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Immigration Issues Examined. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 06:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: He wants to throw out undocumented immigrants who cross the boarder with no judges, no legal proceedings.

He's reportedly angry, he can't do more by executive fiat and he's also angry that he reversed the administrations decision to separate children from parents at the boarder. The Trump administration claims it has a plan for reuniting the thousands of families is choose to separate.

But it's not clear really how, even less clear when. Some 500 children have been reunited with their parents. But more than 2,000 children remain in custody scattered around the entire country.

HILL: Now meantime lawmakers are visiting detention centers to see the conditions first hand, conditions that they describe as prison like. Noting they saw children in cells and concrete floor. This as the house is expected to vote this week on that compromised immigration bill.

Republican leaders say the White House supports it, this despite the president telling lawmakers not to waste their time on it last week. So can it actually pass the house? And of course White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders asked to leave a Virginia restaurant because she works for the president. The owner defending her decision and saying she would do the same thing again.

There is a lot to cover. Let's get first to CNN's Abby Phillip who is live at the White House. Abby, good morning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well good morning Erica. President Trump had very active Sunday. Tweeting about several things, including calling for the U.S. to deport immigrants with out any court proceedings at all.

He rails against the U.S. immigration system and referred to what he called an invasion of quote "these people into our country". Now all of this is happening as the administration continues to struggle with how to reunite those separated families at the boarder.



PHILLIP: Protests intensifying as the Trump administration struggles to reunite the thousands of children still separated from their parents. Democratic law makers touring detention centers at the boarder, blasting the conditions they saw inside.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MASSACHUSETTS: It's a disturbing picture. There are children by themselves. I saw a six-month-old baby. They are along the concrete floors in cages. There's just no other way to describe it.

PHILLIP: But despite the public outcry President Trump ramping up his hard line immigration rhetoric, suggesting that those who crossed into the United States illegally should be sent back immediately without due process or an appearance before a judge.

The "New York Times" reports that President Trump complained to aides about why he could not just create an overarching executive order to solve the problem. Those aides explained to him that immigration overhaul is beyond his powers.

TOM BOSSERT, FORMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: The problem with his executive order is, it's in direct contradiction to the standing order and ruling from the judge in 2016. My guess that that stroke of a pen does not survive three weeks before this court overrules its.

PHILLIP: The president blaming democrats for failing to pass immigration reform legislation last week, and calling his party to focus on immigration in the fall, not now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I like the issue for election too. Our issue is strong boarders no crime. There issue is open boarders let MS-13 all over our countries.

PHILLIP: President Trumps comments leaving republican's confused on how to move forward.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL, R-TEXAS: I did talk to the White House yesterday. They say the Presidents still 100 percent behind us.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, R-ARIZONA: I don't know how in the world we're going to fix this in the short term. It's really a big mess.

PHILLIP : This as the department of Homeland Security and health and human services relieved their plan to reunite immigrant families separated at the boarder. Children will remain in custody of Health and Human Services based on the results of their parent's immigration proceedings.

If the parent is released they can apply to be the child's sponsor, a process that could take weeks. If the parent is deported the child will be reunited before they leave the country. But it's still unclear who will link the parents with their children.

Backlash over the crisis hitting home as Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant Friday night, the owner of the Red Hen saying I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty and compassion and cooperation. I said I'd like to ask you to leave. Saunders firing back on twitter, her actions say far more about her

about me. I always do my best to treat people including those I disagree with respectfully and will continue to do so.


PHILLIP: And foreign policy is on the agenda here at the White House today. The president will host the Royal Family of Jordan here at the White House before leaving later this afternoon for west Columbia South Carolina. He's going to campaigning for Governor Henry McMaster on the eve of the runoff election down in South Carolina. Back to you Erica.

HILL: Abby, thank you.

Lawmakers as you just saw from Abby getting a first hand look at those detention centers you heard. Elizabeth Warren describing conditions she witnessed. That was actions officials (were hoping) to be heard, protests continuing throughout the weekend.


CNN'S Polo Sandoval is live outside a facility in Los Fresno, Texas with more on that -- Polo, good morning.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eric, good morning to you. Just at the gates of one of the facilities that was recently visited by Senator Ward here, as she described the situation inside.

Wish we could take you further than this, but at this time of course officials are not allowing us inside what is now considered to the central reunification facility as the U.S. government continues to try to pair again children with parents.

