Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Ends Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program; President Obama Releases Statement Criticizing Trump DACA Decision. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 5, 2017 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: "It is self-defeating, because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to a country we love."

"And," President Obama writes, "it is cruel. What if our kids' science teacher or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her, to a country she doesn't know or remember with a language she may not even speak?

"Let's be clear. The action taken today isn't legally required. It's a political decision and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about our immigration in general, we shouldn't threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.

"They are that pitcher on our kid's softball team, that first- responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance.

"Kicking them out won't lower the unemployment rate or lighten anyone anyone's taxes or raise anybody's wages. It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit and to common sense that business leaders, faith leaders, economists and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today.

"And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it is up to members of Congress to protect these young people in our future. I'm heartened by those who suggested that they should, and I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

"Ultimately, this is about basic decency."

Last two graphs here.

"This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America or whether we treat them the way we'd want our own kids to be treated. It's about who we are as a people and who we want to be." He closes with this: "What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or where our names come from or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals, that all of us are created equal, that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will, that all of us share an obligation to stand up, to speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That is how America has traveled this far. That is how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union."

And that is the statement from President Barack Obama in its entirety on this DACA news today, DACA news.

Let's go to the White House. Let's go to Sara Murray.

I mean, wow. That's a statement. I mean, this is someone who has not weighed in, but, in this case, we got this.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And it wasn't a short statement. As you were just reading it, Brooke, obviously, former President Obama feels very deeply and passionately about this issue.

And one of the things that stuck out to me as you were reading it is that he dismisses the notion that this is a legal battle. He says, this is a political decision, that this is a moral decision.

Obviously, that's not how the White House is casting things today. They basically said they felt like they needed to come out and make some kind of announcement because they were going to face challenges from conservative attorneys general.

That's why they said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was the one who came out and broke the news today, instead of President Trump himself, and why they decided to allow this window to punt it to Congress.

But, Brooke, the reality is it leaves the fate of nearly 800,000 people who have given their information to the United States government, who were under the impression that they would be able to remain here legally, it puts their fate in jeopardy.

It means that it's up to Congress to come up with either a DREAM Act or some other kind of legislation, and, today, the White House wouldn't even say, Sarah Sanders wouldn't say whether President Trump would sign a straight-up DREAM Act if that came to his desk.

She punted on that question and said he wants to see broader immigration legislation and suggested that he might be willing to sign something that tied funding for a wall, building up this wall along the southern border, to the DREAM Act.

Obviously, that's something that Democrats aren't particularly enthusiastic about, but still really big question marks. Even if the administration is insisting, look, people who lapsed on their dreamer status, they're not a priority, we have heard very different things on that whether it comes to actual, you know, immigration enforcement agents on the ground here, who say it is a crime to come here illegally and if we encounter you, we're going to put you in front of a judge.

BALDWIN: Sara, thank you.

Gloria Borger's with me now.

I just want you to have react to this. It's fascinating to think of all and what -- how long has it been, seven or so months with this new administration, and you could think of myriad issues, between rolling back Obamacare or Paris climate accord or North Korea, multiple issues.


And it's this issue on DACA that brought President Obama out and to response the way in which he did.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is the anti- tweet from Barack Obama.

This is a full-fledged, more than 140 characters, statement, and it clearly comes from the heart. I mean, this is something he did because Congress didn't act, as he points out in this.

And the language that he uses in this statement is personal language, talking in personal terms about how sending these dreamers back would be cruel, as he put it, and making the case, as Sara said, that don't make any mistake about this. This isn't required legally. This is a political decision, and it is a moral decision for members of Congress now to make.

So, he did not let the president off the hook on that, saying, look, he didn't need to do this, but now members of Congress do need to do this.

And, you know, we don't know what the president would do if they did say the dreamers could stay or have a path to citizenship, because that might anger some of his base. But, as you point out, this is really the first time, in personal, fulsome terms...


BORGER: --he, Barack Obama, has taken on Donald Trump.

And in doing so, we understand how important he believes his executive order was, looking back on it these years later and what it did for the dreamers here. And I think that this is -- what he is doing is he is saying to people...

BALDWIN: Gloria, we're going to go -- forgive me.

We're going to Senator Dick Durbin, off waiting in the wings, Senator Lindsey Graham. Apparently, they have a proposal with regard to DACA.


Let's listen.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLIONOIS, MINORITY WHIP: -- six or seven years ago, when I wrote to President Obama, who had been my colleague in the Senate, to co-sponsor the DREAM Act, and ask him to use his powers as president to help these young people.

