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Trump Suggests Removing Due Process for Migrants; More Protests Expected Over Family Separations; Migrants at the Border Seek Asylum Despite Policy Confusion; More Protests Expected Over Family Separation; George Will: Vote Against GOP This November; Poll: Trump Job Approval Among Republicans At 90 Percent. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:07] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. This morning I wish that I could tell you that all of the children separated from their parents at our southern border have been reunited with them. But I can't. Right now more than 2,000 are still being held away from their parents, some of them thousands of miles away. And despite the administration's newly released plan to bring the families back together there is no clear guidance on how or when that will happen, and the government acknowledges it could be months for some.

This as the president escalates his rhetoric about immigrants calling them invaders once again, arguing their cases should not even be heard in a court of law. And more immigration protests are expected today after emotions and anger boils over at the U.S.-Mexico border over the weekend. At one point protesters shouting "let the children go" and blocking a bus from leaving a detention center.

Let's go to the White House. Abby Phillip is there this morning.

And Abby, more messages just in the past few moments from the president saying look, we shouldn't have more immigration judges, we should just turn everyone away at the border that tries to cross illegally. That will solve the immigration crisis. What else are you learning?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Poppy. The president seeming to express some frustration about due process saying that in fact these immigrants shouldn't even go before a judge. They should simply be turned back at the border. He has been tweeting repeatedly about that this morning to the dismay of many and even in his own party, some of whom have proposed bringing new judges on board to help adjudicate these cases more quickly.

Now this is all happening a week after -- just less than a week after he signed an executive order that was supposed to reunite these families that have been separated at the border. And the administration is giving us a little bit more information about what is going to happen to some of these families in the coming days and perhaps weeks.

For now, according to the administration, children and parents are going to continue to be detained while the parents' cases are being adjudicated. If the parents are deported then the families can be reunited and deported together or parents can be deported without their children. If the parent is simply released then they have to apply through an HHS process to become the sponsor of their child if they are remaining in the United States.

For now what that means is that some 2,000 people are still waiting for that process to play out. These children are still scattered across the country and the administration is not giving a timeline about when exactly all of that is going to be completed for those folks.

HARLOW: And Abby, we also are hearing from Defense Secretary James Mattis talking about what the Pentagon is doing on these military bases to provide shelter for these undocumented immigrants. What more do we know about what is actually going to be implemented?

PHILLIP: So this is something that was foreshadowed in the executive order that the president signed saying that the Department of Justice would be helping house these immigrants. We know now according to James Mattis that they are going to be building camps at two Defense Department bases, military bases.

We don't know exactly where they are but we do know that Health and Human Services has been scoping out some potential bases in Texas and in Arkansas. And these camps are basically housing for immigrants something that the Defense Department has a lot of experience doing. They've done this for hurricanes, they've done these for refugees in other countries, and even in the Obama administration they were tapped to build housing for families who were being detained at that time.

So this is going to happen. Mattis is calling it logistical support but we don't know exactly how many immigrants they are planning on housing. There are already 10,000 children in custody. Families also supposed to be detained according to this new executive order going forward -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Abby Phillip at the White House. Thank you for that reporting.

Protests are expected this morning at the port of entry in Tornillo. That is where Dianne Gallagher is.

And, Dianne, this is a line we've heard from some Democrats on this network. They're all sort of saying look, these ports of entry where asylum seekers are legally supposed to go to enter the country, that's just a ruse and they are lined up outside and they're not getting through. Is that what you're seeing?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Poppy, we're not actually seeing people lined up outside. We have talked to plenty of people who have actually come in from Mexico this morning crossing on foot and on -- in their vehicle saying that they are not seeing any lines even on the Mexico side right now. But we have heard that not just from advocacy and charity groups, lawmakers, but from people who have actually come here saying that because they are being turned away for asylum at these ports of entry they go and try to find another way into the country. And that is when they're apprehended.

It's a pretty common phrase that we're hearing from nearly every different organization we've spoken to basically causes them to have these criminal charges because that's an illegal entry. Now as far as the protests that you're referring to here in Tornillo, they've been happening about every single day for at least a week here.

[09:05:06] Very small inside. And that's likely what we will see today. Nothing like what we was occurring over the weekend. Not just here in Tornillo where you've had hundreds of people including celebrities and lawmakers who rallied around the children being held at the tent city here in this area. But across the entire state of Texas and the country near these detention centers for children, they are working to try and make sure not only it stays in the headlines but make sure that the administration knows that they are upset and angry over the way they are holding these children.

