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Trump Administration Reports 500 Previously Separated Immigrant Children are Reunited with Parents; President Trump Tweets Against Immigration Bill; Trump: Republican Should Stop Wasting Their Time on Immigration; Rep. Sanford: "Game Over" For Immigration Bill. Aired 8- 8:30a ET
Aired June 22, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: That's all this is. It's playing macho to a base that has been inflamed against immigrants and infestation of immigrants. It's in violation of the law. There are much better ways to do it, and you used 2,500 children as pawns. You put them all over the country. I'm saying as a governor they're in my state, it's my constitutional responsibility to take care of their health and welfare. Why won't you tell me where they are?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And on that issue, governor --
CUOMO: Give me one good reason why you won't tell me where they are.
BERMAN: And governor, we need answers on that. We need to know where they are. We need to know how they're going to get back together with their family. We need to know what conditions they're in. We thank you for joining us today. Let us know what the answers to those questions are if the federal government will tell you, because so far they have not. Governor Cuomo, thanks so much.
CUOMO: If they won't tell me, John, I'll find out on my own.
BERMAN: Governor Cuomo, thanks for being with us.
A lot of news this morning, let's keep going.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, June 22nd, 8:00 in the east. There are developments every hour here, so here's a new one. There's an update for you on those 2,300 children separated from their parents at the border. A Trump administration official tells CNN that 500 of them have been reunited with their families. What about the other 1,800? Where are they? There's still vast confusion. Our reporters have spoken to parents who last night had no idea where their children were, who was caring for them, or when they would see them again.
BERMAN: Just moments ago President Trump effectively killed any hopes for an immigration bill in Congress. The president just wrote this, this is part of it, "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators congressmen and women in November." This comes as House Republicans, what they did is they delayed a vote on a compromised bill to next week, but I don't know if they're ever going to vote at all after what the president just said.
We're hearing pleas from immigrants who are desperately trying to reunite with their children because of this White House choice to separate children from their parents. Some have been reunited, but most of still waiting for answers. CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Brownsville, Texas, with more. Nick?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. We all remember that audio that was released earlier this week by the investigative nonprofit ProPublica. In it we could hear the screams of 10 Central American children after they had been separated from their parents. Their sobs were overwhelming.
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VALENCIA: The clearest voice in that audio is that of a little girl who had been asking for her aunt. CNN was able to track down her mother, who was obviously grief stricken. She says she's been given a phone number by immigration officials which she calls repeatedly, but it just rings and rings and rings. She spoke one-on-one to CNN's Rosa Flores.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Imagine all these days without knowing anything about my daughter, without talking to her, without any information about her well-being. It's maddening because at every moment I ask myself how is she?
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VALENCIA: There is still a lot of confusion surrounding this reunification process. The government says 500 of the 2,300 children separated because of this zero-tolerance policy, they have been reunited. We know of at least one story that happened very early this morning in Baltimore, and it was of a Guatemalan immigrant who earlier this week with the help of an immigrants' rights group sued the federal government for violating her human rights after being detained in mid-May. This emotional video captured by the immigrants' rights group early this morning. We know that those two are finally back together. Those two, one of the lucky ones. John, Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Thank you, Nick. Thank you very much for that. Oh, my gosh, that video is also heartbreaking even though they are the lucky one. She has her son back, but you can hear the trauma pouring out of her for the month or however long it was she didn't know where he was and they weren't together. Look at this. This is so --
BERMAN: Because you can all imagine what it would be like. Imagine what it's been like. CAMEROTA: When you see your son again. My gosh. Let's talk about it
with our CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza. That one is just really affecting, David.
BERMAN: And she's the lucky one.
CAMEROTA: She's the lucky one. So now we know there was an update this morning that 500 have been reunited, but 1,800 don't know where their kids are.
[08:05:05] It's the not knowing. They don't know anything about what's happening with them right now. They're hoping that they're being treated well. But guess what, we have stories from previous detention centers where some kids are not being treated well.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And you have what Governor Cuomo was saying that I thought was so affecting is they don't know. You have a lot of children who are being sent because of how big the foster care system is here in New York, but then they're not being told where they are. So the process then that the government has to go through at the state and local level to then track down and reunify these families is going to be so difficult, at the same time that they have to figure out the chaos in the administration about whether they're really stopping this practice, where they're going to house families.
CAMEROTA: Sometimes blowing up systems doesn't work. I know that that was part of what the appeal was, that we're going to break the mold, we're going to do things differently, we're going to blow it up, we don't like big bureaucracy. In this case it's not working for information.
BERMAN: In this case you're talking about 2,000 children.
BERMAN: This is not about traffic. This is about children, human beings.
GREGORY: This was a problem for the Obama administration as well. When they had a genuine influx of migrants coming across the border, there was this -- the detention facilities that they wanted to use, they wanted to hold them.
