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Hurricane Irma Hits Caribbean; Tracking Hurricane Irma; President Trump Ends DACA and Calls on Congress to Act; Head: President ends protection for Dreamers. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 6, 2017 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We cannot forget the need. We're following a lot of news. There is a new advisory on hurricane Irma. Let's get after it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday September 6, 8:00 now in the east. And we do begin with breaking news. Hurricane Irma is battering parts of the Caribbean right now. Up to 185 miles an hour of sustained wind. The gusts are even higher. Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, all in the line of fire. Take a look at the radar. The category five storm in the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic in a decade. Its impact expected to be catastrophic. It's all about which way it goes. Devastating storm surge, life threatening winds, dangerous flash floods, you know the factors. The question is where. We're watching it very closely.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So the storm could hit Florida by the weekend. The state is declaring a state of emergency. People are now rushing to stores. They're lining up at gas stations to prepare.

So joining us right now are two Americans who are trapped currently in the hurricane. They're on the island of Guadeloupe. The storm is passing over them at this moment. This is Loren Ann Mayo. She is from Sarasota, Florida. And she took some video of the storm battering the hotel we'll to in a second. With her is her friend Rachel Scharett. They are on a business trip on the island. Ladies, thank you so much for joining us. Maybe we can watch your video. What are the conditions like where you are right now?

LOREN ANN MAYO, STUCK IN MARIGOT, GUADELOUPE DURING IRMA: Right now, we are in our sixth floor hotel room and we're watching a balcony that just broke off of the room upstairs next door and is hanging on by a thread and dangling in the air. It is pouring down rain. The wind is howling. Most people are either in their bathroom or they have been moved downstairs to the third floor where management thinks it is a very, very safe spot. But basically our entire room is under about an inch or two of water.

CAMEROTA: OK, but so why aren't you guys down on the third floor with everyone?

RACHEL SCHARETT, STUCK IN MARIGOT, GUADELOUPE DURING IRMA: We felt safer in our bathroom up here. We have a bathroom with no windows, and it's actually like a secondary room in the villa we're staying in. So we talked to the management and we explained the situation that we didn't have any major breakage in the room in general and that we felt safer in the bathroom, and they agreed with us that if there was no windows and we didn't have major damage that it might be a good location.

CAMEROTA: OK, but just tell us what the continues are like right now around you.

MAYO: We can't see out of the balcony. It's all very cloudy. I can switch the camera and show you.

CAMEROTA: Yes. That would be great.

MAYO: So that is the balcony hanging in the air, from above us. Ours seems to be OK down here. It's all full of water. Our whole -- our whole place is full of water.


MAYO: We have the front door barricaded. And the wind is --

CAMEROTA: And so, I mean listen. We can see all that. That definitely looks scary. On a scale of one to 10, how nervous are you right now? Can you guys still hear me? Skype -- well. Not -- go ahead. Are you guys back?

MAYO: It doesn't seem to be as bad yet.


MAYO: I think we were probably about an eight or nine on the first half of this storm, and it's gotten a little bit -- it's less.

SCHARETT: Calmer. I think we're mostly, at least for myself personally mostly concerned about what's to come afterwards from what we saw when we went out during the eye. There are houses torn apart, trees snapped in half, cars with bricks smashing them in.

CAMEROTA: What are they telling you?

SCHARETT: Our front door is bending a little bit so we need to make our way to the bathroom shortly.

CAMEROTA: Yes. OK, I think you guys should do that. I certainly want you to be safe. I know that you heard something I think crash around you. So by all means don't let us stop you. You guys should go take shelter. How long do you think you're going to be trapped there in Guadeloupe?

MAYO: They said the storm might go on for another four to six hours, and then, our flights out today got canceled. They got canceled Thursday. We booked for Friday and some of us have been rebooked for Saturday. So I guess it's just depends on the status of the airport and planes and being able to get people out. [08:05:00] SCHARETT: Sorry. We had also discussed amongst our group,

those of us who are in a position might try to see if we can help with some of the recovery effort while we're here. There's not very much we can do. It's not like we brought a bunch of tools with me. But if we can help out and we are in a position to help, we plan on trying to stay, those of us who are able to.