Where are the numbers? About 2,053 kids still in the care of health and human services, about 17 percent of those are children who had been separated from their parents because of the enforcement of President Trump's zero tolerance policy.

The rest of them came across the border by themselves; these are those unaccompanied and undocumented children that we've told you about for years. CDP has already reunited about 522 children with their parents. These are kids that were recently separated because of zero toleration.

There are certainly more questions that have been asked though about some of these facilities. Not necessarily some of these government facilities, but more the private ones that have been contracted include one not too far from where we are right now in Brownsville, Texas one operate by southwest key programs which a 15 year old Honduran boy over the weekend managed to walk off the premises.

That organization that runs that property releasing a statement saying look, they are not a detention center, they only certified by the state to care for these kids. They can try to convince these children to stay on the premises, but once they cross that perimeter, then ultimately it's in the hands of law enforcement.

We do know Erica and John, that that child apparently is in Mexico and is in contact with relatives to try to get back to his native Honduras. Certainly leaving several questions about ho these kids are managed.

BERMAN: All right, Polo Sandoval in Los Fresno, Texas. Polo, thanks so much. And remember throughout the morning as we have all these discussions, there are still 2,000 children in custody scattered around the country.

We don't know where - we still don't know exactly how or when they're going to be reunited with their parents. And that's going to be the most important thing to find out, so keep that in mind as we talk throughout the morning.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for the New York Times, Maggie Haberman. Maggie, great to have you here.


BERMAN: You've been reporting all weekend along with your Time's colleagues. And the president seems o want more power. He seems frustrated that he can't just snap his fingers and by sort loyal executive fit get want he wants. And he's angry at some of the decisions he has made.

HABERMAN: Well, so this is actually a pattern we have seen with this president repeatedly which is that he gets pushed in to doing something that he doesn't necessarily want to do.

He wanted to make the T.V. images go away, we wanted his issue to just sort disappear magically and quickly. Last week, initially he asked advisors why can't I just do one giant immigration reform. Executive order was explaining to him you can't do that.

They then settled for this lesser version, which as I understand at the White House council worked on with the Department of Justice. But there were concerns by DHS about how it would be implemented.

And the president then spent the next three days watching him still getting criticized because 2,000 children weren't magically reunited with their parents. And then complaining, why did I do this in the first place?

And as we have seen with Trump over and over, his instinct is to revert to his political base. And he had been telling people before he signed this executive order, my people love this. That they thought this - the thought this was all playing with.

We are talking about the act of separating children from their parents. That's what he's describing in various dark political terms. So yes, he tweeted about wanting more power. This is a president who has wanted more power throughout his presidency; he's been very frustrated and stymie about the limits of executive power. But I also think it's important to look at what he is actually saying. It is not just a power (inaudible) per say, he is talking about fundamentally changing the way the U.S. deals with immigrants who are undocumented coming to this country, including a asylum seekers--

BERMAN: Maybe especially asylum seekers.

HABERMAN: Right. Remember what Kirstjen Nielsen kept saying is, if you are an asylum seeker, go to the port of entry, we will let you in. We have heard repeatedly there are people who are being denied entry.

The Texas tribune reported that some parents who had their children taken from them were told; if you will give us your asylum seeking and you will agree to volunteer transportation, well give you your kid back. These are very, very troubling stories. And go against everything the immigration policy has been about for decades in this country.

HILL: And there's a big question too of course, as we're looking at ll of this whether anything can shake out. And Congress this week and what they impacted especially with a president, who's saying on Friday, don't waste your time. And now we're hearing oh no, the White House is behind it 100 percent.

HABERMAN: Right, right.

JOHN AVLON, CNN FILL-ANCHOR: Well, this at least contradiction between the White House says one thing, but it doesn't reflect what the president is saying-

BERMAN: Or tweeting.

AVLON: And I guess on of the big questions is does he regret issuing this executive order? And that means that the Steven Millers of the White House seem to be holding sway, but that leaves the policy in total limbo as well, as the children.

BERMAN: But I guess one thing that (inaudible) Maggie based on what you're saying is he knows what he wants, what he wants is fewer asylum seekers. What he wants is for it to be harder, a lot harder for people to come to this country.

