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Immigration policies causing chaos and confusion; Saudi women behind the wheel. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, from the United States to Europe, official immigration strategy causes chaos and confusion. Top

legal expert Jeffrey Toobin joins me from New York, along with the German MEP, an ally of Chancellor Merkel, Manfred Weber. He joins me from


Plus, joy for women at the wheel in Saudi Arabia as the country finally lifts its ban. And worry about the long road ahead for full equal rights.

The Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud joins me from Los Angeles.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Stranded by politics and stranded by anti-migrant favor. In America and Europe, those hoping for a better life are in limbo.

At the US-Mexico border, the Trump administration's plans remain vague when it comes to reuniting migrant children with their parents. And the

president now says migrants should not be afforded due process.

While in Europe, two vessels carrying hundreds of migrants are adrift in the Mediterranean, a graphic symbol of the we-don't-want-you policy.

All of this, stark evidence of the enduring power of populism, which is threatening the leadership of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and it

threatens rule of law and human rights in the United States.

To drill down into these fraught issues, I'm joined by guests on both sides of the Atlantic.

From Brussels, Manfred Weber. He's a close ally of Chancellor Merkel and he's a member of the European Parliament. And from New York, Jeffrey

Toobin, who is CNN's chief legal analyst.

Jeffrey, let me first turn to you and ask you about the president's latest comments on the idea that migrants do not deserve due process. Let me just

read one of the tweets.

"We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them

back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and law and order. Most children come without parents."

How big a deal is this latest intervention?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, again, as so often with President Trump, it's hard to know exactly what he means.

The current law in the United States does allow, in certain circumstances, for illegal migrants to be returned without a trial, to be returned


But in many circumstances, they do have certain rights to due process of law under our constitution and under our laws.

How he would change the system remains mysterious. But everything moves in the direction of a more harsh policy towards migrants, faster return, less

procedure and, of course, more separation in reality between parents and children.

AMANPOUR: And just before I turn to Manfred, where in Europe, actually, these people on vessels are being turned away. Obviously, many Americans

would say, well, what's wrong with Trump's logic. Why not just - if we're keen to keep parents and children together, just turn them around before

they even get to the United States.

TOOBIN: Well, that is certainly -


AMANPOUR: Sorry, Manfred. I'm just going to let Jeffrey answer the American part of this and then I'm coming to you.

TOOBIN: Well, that is certainly what his supporters say. But the tradition and the law in the United States, particularly when people have

been applying for asylum, there are really sort of two categories of migrants here.

There are the people who just sort of jump across the border illegally, but there are other people who come to immigration points and say we have a

fear of violence, prosecution in our home country, we want asylum. Those people traditionally have gotten due process of law, including when they

bring children with them.

The big change that the president would bring if he's successful is returning those people as well as the people who just jump across the

border without any sort of legal procedure.

AMANPOUR: Got it. Manfred Weber, to you, it is really horrifying to see now several of these ships loaded to busting point with migrants, who are

adrift essentially. We had that horrendous situation that led to Spain being the only port of call for one of the ships and there are now two


[14:05:07] Just describe to us the politics of not letting people dock at the moment.

WEBER: Our problem is (INAUDIBLE) that we have the business model of the smugglers in practice and that is what we have to answer. And that means,

for us, that we want to do the same like we agreed already between Europe and Turkey in the area there, that we send immediately those back home who

have arrived in European soil.

But on the other hand, and that's very important for Europe, that we can combine a strict and a strong border protection with a strong and ambitious

resettlement program.

So, we promised to Turkey, we promised to our friends in North Africa that we are ready as Europeans to accept those who are really fleeing from civil

wars, like, for example, in Syria.

So, that is important for us. Combine two things. Stop the business model of the smugglers and we're still ready to receive those who are really

fleeing from civil war regions.

AMANPOUR: So, let me put this to you. I said that this is all threatening to topple Angela Merkel's government. I mean, you have a coalition partner

basically disagreeing with her and her open door policy.