MAYO: We have plenty of water and snacks, food, all kinds of things.

CAMEROTA: OK, guys go. Get into the bathroom. If you can, carry us into the bathroom with you. What did you hear just crashing around you?

MAYO: The balcony snapped and now it's really hanging on by one little piece of wire.

CAMEROTA: OK walk us in with you if you can. Do you have family at home back in the states that you've been able to get a hold of?

MAYO: My family is in Bradenton and Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch.

SCHARETT: My family is in Northport, Florida.

CAMEROTA: And have you been able to get a hold of them and talk to them?

MAYO: Yes. We had face time with them yesterday and this morning. We got disconnected earlier because the power went out and Wi-Fi was down and we lost everything. But we've talked to them. They know we're safe, and we're hoping that we make it home in one piece after the storm.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Of course you are. And so, just very quickly, what were you all doing in Guadeloupe? What kind of business were you doing on Guadeloupe on a business trip, and did you know that Irma was coming your way?

SCHARETT: We were actually on a fitness retreat. So we came here to -- with a celebrity --

CAMEROTA: Hmm. That's a cliff-hanger. OK, we have lost them for the moment. Obviously our producers will check back to make sure that they are OK.

Meanwhile, here to update us on the storm's track is chief hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center Dr. Michael Brennan. Dr. Brennan, we checked with you last hour. What do you see now?

DR. MICHAEL BRENNAN, CHIEF HURRICANE SPECIALIST, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, right now we're seeing the eye of Irma has just passed over the islands of St. Martin here in the northeastern Caribbean. The eye wall has just cleared part of the island of India. Right now those areas are where they're seeing the sustained category five hurricane force winds right now. During the next few hours we're going to see the eye of Irma move generally west, northwestward. That's going to take the core of the hurricane very close to the British islands and northern U.S. Virgin islands later today and then past north near the north coast of Puerto Rico as we get into tonight.

CAMEROTA: OK, is it still too far out to be able to tell where and if it will hit Florida?

BRENNAN: Well, right now we're expecting a west, northwestward track through the next several days, and then as we get into the weekend we're expecting Irma to gradually turn northward. But there's a lot of uncertainty in the timing and location of that turn. Right now our forecast has a gradual turn with a track near the Florida peninsula as we get into Sunday night and early Monday. But there are models that have been showing a track a little farther to the left, a track a little farther to the right.

So this far out, it's -- there's a lot of uncertainty in that timing of that turn, so it's too early to determine exactly where in Florida those direct impacts might occur, but everybody there should certainly be monitoring Irma's progress and listen to any advice they're given by their local officials.

CAMEROTA: You do this for a living, so maybe you can just give us some context. We've heard that this is the most powerful Atlantic storm if it you don't count the Caribbean. What does Irma look like to you in your experience?

BRENNAN: Irma is a very powerful, very dangerous storm. It's a scary sight to see this type of system affecting people in land areas. The folks you were just talking to in Guadeloupe, you point out, are well away from the eye, and you can see the impacts they're getting all the way down there. So it's a very dangerous situation for the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, much of the Bahamas. Storm surge of up to 20 feet and life-threatening conditions are going to spread across the portions of the greater Antilles and into the Bahamas and the north coast of Cuba over the next several days. And certainly everybody in Florida, the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula is going to want to keep monitoring this system.

CAMEROTA: It's good to know where Guadeloupe, it does look like they are almost out of the worst of it there. Our two guests we just had on, our producers are in touch with them. They are safe. They're in their bathroom. Dr. Brennan, thank you very much for all of the status reports you're giving us. Chris?

CUOMO: Now to our other story. President Trump opening the door for Dreamers. How did he do that? He tweeted last night that if Congress fails to fix the situation in the next six months, this is a deadline he imposed. This is a situation that he put on Congress. He may revisit the issue. There's the tweet. They have six months to do something that the Obama administration wasn't able to. Remember, that was about Congress too. That's how we got DACA. So how does this all match up with the announcement that the attorney general made, Jeff Sessions, about ending the program? Joining us now is Sarah Isgur Flores. She is the director of public affairs at the Department of Justice. Sarah, thank you very much for joining us this morning, appreciate it.