Now the tent city here in Tornillo, we're going to get a chance to tour that in a couple of hours, Poppy. I'm going to go inside. Like the other two tours I've been on. I can't bring cameras. I cannot bring a phone. I can only bring a pen and pad. And we're going to get a chance to look inside there. I'm not really sure what this tour will entail. There were some lawmakers who toured it on Saturday. They said that they didn't get a great look at it but it was not what they saw in, say, one of those processing centers in McAllen where the cages were.

HARLOW: Right. Right. You know, Senator Bill Nelson was in this weekend, and he said he couldn't even see the children, talk to them. So we're hearing different accounts. Let us know what you find out.

Dianne, thank you very much.

In Mexico, hundreds of migrants are lined up waiting to cross the border despite all of this confusion over family separation.

Let's go to our Leyla Santiago. She's in Tijuana for us.

What do you see?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, there is sort of this unofficial list that the migrants themselves have established for who is next to actually getting to the port of entry to seek asylum. And that list here has more than 900 people on that.

When I have spoken to families to find out how long they have been waiting, many of them tell me they have been here for two weeks for that opportunity to seek asylum in the port of entry, the legal way to ask for permission to get into the United States.

Now when I talked to them about the last week or so, that news, the images, hearing the children crying over family separation, many of the mothers here say that that was reason to kind of put things on hold. Many of them said, you know, we were going to go in and then we stopped and we thought about it again. But now that this executive order has been signed that has given many of them hope and they are back in line, waiting to get in.

And when I asked why, why do something like this, why the back and forth, they're all telling me that they're escaping extreme violence and poverty in Central America. One woman saying that her children were threatened and the minute that happened she left the very next day to come up to the United States of America where they have family members and others that can help them in terms of raising their children in a safe place -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Leyla Santiago in Tijuana, thank you for that.

And joining me now CNN contributor and law professor at the University of Texas, Steve Vladeck, and attorney at Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Maite Garcia.

Nice to have you both here. And Steve, welcome back. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter.

STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Poppy. Great to be with you.

HARLOW: Good to have you here. I want your response to something the president has said over and over again, and just reiterated this morning. He just tweeted that hiring thousands of judges and going through a long complicated legal process will not work. This is after over the weekend he essentially said something or he did say something the ACLU calls unconstitutional and that is to deny due process to these migrants even if they cross over the border illegally.

Just clarify for us what the courts have said about the legal rights that even undocumented immigrants in this country have.

VLADECK: Sure, Poppy. I mean, going all the way back to 1896 the Supreme Court has been clear that even for undocumented immigrants once they are physically present in the United States they are protected by the due process clause. Now due process might vary under the circumstances but Congress has passed a series of statutes that confer at least some rights in these cases, the most important of them is the right to apply for asylum. And so as long as those statutes are on the books the president is just wrong that it is even possible to remove these individuals without due process.

And Poppy, it would be pretty scary if it were otherwise because without due process how can we be sure that the folks who are being deported are actually supposed to be deported in the first place, that they're not citizens or other noncitizens who actually do have a right to stay here?

HARLOW: Maite, your response to hearing the president argue that due process should be denied to these migrants?

MAITE GARCIA, FLORENCE IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE RIGHTS PROJECT: Yes, I agree with the professor. It would be a violation of the Trafficking Victim Protection Act and the Constitution to deny them the right to a hearing and to be able to seek asylum in this country.

HARLOW: What about the children and their parents that your organization is working with? Because there are a number of them that you and your colleagues represent. I mean, can you just share with us what you've seen, for example, in the last few weeks in terms of children being separated from their parents, the age, the condition of these children. What has changed?

[09:10:04] GARCIA: Poppy, I think what we're seeing is a complete change in who we are representing because we're representing very young children that have suffered severe trauma of being separated from their families. So they are ranging in age really from infants to teenagers. And they miss their families. And so it's become very difficult because as an advocate you want to be able to hear their stories and then advocate on their behalf but getting those stories out is really difficult.

HARLOW: What we've learned, Steve, over the weekend is that the administration and DHS said look, if the parents are willing to voluntarily go back now, right back over the border, they can be reunited pretty quickly with their children and then go back. The other option is stay separated and wait for the process to play out. Right? Wait for these hearings. How long do these hearings take? Because I get the sense we're not talking about a matter of days.

