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Governor Inslee Weighs in on Immigration Crisis; ACLU Lawyer Talks Legality of Separating Illegal Immigrants and Children; Debate Rages About Separation of Families at Border; Stephen Miller's Policy Motivations; Closing Argument on Immigration Crisis; Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 22, 2018 - 21:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. A good weekend to you, Anderson, and such an important special. Thank you.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

The crisis on the border is in full effect. Thousands of moms and dads are still struggling to find their kids. For some reason, it seems the folks with the least resources, the ones detained, have the do the most work to find their sons and daughters. And instead of fixing this mess, this president is intent on fixing the narrative, selling this fallacy that the stories of separated families are phony.

We're going to talk to a governor whose state is filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Jay Inslee is with us in just a moment.

And we have a top ACLU attorney here tonight with a gut-wrenching story. He's suing the Trump administration on behalf of a mom torn apart from her 7-year-old daughter.

Plus, our promise here is that facts come first but that is not the case at the president's favorite TV network. Another host at Fox facing backlash for B.S. And usually, we ignore the noise but wait until you hear what was said.

It's Friday night, grab a glass and a snack and what do you say? Let's get after it.


CUOMO: The kids are all right. Strong album by The Who, but a weak deception by the president who is now saying the reports of the problems at the border are phony.

This latest assault first came in the form of a tweet -- you're looking at it now -- targeting Democrats accusing them of telling, quote, phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections. Odd when President Trump was just saying the same images and reports broke his heart and moved him to fix his mess with that confounding executive order. Why do I say confounding? Because we hear tonight that that order has

been causing fierce arguments inside the White House. "The New York Times" reports that the Trump administration officials have been at odds over how to carry out the president's directive. They don't know what he meant, they don't know what he wants or how to get whatever it is done. Just as much chaos inside as there appears to be outside.

And if it's all phony, why did his own wife, First Lady Melania Trump, go to the border to see and hear these stories of sadness and grief. Maybe that was Trump's jacket she had on because she sure seemed to care, and not think any of this is phony. And, of course, she's right.

Numbers from HHS confirm the reality, the Health and Human Services Department. More than 11,600 undocumented minors are in custody.

So, what does the president do if the facts aren't in his favor? Shift to a new line of attack. Maybe the kids and folks in the border are in a bad spot but they deserve no sympathy because they're a bunch of killers, gangbangers and drug pushers and the real people to care about are their victims.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones. They're separated for a day or two days. They are permanently separated.

These are the families the media ignores. They don't talk about them. Very unfair. For years, their pain was met with silence. Their plight was met with indifference but no more.


CUOMO: Now, what he's saying is untrue, but it is strong medicine because he is right in this way -- these families should have never lost loved ones thanks to a broken system. And they do deserve our respect and sympathy.

But Trump's suggestion that the kids in cages don't matter because other migrants are criminals or that we should see all migrants as potential killers, all that is as ugly as the politics have gotten. And this may ultimately come down to what the law demands of and from Trump and that's a big focus of the show tonight.

There are two big cases afoot and we're going to get after both of them. First, joining us is Governor Jay Inslee, Democrat from Washington.

Welcome to PRIME TIME.

You've heard what the president says the truth is and you say you disagree. Why?

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON STATE: Well, look, America is better than this. We know that this gross inhumanity is obvious to anyone with a beating heart. And we know that a president who lied about what he did, lied about why he did it, lied about whether Congress was required to fix it, and is still lying tonight about this situation cannot be trusted and we need judicial relief.

We need the U.S. Constitution. And I tell you, I do believe we're going to win this because his cruelty is going to be defeated by our compassion and his chaos --

CUOMO: What's the basis of the suit, Governor? Help people understand.


INSLEE: So, the U.S. Constitution has due process rights and equal protection rights that are vested in the U.S. Constitution, and his chaos is going to be defeated ultimately by the U.S. Constitution that we have done now in my state.

CUOMO: The pushback will be, how can you apply the Constitution to people who aren't citizens?

INSLEE: Because these programs do apply to people who legally can apply to -- for asylum. We have won cases based on these very constitutional principles all over -- already against Donald Trump. We have stood up to this bully in Washington state, on the refugee ban, on the Muslim ban. And we have won I think the last five cases against him.

And the reason is, is that this is obviously a cruel, intentional infliction of child abuse. You can't call it anything but this. The thing that's so disgusting about this is that this wasn't terror promoted by accident. This isn't anxiety and fear that was foisted on these children by accident. It was intentional and it's still intentional. And that's why we need judicial relief.

You can't trust this man for the time of day. And right now, as you pointed out, they have no idea what they're doing. No one in their administration knows what their policy is. These people couldn't run a two-car funeral.

CUOMO: Well, but listen to his argument --

INSLEE: We saw this in the refugee ban.

CUOMO: Listen to his argument and rebut it for the audience if you can which is, hey -- INSLEE: You bet.

CUOMO: -- don't blame me for the laws, Governor. They are what they are. They were signed before I got here and if I want to enforce the law, if families get separated because I can't keep kids the way I can keep adults. So, don't blame me, blame the laws and go fix them.