CUOMO: So clear up this one point and then we'll get into what we see happening going forward. The attorney general says what Obama did with DACA was unconstitutional. President Trump says if Congress doesn't get it done I may revisit this after the six months. How can he revisit something that the A.G. just said is unconstitutional?

FLORES: I think both have been very clear that this is now up to Congress. This was about rule of law, and rule of law only matters when it's hard. It doesn't mean you always get to agree with the policy outcomes, but it means that the process matters. And when the president said, a constitutional scholar by his own calling there, when the president said he didn't have the power or authority to do this and then did it anyway, he took the power away from Congress. So regardless of how you feel how this comes out, you have to understand this is squarely within legislative authority and Congress needs to act if they want to fix this.

CUOMO: Right, but you know how we got here. We got here because they haven't acted. This has been starting, the DREAM act was before 9/11. But that's how we got DACA, right, Congress not getting it done.

FLORES: That's exactly right, but when you get frustrated with Congress, the pen and the phone I think, as we're learning, doesn't work. The last administration was historically overturned unanimously by the Supreme Court more than any other administration. That means that all of the justices agreed that that administration was overstepping its constitutional bounds, its authority given by our founders.

CUOMO: Wasn't DACA a split decision?

FLORES: And by the way, that was an administration that had both houses of Congress when they came in. So you can't just get frustrated and decide you're doing it alone. We're seeing that doesn't work.

CUOMO: You've got both houses now. So you're in the same political situation. You have a party that's deeply divided on this and is more on the enforcement side than on the morality, mercy side. And the Supreme Court is split on this --

FLORES: I think we're on the rule of law side, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, but rule of law is also about enforcement, right? Whom do you enforce it against, how do you enforce it. It is an interesting subject to pick the DREAMers. Even the Republicans and the Democrats have agreed from jump that you don't want to punish these minors for the illegal entry perpetrated by their parents. And yet that's the group that you've targeted now by putting them up before the Congress.

FLORES: Actually the last administration targeted them by creating this false promise. Deferred action means that it was deferred. It means it was never a permanent situation here. And yes, now Congress has the chance to act on this as they always did and should have. And I understand the last administration was frustrated. That doesn't

mean you get to make the law up on your own. And the district court enjoined this nationwide. And so the choice that this administration was faced with was let a district court enjoin this nationwide as well, and which the fifth circuit upheld, the Supreme Court affirmed, or have this orderly wind down. I think that was the most fair way to deal with this.

But I also want to disagree a little bit. Rule of law is about how we do things in the country. It's about how we agree to have laws and to make rules for everyone. And if we just decide we don't like that process because it's frustrating or it didn't come out the way we wanted it to this time, we're not going to like how this works from now on. So we have to agree on the rules first, and that's what this was about.

CUOMO: It's about something else also. It's changing the rules, right? That's what you're asking Congress to do is make up rules. I don't mean make up meaning that as a pejorative. I mean for them to promulgate law, to develop law and policy that will rescue these Dreamers and maybe, maybe go further into immigration reform, which is certainly needed on a systemic level.

But my question becomes, let's say they don't get it done, which history would dictate. That's not a cynical suggestion. It is just predicated on what we've seen before. Six months come and go. Now what?

FLORES: Well that will be I think the president putting more pressure on Congress to do something on this and a number of other issues. We've seen health care.

CUOMO: Hold on, let's just deal with this one right now.

FLORES: Congress has to do their job as well.

CUOMO: If they don't do it in six months, then what? If they six months come and go, and Congress says can't get it done, can't get it done, we're just not there. Now what?

FLORES: I think the president has a lot of tools at his disposal to put more pressure on Congress. And I think that, again, I think that what yesterday was about, what you saw from the White House, the Department Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, was a unified message. Congress, this is your job. This is the legislative role to make law. Not ours. We can't fix this for you.

CUOMO: And what if they don't do it? You've created a situation with the six months where there is going to be a date certain. What happens after that date certain? The answer he'll put more pressure on Congress is not going to be found satisfactory to those 800,000 people. So what do you do?

