did through an executive order was not the right way to do this. Congress has got to come together, secure borders, do everything to stop illegal immigration. But these -- these that come here, you know, not -- with their parents, they've got to have a chance to pursue their dream in this country.
CAMEROTA: Understood. Governor Rick Scott, thank you very much. We know you have a very busy day. Obviously, we'll be following Florida. Best of luck to your state. Thank you.
SCOTT: All right.
CAMEROTA: All right. Much more hurricane coverage of Irma ahead. So let's get right to it.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. And we do begin with this breaking news. There is a monster hurricane. It is already battering parts of the Caribbean and bearing down on Puerto Rico. And then, as you heard, possibly heading towards Florida.
Hurricane Irma and its impact is expected to be catastrophic, with a devastating storm surge as you just heard the governor talk about. Also there will be life-threatening winds and dangerous flash flooding. At this point the massive storm is already packing 185- mile-per-hour winds.
CUOMO: All right. So what's going to happen? That's the big question.
You're looking at the track right now. We know it's bad for the BVIs, Puerto Rico. Hopefully, it will stay to the north there. But Florida. You just heard the governor here on NEW DAY saying it's definitely a state of emergency. They worry it's worse than Andrew. People hitting the gas stations, hitting the supermarkets, all the supplies, the construction supplies. Everybody is out there trying to prepare, but for what and which part? This is just one of several stories that we're following this morning.
Other big news, President Trump facing backlash over his decision to end protections for nearly 800,000 DREAMers. And in just hours, he's going to take a critical phone call with China's President over the threat posed by North Korea.
We have it all covered the way only CNN can. Let's start with the latest on Irma, and CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Puerto Rico. And there, Leyla, we know they're prepared. We spoke to the governor this morning. But they are praying that it moves just to the north. And they still get hit, but not as hard as they could.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Chris. There's certainly a sense of unease, a sense of uncertainty as everyone just waits. Puerto Rico is waking up today crossing their fingers, praying for a better outcome here.
You know, the governor, I know we spoke to him on CNN. But he is expected to take to the podium any minute now to give an update as far as numbers and preparations for today.
But you know, the last we heard from him, they are trying to take advantage of these last few hours before a potential hit from Irma. Right now, we are about 200 miles away, or Irma is about 200 miles southeast of where we are right now. And everyone is just hoping that they can escape that destruction that the governor has been talking about.
I mean, I talked to one woman yesterday who corrected me when I said, "Hey, let's talk about this hurricane."
She said, "Oh, no, it is not a hurricane. This thing is a beast."
So there is a lot of uncertainty. People are definitely trying to take advantage of the last-minute things -- last-minute hours, boarding up windows, heading to the grocery stores, and waiting to see what will come to Puerto Rico, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Leyla, thank you very much. Again, be safe. We'll check back with you.
Joining us now is Claudia Harris. She's traveled to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She's there to celebrate her birthday. Now she's stuck there, and she's going to have to ride out the storm.
Claudia, are you hearing me OK? How's the Skype?
CLAUDIA HARRIS, STUCK IN ST. JOHN, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: I can hear you.
CUOMO: All right. So how are you feeling? How's your family?
HARRIS: We're really nervous, and we're just hoping and praying that we don't get hit as hard as they're expecting and that we make it out alive, essentially. It's a scary situation. CUOMO: Now, we -- we said that you're stuck there. Why weren't you
able to get out? Did they just close the airports? Was there any warning?
HARRIS: Yes. We got a note on our door Sunday night, saying that they closing down the ports Tuesday morning and that we needed to change our departure. And we looked for airline tickets everywhere, and we couldn't find any. There was none to any part of the country. They're all sold out.
What's the situation where you're staying right now in terms of preparations for the storm?
HARRIS: We're up on a hill. We're about 60 to 70 feet above sea level. There's about 50 people here in this villa at the highest point of the resort that we can be.
CUOMO: The thinking is, what, you're safe from the storm surge that far up or a little bit more exposed to winds, or is there some cover, where you said about 350 people are going to be sheltering?
HARRIS: There's a -- there's a couple safe rooms in the back of our resort. And we don't expect to get flooded. But if we do, we have three floors that we can go up. And the building is supposed to be built really well to withstand Category 5 flood, winds. So hopefully, it won't fall.