CAMEROTA: Unaccompanied minors.
GREGORY: Right, for unaccompanied minors, but they obviously decided not to separate children as this administration has done. And again, it comes back to this desire on the part of the president who has made it very clear that this is what he thinks Republicans should be running on, who wanted to be tough on immigration, who wanted zero tolerance policy without thinking about the ramifications of it politically as an act of humanity or as a bureaucratic issue that they are now going to have to deal with for so long to come. And they are still restricting what we can actually see about all of this, don't forget that, because the media is not being allowed into any of these centers where these kids are.
BERMAN: Governor Cuomo can't get answers. Governor Cuomo can't get answers about what's happening inside agencies in his own state because he claims the federal government put a gag order on these places. That's fascinating. Just let us see. Just give us the answers about what's going on with these children.
And Chris Cillizza, this is an important development. The Congress, the Republicans in Congress, they have been trying to pass various immigration reform measures. The president basically just ended that once and for all. It wasn't going to pass. I doubt it was going to pass next week. They had already delayed it. But the president just really put an end to it once and for all. Let's put that tweet back up again. He said "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators and congressmen," and goes on and on and on. But the effect of that is he says it's done, it's over. Immigration reform is done this year.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: That's exactly right. It's remarkable. I saw it while driving in, John, and thought, well, there that goes.
BERMAN: I hope you weren't tweeting and driving and reading and driving are bad things.
CILLIZZA: Of course not. Only at red lights. But that's it. If you were a on the fence Republican, particularly a conservative about this bill, this alleged compromise bill, you would have now no incentive to vote for it.
CAMEROTA: Why did he do that. Why did the president do that?
CILLIZZA: Because he decided he wanted to do it. He's probably right, Alisyn. It was not going to pass the Senate in its current form. So he's not wrong, but if you're Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, other people in House leadership, you spent a decent chunk of time and energy trying to make this thing at least get to a vote. They postponed it yesterday, supposed to be today. They postponed it today for next week because they thought they saw an opening.
I'm with John, I'm skeptical that there ever was an opening. There's a reason we haven't passed comprehensive immigration reform. But now there's nothing. It reminds me of when he tweeted about Rex Tillerson. You're wasting your time, Rex, with North Korea.
GREGORY: Here's the question, though. The calculus obviously if you're the White House, if you're the president, is we should run on this issue. Let's paint the Democrats as obstructionists. Let's run hard against immigrants, migrants coming in. He's doing this event today highlighting violence from illegal immigration. That's what you run hard on. But in the process he gives up the one thing he wanted which was money for a border fence which he's had available to him for months and months and months and he's willing to forego because of questions about a pathway to citizenship and the cries of amnesty and family immigration numbers. So that to me the question is why he passes this up. But they've clearly made a calculation. BERMAN: And the people that wanted it, the reason that some
Republicans wanted this vote, moderates in swing districts who are in trouble, they wanted to vote and say I voted for this reform. They wanted to be able to run ads and say I did this, and now the president has really made that next to impossible. But we talk about the politics and the votes and the thises and the thats, and again we lose sight of the fact there are 2,000 children.
[08:10:00] CAMEROTA: It's because we thought that would be a fix, that if they got their act together in Congress maybe somehow we could start to see the families that are separated or in the future might be separated, we thought it could be a fix. But now I don't know where we are, Chris.
CILLIZZA: Look, don't get it too twisted up, to John's point, which is this is a self-created crisis. The Trump administration put in place a zero-tolerance policy. They knew that when they did that, you would have more families separated. It's a natural result.
CAMEROTA: Right, they wanted to do it as a deterrent. Somehow that message would trickle back to Honduras and people would immediately stop their desperate situation and be happy there.
CILLIZZA: That's exactly right. The idea, oh, how could we have seen this coming? You saw it coming. We have played on our air multiple times Jeff Sessions speaking in early May saying we're going to do this.
So this is what happens when sort of think tank policy or dry policy papers, positions, play out in the real world. And in the real world they have real consequences. I think John said earlier this isn't just about traffic stops. That's right. This is about kids. And I think there was no planning done for it. The reason that a lot of politicians can't get answers at this point is because the administration doesn't know the answers. This was ill thought out despite the fact that as a self-created crisis that if you're going to do this, you have to then put in place the ways to deal with the volume increase that you know is going to happen. They didn't do that. Executive order I think has caused more chaos and uncertainty than it's provided clarity.
GREGORY: But this is also an indication of how, where dysfunction from the government comes home to roost.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
GREGORY: So if you have a Homeland Security director, you have an attorney general who has been getting beaten up by the president all this time, if at the top levels they're so out of sync, the policy is going to be out of sync in terms of how it gets implemented.
BERMAN: They're out of sync in their own heads, though, about this. Let's listen to Jeff Sessions. I said out of sync. Jeff Sessions is saying something that's not true, but let's listen to how Jeff Sessions explains this policy to begin with.
