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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Attacks Critical San Juan Mayor During Crisis; Trump, First Lady to Visit Puerto Rico Tuesday; Residents of Puerto Rico Face Devastation; Addressing the Federal Government's Response to Maria; Zoe Saldana Launching Digital Media Brand Focused on Latinos; College Football Fans React to Trump/NFL Feud. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 30, 2017 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:52] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York.

Today, President Trump is going on the attack against the mayor of San Juan and other leaders of Puerto Rico at a time when they are begging for more help to survive after Hurricane Maria. Here is the reality on the ground. Electricity and clean water are still hard to find. Doctors urgently need medicine and supplies. At least six people died when Hurricane Maria hammered the island.

The mayor of San Juan has a desperate message to the U.S. government and the world, really: Do whatever you can to help people of Puerto Rico alive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN: I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That mayor, who sleeps on a cot in an emergency shelter, is voicing her anger and frustration at the pace of the federal response to this disaster. And that made her a target of President Trump. He slammed her and everyone else in Puerto Rico in a flurry of early morning tweets, writing, "Poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juana and others." Also this, "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort."

CNN's Boris Sanchez is in San Juan now.

Boris, I want to know the reaction to the president's words there, but where is the most desperate mead for help right now, and are people getting it?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the recovery has certainly been slow. We're 10 days now after Hurricane Maria, and the response has certainly been unequal. In some parts of the island, further south from where we are now in San Juan, I know there was a mayor in a city passing around aid. Though he did tell the people there that he knew they would eventually need more, it was the first time those folks had access to potable water and food in quite some time.

Here in San Juan I've spoken to people that spent hours in line whether at gas stations, ice plants, grocery stores, only to get to the end of the line and find out that the products that they're looking for, whether gas, potable water or food, simply isn't available.

Throw all of that, on top of the president's tweets saying that they want everything done for them. It is not being received well among people I've spoken to here.

I spoke to a woman who told me she likes President Trump, but she was taken aback by his tweets. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABRIELE GONZALEZ (ph), SAN JUAN RESIDENT: I was really surprised. I'm pro-Trump, but these comments surprised me very much. He didn't say those comments for the people in Florida or Texas. And we are Americans.

I don't know why he thinks we're not doing our job. But we have to have support from the United States. I mean, our men go to war to help the United States. Why can't he help us in this kind of matter?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: "We are as American as people in Florida and Texas," who both got hit by storms just a few months ago, or rather weeks ago.

I should tell you, Ana, we are seeing the community come together here. This area has a lot of high-rises occupied by senior citizens, people that couldn't go up or down the stairs when the electricity went out and their elevators were rendered useless. So I spoke to a group of doctors that started going high-rise to high-rise checking in on these older folks, making sure they were hydrated and had simple medication, things like insulin that, at any other point, would be easily accessible. For folks that didn't, these doctoring pitched their money in together to help them, to go to the drugstore, to make the line, to purchase these products to make sure people were taken care of. One of those doctors told me, we are doing this ourselves, and he, himself, is right now without a home -- Ana?

[15:05:23] CABRERA: Wow. The situation there is hard to comprehend for most of us.

Thank you so much, Boris Sanchez.

President Trump and the first lady plan to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is near the Trump resort in New Jersey where the president is spending this weekend.

Ryan, any official word from the administration besides those tweets?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORESPONDENT: No. That's a sum total of it, Ana. We know that the president this afternoon was scheduled to hold a series of phone calls with leaders from that region hit hardest by Hurricane Maria.