VLADECK: No, we're really not, Poppy. And I think one of the problems here is because the immigration system is heavily backlogged, you know, these kinds of hearings could take upwards of months if not a couple of years. Now it's worth stressing there's a third option here which is that the administration actually scaled back its zero tolerance policy and not aggressively prosecute every single one of these parents in a concept of which you're going to have the specter of family separation.

You know, I think what's really clear from all of this is that the administration has a lot of options. It just may not want to pursue but that if we really want some kind of long-term fix to how this process is unfolding we need Congress and we need some kind of legislation that the president actually is trying to support as opposed to threatening on Twitter that he's just going to take away everyone's due process.

HARLOW: That is not going to happen.

Maite, to you, I mean, we know that the parents, as I just outlined, could be reunited with their kids more quickly if they're willing to leave, right? If they will just not go through the hearings and will just go back to their country. Some lawyers representing these undocumented migrants are questioning if the parents really understand what they're signing and what they're agreeing to here. Do you share some of those same concerns?

GARCIA: Yes. The Florence Project would agree with that. Our adult program, you know, provides legal right presentations to adults in detention. But I do think that even prior to getting those the pressure of being reunited with family and being told that you could potentially reunify with your child faster would create some issues in immigrants understanding their rights.

HARLOW: Thank you both for being here very much, Steve, Maite. Appreciate it.

Ahead for us, uncivil discourse. Anger and division in America reaching new levels and crossing new lines. How and can we stop it? Plus the U.S. set to give North Korea, quote, "specific asks" and a specific timeline on denuclearization. Will North Korea follow through after that historic summit?

And an Arizona woman slams Walgreens after a pharmacist denies her miscarriage medication because of a moral objection. Now Walgreens apologized but says the pharmacist was abiding by their policy. Her story has gone viral and she will join me live.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Protests at the border as President Trump faces even more outrage over his zero tolerance decision, but he's facing that outrage with sky-high Republican approval.

According to a new Gallup poll, the president's approval rating in his own party is about 90 percent. With me now, Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, a social conservative political organization; Scott Jennings, CNN political commentator, former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Very nice to have you both here. And let's begin with you, Bob, because you wrote a "New York Times" op-ed about all of this. And you talk about the president's enforcement of the zero tolerance policy as a "collective gut check moment for America." And you're calling for justice with mercy.

His base is unwavering. I mean, at this point in his presidency, he has the highest approval rating within the Republican Party of any modern president since George W. Bush after 9/11.

What does his ability to bounce back from crises, whether it be the "Access Hollywood" tape or this policy tell you about his supporters and tell you about the president?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE FAMILY LEADER: Well, I think it says a lot about our country because we continue to get put into an either/or category. Either you've got to be all in for Trump or you've got to be all against Trump.

And what we've said all along is that we should pray for President Trump (INAUDIBLE 3:44) pray for presidents. We should cheer him on when he does right, but we should be a voice of accountability when he goes outside the lines.

And I think what we are seeing today, Poppy, all throughout this country, especially with a lot of our leaders, is this divisiveness. And what we need to do is get back and say, we can call balls and strikes, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and that's in the "New York Times" op-ed piece where I said we can have zero tolerance, we can have tough immigration policy, but you have to be able to execute it with justice. And that's what we called on him to do in "The Times" piece.

HARLOW: You can't really, though, have the zero tolerance policy without the separation of the families, right, because the law effectively results in the separation. But I hear your broader point.

And to that point, Scott, isn't that exactly what Mitt Romney is arguing in his opinion piece ahead of his election in Utah? I mean, he says, essentially, I will support the president on policy and things that I agree with, but I will call him out when he is saying things that are divisive, that are sexist, that are racist.

That's exactly what Mark Stanford did in South Carolina and he lost. So, I mean, is it going to work for Romney?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Governor Romney has a good point, which is people inside the party can disagree with each other, but Mark Sanford took it one step too far.

Mark Sanford had one of the worst voting records in the Republican conference as it relates to the Trump agenda. In fact, he was voting with the president about 70 percent of the time. Only four Republicans in the House had a worse Trump agenda voting record than Mark Sanford.

A lot of folks want to portray Sanford's rhetoric as the reason he got beat. Actually think it had to do with more when the rubber hit the road on voting for policies.

And so, I think many people have expressed disagreements with the president on rhetoric, style, decisions, communications, tactics. I certainly have. Other people in Congress have.