CUOMO: Who are you with?
HARRIS: I'm with my mom, my stepdad and my boyfriend.
CUOMO: All right. So look, at least you've got family there with you. I know that this is scary. But hopefully, the preparations are in place and, hopefully, the storm is a little different than expected. We will keep checking in with you, Claudia, to make sure that you guys are doing OK. You know how to reach us if you need anything. All right?
HARRIS: OK. Thank you so much.
CUOMO: It's not the kind of birthday you wanted to have, but it's one you'll never forget, and hopefully for good reason. I look forward to talking to you after the storm passes. Be well, Claudia. Be safe.
HARRIS: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right.
CAMEROTA: Let's get some more information now, because Hurricane Irma is a very impressive sight from space. Here's the image of the storm churning. Look at just the vastness of this storm. It's all captured by the International Space Station.
Here to update us on the storm's track is the chief hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, Dr. Michael Brennan. Dr. Brennan, what do you see at this hour? DR. MICHAEL BRENNAN, CHIEF HURRICANE SPECIALIST, NATIONAL HURRICANE
CENTER: Well, right now we have the eye of very dangerous Hurricane Irma right over the island of St. Martin, with the island Bandaya (ph) in the northern eyewall here, in the extreme Northeastern Caribbean.
As Irma continues to move off to the west-northwest, it's going to be moving very close to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands later today and then passing near or just north of the north coast of Puerto Rico as we go into tonight.
After that time, we expect Irma to move into the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos and then between Cuba and the rest of the Bahamas and then make a northward turn as we get to the weekend, somewhere in the vicinity of the Florida Peninsula.
CAMEROTA: Well, then that's the big question at this hour. You can't tell right now, in other words, if it's going to hit the left coast -- the west coast or the east coast of Florida, or is it possible that one model has it missing Florida altogether and making landfall in Charleston, South Carolina?
BRENNAN: Sure. There's a lot of potential outcomes out of this point in time. You know, I prefer we couldn't even see these dots, you know, that show our four- and five-day points, because our average error out there is 150, 200 miles. So the storm still could easily move to the left of our forecast, near our forecast or a little to the right. So it's too early to determine what the specific impacts might be in Florida or elsewhere up into the southeastern United States. But we'll hope that that will come into better focus as we go through the next few days.
CAMEROTA: When we hear this is the most powerful hurricane to ever be in the Atlantic, what does that mean?
BRENNAN: Well, it's the most powerful hurricane we've seen in the Atlantic, not counting the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. But Irma is an exceptionally powerful hurricane. We've only had four or five hurricanes on record that have been stronger than this in our Atlantic database.
But just catastrophic impacts with the Category 5 winds and the eyewall. Devastating storm surge expected in the northern Leeward Islands today. In the Virgin Islands, seven to 11 feet. We could see up to 20 feet of storm surge in portions of the Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas. So it's a life-threatening situation here in the next few days for those folks.
CAMEROTA: Understood. All right. We're happy to get the word out. Dr. Brennan, thank you very much. Keep us posted as the track changes -- Chris.
CUOMO: Other big news. Let's turn to Washington. That's where President Trump is and offering a little hope to DREAMers. Why? Well, he promised to revisit the situation to kill the program and maybe protect them from deportation if Congress fails to come up with a legislative solution in the next six months. Let's bring in Joe Johns live at the White House. A little deja vu
all over again. Except for the six months, Congress failing and a president having to go it alone is how we got DACA.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Very tough situation for not just this president but the previous president. President Trump turning up the heat on the Republican-led Congress to find a way to protect those DREAMers, the 800,000 young immigrants in the United States as a result of the program started by President Obama called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a love for these people, and hopefully, now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.
JOHNS (voice-over): But the stakes of congressional action or inaction seem a lot higher today. President Trump tweeting Tuesday night that he plans to revisit his administration's decision to end DACA if Congress fails to pass a law protecting DREAMers within six months.
TRUMP: Really, we have no choice. We have to be able to do something. And I think it's going to work out very well, and the long-term, it's going to be the right solution.