But let's look at the time line of response from the White House. Of course, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, hit landfall in the middle of last week. The president did hold a series of conference calls and briefings with leaders in that region during the week. But last weekend, he was at his private golf course here in New Jersey, held no phone calls, at least that we're aware of publicly, with leaders from that region. Then, last week, came through and there was this increased criticism of the federal response to how he's handling the situation. We the round of tweets this morning where he was sharply critical of the mayor of San Juan, and really the individual people in Puerto Rico, who he claimed need to work and help for themselves. Today, at around 2:00, he was scheduled to hold a series of phone calls. Let's run down the list of people the president was expected to speak to. At 2:00, Brock Long who is the FEMA administrator. 2:15, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello. At 2:25, the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico, Jennifer Gonzalez Colon. And 2:35, the former governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno. And then at 2:45, the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This all comes ahead of that trip he's scheduled to make to Puerto Rico on Tuesday. He did tweet about that to confirm he's still planning on making that trip and first lady, Melania Trump, will be along with him. The question, Ana, is, what type of reception will he receive when he gets there. We just heard from Boris, there are many people on the island very unhappy with the way the president is responding to their state of need at this given time.

CABRERA: All right. Ryan Nobles, we know you will keep us updated should there be a change or an additional response there at the White House or from the president in New Jersey this weekend.

Thank you.

Now San Juan's mayor is responding to President Trump's verbal attack. Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz tweeting this, "The goal is one, saving lives." She writes, "This is the time to show our true colors. We cannot be distracted by anything else."

I want to talk more about President Trump's Twitter tirade, about Puerto Rico and the mayor today. Joining me now, two Republican political commentators, Andre Bauer, the former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, and Ana Navarro, who has worked for Jeb Bush.

Andre, saying stuff like, "They want everything done for them," do you believe this is what the president should be saying or tweeting right now?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, anybody can criticize the president. I want to see us more come together. I went on a show earlier I wish I had praised differently and softened the message. But I'd like --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Here's your chance.

BAUER: We want to, as Americans, help all our citizens. We want to make sure we do it as judiciously as possible. We want to make sure that we protect every life as precious that we can possibly save and make more comfortable.

That being said, we also have to be good stewards of the tax dollars and can't throw money out like we've been so many times before in things like Katrina, where the money wasn't spent as efficiently as possible.

Also, a big point is I'm a big "states right" person. I am not for the federal government coming in and taking over. Most of the time, the locals know how to handle better than Big Brother federal government.

I'm glad the president is going down on Tuesday. I'm glad we have over 15,000 people there helping. But at the end of the day, the elected local officials should make the ultimate decisions about where the money is spent most efficiently and how you help the folks the best way possible because they live in those communities.

CABRERA: I got to say the president's tweet said nothing about the money is being spent. He is going after the people, saying they expect the federal government to do everything for them. He didn't say stuff like that about the disaster in Houston or Florida after the other two hurricanes, Andre.

[15:09:54] BAUER: Well, I think he's been attacked. Number one, here he is planning to go down there. Put people down there from the beginning to try to get a better understanding of what we can do to help. So to lash out at the president -- look, every way Donald Trump handles himself is not necessarily the way I would do it. He's his own man. All of us would do things differently. But at the end of the day, continuing to beat this up in the media instead of all trying to come together moving forward to help these folks is what we need to focus on.

CABRERA: Ana, you say the attack may be, quote, "a new low, even for him." What makes this attack different than others in the past.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Everything. The fact that he is attacking -- the fact he's the president of the United States and should be uniting people. His focus should be on how to help the 3 and a half million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico and are in great distress.

Second of all, do you realize he's doing these attacks while sitting at his golf course, at his gold inlaid golf course in New Jersey and people are waiting f wading through water up to their waste. And they can't feed their children. From his golf course he's got the gall to pick up his Twitter and criticize the people in Puerto Rico and say they want everything done for them. How dare he. How dare he wage that kind of attack on those people, those American citizens in the middle of distress.

Third of all, listen, the truth of the matter is the federal government was slow in response to this. I'm from Florida. I thought they did a terrific job when it came to Irma. But they were slow, and they were unprepared, and there was too little too late when it came to Puerto Rico. The troops on the ground are a fraction of what they were in Texas and in Florida. Puerto Rico needs to be treated equally, as Texas and Florida, if not more so. The devastation there was greater.