And you even have President Trump, all the way from his own problems at the US-Mexico border, tweeting against your chancellor saying, "The people of

Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake

made all over Europe in allowing millions of people who have so strongly and violently changed their culture."

And then, he goes on to say, "Crime is up 10 percent," et cetera, et cetera, and government officials don't want to admit those figures.

I mean, with friends like that, Mr. Weber, how are you going to device a policy?

WEBER: Well, it's an intensive discussion, absolutely, all over the world. It's part of globalization that we have these migration challenges ahead of


One thing I want to verify, there is no increase of any kind of crime in Germany. So, in this point, Trump is simply wrong when he's tweeting this.

But, generally speaking, again, what we tried to do in Europe and what Angela Merkel is standing for is to combine two points - strict border

control and ambitious approach to fight against the smugglers and to be still ready to respect the humanitarian face of this continent. We want to

be ready as Europeans, as a economically strong and a Christian-based continent to say that we are ready to help those who really need our help.

The key question is, can we establish a mechanism to make a separation because a lot of people, through the Mediterranean Sea, who are arriving

today in Europe are illegal migrants, are looking for a better life.

I respect this, but that is not a refugee. That is not somebody who is fleeing from a Civil War. And that separation is needed. Asylum-seekers,

the refugees from Civil War and illegal migrants.

And for illegal migrants, there is no - only one way possible, and that is to go back home to your country of origin.

AMANPOUR: So, for people like yourself, Mr. Weber, and also, Jeffrey, for the United States, we can see that the polls show that President Trump's

popularity remains pretty much even. It's not dented or changed much due to this crisis.

So, I want to ask you first - and then Manfred Weber - about the politics of these policies. So, Jeffrey, what's at stake for President Trump. Even

though, he's made a U-turn on this issue.

TOOBIN: Well, I have to say, Christiane, I'm not sure we have - know fully what the politics are of this particular chapter. People in the news media

have been predicting the fall of Donald Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign. And we've always been wrong.

But it is also true that this is a somewhat different situation than many of his other controversies because there are photographs, there is video of


And if you look at polls about this issue, it does seem like the president is very much in the minority in his view of how it should be handled.

But it is also true that the president has kept the support of his base. It is not a majority of the United States. It's not a majority of voters,

but approximately 40 percent of the American public remains steadfast in support of President Trump.

And that seems very likely to remain intact regardless of how disturbing these images are from the border.

AMANPOUR: And from your perspective, Manfred Weber, you've all been in Brussels this weekend, trying to find a Europe-wide solution. And

Chancellor Merkel had to concede that it wasn't possible.

[14:10:00] She's been trying for years to get the 28 members of the EU to share the responsibility. And she hasn't managed. And now, she is under

threat. And you've got all these populist parties in your country, populist leaders in your neighboring country - Italy, Hungary, Poland,

Slovenia, maybe Sweden in their next elections.

WEBER: The biggest, let me say, base for populism in Europe is the open dispute, the open conflict which we have among the European member states

on this question, on this challenge of the migration routes.

And if they can close it, it would be a great thing and be able to really fight against populism. And last Sunday, this mini summit, where 16

leaders in the European Union met in Brussels, was a good starting point.

Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, others managed to have the common agreement that we have to be tough on the border control. We want to

increase the European strength and European capacity to protect the border with additional forces there on the border.

So, there was already a good move. And now, we have to see for the end of this week where the all European Union leaders will meet to have really an

agreement on the question of solidarity because that is an additional question.

Italy, for example, feels alone in this conflict, in this scenario. They are on the borders. They are in the Mediterranean Sea. And they don't

feel protected. They don't feel assisted by the other European colleagues.

And that's why one thing is border control and the second is solidarity in Europe.

And to give you one small example, we have, in the European Union, today a legislation, a law, if they can get it in place, which does guarantee that

unaccompanied minors, compared with American discussion, unaccompanied minors, children cannot eat sent back home because they have no place to go

and that's why we want to protect children.