JOHNS: Press secretary Sarah Sanders explaining the president would support signing legislation as part of a broader immigration overhaul but neglected to say whether Trump would support a stand-alone bill that only addresses DREAMers.
[07:10:13] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have confidence that Congress is going to step up and do their job. We stand ready and willing to work with them in order to accomplish responsible immigration reform.
JOHNS: Senator Marco Rubio urging the president to take the lead and clearly outline what kind of legislation the president is willing to sign. Some lawmakers urging immediate bipartisan action to swiftly pass a new DREAM Act by the end of September.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: The clock is ticking. We're now in a countdown toward deportation for 780,000 protected by DACA today.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: My challenge to the president is that you talk very glowingly about these kids. Help us. Help us in the House. Help us in the Senate.
JOHNS: But others are skeptical about Congress's ability to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, telling CNN a large-scale immigration bill would pretty much guarantee failure.
In his harshest criticism yet, President Obama slamming the decision to rescind his 2012 executive action in a lengthy letter as "wrong, self-defeating and cruel," saying in part, "Let's be clear: the action taken today isn't required legally. It's a political decision and a moral question."
JOHNS: And across the country nationwide protests were on display as President Trump seemed to reverse his own promises to protect young immigrants from deportation.
JOHNS: Very busy day on tap for President Trump today. He's going to get on the phone and have a conversation with Chinese President Xi. Then he's going to have a meeting with congressional leadership. After that he flies off to North Dakota for a speech on taxes -- Chris and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Joe, thank you.
All right. Let's bring in the panel: CNN political panelists John Avlon and David Gregory.
David, we've been seeing this immigration fight go on for a long time. This happened before 9/11, which is where the DREAM Act first started. How did we get here, and how is it instructive for what may happen next?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the president is trying to manage some very difficult politics. On this particular issue, he is not ideological. I don't think he wants to send the DREAMers back to a country that they wouldn't recognize. They are effectively Americans.
And yet, I think he's trying to manage this kind of nativist wing of his own coalition, his own political coalition. And he's not unreasonable to want to force Congress to do the job that it should have done all along. But he's not providing any leadership. He is, yet again, strikingly, as a bystander on an important issue instead of giving Congress some real direction.
He's head of the government. He's head of the Republican Party. He should drive on what the solution really ought to be. And if he thinks Congress, which couldn't deal with health care -- we don't know about taxes -- is going to take on comprehensive immigration reform with the idea of a wall in the middle of all that, something that has not been accomplished since before 9/11 when it was on tap to be done by President Bush, I just don't think that's realistic.
CAMEROTA: John, we -- we know that the president is not a detail- oriented person. He wouldn't even describe himself that way. He's a big-picture guy. However, there's all sorts of reporting this morning. We just had Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times," including her reporting, that he didn't quite grasp the backlash, the consequences of this. He didn't quite think out all the steps of what would happen after his announcement and tossed this hot potato to Congress.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, look, you don't get sympathy points when you're president for not thinking things through. That's a part of your job.
And part of the problem is the president's own emotions about this -- his statement last night, you know, "I'll revisit it" -- are being contradicted by his own administration and his own White House talking points which themselves said the DREAMers should prepare for departure from this country in six months.
The idea of forcing Congress's hand may seem elegant on the surface, but it runs into a thicket of problems. And as Lindsey Graham said, if Donald Trump wants to avoid a moral disaster on this that would haunt, you know, his conscience, then he needs to lead. If he wants to pull a Nixon in China and do comprehensive immigration reform, as unlikely as that may be, then he needs to lead.
CAMEROTA: But I'm just curious about that. That means he needs to roll up his sleeves. He needs to work the phones. He needs to call the most conservative members of the Republican Congress and say, "Guys, we need to keep these DREAMers here."
AVLON: Or the most conservative Democrats to the extent they exist, yes. He's got to roll up his sleeves and actually be president in the LBJ mold.
AVLON: He's got to actually use that charm and that focus to move the ball forward.
CUOMO: And David, let's be clear. The problem isn't convincing people not to deport DREAMers. That has been seen as abhorrent from -- since jump in 2001. This is something else.
[07:15:06] The six months is self-imposed. All right? The president put in there. There is no immediacy here. Yes, some states' attorneys general are threatening to sue. Donald Trump has never been one to shy away from litigation.