This is no time for the president of the United States, who should be laser focused on this, to be tweeting about the NFL, to be doing political rallies, and certainly not to be waging horrible and attacks at the mayor of Puerto Rico, who is down there with her people, suffering day by day and night by night with them, while he is eating and sleeping in air-conditioning, and golfing at Bedminster. That is unconscionable, disgusting, gross, it is unfit behavior for a president of the United States.

CABRERA: Now I hear you, Ana. But I know that the governor of Puerto Rico has also responded to the president's remarking today. And he said he believes that they have received everything that they have requested from the federal government and the Trump administration.

NAVARRO: Well, then you know what, somehow the message is not getting to the citizens of Puerto Rico. It's not getting to the relatives who live here in Florida. I can tell you that the desperation that is going on from the relatives, I hear from them daily. And Donald Trump better watch out because Maria may do what Hillary Clinton could not do. That is beat him in the state of Florida. Puerto Ricans have relatives in New York, they have relatives in Florida. A lot of the relatives are going to end up coming here. And a lot of them vote Republican on the island. They come here and lean Democrat. And 75,000 to 100,000 Puerto Ricans voting in Florida could make a huge differs.

It is not enough for the governor to feel he's doing well and maybe the governor is taking a different tactic and thinks praising Donald Trump is a better way to get more than what the mayor of Puerto Rico was doing. She was on the ground. The images don't lie. We are seeing these images. This is not fiction. We are seeing people hungry. We are seeing people wading through water that has got to be filled with cholera and infection. We are hearing the general in charge of the response, the federal response in Puerto Rico, saying there are not enough troops. We are hearing General Honore, the man who was in charge after Katrina, saying there is not enough resources down here.

So do we believe what our eyes are saying to us? What we are seeing with our own eyes? Or do we believe what Donald Trump wants us to believe?

BAUER: Do we believe the governor?

NAVARRO: I'll tell you what. I'll believe my eyes, the images coming out on CNN and every other media.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: The reality is, Andre, is that for a lot of people there, the situation is getting worse, not better.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Because they're now going on day 10 of no electricity. Still almost half of the people who don't have running water. There's still a lot of problems with communication systems there. We know there's still a problem for people to get gas, to get cash.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: So the situation is not good by any stretch of the imagination.

[15:14:53] BAUER: We know that 500 gas stations have now been given gas. We know 11 major highways have been cleared. We know 78 municipalities have been able to come in and get, access food. We know we've air dropped supplies to places that can't get to the hubs. And $40 million has been directly made available for road clearing. So we know things have happened. Look, they may not happen at the speed all of us would like for them to happen, but not always because of lack of resources. Sometimes, these things just take time. Removing water takes time. I know I just removed four feet of water out of my personal house two weeks ago. It doesn't happen overnight. Government services still in Charleston trying to fix these problems and we didn't have that catastrophe but we still had a major problem. It takes time. It doesn't all happen overnight.

Look, the government is doing great things. Even an elected Democrat governor is saying they are trying to help us. We should really try to work together. We shouldn't be trying to folk a stick at each other and say nothing's happening when narcotic that in fact that's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: -- but let's begin by saying that to the president of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: He's got the biggest platform here. And he is the one that's telling the people of Puerto Rico that they want everything done for him. And blaming the financial crisis on this devastation.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: How dare he? How dare he do that at this great moment of distress. That is unacceptable. And I will not take any apologize for Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Not today, Andre. Not today.

CABRERA: Andre, let --

(CROSSTALK)

BAUER: Tomorrow.

NAVARRO: Go ahead. Go ahead and apologize for Donald Trump. But save it for the people of Puerto Rico --

(CROSSTALK)

BAUER: Ever find a nugget of something positive for our president. Last year, when he was running, you were negative, and every single time since then. So --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: I thought the federal government did a great job in Florida and Texas. How about that for me being positive.

