Return to Transcripts main page


Conservative Backlash Against "Amnesty Don" after DACA Comments; First Lady's Unannounced Trip to Mar-a-Lago; Man Writes, Tries to Cope with Turpin Children Torture. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:32:43] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: President Trump, for the very first time, saying he will support a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, as long as he still gets the money to build his border wall. The surprising statement in this impromptu session with reporters, and also telling people, quote, "not to worry about being deported."


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Do you want citizenship for DREAMers?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): We're going to -- we're going to morph into it. It's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does that mean?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Morph into it, what's that mean?

TRUMP: Over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job, they've worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job. But they've worked hard, they've done terrifically, whether they have a little company or whether they work or whatever they're doing, if they do a great job. I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen.


BALDWIN: Some call it an evolution in thinking. Others call it a total flip flop.

Let's take a look back, shall we, about what President Trump has said in the past about DREAMers.


TRUMP: I will immediately terminate President Obama's illegal executive order on immigration. Immediately.

What about our children? Why can't our children that are in the country, why can't they be the dreamer? Nobody ever talks about that. It sounds cold and it sounds hard. We have a country. Our country is

going to hell. We have to have a system where people are legally in our country.

It's a very, very tough subject. We have to deal with DACA with heart.

We love the DREAMers. We love everybody.

We'll have a great heart for the folks we're talking about, a great love for them.

It should be a bipartisan bill. This should be a bill of love, truly, it should be a bill of love, and we can do that.


BALDWIN: Now, given what he said in the last 24 hours, check out how the right-wing media is handling this. "Breitbart" rolling out this headline, "Immigration shock. Amnesty Don suggests citizenship for illegal aliens."

Amnesty Don, they say.

Let me bring in Hollywood actor, Bambadjan Bamba, who stars in NBC's "The Good Place," and is the upcoming film, "Black Panther." He is a DACA activities and works with Define America. And he is also undocumented.

Bambadjan, nice to meet you. Welcome.

BAMBADJAN BAMBA, ACTOR: Thank you so much for having me, Brooke. Very important.

BALDWIN: So here you are. It's so important. The fact you're speaking up, I wanted to ask you why. A little of your backstory. Your parents brought you over to the states, south Bronx from the ivory coast when you were just 10.

[14:35:13] BAMBA: Yes.

BALDWIN: Why are you speaking up and telling the world that you're undocumented?

BAMBA: Look, one thing that's important to know, I came here legally with my parents and then some way, somehow, we just lost status. So I lost status. The DREAM Act came about and it's helping me remain legal and continue to live my dream. But then this administration decides they want to cancel DACA. That's when I knew I just couldn't stay silent anymore. That's when I knew that god gave me a platform as an actor and I need to use my voice. I'm trying to humanize this very political issue that's been so politicized, especially this past weekend.

BALDWIN: Yes. And I want to ask you also about what the president said in that impromptu conversation in a second. Tell me a little bit more about your story. You're young. You're in the south Bronx. Really more of a Dominican neighborhood. You start learning, what? You start learning Spanish? Tell me what life was like then.

BAMBA: No. I only spoke French when I came from ivory coast.


BAMBA: So there was actually no French class, so they put me in a Spanish ESL class. You imagine this French-speaking kid in a Spanish class. I don't understand English, I don't understand Spanish and I'm lost in translation. They put me next to an African kid who is actually tricking me the entire day. I'm asking him, hey, help me tell the teacher I need to go to the bathroom. How do I say that? He said say kiss my butt. So I say that and I'm in trouble all day. It's not uncommon. There's definitely a lack of resources for people who are not Hispanic, Latino, African immigrants, such as myself. Besides that, I went to high school. I was an actor. I was playing tennis. I was homecoming king. Then I realized that with my status, I couldn't get any financial aid to pursue my acting dream. That's really when I realized I was undocumented and had it really affect my life. Now I've been acting through drama. I have a family. I have a daughter. I really don't want to be separated from them.

BALDWIN: Black Panther. You want to stay in the U.S. I get it. I think it's so important to hear a window on your life and being here in this country. So, that said, here you are. You hear the president saying last night, essentially suggesting, all right, I'm OK with a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. I don't know how that's going to play with hard-core conservatives, but does that reassure you, those words from the president?

BAMBA: Look, it's just the story changes so much. Tomorrow it could be something completely different. What I do want to say --


BALDWIN: Do you believe him, Bambadjan?

BAMBA: All I can do is stand on the side of hope. I have to be optimistic. I have a family to provide for. I have to figure out how to pay my bills and how to survive. I can't be paralyzed. I can't be depressed. I have to keep moving on, just like all the undocumented Americans that are trying to, you know, find a permanent place in this country. I just tell everyone, I support a clean dream act which really means that it's not only helping the 800,000 DREAMers, but there are millions more who came when they were young, too, but aged out because of some arbitrary age limit.

BALDWIN: What does that mean, though? Let me ask you quickly. The president says no wall, no protection for DREAMers and you have these hardline progressives who have said hell no to a wall. Is it worth it, so you can be protected?

BAMBA: Well, what I can say is that I don't know if a wall will stop people who are fleeing war to get to safety. We don't talk about the migrant crisis in Libya anymore but there's a whole Mediterranean ocean that people are crossing to get to freedom. So, I don't know. I'm not a politician. You know, I'm not in construction. But what I do know is that I've been in the country for 25 years or like Jorge Garcia, who just got deported, has been here for 30 years, and I don't know how long we have to be here, we have to prove that we're the best that this country has to offer. We're here to give back. We're here to contribute. And I don't know what it's going to take. But we're just going to keep fighting. I'm going to keep sharing my story. I'm just going to keep trying to win hearts over of Americans, 90 percent of the country that believes that DREAMers should have permanent status in America.