And he eventually issued DACA, the program that gave young people across America who were undocumented a chance to come forward, to give all their personal information to the government, to submit themselves to a criminal background check, to pay a substantial filing fee, and, if they were approved, to have a two-year opportunity to stay in the United States without deportation and with an opportunity to work.

That is what DACA is all about; 780,000 young people took advantage of that opportunity created by President Obama.

Senator Graham and I agree on many things. We disagree on DACA. I think it was a proper exercise of President Obama's authority. He sees it differently.

But even though we come to that issue with a difference of opinion, we are in agreement as to where we are today. It is time for us in Congress to do the right thing for America, the right thing for these young people and their families, and to pass the DREAM Act, to make it the law of the land and to do it now.

The decision that was announced today by the Trump White House was a disappointment to me. The first and only direct conversation which I have had with President Trump was the day of his inauguration, and I thanked him for the kind words he said about dreamers and DACA.

He looked me in the eye and he said: "Don't worry about those kids. We're going to take care of those dreamers."

I trusted that the president would do that. And I hoped to work with him. We had many meetings in the White House with people on his staff, talking about how we might achieve that goal of making certain that the dreamers would have their day and their opportunity.

Well, today, this announcement that was handed down, first by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and then by the president, tells us that the clock is ticking.

We are now in a countdown toward deportation for 780,000 protected by DACA today. For those young men and women across America, I can tell you, this is a moment of great concern, great fear, and great anxiety about what's going to happen to their lives.

They include teachers and engineers, medical students at Loyola School of Medicine in the City of Chicago, who are uncertain now about their future. Well, what Senator Graham and I want to deliver as a message today is that we need to do our job right here in the United States Senate. We need to pass, in this month of September, a DREAM Act, a permanent

law in this country, that says that these young people will have their chance to become part of America's future. The DREAM Act is not a new idea. Introduced years ago, gone through the Judiciary Committee. It was part of our comprehensive immigration reform.

And the day that we included it, I can remember we met and had one of the shortest meetings of our bipartisan group. We said, fine. Everybody's for the DREAM Act. Let's move to the next tough topic when it comes to immigration.

So, we have included this as our main item in the agenda for the month of September. We want to make certain that the Senate and the House vote on the permanent enactment of the DREAM Act as the law of the land.


My last message, before I turn it over to my colleague, is this, and it's to the dreamers.

We have stood together through thick and thin for almost 16 years now. We have had moments when we passed this measure in the Senate, moments when we passed it in the House, but never both chambers at the same time. This is our chance to do it. Do not give up hope.

If you are one of those dreamers, one of those protected by DACA, you need to be part of America and its future. We made a promise to you that if you gave this information to our government about you and your family, it wouldn't be used against you. I don't want that to ever happen.

So, let's stand together. Let's take heart and stand together and make sure that we do the right thing for the dreamers this month of September.

Senator Graham.


To the DREAM Act population, there are a lot of people on the Republican side of the aisle understand your dilemma, and we want to find a fair solution, because you have done nothing wrong. You came here as children. You have contributed to society. You have passed criminal background checks.

You have demonstrated your ability to be beneficial to the country now, in the future. The only thing that stands between you and certainty in your life is the Congress. That cannot be that reassuring.

So, here's the deal. The Congress is going to have to up its game. As to the president, I think he was right to terminate DACA. I believed, from day one, it was an unconstitutional overreach by President Obama. He had a dilemma on his hand. I understand why Dick wrote the letter. I have tried to do my part to find comprehensive immigration reform, not only for the DREAM Act kids, but also for their parents.

But the main thing I have tried to do is make sure that 20 years from now, we don't have 11 million more illegal immigrants. Fix it once and for all. So, here's what I think happened.

I think the president did the country a service by going back to constitutional order in a way that allows a six-month opportunity for the Congress to take care of these kids. So, the president was right on the law, but he was also right to give us six months to figure out a solution to this.

And my challenge to the president is that you have talked very glowingly about these kids. Help us. Help us in the House. Help us in the Senate. I think you're a good man. Get involved personally. Work the phones. Try find a consensus here.

Here's what I think is going to happen. There are going to be elements of the Republican Party who believe that if you pass the DREAM Act, you're rewarding future illegal immigration, you're incentivizing illegal immigration in the future.

And my reply to them would be, you would be right if we just stopped with the DREAM Act. But we're going to do more; 70 percent of Americans want to secure our border, control who comes to our and create order out of chaos; 70 percent of Americans at least want to give these kids a second chance and a good life in our country.