CUOMO: This is about feeding something else. Let's just be honest what it's about. This feeds the fear and the anger of a part of his base, these DREAMers -- immigration is a metaphor for "us versus them" and what is America. And those are the themes that Donald Trump was hammering away during the campaign. Now he's in a position to do something about it.
GREGORY: No, I agree. And Maggie Haberman made the point that he's got to be held accountable for these views throughout the campaign, being very hardline on immigration, even though he's not hardline on the DREAMers, per se.
He's got to land somewhere and then lead, as John has been saying. He's got to forge a particular direction.
And the problem is that he contradicts himself, so we just don't know. And as you said, he's been contradicted by other parts of his administration in terms of what they're going to do next.
What you see from congressional leaders is they don't want to make this an issue. And the problem with John's description, it's not that I disagree with it, it's that he didn't have the kind of juice as president to reach down into the conservative base and call these guys and say, "Look, I want a wall, too. This is how we're going to get all of these things done."
You were talking to Jim Jordan. I mean, that is -- that is the conservative right that sprang up, really, in 2004, 2005. And that's what President Bush couldn't contend with. And I always maintain, President Bush, border governor of Texas, knew this issue, had this issue right, but the politics moved away from it.
AVLON: And he made a mistake not doing it first after his re- election.
AVLON: But no point in litigating that. Now is the opportunity for the president to actually try to rally that conservative base that remains loyal to him. And to try to present a bigger picture.
But let's also not get caught up on the process of this. Let's not forget the people. Because we're talking about 800,000 Americans who have never known another country, as you pointed out, and they are facing deportation after they gave their information and their addresses to the federal government.
And all of a sudden now, Jeff Sessions, who was trumped out yesterday, who this has been a long-standing hobby horse of his, is in a position to weaponize that data and go after these DREAMers in a way that could be incredibly ugly in six months and is sinister.
CAMEROTA: Quickly, last word.
GREGORY: Last word, John, the historian in him taking it broader, and I think it's important. Because this is as much about who we are as Americans. You know, the great Civil War historian Shelby Foote talked about the Civil War as being a real crossroads in America that really defined who we were.
Who we are as immigrants is as much a part of who we are in the 20th Century and now the 21st Century. These DREAMers are Americans like my own children. They were born here. They contribute to society.
CAMEROTA: Or came here as children...
CAMEROTA: They weren't born here. That -- they came here as children. GREGORY: No, I understand that. But I'm saying they -- sorry, yes,
being raised in this country, are effectively Americans. I think there is broad recognition of that. And that's something that has to be part of this political debate.
CUOMO: And it is. It is what it's all about, who this country wants to be, and it's a disunity that we're seeing be fueled right now by this. They just happened to pick on the most vulnerable people to make the stand.
CAMEROTA: David, John, thank you very much.
So can lawmakers pass a bill to keep these DREAMers in the United States? One congressman has a plan, but can he get it through Congress? He'll explain it to us.
[07:22:33] CAMEROTA: Congress has six months to come up with a replacement to protect the DREAMers from deportation. One congressman has a plan that he believes will work.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. He is the co-sponsor of a bill that would keep DREAMers in this country.
Congressman, thanks so much for being here. So the clock is ticking. What's your plan?
REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R), FLORIDA: It's actually -- there's a lot of us that have been working on this for a long time, Alisyn. And there's no secret what has to happen. In order to get -- you know, you have both sides, right and left. And they basically -- one side says they want to deal with the folks that are here, the undocumented, in a way that's permanent. The other side said -- says, "I have no problem with that as long as you do border security first."
So there's no secret. You have to do both of them at the same time. You have to deal with border security and the individuals that you're dealing with.
When we're talking about the DREAMers, I think you have to do one step at a time. You have to get -- in order to make sure that -- and we have to make sure that the DREAMers can stay here permanently. And I agree with you that these are folks that, frankly, are Americans except that they don't have the documents. In order to do that, we'll probably have to do some border security.
This should not be that complicated, that controversial. It's those that say you have to have all or nothing that for now over a decade have created this problem. So therefore, I think we can permanently solve the issue of the DREAMers while getting some border security aspects.