INSLEE: Well, this is the same argument that he's been making when he lied to us who he said the statute required families to be separated. The statute does not require separation of children from their parents. There is no such law in the United States.

This is the same fellow who said that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and it's the same fellow that's now trying to smear an entire group of people, arguing that this is M-13. Look, the M stands for mother in this case.

These are mothers who were gang raped. These are mothers whose children were forced into sort of almost slavery when they were forced to go into drug running gangs. These are the victims of violence and to try to smear this whole group --

CUOMO: You're referring to the MS-13 suggestion? You're referring to the suggestion by the president -- INSLEE: You bet.

CUOMO: -- that this is about who's coming over and it's MS-13, which is very active in your own state, and that these are killers and drug dealers, we're getting the worst of the worst and you want to treat them as the best of the best.

Your rebuttal?

INSLEE: You -- my rebuttal is these are 3-year-olds who were victimized by gangs. There's a certain irony that a president who cares about this situation -- we all hate gang warfare, but don't take it out on the victims of the gangs. The vast majority of these people were victims of violence, not perpetrators, and they have a legal right and we should reiterate this.

These are people under the laws of the United States, we have a legal right to seek asylum. But this was an intentional act, first of propaganda to lie about it, and secondly, to terrorize these families so they would not be able to use their legal right to even seek asylum. That's why we need judicial relief and I'm glad my state and 10 other states, including Iowa, I'm in Iowa tonight, we got -- we got people standing up to bullies.

We got, you know, Fred Hubbell who's running for governor here tonight --

CUOMO: Right.

INSLEE: -- standing up against this type of thing. So I'm glad to be allied with these people.

CUOMO: But there is a policy argument here to be had, which is the system ain't working, Governor. The way they're separating right now, you can argue that that's a harsh policy that they didn't need to impose to enforce the law but the laws themselves aren't working.

You're getting people in here that can't be processed. You don't have the right resources. There's a lot within the system that's not getting fixed and the charge from the Republicans to the Democrats is and you're standing by and watching it burn. You could have fixed it before and you didn't, not you, you're a governor. They're talking about Congress. And now, you're playing to advance and hoping it helps you in the elections instead of working to fix the system that you know is broken. Fair criticism?

INSLEE: No, let me tell you what I'm concerned about. I have nine children in my state today that are a victim of intentional infliction of mental distress on them by Donald Trump. They have been removed from their parents without necessity against the U.S. Constitution, not required by any statute, when there all are -- when there are alternatives.

And this president hasn't looked for any of these alternatives, and now he's coming up with this -- yet again, this document that he could change tomorrow with a tweet.

We have to understand with this president, whatever he says probably he will either change or wasn't true in the first place and him trying to blame this on Congress.


You recall he said, if you recall, for weeks, I can't change this policy. What a bunch of hogwash. The next day, he held up his pen and he signed a confession that he had lied to the American people.

Now, propaganda is always a terrible thing by an elected official, but when it goes to the heart of injuring children, the country is revolting against this. And guess what? That propaganda did not work. He got caught, the country is on fire about this, Republicans, independents and Democrats both and they have forced him to at least purportedly back down.

And that's because we have spoken up and we need to continue to do that and we need to be in court enforcing the U.S. Constitution.

CUOMO: The idea --

INSLEE: I do believe that -- go ahead.

CUOMO: The idea that the kids and families are being used as a political football by Trump arguably to give a message of harshness to his base, that we're strong, the Democrats are weak --

INSLEE: Right.

CUOMO: -- and by Democrats who are going to use it as an example of what the right is about and why they won't compromise and work with him -- and are you concerned that with your lawsuit, they will look at Governor Inslee and say, he's in Iowa because he's running for president? And he's going to stand on this as a platform to go against Trump and that's what it's about. It's not the law. It's politics.

INSLEE: Well, I'm in Iowa to make sure we will elect officials that will stand up to Donald Trump. And we need elect Democratic governors to do that. We're doing that proudly, we beat him on the Muslim ban. We beat him

on a number of environmental issues. We intend to create a clean energy economy in the United States, including here in Iowa, by stopping him from destroying the agricultural economy of the state of Iowa.

Look, I was in Iowa today looking at the tremendous growth of their clean energy economy and bio fuels, in wind turbines. But this is a president who wants to slow down the growth of clean energy and I want to elect a candidate here and across the country that is going to help our job creation in clean energy.

You bet, we don't need sycophants for Donald Trump. The incumbent here in Iowa was named as the governor for Trump's country. That's not what people are looking for. They're looking for change.

CUOMO: Right.

INSLEE: They want civility. They want a little truth.

Is it really too much to ask for your president not to lie to you five times a day? I don't think that's asking too much.

CUOMO: Well --

INSLEE: So, you bet I'm standing up for Democratic governors all across the United States.

CUOMO: There's no question that the voters are always anxious for change. It's what kind of change they're going to get that winds up determining the election.

INSLEE: They deserve it now.

CUOMO: Governor Jay Inslee from Washington -- thank you very much for coming to us from Iowa.

INSLEE: Thank you.

CUOMO: Appreciate you making the case to our audience.

INSLEE: You bet. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Now, no matter where your head is on this issue, there is an irony at play here -- President Trump had said the border crisis was about the law, right? That he was forced to separate families.