HABERMAN: There are certain things he wants, and that is one of them. Mostly what h wants is to be praised and not criticized, but that's the path that he's taking.


And he has decided that he's going to be -- he does something that he things will quell those who are criticizing him and in his mind that's watching this show and hearing us talking about.

It's people on MSNB, it's people on his Twitter feed, he signs the E.O., it doesn't magically make the noise go away, so then it, in his mind becomes, I knew I should have done this in the first place and stayed with what I was going to do. And then he digs in harder. Again, what he's talking -- this is the first time that he had -- he

has been able to sort of magically spin things and convince people that they are not really seeing what they're seeing. This is one of the first times, I think the first time, he has not been able to do that and it is nixing him.

HILL: There's also -- I mean it's also, as we talk about the playbook and we've all been a part of this script before, right? There's also the element of it that we can't ignore which is, this is not a president who necessarily wants to know any of the nitty gritty. Everything is very black and white in his mind and the details are not important here.

HABERMAN: That's right. And immigration policy is nothing -- is not incredibly complicated and filled with unintended consequences based on actions that you take in one direction or the other. This was not something that it was ever going to be easily solved.

When he says, the White -- to John's point, which is really important, there is always this presidency versus this president aspect of this White House, even before he signed that executive order.

People -- when he went to speak to House Republican members about the bill that he's supposed to be supporting this so-called moderate bill, people couldn't figure out exactly where was when he was talking about it, which is generally how is -- stylistically, he leaves things as vague as possible and then you have to present him with a menu of options to figure out what he's talking about. That's not how a good policy gets made.

BERMAN: As we're all sitting here, collectively, at this table, I would like to talk about another table right now and this is the one at the Red Hen in Virginia, where Senator Sanders was asked to leave by the owner there and then tweeted about on her government account, which we'll get to in just a second here. But John, what do you think? What are we supposed to make of this moment?

AVLON: Look, I think the reason folks are seizing on it is, first of all, the incivility. The sense that we keep defining DNBC(ph) down when it comes to how we treat our public officials.

The other thing that's firing people up is the hypocrisy of it. You see some folks on the left evoking the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case that's -- that the White House sent back that the baker didn't have to serve the gay couple their wedding cake. And it seems to smack of hypocrisy the offense that was taken.

I think the larger issue is though is one that if we follow the advice of some folks who say, make it impossible for members of this administration to go out to dinner and it should be said, she left civilly and then raised the issue by tweeting about it.

That that's just going to make the personal politics even uglier than they are today and that is not good for the country.

HABERMAN: I think there -- that is certainly an opinion that we've heard a lot of people voice. I think what you hear from people who say there was nothing wrong with this and there does seem to be something of a generational divide about this as well among Democrats.

People -- older Democrats have tended to say, they think this was a bad idea. Younger have sort of embraced it as a form of activism. It's about as a civil a form of instability as you could have seen. The restaurant owner pulled her aside, did it very quietly. Using a government account to tweet to three million followers about the name of the restaurant and the location about the restaurant feels very, very dangerous.

It is -- it is -- if they wanted to answer questions about this for news stories and let those take off, that is completely different and you keep seeing, with this White House, a disappearing of the line of where things are supposed to not be crossed and this was an example of it.

And it's interesting to me that President Trump, who often feeds off of grievances, has not tweeted about this.

BERMAN: Why do you think that is?

HILL: Yes?

HABERMAN: I think there's a couple of reasons, but I think one of them is that I think that he told several people he thought several people he thought Sarah Sanders should have walked out of the White House correspondents dinner when Michelle Wolf was roasting her. I think that it just tends to look like somebody getting the upper hand with a member of his administration and that bothers him. Because everything ...

HILL: If it comes up, any rallies that are forthcoming or any events that the president has, whether he decides to bring it up at that point, but he's not touching it now.

HABERMAN: Right. And he might. He's got a full political ...

AVLON: He's very much in campaign mode and then, of course, we saw Maxine Waters, over the weekend, sort of elevating this issue as well. Sort of calling for it to be part of the resistance to the administration.

HABERMAN: And also (inaudible). I mean, the way she was driving it ...

BERMAN: Of course.

HILL: Yes.

HABERMAN: ... wasn't just civil.