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JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It hasn't been good, and the American people don't like the idea that we're separating families. We never really intended to do that.
If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you probably as required by law.
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BERMAN: He says we never intended to separate children. That's nonsense. He told us that he was going to separate children. He knew that is what was going on.
CILLIZZA: It was meant as a deterrent. There's just no way around it. They knew -- this is not a new policy. They basically -- prosecutors had discretion prior. They took away that discretion. What that means is you are going to get more cases like this. The volume is going to increase. If you have a river and you block up three-quarters of it, the water is going to flow more through one part. It's not complicated. To say you didn't do it on purpose is just not true.
GREGORY: Right. And if it's a deterrent, it's going to take time for the deterrent effect. So you would have to be willing to put up with this situation, I think, for many months if you really want it to have deterrent value. And clearly they flinched after a week of universal condemnation.
CAMEROTA: Yes. We're almost out of time, but I just want to get to this. The whole deterrent, the idea that a deterrent would work suggests that something on the ground in Honduras or Central America would have to change, the desperation. We want to end on this. John Kelly, chief of staff, said something so different about what he understood to be happening on the ground in 2015 than what he says now. So let me just play this for everybody, how he thought of those immigrants then. Listen.
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JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Many of the problems of these countries are a direct result of our drug consumption, a direct result of our drug consumption in our country. Cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, it all comes from that region of the world. And so, yes, they love their children. They love their children as much as we love our children. In many ways they're trying to save their children's life by putting on to this very, very efficient but still very dangerous network to get them into the United States.
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GREGORY: And it is -- I mean it's an unbelievable statement.
CAMEROTA: He knew that then.
GREGORY: Because it speaks to why people make the journey. It speaks to the demand in this country. But it also -- he has spoken more recently too about that network, the smuggling network, where people are -- women can be raped, kids can be harmed. And to be fair to Kelly, part of the deterrent value that he was after is making sure they were no longer in that network.
CAMEROTA: Good point. Good point.
[08:15:04] But something would have to change with what he was addressing of the root causes of this drug issue and then crime and the violence down there. OK, gentlemen, thank you very much.
OK, is immigration dead now in Congress?
BERMAN: Yes, yes, yes.
CAMEROTA: Well, then I'm going to cancel our next guest, GOP Congressman Mark Sanford, because I was hoping to get the answer from him, John Berman.
BERMAN: He'll be a second source. He'll be a second source on it.
CAMEROTA: OK, so hopes for an immigration bill in Congress appear to be dead this morning after President Trump tweeted this, "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators and congressmen, congresswomen in November."
House Republicans delayed a vote on a compromise immigration bill, their so-called compromise until next week. So, where are we today? Joining us now is Republican Congressman Mark Sanford. He's a member of Freedom Caucus.
Congressman, thanks so much for being here.
REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, it's my pleasure.
CAMEROTA: Do you interpret the effort for an immigration bill to be dead after the President said Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after the election, Democrats are playing games, they have no intention of doing anything to solve this decades- old problem. We can pass great legislation after the red wave of the election. Where does that leave you?
SANFORD: Game over. It takes a wind out of sails in what might have been a fairly productive week in terms of looking for a compromise. I don't know how it's happened. Because if you look at how contentious this issue is, how much emotion there is, you know, without the President being out front, without the President having legislators' backs, there's no way they're going to take the risk that would be inherent in a major reform bill.
[08:20:13] CAMEROTA: And so, Congressman, why is it game over? Why do you think the President just threw up his hands and declared game over? SANFORD: I think its fit (ph) and well demonstrated that he's got a time to a short attention span and quickly moves on to the next item. And --
CAMEROTA: But that's doesn't make sense here -- I mean I hear you, but that doesn't make sense here. He wants to solve -- everybody wants to solve what's going on at the border. Everybody wants to solve what's happening with these 1,800 kids today who their parents don't know where they are. So why would he say game over this morning? Why now?
SANFORD: Because of what the President said, I'm not saying it, it's what he said it. And I just think realistically in political terms given this issue and given the emotions around it. If the President doesn't have the Congress' back, if he's not going to back in behind whatever compromise might be found, they're not going to take the political risk to move forward.
CAMEROTA: But isn't it likely that the President didn't think it was going to move forward? That he's basically calling it quits before it can fail in the Senate or the House?
SANFORD: Probably so. I mean, I think you might have seen a compromised bill maybe come out of the house, but it'd die over on the Senate side. So then there could be, well, a tactical reason for doing so. But, again, what goes on at that level is well beyond my pay grade.
CAMEROTA: But do you think that the President is right, that they're -- he's basically saying he wants to run on this, let's keep this going? Let's keep this drama, let's keep this angst at the border, this pain, let's keep it through the election?