And he was half right. The law is relevant but only as a basis for asking him to fix what he did to those families. How do we know? We talked to the ACLU. We've got one of their main lawyers, Lee Gelernt, here with us right now.

Lee, thank you for joining me.

LEE GELERNT, ACLU LAWYER: Thank you for having me. CUOMO: Appreciate you waiting here next to me. Never easy to listen

me talk.

So, your suit is different from Inslee's suit and those states -- how?

GELERNT: Well, their suit is I think on behalf of the states saying we're representing. We are representing any child who is in our state.

We have a national class action representing every parent who has or will have their child taken away. So, we filed this before even all this blew up. And we had heard that this practice was occurring.

Now, the administration tried to deflect things by saying, we're contemplating a policy. Now, it's clear they have a policy. But we had heard there were 700 kids separated. We went into court and we said, we need an injunction, don't separate kids in the future and reunite those kids and so -- who have already been separated.

We've got a hearing today and we urge the court to rule as quickly as possible. When I try to impress upon the judge and I think he understood was --

CUOMO: At the hearing today you're talking about?

GELERNT: At the hearing today.

CUOMO: What happened there?

GELERNT: So, we said to the judge, look, when we were there before you in the beginning of May, things were bad, but now, things are horrible.

CUOMO: And on May 7th, the government said something that just -- we keep saying it on the show here now, but, you know, until the media catches on to something en masse, it often, you know, falls on deaf ears, which is whether or not this was a choice by the government or whether they were compelled by statute. They said -- the government argued in your hearing against you, hey, don't listen to the ACLU about the law and what the law requires. And, Judge, you can't judge us on this.


CUOMO: This is a discretionary policy. The government argued it -- I just put it up there on the screen for you. They said this is our choice to do what we want, this is our policy.



CUOMO: It's not about the law or any kind of reckoning of a statute, beat it. Now they're saying the opposite.

GELERNT: No question, and what the government said is, what -- I mean, after the hearings, then you hear the president say, well, we're bound by these old laws now.

But the truth is, let's not even get into the weeds of what the statue says. The easiest way to understand that no law requires this policy is the laws the government has been pointing to had been on the books for decades. If they really required separation of parents and children, other administrations, Republican and Democrat --

CUOMO: Well, that's what they argued, though. They say Obama did the same thing. He separated families in 2014. They had all those kids who would come here unaccompanied. They treated them lousy.

People didn't blame Obama. They blamed the situation. But when it's Trump, everybody blames Trump.

Fair pushback?

GELERNT: Yes. No. So, let me be as clear as possible. We did push back on Obama for deporting lots of people.

This is different, the separation of parent and children. They did not do that under prior administrations. This is unprecedented.

CUOMO: So, the argument that their families have always been separated because the law has always required it, you say false?

GELERNT: False, absolutely. You can talk to anybody on the border and they will tell you that there were sporadic separations for particular reasons. This is a systemic policy to separate thousands of children. We have never seen anything like this.

CUOMO: Now, you can go for standing as a class, a group of people.


CUOMO: Or you can look at a specific case.


CUOMO: You're taking dual approaches here.


CUOMO: You have a case out of California --


CUOMO: -- about a mother that has a particularly sensitive set of circumstances that you believe telescope into what an entire population may experience.

GELERNT: Exactly.

CUOMO: How so? What is the case?

GELERNT: So, we brought the case -- the lead plaintiff is this Congolese mom. And then we expand it to a national class action. CUOMO: Right.

GELERNT: I think her case is illustrative. She came to the Congo, a harrowing journey through 10 countries with her then 6-year-old daughter.

CUOMO: Why was she coming?

GELERNT: Fearing death in the Congo. I can't get into the specifics because it's asylum and it's secret and all that. But fearing death, she finally made it after four months of traveling with her little girl, got to the border, presented herself legally, presented herself legally, said I'd like to apply for asylum, in other words, asylum for protection.

They put the little girl and her in a makeshift motel for four days and on the fourth day, they said, we'd like to see your daughter in another room. They handcuffed the mother and said, you're going to now be sent to a prison here in San Diego, even though you're applying for asylum, even though you have a credible asylum. You passed the initial screening.

She hears her daughter in the other room screaming: Mommy, don't let them take me away. The daughter is whisked away to Chicago. The mother doesn't know what's happened.

Four days go by before she can speak to the daughter and four months go by speaking to the daughter sporadically for a few minutes, we file a lawsuit, the government comes in and says, oh, it's not really a policy and everything. It's just we weren't sure there was the real money.

GELERNT: Well, anybody could have observed them, the little girl screaming, please don't take me away from my mother would have known. But the judge said, of course, do a DNA test. I mean, why have you --

CUOMO: Right.

GELERNT: -- for four months left this little girl sitting in Chicago? They do the DNA test. Of course, it's the mother, right?

But that's what's going on. It's these harrowing experiences. I met with a family the other day whose 4 and 10-year-old boys have been separated for months, finally back together. The little boy, the 4- year-old, just keeps saying to his mother every night before they go to sleep, is someone going to come and take me away?