BERMAN: Well we'll play it. I want to play that. So, what we're going to do is this, because I want people to hear what Maxine Water said and I want to discuss if that, maybe, is giving the president exactly what he wants. So, we'll talk about that. We'll talk about Jimmy Fallon and the

president, who's messing up who's hairs here, literally and figuratively. Stay with us.




HILL: California Representative Maxine Waters creating a controversy, sending a message to supporters about how to treat members of the Trump administration.

REP. MAXINE WATERS: And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you stay (inaudible). And you push back on them, and you pound them better than I (inaudible), anymore anywhere.

HILL: Bring back in now, Maggie Haberman. There's a lot to begin there to say the least. Elijah Cummings also pushing back very strongly in that statement, this is the absolute worst thing that you could say. This is not how I would--

BERMAN: It's in time contribution to the Trump campaign.

HILL: Yes-

BERMAN: In feels like in time contribution in this case. Sorry, I interrupted Maggie.

HABERMAN: I mean look, I think - I think that on its face, that's true. And I think it's certainly on its face, it's very hard for people to say - to be upset about the demonizing that the president is doing and he is, and the demagoguing and demonizing and dehumanizing particularly immigrants, but frankly with anybody who gets in his way. But also for calling for people, this wasn't just I'm asking to ask you t leave my restaurant. This was crowd people in public, this is intimidate and get in their face and their space.

And I think that takes it to a very different level, especially when it's a public official. I'm saying this is an elected official making that point. I do think that gives Trump something else to seize on. I think that what we have seen over the last few weeks which is clear, and it was already clear but it is starker now, is this is going to be an unbelievably polarized midterms.

I don't know who is actually going to have the advantage based on incidents like this.


I frankly think that the images of kids being taken at the border and the amount of time that's going to take to get resolved is going to play a lot more in terms of Democrats turning out and in terms of whether Republicans turn our or just stay home. I think that's ultimately going to be what matters more than what we

just saw from Maxine Waters.

AVLON: Right, but at the same time what Maxine Waters said is a long way from, they go low, we go high. And it will feed in to nerives(ph) of moral equivalents and certainly politics is personal now and it's bitter, but that crowding out.

First of all, it violates principles of public accommodations, that normally Democrats would defend, but it invites greater ugliness and that, to your point, will actually play into Trump's playbook.

BERMAN: I'm reminded that the person who said, they go low, we go high, was Michelle Obama trying to elect Hilary Clinton president and it didn't work.

AVLON: Well I ...

HILL: For a lot of reasons.

AVLON: Yes. But, I actually agree.

HILL: That's probably not the ...

BERMAN: But that's what Democrats need. I've had this argument with Ted Lieu, the Democrat from California, Congressman ...

AVLON: Yes, sure.

BERMAN: ... who tries to fight with the president on twitter using the same types of insults that the president does. Can anyone out- Trump Trump when it comes to this type of insults.

HABERMAN: No, they can't. Except, this isn't -- this is beyond insulting, to John's point, about Maxine Waters talking about, is again, physical space. Getting in people's spaces in a very different way. That takes it to a different level than just insulting people.

But it is true, that we have seen, for three years now, people who try to act like Trump, end up just kind of -- it's like they ran into some kind of invisible shield and then they melt and it will, I think, be the same thing this time, but I think there is a difference between name calling and what this has escalated toward.

AVLON: That's a Marco Rubio joke, by the way, the melting thing. I got ...

BERMAN: Really?

HABERMAN: Wow. That -- you're right in there ...

BERMAN: Subtle.

HILL: And on a Monday.

HABERMAN: That was very subtle. HILL: Firing on all cylinders.

HABERMAN: No subtle -- I didn't mean to ...

AVLON: No. No.

HILL: But there I was. There's also the question too of how much Americans are now willing to take and sadly it seems that answer is a lot more than they would. Well, we may all say this, it's terrible, you shouldn't talk like that. You look at how often it's happening and how much attention it's getting and this complaint about the lack of stability is well founded and yet ...

AVLON: Well, tone comes from the top.

HILL: Yes.

AVLON: And so you see the president's tone infecting our politics, but for folks who are saying we need to defend institutions, right, that sense of simply doubling down or trying to out-Trump Trump is dangerous for the Democrats -- the lower Democratic debate in our country.