When you tell them to go home, they will go back to the house they were raised in. They have no other country other than America. They are no more connected to their home country than I am to Scotland, where my grandfather came from.

So the reality of the situation is that these children basically have no place to go other than America. And here's the good news for America. You should want them to stay. They're great kids. They're working. They're productive. This is a win-win.

If there was ever a win-win in modern times, it would be the DREAM Act, because the Congress gives legal status, not an overreaching executive order. You may like the executive order for DREAM Act kids, but where does it end?

What is the limitation on power of a president to give 900,000 or a million people status just by a stroke of a pen? So, if you're a constitutional conservative, passing the DREAM Act should please you because the Congress is doing its job, with the president signing a bill passed by the Congress.

If you worry about these kids, you should vote for the DREAM Act because it gives them what they, I think, deserve, a new life in their home country.

To those in the Republican Party who vote no, I respect it. I respect your decision, but let's have a healthy debate. Make the case that these kids don't belong here, because I'm going to make the case they do. And we're all going to vote. So, from a Republican Party point of view, this is a defining moment.

We need to create a step, a process forward to fix a broken immigration system. Starting with the DREAM Act kids, I think, is a good down payment on what will eventually be a comprehensive solution to a broken immigration system.

To the president, you have a chance to show the nation as the president of all of us where your heart's at. You have a chance as the leader of the Republican Party to do two things, say that we are the party of constitutional process, that we believe in doing it right. But right means taking care of these kids.


QUESTION: Senators, for both of you, there are a lot of Republicans who feel that if you give these young people legal status, you're just going to incentivize more people to bring their kids here illegally. How do you change their minds?

GRAHAM: I think I just said that.

I think that, one, this is a real-time problem. The kids will be thrown back into the darkness. That doesn't help fix a broken immigration system to be -- to take these kids and ruin their lives, and that's what you would be doing. So I think most Republicans believe that you have to have a secure border, or you will get 11 million more in the future.

Most Democrats want border security too. We practically militarize the border in the Gang of 8 bill. Most Republicans want to control who gets a job in the future with E-Verify system.

What about the parents of these kids? Well, here's the dilemma. We're going to deal with the DREAM Act kids first, but to get to the parents, you're going to have to have a comprehensive solution in place.

I don't think Republicans are going to legalize the 11 million and hope one day to secure the border, increased legal immigration will come from the Democrats. And I bet you Democrats are not going to give us all the legal immigration increases we want, the border security we desire, without having some idea what happens to the 11 million.

So, John McCain said he was against this idea because he wants to go back to comprehensive immigration reform. I have walked the walk when it comes to voting for comprehensive immigration reform. But we don't have that luxury right now.

As Dick said, we have got six months. So, I am with Dick Durbin on, by the end of September, we need to take care of the dreamers and work on the other parts of the problem. I promise my Republican colleagues that I will not stop with the DREAM Act, because that does incentivize future illegal immigration.

I am committed to fixing this problem once and for all. DURBIN: Let me just say -- let me just a word about the six months.

Calculation of six months is to March 5, so we have plenty of time, right? Not by Senate standards, we don't.

And those of you who have lived around here for any period of time know what I'm about to say. Who knows what next month's topic du jour is going to be? Is it going to be Kim Jong-un? Is it going to be Irma, Harvey? What's it going to be?

Let's move and do it now. That's why we think it's important to make the DREAM Act the law of the land now.

QUESTION: Senator, Congress has tried and failed more than 10 times to pass protections for dreamers. Why should dreamers today have any confidence that this time around you will be able to get this done?

DURBIN: Some people look at the doughnut and just see the hole. In this circumstance, if you look at the history of this, this measure has passed the House, it has passed the Senate.

It never did it, as required by the Constitution, at the same time. Now we have a compelling reason, a timely reason. DACA is about to expire. We need to act on this, or we know the consequences are a countdown clock to deportation for 780,000 of the best and brightest young people in our country.

So we have a timetable, and a timetable is what most Americans need when it comes to filing their taxes and going to the dentist. And a timetable is what the Senate needs, when we realize we have to act and get it done now or terrible consequences result.

GRAHAM: Let me just talk.

You got the speaker of the House, who's a Republican. You got the majority leader of the Senate, who's a Republican, both expressing a desire to take care of the DREAM Act kids. Now, what the final bill looks like, I don't know. But I like our bill a lot.