And that's what the medical community is saying. This is causing permanent trauma to these little kids. They are for the rest of their lives are going to be traumatized, if someone is going to come and take them away?

CUOMO: They say there's no other way to do it.

GELERNT: Wrong. To begin with: an asylum seeker can be released under supervision because they have -- CUOMO: Too expensive.

GELERNT: No, the detention is too expensive. That's what cost far more than letting a parent out under supervision.

CUOMO: They make up stories. They all say they want asylum. We have -- it takes us forever to vet them. You can't know -- most of them are fakers they say.

GELERNT: Right. And so, that's what's interesting about it. This Congolese mom, she passed a government screening for asylum, yet still pulled the plug. That is happening over and over.

And the other thing I just want to be clear on our lawsuit is, we're saying, if you think the parents are flight risks for some reason, then you can still detain them but detain them with their child. Don't taken an 18-month-old, a one-year-old and send them halfway across the country.

There were family detention centers built for this purpose. Now, we don't think that's the solution but in the rare case where the parent really is a flight risk, keep them together. It is harrowing for these children.

CUOMO: We hear that in some places, border authorities or other authorities are using LoJack, you know, they're use thing bracelets, tracing bracelets.


CUOMO: -- because they're worried about people not showing up for hearings. We believe the number is about 75 percent that don't show up. There's certain community programs, sponsorship, get it over 90 percent will show up. That's being used by the administration also saying none of them show up.

Are you OK with people putting tracking bracelets on them?

GELERNT: Well, I think in an extreme situation, if they really -- it's better than separating the child, better than separating the child. I mean, it is so bad.


These little kids are going to sleep every night clinging to pictures of their parents.

At some point, we need to move from an abstract debate about policy arguments to taking into account these human consequences.

CUOMO: Well, you know, look, and we have to balance heart and head here. That seems to what has been missing.

Also we got to keep the facts straight -- 75 percent show for the hearing. Not don't show. Seventy-seven percent show, that means 25 percent do not, but that's being made into more. GELERNT: And for asylum seekers, it's even higher. So, there was a

program developed --

CUOMO: Even more show up?

GELERNT: Right. It was developed called the case management program under the Obama administration at the end. Trump got rid of it. It was ensuring almost 95 percent to 98 percent of people show up.

CUOMO: Right, we checked that. The community sponsorship program was cut some say because it was expensive, others say because they didn't want to motivate that, they wanted to get rid of them all together.

We'll see how the suit turns out. It will be interesting to file to see when someone files a suit that the onus and responsibility on finding these kids is put on the detained parent.


CUOMO: The system took them but the system doesn't motivate giving them back.

But we've got to leave it there right now.

GELERNT: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: Lee Gelernt, thank you very much for coming to us.

GELERNT: Appreciate it.

CUOMO: Let us know what the suit does.

GELERNT: We will.

CUOMO: All right. So, tonight, one of the best known voices in the conservative movement is something that you just aren't used to hearing but we are in the new normal. George Will says America, vote against the GOP in November.

We're going to get after that idea in the great debate. Look at these two -- Catherine Rampell and Stephen Moore. Let's get after it, next.



CUOMO: What a mess. President Trump's policy of separating families at the border is causing an epic conflict in the White House and among the difference agencies responsible, and between right and wrong.

So, let's get after it and test the arguments.

Joining us now for a great debate, Catherine Rampell and Stephen Moore.

Thank you both for being available on a Friday night. Appreciate it. So, Stephen Moore, help me understand -- which President Trump should I listen to? Let me play you two pieces of sound from this same week.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're signing an executive order. I consider it to be a very important executive order. It's about keeping families together.

I signed a very good executive order yesterday. But that's only limited. No matter how you cut it. It leads to separation ultimately.


CUOMO: So, which is it, Stephen? I signed an executive order, I'm going to keep families together, or I signed an executive order, it doesn't keep families together.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, look, he does want to keep families together. But --

CUOMO: Hold on, let's go point by point.

He wants to keep families together, then why did he put in place a policy that he knew would tear them apart?

MOORE: Because that was my second point. This is a president that's tougher on illegal immigration than we've had in 50 years. And I would make a case, that's one of the reasons he won this election. It was a popular message with the American people.

You know, by the way, Chris, I should tell you, I am very pro- immigration. You look at my history. I've written on immigration policy for 30 years. I think immigrants are great assets to our country economically and socially.

But this idea that anybody who get to the border can come into the country, the idea that -- and by the way --

CUOMO: Whose idea is that, by the way?

MOORE: These migrants are not stupid people. They're very smart people. The word is out. You bring your kids with you, you get to the border, you cross the border illegally, that's your passport to getting in.



CUOMO: Stephen, hold on a second. Let's go --

MOORE: I listened to the governor -- and just one last point.

CUOMO: All right. MOORE: I listened to the governor, you know, that Governor Inslee and he talked about how horrible Trump's policies were. But what I've not heard from a single Democrat and I've listened and watched CNN for the last three days, is what is your policy to stop illegal immigration? You're not for building the wall. You're not for funding the wall. You're for letting illegal immigrants who come in stay here.

I mean, I just don't understand how we're going to get illegal immigration under control.

CUOMO: Rampell?