As a Floridian I thought the federal government worked great with the state and local governments and did a good job. But what I've seen in Puerto Rico --

BAUER: I notice you --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: One at a time, guys. One at a time.

Because, Andre, we can't hear you because of being on skype. There is an issue with your audio. But I do want to hear what you have to say. We'll give you the last word, and then I've got to go.

BAUER: When she criticizes, she criticizes Trump. When she praises, she praises the federal government. So she has it both ways. Look, the governor, the highest-ranking person in Puerto Rico --

NAVARRO: They're different things, right?

BAUER: I guess the governor's wrong is what Ana is saying.

CABRERA: All right. Guys --

NAVARRO: I guess the people of Puerto Rico are right is what I am saying.

CABRERA: Thank you both for being here. Thank you for your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

Coming up here in the NEWSROOM, as millions in Puerto Rico struggle to get food, medicine and basic supplies over a week since Hurricane Maria hit that island, critics are still slamming the White House response saying they are to blame for the crisis there. We will discuss more next here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:21:58] CABRERA: We are continuing to follow the heartbreaking devastation in Puerto Rico where residents are running out of food, water and fuel. Power has only restored to 5 percent of the island. In some patients are in dire need of medication.

Here's a sample of what residents are facing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I can't even believe what's happening here. There's no power, no water. She's a diabetic, doesn't have insulin. She has an infection that could threaten her life. No ambulance will take her to the hospital. That's what's happening here.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, A.C. 360: A lot of people can't even bring the cars here. They're waiting in line in person with as many gas cans as they can. But this line, there are dozens are people in it. It stretches all the way down here. A lot of people here have been waiting for hours as well.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is their improvised method for trying to reach the outside world. We just spoke with a couple who had crossed this way and walked two hours to the nearest super market to try to get bread and food and rice for their children and had to walk two hours back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joining us now Julia Keleher, the acting spokeswoman for the governor of Puerto Rico.

Julia, why, I want to tell you that we are with you and your people there, in spirit, and in heart. I'm wondering what you are seeing, what is the reality on the ground right now?

JULIA KELEHER, ACTING SPOKESWOMAN FOR PUERTO RICAN GOVERNOR (via telephone): I think that the devastation caused by the hurricane -- first of all, let me say thank you, thank you for your solidarity and for your good wishes. That the devastation that the hurricane created is beyond anything I have ever seen before. And the amount of work that we have to do to be able to take care of the needs of the people of Puerto Rico is enormous. And we're very grateful for the collaboration of federal and state agencies who have been here side by side trying to help us attend to just an insurmountable -- what's seemingly an insurmountable task.

CABRERA: The president has said there are more than 10,000 workers on the island right now "doing a fantastic job." That's his words. What are your thoughts on the federal response so far? KELEHER: What I've learned from this experience is that there's never

enough help to get to people who are in crisis. And the amount of -- enormity of the devastation literally towns under water and roads you can't pass and limit the access to electricity and to water. It's people that are sick. It's -- it's not -- you can't happen fast enough. The need and sensitivity wanting to help everyone who has a condition or a situation, is so heart breaking to want to be able do so much and the time passes and we are moving as quickly as we can with as many people on the ground as we can. It never seems to be enough. It's horrible to see how much destruction this event created.

[15:25:10] CABRERA: It sounds like you're saying people there, who are there are working very hard. That's the president, as you I'm sure have heard unleashed a series of comments today on Twitter saying, in part, such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan and others who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 federal workers now on island doing a fantastic job. And we now have an updated figure saying that there are now more than 11,000 federal workers on the ground. What is your response to that comment. Do people want everything done for them?