But when it comes down to enacting the president's agenda, which is the Republican agenda, Republican voters are asking for Republicans to believe that politics is a team sport.

Let me get both of you to weigh in - Bob, you first - on the column by conservative columnist George Will, saying vote against the GOP. He went as far as to call Ryan and other Republicans in Congress "the president's poodles" and he writes "the congressional Republican caucus must be substantially reduced, so substantially that their remnants reduced to minorities will be stripped of the constitution's Article 1 powers and that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article 2 powers." Meaning the president. He went on to say Ryan has traded his political soul for a tax cut.

What do you make of that, Bob?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, I think what you have is you've got George Will in the ditch of I'm all against Trump and that's why I have been talking about before, is that there is one or two ditches.

The things we have to take a look at what are results were when we can cheer him on. If it's Gorsuch, if it's ISIS on the run, if it's a great economy, if it's moving the embassy to Jerusalem, those are all things that I've cheered him on for.

But to hold him to account is, whether it be Scaramucci, a judge is disqualified because he's Hispanic or separating families at the borders, we've called him out on that.

I think we need to get back as a country, Poppy, as I said before, call balls and strikes, pray for him, cheer him on, but hold him to account when he goes off base.

HARLOW: What do you think, Scott?

JENNINGS: I'm a great admirer of George Will. I've been reading him for a long time. And we share a love of baseball. But on this one, I think he is wrong.

And here's why. Most of what we're getting out of the Trump administration, combined with the Republicans in Congress, is conservative policy - judges, taxes, more military spending. I mean, these are the things that Republicans have been fighting for for a long time.

Mixed in with that, you do get some of the frustrations. You get bad decisions like, say, family separation issue at the border, but the antidote to the frustration is not to elect Democrats in Congress.

Putting Democrats in Congress and in control of one or both chambers, creating divide at government, would grind all conservative policy to a halt.

And so, I want to continue to get what we can get even as we have to live with some of the frustrations.

HARLOW: Let me ask you quickly both to react to Bob Corker because, Bob, you wrote it's possible to be tough on illegal immigration without being cruel to illegal immigrants. Here is what Corker said over the weekend.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: We need to cause legal immigration to be easier than it is. We've got needs in our country.

I just never have been a part of a group that hated someone for wishing something better for their life.


HARLOW: He says, Bob, make legal immigration easier. As you know, both of these bills being considered by the Republicans in the House right now would reduce legal immigration. Who is right in terms of what's best for America and what's best for the party? Do what Corker says, make it easier for immigrants to come in this country or reduce the number of even legal immigrants in this country? VANDER PLAATS: Well, I think what Corker is saying, as well as what actually the Trump administration is saying and Congress is saying, is we need comprehensive immigration reform. We've known this for a long time.

HARLOW: Well, no, he is saying make the path for legal immigration easier.

VANDER PLAATS: Sure. And what we need to do is we need to determine what that path is. I think Sen. Cruz say let's put more judges at the border. You've got Marco Rubio offering up comments as well.

But I think, as a country, we need to have this conversation on comprehensive immigration reform, so if there is a process that we know that we can trust, we can rely on and we know who is in and who is out of this country.

HARLOW: We're having that conversation. We've been having it for years. It's just the action that's lacking.

VANDER PLAATS: But now, we need leadership to get results.

HARLOW: We'll see if this is the time that happens. History doesn't prove so thus far. But thank you both, Bob, for being here, and Scott Jennings. Nice to you have you.

First Lady Melania Trump tells a group of teen leaders to be kind and to be positive, but her words come as political fights are playing out across the border, in restaurants and on her husband's own Twitter account. Is a return to civility even possible at this point?


HARLOW: Welcome back. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

And First Lady Melania Trump is urging kindness and positivity as she met with student leaders. Take a listen.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Kindness, compassion and positivity are very important traits in life. It is easier to judge quickly than to take time to understand. Show respect to each other. Treat your community like your family and look out for one another.


HARLOW: That plea, though, for civility comes as members of the Trump administration are shouted out of restaurants or denied service and the president responds by attacking this morning, writing about the restaurant that refused to serve White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders - it should focus on "cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows."

So, where should civility start? Joining us now David Drucker, CNN political analyst, senior political correspondent at "The Washington Examiner", and Shelby Holliday, politics and business reporter at "The Wall Street Journal".

And this is a moment, David, where I am glad that my 2-year-old does not understand what we're talking about and cannot ask me questions.