That is, again, a signal of the humanitarian face of the European Union.

AMANPOUR: So, a signal of the humanitarian face of the EU. To you, Jeffrey, I put you, there seems to be mass confusion in the different

departments in the United States because, first, we had the separation of the families, the children in detention, outcry from the public, then that

was reversed.

And then, there are all sorts of different - we don't even know how they're going to resolve the idea of, for instance, what the border control says,

stop prosecuting parents who cross the border illegally with their children.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions said today the opposite. So, just listen to him.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to continue to prosecute those adults who enter here illegally. We are going

to do everything in our power, however, to avoid separating families. All federal agencies are working hard to accomplish this goal.


AMANPOUR: So, how do they - I mean, they're confused, those different agencies. There seem to be two competing instructions, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: They are confused because it is confusing and because there have been contradictory orders from the top.

The one thing we know for sure is that there are approximately 2,300 children who have been separated from their parents and they have not yet

been reunited. And they are, it appears, spread all over the country.

And as you heard from Attorney General Sessions, that number may well rise even though the official policy of the United States as announced by the

president last week is that there will be no more family separations because, if you start arresting everyone at the border, and some of these

emigrants across the border are with children, you have to decide what to do with the children and what to do with the adults.

And the law now is that you can't hold children for longer than 20 days with their parents. What happens after 20 days? That remains a complete

mystery as does the fate of the 2,300 children who've been separated already.

AMANPOUR: Honestly, it really is an object lesson in - I don't know. I really don't know. But what I do know is that a lot of the facts seem to

be misused. There's a lot of fake facts being used by the US government, by the Trump administration and also by the populists in Europe.

Manfred Weber, we've already discussed the numbers which are not as great as the leaders say. In fact, the numbers of migrants arriving have fallen

sharply compared to previous years. And the International Organization for Migration says, again, many, many, many less - 80 percent fewer arrivals

between January and May this year than in the same period of last year.

So, is it a story of politicians getting all messed by the politics of it and unable to actually put the correct narrative forward, Manfred?

WEBER: Well, you're right. Us politicians must talk much, much more than we did in the past about our success stories. Yes, of course, the numbers

you mentioned are correct. We reduced really the numbers of migrants arriving in the European Union dramatically in the last two, three years.

[14:15:12] But still, I have to say the management is not working in a proper way. So, we have still open questions on the table.

And the separation is the key issue. It's not, first of all, about numbers. It's, first of all, about clarity whether somebody who is

arriving in Italy is really a refugee or whether he is an illegal migrant. And we have to implement the legal situation on our border in practical


So, if somebody is an illegal migrant, he has to be refused. He has to be rejected. He has to go back home. If he is a refugee from Syria, then he

can be accepted. And I'm sure that the people in Europe - and we can guarantee a state that those who are arriving here are real refugees and

asylum seekers, are really people who're fleeing from the bombs of Assad from Syria, then a lot of people in the European Union, an overwhelming

majority of people, are ready to help those people.

So, that is what is at stake in the European Union, not generally the numbers. It's about the separation between the different criteria.

AMANPOUR: Jeffery?

TOOBIN: Christiane, can I just - well, there is a very similar dispute going on in the United States between the people who are economic migrants,

who are just coming to try to improve themselves, who under United States law should be returned to their country of origin and the people who are

refugees fleeing from prosecution, usually somewhere in Central America.

The problem is, it's very hard to determine who is who. And the system is not very well situated and very much underfunded and understaffed in the

ability to determine who is who, which creates a lot of the problems and the delays that make everything about this story worse.

AMANPOUR: Indeed. And also, the context in the United States is that there is no immigration reform and no new policy. That's a story for

another day.

But Jeffrey Toobin and Manfred Weber, thank you both for joining me from New York and from Brussels.