KELEHER: Every I've seen since the passing of the hurricane and even before when we were trying to get ready, everything's willing to do more than their fair share. Something that is a remarkably unique trait about Puerto Ricans and the culture on the island is they are all very willing. More than I've experienced in my life, to help each other. There is a unity here that is a beautiful thing to experience. We all have one goal. There may be political rhetoric in the background, but I think the people who are part of this recovery effort are only focused on making sure that that water and that food and that road are being taken care of and that that patient gets their attention that they need. There has to be one focus, that has to be the well-being of the people on the island. That's what I see.

CABRERA: How does it make you feel to hear that from the president of the United States?

CULLIVER: I think that I'm overwhelmed by the feeling that I have, about the need on the island. And that the human beings that are -- that depend on me doing everything I can, and the team that we have here and the center of operations, to execute fully on every responsibility that's in front of us. That's what I'm focusing on. That's the people that are part of this team are focused on.

CABRERA: Again, our best wishes, thoughts, and anything we can do to help, we would love to be there to do what we can with you.

Julia, Keleher, thank you so much for spending time with us. Best of luck.

KELEHER: Thank you. And your words do mean a lot. They carry a lot of hope and really are uplifting. So thank you for your support.

CABRERA: I feel helpless being where I am. But I would love to help in some way. Thank you, again, Julia, for helping to shed some light on what's happening.

After drawing direct criticism from the president over Twitter this morning, the mayor of San Juan will be joining us in just a couple of hours here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:32:13] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump has used Puerto Rico's location in the Atlantic Ocean as an explanation of why aid has not come as quickly to the 3.5 million Americans affected by Hurricane Maria, while saying the federal disaster response is going quote, "really well." Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's the most difficult job because it's on the island. It's on an island in the middle of the ocean. It's out in the ocean. You can't just driver your trucks there from other states. And this isn't like Florida where we can go up the spine or like Texas and go right down the middle and we distribute. This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean. This is tough stuff.

But difference is this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. And it's a big ocean.

This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, is joining us now.

Juliette, you served as assistant secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration. I want to lean into your understanding of how things work in times of natural disasters. Should the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico expect that the government's response is going to be slower than on the mainland because of the geographical challenges?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Puerto Rico has been an island for as long as it's been Puerto Rico, so the idea is this is surprising or, in some way, explains the delay is sort of just not accurate. For, since Puerto Rico has been part of the United States, there has been training and exercises to assist in the potential that Puerto Rico does suffer a hurricane.

So going back a little bit, four days before the hurricane hit, we were well aware the hurricane was going to hit. And so, Puerto Rico was waiting. That kind of -- and ready. That kind of planning is anticipated by Texas and Florida, and all these other states that are going to surge resources to Puerto Rico. And so the idea that Puerto Rico might be isolated it crossed everyone's mind beforehand, and that's why there is a lot of emphasis on boats and ships and helicopters and planes to be able to get resources to Puerto Rico quickly.

So this idea that, somehow, we're all surprised and first responders are surprised it's an island is sort of humorous, if it weren't so tragic as this stage.

CABRERA: Even the governor of the Puerto Rico has said the federal government has been provided when requested. How does it work in terms of sending resources to a disaster like this? Would the response normally be more reactive versus proactive?

[15:34:52] KAYYEM: That's a good question. Since Hurricane Katrina, there's been a lot of lessons learned. It's both. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has essentially lived by the motto, "You go big, go fast." In other word, when you anticipate something like this happening or something like this has happened, you surge resources, because you can always pull them back if it's too many. That's what a lot of us can't understand, why are we sort of going at the bare minimum right now? The other thing, Puerto Rico, the governor will be requesting ag sets from other states cities and, of course, from the federal government to sort of pull resources in. It should have been both.

It seems to me, and as our reporters are saying, is that the Puerto Rico is getting what it's asked for, but there seems to have been sort of a delay, a couple-day delay in that sort of big, "Go big, go fast" attitude that we saw in a lot of post Hurricane Katrina disasters. In particular, Hurricane Sandy, and we just saw in Houston and Florida. So, there was a delay. So I think the governor is being honest. I think he's being respectful. I think he understands that sort of local officials with FEMA and the Department of Defense are doing everything they can. But that does not explain or excuse for example, the delay in Navy ships, the enact to get helicopters into certain areas, and tree removal, which ultimately is going to be the most important thing to get that, what we call supply chain, moving again.