SANFORD: I think it would be a mistake to do that and because you don't know what's going to happen in the election. And the fact is you have a Republican, you know, White House, The House of Senate. That coalition of stars may not be something that lasts forever, it may disappear in November.
If so, it becomes that much more complicated due to that which he's talked about with regard to border security, a wall and more.
CAMEROTA: You voted for the Goodlatte. You were willing -- you supported the Goodlatte bill. This one is supposedly a compromise, but it's only a compromise between Republicans. Democrats say that they haven't been invited or welcome at the table.
SANFORD: Yes, but I mean it's a compromise between folks that were going to join Democrats and to file a discharge petition on the Republican side and those who weren't. And so, this is a way of keeping people all in the family, so to speak. So in that regard it does represent real compromise.
And I think that you look at different components, they are different than what was talked about the Goodlatte bill. I mean, fir instance, the taking out of e-verify. A lot of us think it's very, very important because while there's a lot of attention on the border, the fact is that two-thirds of our immigration problem is tied to visa overstays. E-verify would do something about it. It's not in the compromise bill.
CAMEROTA: But this morning, your feeling is that as you and I speak today, this is dead in the water?
SANFORD: That's what I would say based on the President's comments.
CAMEROTA: And where does that leave you, Congressman? Where does that leave Congress? How are you going to solve what's going on at the border with all of these kids who have been separated from their parents?
SANFORD: All you could possibly hope for is maybe the Congress coming back and going for single shots as opposed to comprehensive reform.
Comprehensive reform as has already been demonstrated is very tough in political terms. But if you begin to boil it down and say let's take one bite at the apple at a time, maybe you can get something through on that front.
CAMEROTA: And do you think that that's what's going to happen? Is there going to be some sort of legislation that just deals with reuniting parents? Or just deals with making sure that kids are not separated from their parents at the border?
SANFORD: For instance, on that topic, you know, Ted Cruz has a bill on the Senate side, Mark Meadows has a bill on the House side. You know, that kind of thing I think would be taken up in the absence of a larger bill. Again, this is all rippling fairly fast but that would be my political read of the tea leaves.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, while I have you, I just want to add -- You have said some very compelling stuff, you've written about this, about where you think Republicans are with President Trump now? And that you basically think that your fellow Republicans are letting him get away with a lot. Can you just expound on that why you think that's happening?
SANFORD: Well, he's certainly a force of personality, but the founding fathers designed systems to guard against forces of personality. They designed three separate but co-equal branches. And I think that in some ways the legislative branch of late has been too subservient to the executive branch. And I think if that's a mistake, I think that you end up with inferior legislative products when that occurs. And it's not the design of the founding fathers.
The founding fathers baked into the cake this idea of dissent and debate. It's vital to ending up with a better mousetrap and we've seen a little too later of it.
SANFORD: And, you know, my political sin, if you will, that cost me an election was I spoke out against the President prior to my election. [08:25:09] And he came to this chamber, sent a chilling message to my colleagues which is, if you mess with me, I'll mess with you. And that's not the kind of thing I think we want to see from the President of the United States.
CAMEROTA: Do you regret, given what's happened to you and your political career, do you regret speaking out about the President?
SANFORD: Not one bit. Again, I think if you're going to be true to yourself and true to the promises you should made when you ran for office, true to your constituents, true to the philosophy that may have brought you to Congress, you've got to speak out on those things, not just after an election but before.
SANFORD: Because if not, we really do begin to become subservient or a kowtow to the President. And that's why my opponent in her victory speech said this is the party of Donald J. Trump. I could not more wholeheartedly agree. It's a party of people who work this vineyard for years based on a political philosophy that they hold.
CAMEROTA: Right, but your colleagues -- I mean, aren't you the living lesson of what happens, the peril if you speak out about the President? Isn't that what your Republican colleagues take away from it? You'll lose your job.
SANFORD: I hope not. You know, I think -- I found the encouragement in the fact that the President comes in. And though he tried to, I guess, come up with a different version of -- what you talk about alternative truths or alternative facts of what happened, but the fact is members of the Republican Caucus actually booed the president saying --
CAMEROTA: When he insulted you.
SANFORD: Yes. And so, I don't think that the full story has played out. I think that there has been pushback with different members have come up to me in the house floor and saying we could not more strongly disagree with the President and the intimidation signal that he attempted to send to us.
CAMEROTA: And you think they'll speak out at some point?
SANFORD: It's certainly my hope.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Mark Sanford, thank you very much for coming in with your position on all of this.
SANFORD: Yes, ma'am.
BERMAN: All right. So, Melania Trump wore that jacket on her way to Texas to visit the border. Two questions, was she trying to send a message? The answer to that is, yes. The second question, what message was it and to whom?
CAMEROTA: What's the answer to that?
BERMAN: We'll address that, coming up.