RAMPELL: Look, this idea that there's this infestation to use Trump's words, that we suddenly are getting infested with illegal immigrants is just a complete myth. If you look at the numbers, if you look at the numbers from last year about border apprehensions on the southwest border, they were at their lowest level since 1971.

Furthermore, as the ACLU lawyer that you just had on mentioned, a lot of these people are not even actually crossing the border illegally. They are trying to present themselves at a port of entry, which is what the U.S. government tells them to do. So, they are, again, to reiterate, they are not crossing the border illegally. They are applying for asylum. They are still being separated from their children.

And the reason why this has been happening, the reason why it has been a Trump administration policy is to serve as a deterrent. It's not about -- you know, punishing people for breaking the law, which again this would be a misdemeanor, even if they had broken the law, which many of them are not.

It's about scaring them off when they are running for their lives, when they're fleeing violence, political persecution in their home countries, they're coming in with babies and 2-year-olds and 7-year- olds and they're, you know, in many cases trying to come here illegally, and we're not giving them a venue to do that.

CUOMO: I mean, look, isn't the proof --


MOORE: Look, all of south America the economy in these countries is a complete mess. Virtually every single resident of the country of Venezuela could effectively apply for asylum.

CUOMO: No, they can't.

MOORE: My goodness, people are starving --

CUOMO: No, they can't. That's not the criteria.

RAMPELL: That's not true.

MOORE: I mean, look, those people would have a case for asylum. My goodness, their leader is starving them. CUOMO: No, economic hardship isn't enough. You know what the law is.

Rampell, tell him.

MOORE: They can say, look, I have a fear of persecution.

RAMPELL: That is not what the law says. We have asylum laws on the books, we have a process for this where people are screened for credible fear, many of these families are passing that initial screening and they're still being put in jail and having their children ripped from them.


You know, if you want to talk about enforcing the law, enforcing the law would mean, you know, not actually punishing these families when they are applying for asylum, especially when they have not broken the law on misdemeanor, if they have in fact broken the law, but respecting our international treaties and to remind everyone, we actually signed on to the 1951 Refugee Convention which says that countries like the United States should not imprison people who are -- who are refugees for unlawful presence.

You know, that would be respecting the law. We are not creating a system -- you know, the system is certainly broken in lots of different ways, but ripping babies away from their children is not -- excuse me, babies away from their mothers is not -- does not go further towards creating a system that is fairer to these people.

MOORE: Here's the problem --

CUOMO: Hold on, let's set the context because I need you to explain something.


CUOMO: You're pro-immigration, that's fine. However you're defending a practice right now that doesn't make a lot of sense.

MOORE: By the way, I'm not defending the process as you told it. I don't like what's happening.

CUOMO: Well, but he does, right?

MOORE: I'm just saying I'm not -- I think Trump has made the case that illegal immigration is a big problem.

CUOMO: Everybody knows it's a problem.

MOORE: Most Americans, most -- but I keep hearing this, though. I mean, I keep listening to CNN, he keeps -- hearing liberals say we care about illegal immigration but they don't want to fund the wall, they're not in favor --

RAMPELL: Because a wall wouldn't do anything.

(CROSSTALK) MOORE: What is the policy, Catherine, of liberals to stop illegal immigration?

RAMPELL: Illegal immigration has been at record lows.

MOORE: That's because the economy has been terrible. The economy is booming right now. You're going to see a huge inflow of people.

RAMPELL: Last year, so are you saying the economy was terrible last year under your beloved President Trump? They were at record lows last year.

MOORE: What I'm talking about in the first five or six years under Obama, you're right, people didn't want to come here because there weren't any jobs.

RAMPELL: What about last year? What about two years ago when they were also low? When the economy was also good?

MOORE: You got to go to the border yourself and see what's happening.

CUOMO: I've been there.

MOORE: I have, too.


CUOMO: And let me tell you something.

MOORE: I've seen the massive number of people that want to come in at night.

CUOMO: They don't like the idea of enforcing harshness as a reality for what American is about.

MOORE: I don't either. I don't like it either.

CUOMO: But the president does and that's why he came out and said hey, these stories you're hearing, they're phony. The same stories that his wife went down there to see and said weren't phony. The same stories that he said moved him to sign that executive order. Now they're phony?

And now, if you care about these people -- you don't care about the American victims of violence? Come on.

MOORE: You said earlier on the show, Chris, you shouldn't be lying about this and that you keep using this language about kids in cages. And a lot of those photos --

RAMPELL: There are kids in cages.

MOORE: But it happened under Obama. That's what's so funny. I mean --

(CROSSTALK) RAMPELL: Those were kids who came here unaccompanied.

CUOMO: Were kids kept in steel cages with four steel corrugated walls around them? Yes or not?

MOORE: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear what you just said.

CUOMO: I say it again. Do you think kids are being kept in things that you could suggest are cages? Yes or no.

MOORE: No, I don't think they are cages. No, I don't think those are cages.

CUOMO: So, wait, so your argument just was -- yes, they are --


CUOMO: Hold on. Hold on. One voice at a time.