FLORES: Unfortunately that's how our system works. That's what the constitution set out. The executive branch faithfully executes the law, but Congress has to make the law. And that's what the courts held in this case, that the president, President Obama in this case, was trying to make laws. So unfortunately, regardless of how you feel about the policy outcome, this is Congress's role So, you know, instead of --

[00:15:00] CUOMO: But what will you do in six Months, Sarah? What happens to those people?

FLORES: Well, I would encourage people if they -- Chris, you should encourage your viewers to call their congressman and put pressure on them that way but there is nothing the executive branch can do to make this law. They do not make law in the White House. They execute the laws.

CUOMO: Right, but in six months, will the attorney general start identifying the Dreamers? Will he pass that information along to I.C.E.? Will they start proceedings to remove these people from the country? What happens? You're all about rule of law.

Well, the law says if you're not here legally, you're here illegally and you're supposed to be removed. So if you're going to just follow the law whether people like it or not, you can't say in six months, "He'll just put more pressure on congress." You're going to have to do something. That's your jurisdiction and your mandate, what will you do?

FLORES: Well, to be clear about the role of the Department of Justice, what you're describing is really more in the Department of Homeland Security. But what the Department of Homeland Security said yesterday is their enforcement priorities wouldn't change.

They're still targeting criminals, violence, people who are here in their communities who are targeting Americans and, you know, native- born and lawful immigrants alike. And so those will remain their enforcement priorities.

But absolutely, this has a six-month window for congress to act, and so they should. And after that, unfortunately, this policy outcome was set up by the last administration who made this false promise to these folks, and it needs to be fixed by the legislative branch.

CUOMO: But this gets confusing, right? Because you started off by saying it's just about the rule of law, but it isn't. It's about how you enforce it and that's why you just said, the Homeland Security Agency says that they have enforcement priorities.

Not all illegality is the same. That's an important concept here. Now, revisiting is also something that you're going to have to explain to me because that is also confusing. If the executive cannot make law as you've said several times very forcefully, then what would revisit mean?

He said, "I will revisit," not I will put more pressure. The president tweeted "I will revisit." What are his options?

FLORES: Well, you can't put a lot of nuance in 140 characters. And I think revisit is a lot shorter than put more pressure on congress. So you'll have to ask the president exactly what he meant. But --

CUOMO: But you were put out by the administration, Sarah. You're in the hot seat. Do you think the president would do something unilaterally to keep the Dreamers safe from deportation?

FLORES: I think that the Department of Justice was very clear that there was a choice here. You could have a court enjoin this nationwide with sudden effects on all of these folks or you could have it orderly wind down by the Department of Homeland Security over the next six months giving congress time to act and that's what Department of Homeland Security decided.

CUOMO: You could have had the attorney general go to the States and ask them to hold their suits in abeyance and give them time to figure it out. You could've done that.

FLORES: Chris, you and I both know that's not how this works. There was a court deadline yesterday.

CUOMO: Yes, but I mean, they could've -- certainly, the attorney general could have contacted the States if he wanted to and he could've talked to them about their lawsuits.

FLORES: No, no, the dead -- Chris, Chris, the deadline was -- the court's deadline.

CUOMO: Right but I'm saying --

FLORES: That was a -- that was a court deadline, not --

CUOMO: I know, but the court deadline is a function of litigation and the litigation is a function of the litigants and the litigants are the state's attorneys general. He could have contacted them. There could have been a political accommodation here.

FLORES: No, Chris, the judge had set the deadline, not the litigants, so --

CUOMO: I know, but what if the --

FLORES: So you'd have to ask the judge for an extension which they had already granted one.

CUOMO: Right, but they --

FLORES: So you have to ask for an additional extension --

CUOMO: Sure, that happens all the time.

FLORES: -- which the judge may not have granted.

CUOMO: May not have.

FLORES: And then you would have this instant nationwide injunction issue, which -- look, all of the guests that you've had on, I've watched yesterday as well, and you put -- you and Alisyn put these questions to them which would you have picked between these two.