And I would hope that after we do that, we can then take the next step, which is deal with the rest of the broken immigration system and the rest of folks who are here undocumented that deserve a way that they can earn a way to get right with the law.
CAMEROTA: Look, when you spell it out, it sounds as if it should be simple. But you know the reality. I mean, for decades, for whatever reason, it hasn't been. So why hasn't this worked?
DIAZ-BALART: Because it is a -- politically it's a very difficult issue. Because emotionally, there's nothing more emotional of an issue out there.
And also technically, let's not minimize the technical difficulties in some aspects of this. Now, you know I've been involved with this for a long time, and you know that we came exceedingly close. I believe it was last Congress, the Congress before that, and then -- and then circumstances beyond our control took over.
CAMEROTA: Well, hold on one second. Hold on one second. I want to stop you there. Because you did come exceedingly close. I mean, you say circumstances beyond your control. Was it Eric Cantor's loss? I mean, was it just political fright that took over?
DIAZ-BALART: Yes. As you know, we had -- in essence we had the votes, and then Mr. Cantor lost the primary and then, just weeks after that, we had the crisis on the southern border with the unaccompanied minors, 60,000 unaccompanied minors. It muddied the waters. It created additional difficulties in an area that's already, as you know, very difficult.
[07:25:17] Do I think there's a way to get this done? Yes. I think there's added pressure and added urgency to deal with the DREAMers for obvious reasons. So I think we have an opportunity and a challenge. We have to get it done.
And I think, you know, look, that's Congress's role to do the difficult things. The easy thing is to avoid this issue, the politically easy thing.
DIAZ-BALART: I've never avoided it. I think we have to get it done, and I think there's a way forward.
CAMEROTA: So do you think that, in that way, it was good that President Trump kicked it over to Congress and is sort of forcing your hand?
DIAZ-BALART: Well, look, I would have rather that -- that these folks were not subject to deportation. So -- so you know, is it good? I would have rather that that was not the option, no. I would have supported -- I support keeping the DREAMers here and however we can do that.
However, if that forces Congress to finally act, and we know the way forward, and it's going to have to be not everything, not one big bite, but smaller bites, border security and dealing with the DREAMers, then hopefully, we can do more. If this forces the issue, and then history will show that it would be a good thing. The key here is what? The key is Congress must act. We have to quit
playing politics. We have to quit either saying, "I want everything or nothing" or "We're not willing to deal with these folks." We have to be reasonable. It's going to have to be the center of Congress coming together, avoiding the extremes of both the right and the left, and with the help of the administration.
Do I think this president wants to keep the DREAMers here? Absolutely I do. Do I think Congress can do this and we have a way forward? Yes. Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not.
CAMEROTA: Well, what do you say to your most conservative colleagues? I'm thinking of people like Congressman Steve King, who say these are families who flouted the law. Maybe these children didn't, they came through no choice of their own. But their families flouted the law. And we're a nation of laws. And you can't reward them. There has to be consequences.
DIAZ-BALART: Look, when you're dealing with the DREAMers, one of the things that defines the United States of America is that we're a meritocracy. We don't judge an individual for what his parents, his grandparents, his friends did. We judge that individual for their actions.
These individuals, these DREAMers have done absolutely nothing wrong. Let's judge them for what they did. I think the American people understand that.
How do we get that done and how do we move forward? I think we have a way forward. It's not going to be easy, and it's going to require lowering the decibels, rolling up our sleeves. And again, most of us, who I think -- I think there's vast agreement that these DREAMers deserve to be here. There's also vast agreement that the United States has a right -- I will tell you the obligation -- to protect our borders. We can't be the only country that can't determine who comes in and leaves. There's agreement on that.
Well, let's put those things together and get this part done. If we can get this part done, which is a big lift, but I think it's possible, then I'm hopeful that we can eventually do even more. That would be great for our economy, for our national security, for the entire country.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Diaz-Balart, thank you for sharing your optimism on this with us this morning. Great to talk to you.
DIAZ-BALART: Thank you, ma'am.
CUOMO: All right. So the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee says some Republicans investigating the Russian election hack are trying to undermine part of the investigation. Exactly who and how? Congressman Adam Schiff, making the allegation, makes the case to you next.