You just said, but so too were they under Obama. You cannot have it both ways. Either you're treating these kids like crap or you're not. If you are -- and you are -- then you can't say, so did Obama, because we just had the ACLU guy -- and as you know, they'll go after anybody, they do it all the time. They were really upset in 2014 about those unaccompanied minors and how they were treated like crap, they went after Obama but they didn't see it as the point of a policy perfected.

And that's what they see here with you guys, that you wanted this to happen, you knew it would happen, you knew it would send a message, now you have to own it.

MOORE: What message is that? I mean, one message --

CUOMO: If you come here, we're going to do bad things to you.

MOORE: I'll tell you, look, I don't agree with the policy, but the message he is trying to send is that migrants from all over Central and South America don't come to our border and think you're going to get easy access to our country because we can't take everyone.

CUOMO: Look, the proof is this --

RAMPELL: So put them in cages? That's your policy solution. Put them in cages?

CUOMO: Look, and the proof is this. The argument must have teeth that Catherine is making because George Will is echoing it.

Put up the screen of what he just wrote. All right? You can't say George Will and not say conservative in the same sentence, right? He's a bona fide rock rib GOP conservative.

In today's GOP, which is the president's plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party's cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation's honor while quarantining him.

What do you think of that?

MOORE: Are you asking me?

CUOMO: I want to see who would answer first. I knew it wasn't going to be you, Stephen.

RAMPELL: Well, I'll answer --

CUOMO: Go ahead. Rampell --

MOORE: I thought I was doing most of the talking, so I thought you'd like Catherine to do that.


RAMPELL: I would be glad to answer it. Look, I think it tells you how badly things have gone that George Will, who as you said is a bona fide conservative, is calling for the Democrats to win an election, and it's not because he suddenly, you know, found Jesus and decided that he needs to become a hard core liberal.

No, it's because he's seen that the Republican Party has become the party of Trump. The Republican Party that used to care about free trade, family values, small government, now we're creating this huge bureaucracy to put babies in jail essentially, that cared about low taxes and tariffs, that cared about small deficits, all of those values have been thrown out the window. And so, of course, George Will is calling for somebody else to come into power and to serve as a check on Trump.

CUOMO: All right. Rebuttal by Stephen and then I have another issue I want you to give me one take on. Go ahead.

MOORE: My rebuttal is this. I've always respected George Will, I even consider him a friend but he's always hated George Bush -- I mean he's always hated Donald Trump and he's hated Donald Trump during the election. He hates him still and there is a small wing of the Republican Party that is anti-Trump but it's very small.

If you look at the polls now within the Republican Party, about 90 percent of Republican voters support Trump.

CUOMO: It's not just Trump. The Congress that won't stand up to Trump.

RAMPELL: I think that's George's point.

MOORE: Catherine, no, no, no. My point is why do they support him? Because he's created the best economy in 20 years and that's what --

RAMPELL: Oh, we're going to have this argument again about --

CUOMO: Nope, not tonight, we don't have time. Sum it up.


MOORE: So, look, yes, we like growth, we like jobs. You know, if that's the charge, then we're guilty as charged because --

RAMPELL: So you're going to sell your soul to continue the exact same trend with unemployment and more or less the same trend with GDP growth in order to put babies in cages.

MOORE: Catherine, before the election three out of ten Americans rated the economy as good or great and now over six in ten do.


CUOMO: All right. But it's not just about the economy, that's what George Will and Rampell are saying.

MOORE: It's always though, but you know what? Bill Clinton and people like that, you know, said it's the economy, stupid, and I still think it is.

CUOMO: Right. It was Carville who said it but certainly he was speaking for Clinton.

MOORE: Right.

CUOMO: This was a good and robust debate.

We're going to give the audience an extra value. Both of you take to Twitter and here's the question I want you to take on. Are we in a trade war with China? Yes or no. Start tweeting about it, I'll retweet the tweets. We'll get that conversation online for people on a Friday night. What else would they want to talk about?

Thank you very much, Catherine Rampell and Stephen Moore.

All right. Next topic, she says the Trump administration's immigration policies are being decided by someone with ties to white supremacist. Who is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal talking about? She's going to tell you, next.



CUOMO: All right. Time to get some light as well as some heat.

"Facts First" is the segment title or why the Trump argument that the pain at the border is phony is fugazi? OK? Fugazi means fake. That's what Italians from Queens talk like.

We're the doing the Sudoku version of this tonight. Make you pay more attention to the board, all right?

Now, he says the stories of how many and how hard are having it at the border, that they're fake, OK? But according to an HHS spokesman, right, that's Trump's team, Health and Human Services, the total number of unaccompanied undocumented children in custody exceeds 11,600.

So, the facts take us here, 11,600-plus. And, by the way, I don't like the idea of plus. They should know exactly how many they have.

Then, there are the tender age kids. I hate that term. What does it mean tender? They don't want to say the real words -- infants, toddlers, those under the age of 13.

How many of them? Two thousand four hundred fifty-eight, OK? Two thousand four hundred fifty-eight you have with them.

Then, what else do you have? How about under age five. Guess how many? Four hundred and eighty-two, all right? Four hundred and eighty-two kids under five years old.