Now, this weekend, the women of Saudi Arabia were allowed to sit behind the wheel. That is right. Adult women who have now, in 2018, been finally

granted the right to drive around their own country, this is for the very first time.

And many, triumphantly, did get into their cars at the stroke of midnight, too eager and too excited to wait for daylight.

Just in case you're wondering about how hard this was to achieve in the devoutly Muslim kingdom, a prominent Saudi preacher has been arguing that

women should not drive because their brains are half the size of men's, as, of course, we all know, while some men say they would stay home to avoid

women causing traffic accidents on Sunday. As far as we know, there weren't a spike in traffic accidents.

The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made this one of the first pledges of his reform agenda. And Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, who

represents the ruling royal family, said the following at Davos earlier this year.


REEMA BINT BANDAR AL SAUD, EXECUTIVE VP, SAUDI SPORTS AUTHORITY: We're not doing gender equality or neutrality or any other secondary where you'd like

to put to that statement because the West wants it, because it will target Human Rights Watch and get them off our backs or Amnesty International is

going to say, great, good job you. We are doing it because, A, it's the right thing to do.


AMANPOUR: Princess Reema joins me now from Los Angeles. Welcome to the program.

AL SAUD: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: So, how excited are you? How excited are your friends and family who are actually in Saudi Arabia can do this now for the very first


AL SAUD: I'm wonderfully excited. I'm excited for everybody that actually stayed up and got in the car at midnight to take this drive because the

symbolism of that is that we're taking control, but we're taking it in control collectively.

This isn't a singular activity. This isn't an anomaly. This is our current state and this is the future state. This isn't something you go

back from.

AMANPOUR: So, let me - before I get to where you're going next, you live in Los Angeles, so at least you spend a lot of time there. And you know

that you could get into a car anytime of the day or night for years and years and years. I mean, you must have had a sort of disconnect

psychologically for years, right, knowing that you couldn't do that when you got home?

AL SAUD: Christiane, actually, I live in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. I've just been in Los Angeles for work for a couple of weeks because I work with

the General Sports Authority and we're looking to expand the participation of our community in water sports.

So, I've been here meeting with a whole bunch of people, but I actually live in Riyadh and have been living there for 13 years.

AMANPOUR: But you get my drift, right?

AL SAUD: But I lived in the States for 23 years. So, to be able to experience in my home country what I experienced growing up in the States -

movies, socializing, mobility - those are monumental shifts that, yes, obviously, we would have liked to have seen sooner, but the fact that we're

doing it today for me is absolutely - it's wonderful because they're conversations that are so old and they're so tired for us and we have so

many things that we as women, as the community, would like to focus on in the country.

But to no longer have to talk about women's driving and to just be able to be active participants, it's a relief. And, honestly, now the onus is on

us to take the next step forward in the growth of, the inclusion of, women in our community.

AMANPOUR: So, let's talk about that because one step forward and then everybody wants to make giant leaps, as you can imagine. That's the human


You get a freedom and you want to take all your freedoms. And, obviously, women in Saudi Arabia have been longing for this for a long, long, long


So, how - first and foremost, how do you explain - and please do explain to us - why Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince, or the government

felt that they had to crack down on women activists even in the run up to the date, which was Sunday, to allowing women to drive. What were the

politics behind that?

AL SAUD: So, regarding the politics behind it, to be honest with you, I'd have to refer you to the general prosecutor because, from my understanding,

and my understanding honestly is just what's publicly available, because it is not within my real house, however, it was a matter of national security.

Yes, several individuals were arrested. The majority were released. And from my understanding, only four are under questioning currently.

But as per the details of that - and to be honest with you, Christiane, I know a lot of the families of the individuals that were involved. And out

of respect for them, until something clearly comes out, I'd rather not give a personal opinion or commentary on something that I actually don't have

the full information on.

AMANPOUR: But you do -

AL SAUD: I respect their families too much.

AMANPOUR: Absolutely.

AL SAUD: And I can see your point of view. A lot of people ask me, is this schizophrenic? Are you really moving forward? Is this real?