It get 68 votes in the United States Senate in bipartisan fashion. You also have the president of the United States who did two things today. He rejected the idea of President Obama's executive order as being a presidential overreach. I think he was right to do that, but he expressly gave us six months.

But the reason I think it will get done now is because the leadership of the Republican Party, including the president, realizes it's good for the country economically and otherwise to give these kids the certainty they need in their lives.

QUESTION: Senator, are you concerned that the administration -- Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to be suggesting today that the administration wouldn't sign just a clean DACA fix and that they wanted what they called responsible immigration reform.

GRAHAM: Well, all I can say is that the process of taking care of the kids will be a negotiated process. The comprehensive Gang of 8 bill was negotiation. There are a lot of

people who believe a good marriage would be border security and DREAM Act.

Now, I know this, that there's not much of an appetite for 2,200-mile wall. If that's what you mean by border security, you probably aren't going to get a lot of votes.

But I can tell you that Dick Durbin has voted, in the past, for dramatic increases of Border Patrol agents, fencing where it makes sense, walls where it makes sense, drones and technology where it makes sense.


So, I don't know how this movie ends, but here's what I will predict.

We're not going to allow these kids to be victim of a broken political process. As a matter of fact, this may be what we need in Congress to get our act together, real people, something we can put our hands around and the public can understand, a real issue with real live people who need us to act decisively.

We're going to do two things. We're going to take care of the hurricane victims in Texas and we're going to take care of these kids.

BALDWIN: All right.

So, basically, what you have here is, what, four hours after the nation watched the attorney general step behind this podium and rescind the DACA program, affecting 800,000 or so young undocumented youth here under this who are all dreamers, you have now a Republican and a Democrat in the Senate who have now this piece of legislation, the DREAM Act, and they're now essentially saying to dreamers, we have got you, or we hope we have got you, but we need Congress to act.

And they said they want Congress to act in September, this month.

Gloria Borger is back with me, as is Rana Foroohar and Mark -- forgive me -- Mark Krikorian.


BALDWIN: Krikorian. Forgive me, Mark.

So, Gloria, just to you on the politics of this. To hear Republican Senator Lindsey Graham address dreamers, to hear him say, for the Republican Party, this is a defining moment, for him to say to the president, hear us, help us work the phones, what did you make of that?

BORGER: Well, Lindsey Graham has always been someone, as you know, who's been for comprehensive immigration reform and has voted that way. But I think what he -- the point he made at the end, which was

actually the point that President Obama was making in his statement, is that we're not going to allow these kids to become a victim of a broken political promise.

And Lindsey Graham did not come at this by criticizing the president, because he agrees with him that what President Obama did was overreach. And he didn't like that either.

But he said to Congress, basically, OK, we now have to do this, or these kids will become victims or our broken political process, and that isn't good for the country, and it also isn't good for the Republican Party.

BALDWIN: Mark, here's my question to you, because when we were watching the A.G. earlier today, Jeff Sessions, he claimed that DACA -- quote -- "denied hundreds of thousands of American jobs by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs."

Fact? Do you have research supporting that?

KRIKORIAN: Well, I mean, it's just they're in jobs that Americans would be doing. They're not picking tomatoes.

For the most part, the DACAs, who have work permits, are working in jobs that Americans would be doing. I mean, that's a legitimate point, but it's not the legal point.

The legal point is actually something I agreed with Senator Graham about. DACA was illegal. And I also agreed with Senator Graham that passing a stand-alone measure, a so-called clean DACA fix, in other words, where they just give them amnesty, and you don't have any elements that try to limit the harmful fallout of that amnesty, is going to just encourage more illegal immigration, which is why what Congress needs to do is not pass the DREAM Act on its own, but pass a measure that both amnesties the DACAs, just give them green cards, rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with, but make sure that the fallout from that amnesty is limited by mandating E-Verify.

That's the system to help turn the magnet of jobs off that attracted the parents of these people in the first place lo these many years ago, because none of these are kids. They're all adults now. And changes in legal immigration, so that the parents who did know what they were doing are never able to benefit from this amnesty, because the DACA young people are a special and unique case.

They are different from all other illegal immigrants, which is why it's a good idea to amnesty them. But what that also means is their parents and their aunts and their uncles and all the rest of the people who knew what they were doing when they came here should not be able to benefit from this amnesty.

BALDWIN: Rana, how do you see it?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN ANALYST: You know, I think it's really important to step back and look at the big picture here. And I want to give you just a couple of facts. Forty percent of the largest companies in America were started by immigrants or children of immigrants. Immigrants have a much higher rate of entrepreneurship in their communities all over the country.