CABRERA: All right. Juliette Kayyem, as always, great to have your voice in the conversation.

KAYYEM: Thanks.

CABRERA: Thanks.

Now you may recognize her from "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Avatar" and "Star Trek," but, off screen, Actress Zoe Saldana is on a mission to elevate Latino voices in America. You do not want to miss our conversation, next, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:41:00] CABRERA: After all the conversation about race and culture in America this week, we want to take a step back, because bubbling under the surface, the fate of DREAMers. The October 5 deadline for recipients through the DACA status is just days away. And just this week, Texas Congressman Joe Barton, a Republicans, signaled support for the latest DREAM Act to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. It's significant because he is a member of the very conservative House Freedom Caucus. It's a sample of how bipartisan can happen on immigration.

An issue that hit a big near home with Actress Zoe Saldana. I spoke with her prior to the latest tweet by the president about DREAMers, on what it means to be a Hispanic American, and her new project, a Latino-focused digital media platform called BeSe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Talk to us a little bit about this new Latino-focused digital media company you're launching. Tell us about BeSe.

ZOE SALDANA, ACTRESS: It was named off of the verb of "to be" but it's in two languages. Obviously, "Be" is from the verb "to be," and "Se" is a verb "to be" in Spanish. And it just means to exist, to know thyself. It is something that has a profound meaning.

BeSe was created out of personal experience as an American. My experience as the only country that I've ever known and ever called me home has been confusing at times for me. Especially now when we are being encouraged to believe we don't belong, and we're not American enough. And this is a place where we will get to hear voices of cultural pioneers that have been reflecting and shaping our collective American experience.

I feel like it's my responsibility to use my voice, especially now, given our social and political climate in America. I think it's my duty to set a good example and to offer a kind of action that will enable other voices to be heard.

CABRERA: What will people be able to find on this platform?

SALDANA: I feel that a Latino community, since its arrival into America, which was almost a century ago, even more, has been really impacting the fabric of America. And yet, we don't -- there's not much known about the Latino culture, and where we truly come from, and what we do, and what we're truly, truly about. Right now, we comprise 18 percent of the American population, but what the numbers are showing is, in the next 40 years, we can very well become 65 percent. That means we may be the majority here in America. And right now, our media is not really serving us properly.

CABRERA: Why do you think the media is not serving us properly right now?

SALDANA: I think there aren't enough executives of Latino descent in media that can have the ability to just get our stories out. A lot of the stories that we see about Latinos are mainly stories of where Latinos are breaking the law, and involved in criminal acts, but that only comprises 1 percent of what the Latino population is truly about, and what we are doing to our American economy, to our nation, day-to- day, as a community, as voters and taxpayers, as teachers, as parents, as employees, as employers.

CABRERA: Do you think the current administration and the political climate played a role in your motivation? SALDANA: It hasn't. Because I think it really puts some fire, you

know, on me, to just take action and get it done. But I think that motherhood was what gave that to me, gave me that motivation. And it reminded me of what -- how painful it was at times growing up here. When I was encouraged and inspired to recite my anthem, to sing my national anthem, I felt like it was representing me. But whenever I would turn on the television, I would open the history book, I would buy a magazine, I would look at a movie, I didn't see myself reflected in anything like that. That really made me feel very hungry for role models that I felt I could identify with so I could aspire with a lot more freedom. So now that I look at my three sons, I realized that that's important, that gap needs to be filled.

[15:45:49] CABRERA: How would you describe the current administration's relationship with Latinos in America today?

CABRERA: I think it's uneven. I think it's very one-sided. And I think it's gratuitous in a way. There was a lot of campaigning around the Latino population, let's get your vote and protect our borders, but if you were to finish those thoughts, you would have realized it was at the expense of the Latino community in America.