And what I'd have to tell you is, I work in the sports authority. I've been there since 2016. The monumental leap that we've taken from 2016

until today, we went from a community saying, no, do not participate in sports to women entering the stadiums, to traveling the world with young

female athletes and that's just in my small sector. That's sport.

What you see as the constant change, I would tell you, today, we're operating in agile. Today, we're piloting, we are iterating and

reiterating. If the path that we're going on does not seem to be the one that's going to take us to a long-term sustainable solution, we're going to

shift and we're going to shift repeatedly.

And one of the things that I personally appreciate about the crown prince is he'll give the directive and say go do. And then, if you come back and

say, I'm doing, but, however, I'm not going to get to where I need to go, may I please reiterate. Can I shift to make this better? He'll say if the

numbers make sense and the plan makes sense, go do.

AMANPOUR: All right. so, let me ask you then -

AL SAUD: And that's, honestly, for me, that's a relief to work in.

AMANPOUR: I'm sure. And as I say, nobody is minimizing this moment because it does put women, hopefully, on the path to even more gains.

So, let me ask you because everybody has been asking about the fundamental status of women in Saudi Arabia, and that is that they are considered

minors for all intents and purposes.

This guardianship law whereby they can barely put a foot in front of the other without some male giving them permission or authorizing them.

Let me just play for you what Manal al-Sharif told me a while back. She is, obviously, one of the main and early activists on the driving and she

said the following.


MANAL AL-SHARIF, SAUDI ARABIAN ACTIVIST: The government until this day did not name an age where I become an adult. I'm a minor from the time I'm

born until the time I die. As I said, it's men prejudiced that we as women are looked as objects or subjects that should be just obedient, listen to

whatever rules they impose on us and not question them.

AMANPOUR: So, Princesses Reema, do you think that there is the bandwidth, the political bandwidth, now in Saudi Arabia to address that fundamental

issue and then, of course, there is inheritance rights and all of the other.

AL SAUD: Yes. And honestly, Christiane, it's a critical conversation to have and it's a conversation that's being had in the Shura Council, which

is the consultative council. Almost daily, this is a topic of conversation.

And I can tell you, as a divorced mother of two, this is urgent for me. This is urgent because, right now, I actually do have a family that will

allow me to be mobile and dynamic, but that's not the reality of a lot of women.

And until, it's the reality for a lot of women, I think we need to keep pushing forward with that conversation. Is it going to happen today? I

couldn't tell you. Would I like to see it in the near future? Absolutely.

And as a woman in government, my role is actually to keep highlighting the issues that will help us move forward politically, not just for an elite

community, for a small community. It's for a national interest.

[14:25:04] And part of the changes that you see happening today, everybody says, is there even a strategy. Well, of course, there is a strategy. And

that strategy actually is based on pure economics.

The economics say you can't have 50 percent of your community not participating. The economics say when 50 percent of your community, and

specifically women are involved in business and in trade and in economic values, you actually have a better economy.

I need women working. You're looking at driving, by the way, as a tip of an iceberg. You're looking at it as an issue of mobility. It's more than

that. It's job creation. It is allowing a woman to behave as a professional. She can get to work on time and she can operate


And, yes, I would like to see changes in guardianship. However, today, I've read a lot of the press. A woman does not need a man's permission to

drive. She does not need a man's permission to go to work. She doesn't need a man's permission to have a job.

The last bastion of guardianship is travel and marriage. And even marriage, if you look at Islamic law, after a certain age, it's actually

quite loose, but I'm not minimizing this.

This is a critical issue. And what I can tell you is every woman I know is having this conversation. The women in government are having this

conversation. The timeline of the change is what I'm not in control of, but the dialogue and the narrative, it's there.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, we will look forward to continuing this conversation. This certainly is great first step and we look forward to see more of it.

Princess Reema, thank you so much for joining us from Los Angeles.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, you can see us online at and you can follow me on

Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.