And you'll notice that they didn't answer. And you'll notice Diane Feinstein's saying this was on shaky legal ground. Constitutional scholars from the left saying they also thought that the court would give this nationwide injunction.

So, which option did they want? Did they want it to suddenly disappear nationwide or did they want the orderly wine-down because those were the choices?

CUOMO: Right. But then the question becomes, what happens after the orderly wined it down? And that's where we seem to have a big question mark. Will the --

FLORES: I don't think it is a question mark. The Department of Homeland Security had said exactly what will happen. Unfortunately, this was unconstitutional to begin with, so when it goes away, we will revert back to the system we had before DACA.

CUOMO: But that creates doubt about where those Dreamers are going to be. I think that's probably what motivated the president to say that he'll revisit it but we'll have to see what that means.

FLORES: And the last administration created this situation. Unfortunately, the pen and the phone doesn't work. As we saw when they were reversed unanimously by the Supreme Court more than any other administration in history.

[00:20:00] CUOMO: Right. Look, there's no question that it's been legally dubious from jump. Nobody's going to argue with that in a very compelling fashion, at least not this morning. But it's also about, well, what are you going to do for these people?

This is a moral argument, not just a legal one. But Sarah, thank you for taking it on. I look forward to discussing this with you again. I appreciate you being on "New Day".

FLORES: Thank you, Chris. You bet.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, we're going to discuss all of this right now. Actually, Chris, you get your wish. CNN Political Analyst David Gregory and CNN Political Commentator Peter Beinart have both been standing by to listen to your interview.

And Peter Beinart has a piece in the Atlantic about how we got here with illegal immigration. Peter, great to have you. Your piece is so comprehensive, so interesting. Talking about all the shifting sands in illegal immigration.

How the -- some sides have, sort of, over the past decade, have crossed people who you -- I mean, just everybody has, sort of, reverted to their corners and dug in on illegal immigration. People used to be more in the middle. What did you think listening to Sarah there talk about how they haven't gotten to the point of what they'll do with the Dreamers? They haven't thought about if this means 800,000 people will be deported, taken from their universities, taken from their workplace. This is just, I guess, the starting point.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, I have to say, I think this was a cowardly decision by President Trump. If he wants to own the fact that these, you know, 800,000 people who most Americans support, being able to be in United States because really America is the only country they've known.

If he wants to own, you know, destroying their lives, then he should own that and he should say that as opposed -- instead of basically trying to kick the ball to congress and say, "Well, it's your responsibility to do something."

Look, congress has not acted on this issue for a decade and a half. Nothing we've seen in the Trump era suggests that congress is getting more effective at passing legislation. It's becoming more and more dysfunctional.

So it looks like a man who basically wants a certain outcome but doesn't want to take the heat for it.

CUOMO: Well, let's give Sarah Flores her best argument which is this was going to happen anyway. The court had a date certain, the attorney general wasn't going to go to the state's attorneys general. There was going to be no legal accommodation.

It's not that you've picked the most sympathetic group of people who are here illegally, the Dreamers, to target as your first mode of enforcement, but that he had to. Do you agree with that?

BEINART: Well, you're the lawyer, Chris, not me. But as I understand it, the court had not ruled yet on DACA. We don't know how the court would've ruled. So this was premature.

And when Trump believes in something like the Muslim ban, he fights it in the courts and fights it in the courts and fights it in the courts because he believes in the public policy. So the argument that it's unconstitutional, it seems to me, was the best premature and at worst, a cop-out for the fact that they didn't want to deal with the fact that this is something their base really wants to do.

Immigration was at the core of Trump's agenda, something probably sessions really believed in, but Trump was wavering and so he wants someone else to take the heat for it.

CAMEROTA: David, what have you heard?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I think Peter is making a lot of good points. I take a slightly different view on the role of congress and that I don't think President Trump should be criticized for holding congress's feet to the fire. I mean, whether it's the military authorization to go to war or whether it's immigration reform, congress has failed to do its job and the American people are tired of that. And so the president's not wrong. Where I then come back to agreeing with Peter is, then own it.