[14:40:25] BALDWIN: The majority of America, Bambadjan, is on your side. I love how you said you stand on the side of hope. We all stand on the side of hope.


BALDWIN: Bambadjan Bamba, let's have a conversation again as we get up to this March DACA deadline.

BAMBA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much, and good luck to you.

BAMBA: Thank you so much for having me.

BALDWIN: You got it.

Coming up next, she was initially supposed to be in Davos, Switzerland, with her husband, the president. She canceled that trip. And, right now, first lady, Melania Trump, is suddenly making this unannounced trip to Florida. What CNN is learning about why she's headed south, next.


[14:45:09] BALDWIN: First lady, Melania Trump, skipping the trip with her husband to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and instead taking a break from the White House. A short time ago, the first lady landing in Florida, a surprise trip to West Palm Beach.

Let's talk it over with CNN reporter, Kate Bennett.

Kate, what's going on?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: What is going on? It really was a surprise trip to Florida. In fact, if we hadn't noticed the plane, the government plane, we wouldn't have known. She did not make any formal announcement. There was nothing on her schedule however we had law enforcement officials confirm and we have a shot of her plane and a bit of her motorcade. She was supposed to be in Davos, Switzerland, supporting her husband at the world economic forum. She decided Monday night she wasn't going to go, the White House said, because of scheduling and logistics issues. This morning, she turned up with Washington, going to the holocaust museum, of all places. And she posted about it. This Saturday is the Holocaust Remembrance Day. She slipped off to the museum this morning, took a tour, paid her respects, had a moment of silence, lit a candle. Really sort of had a nice, solemn, solo visit to this museum and apparently slipped off to Andrews Air Force Base and on to Florida.

BALDWIN: Incredible place to be if she's going to spend the morning anywhere in Washington, that Holocaust Museum is the place to spend an entire day. But off to West Palm she goes.

Kate Bennett, thanks for keeping your eyes out for the first lady. Appreciate that.

Back to our breaking news. After a 24-hour frenzy over this, quote, unquote, "secret society," why Republicans are backing away from this conspiracy theory, conceding it may have all been a joke after all. We're going to talk about why facts matter and the dangers of pushing this kind of narrative.


[14:51:26] BALDWIN: There is some evil in this world that is so hard to fathom, evil that haunts you long after you hear it. Inside a suburban house in California, a house that looked like any other house, but the only one not nearly a home. Instead, a hell, den of torture. Two parents -- I use the term parents loosely -- holding their 13 children prisoners. Many of them so malnourished. They looked 10 years younger than their actual age. They were allowed to shower once a year, eat once a day, kept in their own waste, kept in chains, padlocks. They taunted the hungry children with food, putting pies in front of them, but not even allowing them to eat. This, going on and on for years until one of the brave teenagers escaped and called 911.

As we all try to grapple with these horrifying details, I wanted to share something with you today. These are words from someone who is grappling with it in his own way, a very direct way. A man who says he went to elementary school with one of these 13 children. He remembers her. She moved away after the third grade and he never saw her again until now.

Bear with me. Let me quote him here. He writes, "She was the one girl at meadow creek elementary that nobody wanted to be caught talking to. Every grade had a designated cootie kid. She held the title for our year. She was a frail girl, pin-straight hair with bangs and often wore the same purple outfit. She was often made fun of by the other third graders because of her clothes, which would sometimes look like they had been dragged through the mud, which she would also smell like on most days.

I distinctly remember my entire third grade class scoffing at her because the teacher had asked her to discard a scrunchie that she had used to tie her hair out of a discarded wrapper from an old Hershey's bar. She moved away and was forgotten about after we moved on to the next cootie kid. Several years later, after high school, I found myself thinking about

her again. I was bored at home, was passing the time by Facebook, stalking old elementary school classmates to see how they had turned out. And I remember searching specifically for her. Her name was so distinct that there couldn't be any more than a few people who shared the name, yet no matching results came up. I naturally assumed that she was one of the lucky few who hadn't been bit by the social media bug. I also thought somewhere, somehow, she was probably out living her best life, showing up all us third graders how far she had come. She was going to be the person at the reunion looking completely flawless, making six figures, while the rest of us tried to conceal our receding hairlines and minimum wage jobs. I feel like we all kind of have hope that those people who were marginalized growing up sometimes, by our own hands, somehow grew past those circumstances and essentially grew up to kick ass in real life. That's what I had hoped for her, she had used the insults we hurled at her, the isolation we provided for her and the ill looks we gave her and used it as ammunition to forge a successful path in life. I was so sure that was what had happened. But today, I was in for a rude awakening.

I have been reading these articles and seeing these statements and looking at these pictures and I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. Of course, none of us are responsible for the events that ensued, but you can't help but feel rotten when your classmate, the classmate your peers made fun of for smelling like poop quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed. It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table, went home to squalor and fill the while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story.

[14:55:22] The resounding lesson here is a simple one. Something that we're taught from the very beginning. Be nice. Teach your children to be nice. If you see someone that's isolated, befriend them. If you see someone that's marginalized, befriend them. If you see someone that's different, befriend them. We can never completely put ourselves in other's shoes, nor can we completely understand the circumstances that one is brought up in. But a simple act of kindness and acceptance may be the ray of hope that person needs. Befriend the Turpins of the world.

She, despite being vehemently vilified by her peers, was still one of the most pleasant people I had the opportunity to meet. She had this whimsical optimism, that cheerful disposition is what makes me certain that she will prevail. That one day I'll remember to Facebook stalk her and see she is living her best life. Despite being let down by her parents and peers alike, she rose above it all. And I'm going to be rooting for her, as her peer, as her classmate, as her friend, from cootie girl to who conquered the world."



[15:00:11] BALDWIN: All right, we continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.