The numbers shed light on the reality. You got multiple reports from around the country that reveal staff were caught by surprise. They're overcapacity. They're unsure how to reunite or even how to coordinate the situation.

President Trump promised the system would reunite families but the primary onus is on the detained parents to do so. That takes resources that they don't have, sadly they don't have, access they don't have, as a result what are we seeing? Hundreds of cases of lawyers looking for kids, it's taking weeks to track them, even longer to get them back.

How is any of that phony? How is that the fix that President Trump promised? It leads to a, this is too low, Bob, get in here. It leads to one word. Crisis. C-R-I-S-I-S.

Very well done, Bob. Thank you very much. That's what it leads to. That's the reality for the kids caught in the middle of this.

So, how do you our representatives in Congress see it? And what are they going to do about it? That's the subject of our next interview right now.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington State.

Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Great to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So, we saw a big move by the president today, apparently trying to change the narrative of what's happening on the border by making an allegation of misplaced sympathies.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones; the word permanently being the word that you have to think about, permanently. They're not separated for a day or two days, they are permanently separated because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens.


CUOMO: The suggestion is that people like you, who are fighting for mercy and for sympathy for the kids and the families that are being separated on the border, are not feeling sympathy for the right people; which is, the population victimized by these migrants.

Your response?

JAYAPAL: You know, I find it so offensive, Chris, on two accounts. One, these are serious issues with people who have lost family members. They should not be thrown into the middle of a political debate and treated like a football, the same way that immigrants trying to cross the border are being treated like a football.


And, secondly, I find it incredibly offensive that the President of the United States refuses to focus on the crisis that he created, of thousands of children who have been separated from their parents. And the fact that he is actually proposing to indefinitely detain, hold in prison camps, families and that that actually goes what the courts have ordered. So, he has no plan to reunite these children.

And, he has no plan for what to actually do on the border -- because the courts, I think, are going to come back and say that Flores still stands, that you can't detain children for more than 20 days. He's then going to have to separate the children all over again. And this is a crisis that he created.

And I think that -- Americans across the country, Democrats, Republicans and Independents have been calling my office, because I've been out front on this issue, and saying, you know, we may not agree with you on some other things but this is not about politics. This is about right or wrong.

And we want the president to pick up the phone, or get on Twitter, or do whatever he does to communicate with Jeff Sessions. And, tell him to end this zero tolerance policy and put these children out of the torture and abuse situations that they're in right now.

CUOMO: I hear you on the legal point. I do think the government has a tough wall to climb, excuse the pun, because the Flores agreement really echoes typical criminal procedure.

If you can't bring charges, if you can't make a case, you're not going to get to hold somebody that long, let alone a juvenile.

But he's making a different argument, Congresswoman. He's making a policy argument where he's saying, you care about the wrong people, you don't care about American citizens who have been victimized and that these migrants, they're dangerous people. And they can make more victims like these people standing behind me.

What's your response to that?

JAYAPAL: Well, again, I would just say it's a ridiculous argument. Of course, everybody cares about safety, but this president, since he's started campaigning until now, is conflating all kinds of issues and trying to make people afraid that somehow immigrants that are coming to this country in all sorts of contexts have been coming to this country, have built this country, are somehow to be feared. That's what he's trying to do with this press conference and this narrative.

Of course, he wants to shift the narrative. This is a terrible narrative of children being separated from their parents at the border. So, yes, I agree with you, he's trying to shift the narrative, but I just think it's in effective, I think Americans see right through it.

CUOMO: You've raised the level of your rhetoric as well, congresswoman. You've put out a tweet that had a very harsh suggestion for a member of the Trump administration.

"As I told "Politico", the media outlet, I don't think most Americans understand that a 33-year-old with connections to white supremacists is crafting policies that are going to literally destroy our country and what we stand for. Stephen Miller should be fired. He should not be in the White House."

Why single him out?

JAYAPAL: Because Stephen Miller has been an architect of many of the policies that the president has put forward. The Muslim ban was Stephen Miller's creation. He has actually -- you know, in the time that he was in the Senate, he actually has been working on a lot of thee policies, trying to get them through, and his whole belief is that this kind of racial animus, if you can fire that up, then you will energize a certain group of people.

I happen to believe, Chris that it's a minority of Americans across this country.

CUOMO: But you think Stephen Miller is one of them? I just want to be clear about this. You think he is a white supremacist?

JAYAPAL: I do. I think -- what I said in my tweet, is he has ties to white supremacist.

Now, others -- Southern Poverty Law Center, a number of researchers have actually gone into this in some depth and they do see -- you know, some people tweeted back at me and said, he is a white supremacist, not just ties. What I -- I don't know enough to know exactly where these intersections start and end, but I will tell you, that he is crafting many of these policies.

CUOMO: So what do you think the motivation for this strategy that is being in part, architected by Stephen Miller, but certainly carried through and extended by the president of the United States? What do you think the motivation is? Do you think it's race?

JAYAPAL: I think it's race. And, I think it's race as it relates to winning elections. It makes me -- CUOMO: Not just law and order, and protection, and border security?

JAYAPAL: No. No, because we've actually -- if you look at all the details, we've actually increased border security tremendously. Democratic administrations have also increased border security tremendously. The amount that was in the 2013 immigration reform bill, that I actually worked on from the outside at that time, we have already spent way more than what was in that bill.