Knowing our government is treating our citizens unfairly by just denying the right for organizations like DACA and actions like DACA to protect citizens and give them an ability to be self-sufficient and to be active citizens in America and be -- have jobs and serve their country and pay their taxes, and eventually, become legal citizens so they can vote.

CABRERA: You're concerned about DACA being rescinded?

SALDANA: Very concerned. I mean, we're talking about sending people back to a place that they've never been to in reality. We're talking about like almost 800,000 American people that have known no other place they call home, but the United States of America.

CABRERA: They're undocumented, they're undocumented so they aren't Americans legally. But to your point, a lot of them, and we talked about --

SALDANA: They are Americans.

CABRERA: They feel --

(CROSSTALK)

SALDANA: They are Americans.

CABRERA: I hear --

(CROSSTALK)

SALDANA: When they applied for a two-year grant to stay in their country, it's just so they can work, they can study, they can become professionals, active citizens. And we're judging them on a legal -- on paper. Just judging them on paper. But everything they do, day- to-day, lets you know they're being active American citizens. I don't care what anybody may say. Oh, they're undocumented, on paper. They're Americans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Our thanks to Zoe Saldana.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM, one week after of the president's divisive comments in Alabama over NFL players' anthem protests, we go back to that state, on college football game day, to see what they think of the president's words.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[15:52:44] CABRERA: It has been a week since Trump ratcheted up the temperature on the NFL national anthem debate by calling protesting players names while this happened at a Senate -- or at a campaign rally in Alabama. It was a state that does not have a pro football team. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off the field? Out! He's fired!

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: He's fired!

(CHEERING)

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CABRERA: Let's go live to our Kaylee Hartung, joining us live from Auburn, Alabama, where the Tigers are playing the Mississippi State Bulldogs later today.

Kaylee, what are college football fans are saying about this controversy?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, about two hours from now, we'll see one of the most patriotic games in all of college football. The national anthem is played in the stadium and a bald eagle flies inside it. It's important to remember that, while the anthem is played in college football, the team is not on the field. It's standard operating procedure. College bands typically pay and teams run on shortly thereafter.

So a lot of fans are saying they're relieved that politics won't have a place inside the walls here. Folks here are just happy to be able to enjoy the football game.

But in the conservative stronghold that is the state of Alabama, it's not hard to find folks with an opinion of the protest that we have seen in the NFL. Though it is hard to find folks who disagrees with President Trump's comment.

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JIM MOSS, LAWYER: I was disappointed in some respects from the standpoint that his message could have been better communicated. However, I did agree with a basic message that patriotism is more important by football. What I mean by that is that the flag is the one thing that brings us together.

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HARTUNG: And the state of Alabama, let's remember, five of the last eight national titles in college football have been won by a team from the state. But, Ana, as that lawyer from Birmingham told us, some things here do actually trump football.

CABRERA: Kaylee Hartung, thank you for that.

Amid the coverage of the devastating storms that have ravaged the U.S. in the Caribbean, we're also heard very inspiring stories about everyday people pitching in to help. This week's "CNN Heroes" found a unique way to do that. Stan Hayes is a champion pit master. For the last six years, he and his barbecue buddy have responded to disasters the best way they know how.

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[15:55:22] STAN HAYES, CNN HERO: After a disaster, there is two basic needs that a person has. The first one is shelter. And the other one is nourishing. And so barbecue, besides being a nourishing meal, is comfort food. Being able to give somebody a hot barbecue meal in one of their worst times, we are not only giving them something nutritious, but we are giving them a little bit of normalcy for just a short period of time.

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CABRERA: Stan and the team responded to Harvey and Irma. And they hope to soon be sending meals to Puerto Rico. To see Operation Barbecue Relief in action, go to CNNheroes.com.

We'll be right back.

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