BERMAN: So, actually this is not unrelated to Jimmy Fallon. Bear with me. Bear with me on this. So, Jimmy Fallon, host of "The Tonight Show," tussled the president's hair when he was a candidate for president. Got a lot of brushback from the left on that saying, you're normalizing, you're humanizing him for this right now.

Jimmy Fallon, I'm going to walk you through this, did an interview with -- who was it? "The Hollywood Reporter?"

HILL: "The Hollywood Reporter."

BERMAN: "The Hollywood Reporter," where he basically said he, I don't know, I guess he said he regretted that or he was explaining what happened there. Listen to what Jimmy Fallon says.


JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: I did not do it to normalize him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff. I don't do that with any guest. Anyone.


FALLON: He was already the candidate and he was Donald Trump already. He was the Republican candidate and I had the Democratic candidate on the next night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you touched her hair too.

FALLON: I touched her hair as well and I gave her a bid and I didn't -- so I didn't mean to make anyone angry and I knew it would be big because I touched his hair.


FALLON: And I think a lot of people, at the time, was just -- all they were talking about was his hair. The hair, the hair, the hair. Is it real, is a toupee, is it thing, it -- that was -- it just got bigger than -- and just out of control.


BERMAN: And now a dramatic reading from Donald J. Trump. The president writes on Twitter, Jimmy Fallon is now whimpering to all, that he did the famous hair show with me, where he seriously messed my hair, parenthetically. And that he would have now done it differently because it has said to have humanized me, he is taking heat. He called and said, monster ratings, be a man, Jimmy.

HABERMAN: Is he saying he would have done it differently in there and I missed it? That's not what he's saying.

HILL: I -- you know, I missed it too.

BERMAN: No, no.

HABERMAN: This is the thing that Trump does all the time, which is someone says like half of a thing and he decides to just fill in the adlib version of what he wants it to be. I do think that Jimmy Fallon has a point, which is that he, he ended his sentence with, and it got out of control. Everything is getting out of control now.

I mean, this was a late night comedy show. I don't think it's a surprise that Jimmy Fallon was not doing a Perry Mason style interview with Donald Trump and I think that the expectations have become almost impossible to meet.


HILL: Yes. Across the board, really.

AVLON: There's something so absurd -- but there's something so absurd about this sort of plaintive like real regret about being a late night talk show host. He hair validated Donald Trump. He didn't humanize him. We all know he's a human.

And so, I think that the backlash against this has been a little absurd. Obviously, the president fixating on it is also absurd. There are bigger things for the president to worry about than what late night show host would have said.

BERMAN: But, there's no line between late night and the Oval Office anymore. That's gone.


I think we can all agree there, but Maggie I think brings up a facinisting point here which is Jimmy Fallon's facing to an extent part of what you do everyday running for the Times, which if you don't call him a liar every third sentence- HABERMAN: Yes.

BERMAN: Right, then-

HILL: Or in the lead of every story-

BERMAN: Than people get disappointed with you.


BERMAN: If you're not a late night host out there criticizing him every second sentence, then you're somehow failing.

HABERMAN: There's an important debate that is going on about what the role of journalism is I think in the Trump era. And I think that's important. I think unfortunately it tends to be going on less among journalists and more among partisans. And that's where its gets very problematic.

A late night talk show host is - is not - he's not Chris Wallace, he is not - he is an ot a Sunday morning news show host. He is not (inaudible), he's not the John Berman. He is not - he's not somebody who you'd expect is going to be sitting. You would expect him to do exactly what he did.

And the degree to which, especially back then when Trump actually wasn't president yet although it is fair to say he was warning everybody that what he's doing now is what he was going to do.

You had a late night comedian on - have a guest on and he did what comedians do. Frankly, that's the argument that Michelle Wolf's defenders used, about why everything she said was OK. So, what's the difference? (Inaudible), it all falls on partisan lines.

BERMAN: And Avalon says we know he's human, but do we know the hair is human? Just going to leave that there--

HILL: It didn't come off, I mean that was the - that's the

HILL: Well that defined teased right there. We'll get to that at some point so just stay with us-

BERMAN: We'll get to that, when we come back. When we come back-

HILL: Until we get there.

BERMAN: Good (inaudible) at North Korea.

HILL: I think it can work well.

BERMAN: What we're talking about here right now, Mike Pompeo says he's ready to give the north concrete steps it must take towards denuclearization. Will that country (inaudible)? Stick around.