These are people that we should be dying to get in this country. You know, one of the reasons that America's historically had a higher growth rate than Europe, for example, is that we have been, traditionally, open to immigrants. You know, I have to come clear and say my father is an immigrant that came to this country, started a business, employed many people.


It is amazing to me how quickly the business community has come out, just made blanket statements saying we have to do this, we have to support these people. You see the U.S. Chamber, the Business Roundtable, executives like Mark Zuckerberg and Jamie Dimon, saying, we need these people.

BALDWIN: Tim Cook.

FOROOHAR: Tim Cook, exactly. We need these people.

I think that that's very, very telling.

BALDWIN: Mark, what's your response?

KRIKORIAN: That's nonsense. I'm sorry.

The idea that big business wants more people to loosen the labor market and keep its labor costs down is hardly an argument for more immigration.

You know, of course the Chamber of Commerce agrees with big labor and with Senator Durbin and with Senator Graham. We have seen this movie over and over again, where all the important institutions of our society, left and right, are pushing, whether it was under President Bush or President Obama, for a -- both an amnesty for all the illegal immigrants who are here and for massive increases in future immigration.

Immigration really is not a right/left issue. It's an up/down issue.


KRIKORIAN: And what we have seen is all the important institutions of our society pushing for something that ordinary folks are really quite skeptical about.

FOROOHAR: You know, Mark, I just have to completely disagree with you.

For starters, I think you know as well as I do, the economic research -- and there's a lot of -- says that immigration is a net benefit to the country, both at the high level, engineers coming in, the kind of people that Apple wants to hire, but also at the lower end, people who are doing a variety of jobs, some of which wouldn't be done if there weren't immigrants in the country, others of which would be.

Our problem, economically, in this country is that we need to train everybody to have a 21st century skill set. That's the problem you will hear when you go to CEOs, not there are too many immigrants, but we don't have the skills in this country that we need.

And it's just -- it's an absolute myth to look at immigration as our core economic problem. It just absolutely is.

KRIKORIAN: The point is not that it's a core economic problem. The problem is that mass immigration of a million people a year exacerbates a lot of the other social and economic problems that we have.

And immigration is not some economic boon. It creates a small economic surplus, as the National Academy of Sciences showed last year, but that small surplus comes from impoverishing people who are already poor, lowering their wages, and spreading that benefit to the rest of society. So all of us here on this panel benefit. Ordinary people do not.


BALDWIN: Hang on. Hang on. I have got a dreamer standing by.

And with all due respect to all of you all, and it's been good to have this conversation, let me just go ahead and bring her in Erendira Rendon, came to the U.S. when she was 4 from Mexico, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Erendira Rendon is now the director of national partnerships at the Resurrection Project, a community group in Chicago that helps with DACA applications, housing, education programs, et cetera.

Erendira, thank you so much for being with me.

And just listening to people -- I don't know how much TV or how much radio you have been listening to or reading, hearing all these people talk about you and your future and what should and shouldn't be, what's that like?


Well, I mean, obviously, I think everybody wants to be in control of their future. I have always known that I'm not in complete control. I have always tried to. I went to college, was able to do everything that I could do without DACA.

I have had DACA for five years, and I started to think that now I could make my own future and build my own career. And, you know, unfortunately, in November, people voted against me, and now the result is that Trump is taking DACA away from 800,000 people.

BALDWIN: The fact, though -- and, yes, you are correct that candidate Trump said he would do away with this, but then since then we have heard him talk about approaching DACA with heart, how he loves dreamers.

What do you make of the president's move today in the wake of these sort of rest-easy promises that he's made over the last couple of months?

RENDON: Well, I mean, I think elections have consequences, and this is the consequence.

Unfortunately, it means that I will no longer have a work permit. I will no longer be protected from deportation. And, you know, one thing is to say that we shouldn't be worried and to say that he loves us, and it's a completely different thing to take hope, our hopes and our dreams and our ability to be able to get a little bit further ahead and just, you know, completely take it away from us and rip it out from underneath us.

So, that is actually what's happening, even if he has promised not to take it away.

BALDWIN: Do you still have hope? I mean, did you hear -- you had this Republican and Democratic senators, both Durbin and Graham, standing there up on Capitol Hill saying...

RENDON: Yes. Mm-hmm.

BALDWIN: -- you know, we don't want you, Erendira, a dreamer, to fall victim to a broken system.