And so, you know, this is not about border security. This is not about anything else. This is really about how to use immigrants as a political tool to generate anger amongst -- and fear actually, even more than anger sometimes -- fear, I think, of people who look differently, who speak different languages, who come from other places.


CUOMO: In terms of fixing policy, curative legislation, Congress doing its job, this notion that if you give Trump what he wants which is the wall, everything else can be compromised on and solved. Is that true, in your estimation?

JAYAPAL: It's really not true, because Trump -- I've lost track of the number of times that Trump has been offered the wall in different ways, shapes or forms. I mean, do you remember, Chris, when Chuck Schumer made a deal with him to give him the wall?


JAYAPAL: And then, all of a sudden, he said, no, that's not what I want.

So, I have become clear, I may have thought early on that it was about getting a wall and, you know, I -- I no longer think that because he has been given that opportunity numerous times, every time, he moves the goalpost to something else.

CUOMO: Well, I hear you. This is going to come down to what can get done, what can be negotiated and what must be stood and fought. We'll see how it plays out.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you very much for making the case.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Chris. Great to be with you.

CUOMO: All right. So, here's a provocative question for you. Who's more important, a kid from Texas or Tijuana? It's a relative assessment right? Wrong.

Closing argument, next.


[21:55:34] CUOMO: All right, tonight's closing argument.

Thousands of kids as young as nine months old shipped all over the country, they are in a lousy situation.

Let me ask you -- take a look at them. What do you see? It turns out the answer is not that obvious. Listen to how the president sees the crisis.


TRUMP: They have pictures that were so bad, they had a judge that said it was inhumane the way they were treating children. Take a look at some of the court rulings against the Obama administration. They talked about inhumane treatment. I read them, I looked at them, they were all over the place.

Inhumane treatment. They were treating them terribly.

We have a situation where some of these places, they're really running them well.


CUOMO: All right. So, to him, what does he see? Oh, it's OK. It's all good. It's all good. Then, we get the echo chamber effect, starting to sell the president's message.

Listen to Fox.


BRIAN KILMEADE, "FOX & FRIENDS" CO-HOST: Like it or not, these aren't our kids. Show them compassion. But it's not like he's doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas. These are people from another country.


CUOMO: So, that makes it OK? This wasn't a one off.

Fox has deliberately downplayed this crisis all week.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More kids are being separated from their parents and temporarily housed in what are essentially summer camps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not in cages. They're not being gassed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I spoke to some of the African-Americans that say, gosh, the conditions of the detention centers are better than some of the projects that I grew up in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will suppress the good news on the economy and promote children in cages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter what they tell you, this is not about helping children. Their goal is to change your country forever.


CUOMO: Change the country. They're not gassed so it's OK?

Scary talk, and its designed to push this "us versus them" political philosophy. Painting migrants as dangerous folk, infesters, killers, gangbangers, and drug pushers, inhumane (ph). There is no question some undocumented people come to America for bad reasons and do horrible things. We all should know the system has to be stronger, Congress has to do its damn job and make that better.

But, a few is not all. Statistics bear out the facts and none of what they are telling you about migrants in general, representing a threat physically, economically, it's not true.

But this has never been about the facts, it's about feelings. Politics of emotion. Powerful stuff.

But there are still limits, my friends. And just like President Trump learned earlier in the week, people no matter how partisan, don't like seeing kids being done wrong. And making some kids more important than other because of their nationality, suggesting we shouldn't be that bothered because they aren't us, they are others -- that is ugly.

And once Fox realize it that that's not playing well with the public, they backed off just like Trump.


KILMEADE: All kids are important, all kids are special. What I'm just trying to say, in this country when they come in, that as a president of the United States, you can only do so much for so many.


CUOMO: The truth of that is you're right, you can only do so much, to separate to put them in bad conditions, to not let them be reunified. And then the law will step in and catch you. But that's not what he meant. That's not what anybody on Fox was trying to tell you.

But here's the good news: I think we're better than this because I think when most of you see these kids, your mind goes to your own babies, just like mine does. I see someone's little boy and girl, I see the center of someone's world. I see common traits that trigger common concerns.

My three, my Bella, Mario, Cha Cha (ph), and some detained mothers' three kids. I look at them and see similar ages, a similar bond with one another. I don't know what I would do if I were in that mother's situation.

And even if you don't have kids, you remember being one, right? Imagine how you would feel living this nightmare being locked away from the only normal you know. Right there, you know all you need to know about what is right and wrong in this situation.

So, no matter how some might try to tell you that these kids are somehow less than our own, we know that is empty invective. Someone selling something that no one should ever buy. Why? Because here's the truth: we are all interconnected, we are all interdependent, we're all in this crazy world together. That's just the fact.

Some day these kids may be in school with mine, in my house, one of them may be my boss. Who knows?

But I do know this: law and compassion can be partners. A secure border doesn't have to wall off decency. And I know this has been and always will be a melting pot nation. Diversity will always be our strength.

My friends, listen to your heart and it will drown out all the ugly noise. That's our closing argument.