You're the leader of the Republican Party. You are the most influential voice on immigration in this country as the president who ran on this. Then drive a position.

If you want these Dreamers to stay here, if you are opposed to tearing the social fabric of the country apart, then stand up for something and drive an outcome and don't kill this by making it part of comprehensive immigration reform which they have not been able to achieve since President Bush started down that road before 9/11.

Do a standalone Dreamer bill. Take this issue off the table. Fight conservatives who say this is nothing but amnesty. Fight that fight and get back, President Trump, to what you do want, which is more security on the border.

If you want a border wall and you think you can get it, then fight for it. But don't -- as Peter says, don't abdicate the responsibility. I think this does have to be dealt with one way or the other. It's just that the president, again, it strikes me as a bystander.

And this is a part where he actually doesn't agree with his more nativist base on what to do on immigration. He understands what the Dreamers are, how they contribute to society, then he ought to go out and fight for a standalone bill, which I think is the most likely option to resolve this issue.

CUOMO: Right, I mean, look, the fairest criticism seems to be in the facts as we understand then, Peter, which is that the president made a move that he probably doesn't completely understand the implications of.

And maybe it was the courts that were being motivated. You're right about his disposition towards litigation, but look who they put out this morning. They put out the AG spokesperson, not a political, you know, spokesperson for him.

Why? Because the law is the simplest part of this. You know, follow the law, follow the law. But even Flores had to admit, they don't just follow the law, they have enforcement priorities. Not all illegals are the same and then he tweets, "Well, I'll revisit it."



[00:25:00] BEINART: Well, we have no idea. I mean, I think part of what the strangeness of the Trump Administration is that for a president who came in showing that he's so strong, a lot of what we see is actually the policies being led by different cabinets.

You see the Defense Department, James Mattis is basically pursuing a slightly different policy on North Korea and on transgender issues than Trump is.

And now we see that this looks like it's being driven by the attorney general, by an attorney general who has always been very, very, very, very hardline on immigration.

We don't know. The -- you know, if you want to give Trump the most credit, you could imagine that this is some kind of strategic move where he wants the Democrats to compromise on supporting a border wall and then he gives them DACA in return.

If he really were doing that, it would actually put the Democrats in a tricky position because they desperately want to protect these kids but they also oppose a border wall. But I think that's probably giving him too much credit.

CAMEROTA: But why? I mean, maybe, David, that is what's going on. It is congress's responsibility to pass legislation about this. The president is saying, "It's not my responsibility. Here you go, congress. Figure it out."

And everybody knows he wants a boarder wall, so all of you figure it out. And then six months, if you guys can't do your job then in the Art of the Deal, I'll figure something out.

GREGORY: Well, but what he's finding, this whole Art of the Deal approach to politics isn't working out so well for him when it comes to legislation because you've got to -- you've got to lead because the problem with congress right now is that it's so factionalized, you've seen the result on health care, on really intractable issues.

There's no bridging the divide unless -- and even then it may not work unless the White House is heavily involved. I think what Peter is on to is interesting. It's something I've been thinking a lot about too.

How decentralized the president is, and yet, he holds himself up as this incredibly strong. In some areas, the way he talks, when he talks like an authoritarian, this strong central figure and I think that comports with his view of the world that strong leaders in his mind like a Vladimir Putin are the ones who actually prevail.

Now he's realizing what the limits of that are. And so he does outsource parts of this because in part, Maggie Haberman's reporting earlier in the morning, he didn't quite think through the backlash that he would face over this.

Ultimately, he's got to get to a place where he's going to put his political capital on the line to achieve a particular result. And I don't know if he wants to do it. His own west wing is divided enough that maybe he doesn't have the tools to do it, doesn't have the tools to do it on his own. And if he doesn't, he can't, he can't get things done.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right.

CAMEROTA: Great to know that you're reporting on this too, Peter.

[00:29:00] CUOMO: And look, one of the challenges for the president is going to be getting his own party to agree with his position on situations like the Dreamers.

Senator Lindsey Graham supports the president's move to terminate the Dreamer program with a delay. But he says the president has to do more. What? Next.