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Trump Set to End DACA with 6-Month Delay; Trump, South Korean President Speak After North Korea Nuke Test; Trump Once Wanted to Handle DACA With Heart; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired September 4, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:32:59] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Tomorrow President Trump is expected to announce the end of DACA. That's the program that protects undocumented immigrants brought to this country illegally by their parents.
Let's debate this. CNN political commentators Keith Boykin and Shermichael Singleton, and CNN contributor Salena Zito.
So very nice to have you all. This is according to multiple sources that no, the president is thinking at this point in time that he will end, as promised, DACA. This executive order put in place five years ago by President Obama.
Shermichael, this comes in the face of a number of Republican leaders saying that's the wrong call from Orrin Hatch to -- you had Senator Lankford this morning, to House Speaker Paul Ryan saying essentially don't do that, leave it to Congress, but the president is going to do it anyway. Your take.
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would agree with Senator Hatch and Speaker Ryan on this particular issue, Poppy. I mean, I think you think about Dreamers, most of these individuals, I believe, in order to qualify you have to have been in the United States before the age of 16. You have to work, you have to either work or be in college, and I also know from some of the reporting that CNN has done, of the 800,000 individuals I believe that have been approved only 1500 have seen their DACA status removed because of some type of criminal activity which is less than 1 percent.
So I think when you think about this in totality these individuals are people who are as American as you and I. They -- some of them don't even speak Spanish, for example. Now look I do understand the president's concern and the promise he made to his base as it pertains to immigration and if you want to address that issue, if it's that important, I think there are ways and measures you can do that. Perhaps some type of a fine or tax or something, but I think essentially rounding up people and saying you have to go back to a country that is extremely unfamiliar to you culturally, et cetera, is not good, it's not morally right.
And I don't think any person could justify that and so I side on the side of Republicans who say no, let Congress try to figure this out but we should not be in the business of removing people who are just as American as you or I.
[10:35:02] HARLOW: So, Salena, I would just caution, you know, there's no indication that this will be a mass deportation or a priority for the president, right?
SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
HARLOW: I mean, he told the Associated Press a few months ago, look, they're not my priority. However he made this promise, immigration reform. You know, removing undocumented immigrants from this country is a key part of what he ran on. So it seems like he is sort of splitting the baby here.
HARLOW: Because he could have, Salena, said, I'm ending DACA. Starts tomorrow, you guys handle it. He is not doing that. He's saying six months it's going to end, so Congress this is on you. How do you see it?
ZITO: Right. You know, I'm really interested to see what he says about it tomorrow. It has been apparent since he won the election that this is something that he's mulled over and he has struggled with. So I think the key is in the words tomorrow. What does he say to Congress? What's the challenge that he gives them? How does he address the Dreamers? You know, does he say, you're one of us, we want to make this work?
I think tomorrow is key and how he lays this out and what his vision is. This has been a political football that has been bouncing around since 2004 and nobody has wanted to take it on. And, you know, the Republicans, not when they were in power, the Democrats when they were in power. President Obama did an executive order, some say that wasn't legal, I'm not quite -- I don't -- I'm not of course sure if I understand if that's true or not, but I think that tomorrow is important and what he says tomorrow and how he wants Congress to go forward I think are what we should be sort of anticipating and seeing how it goes from there.
HARLOW: So, Keith, to Salena's point about the words that are chosen tomorrow are important and they certainly are, right, because he has said, the president, in the past I want to deal with Dreamers with heart. He said, you know, I love children, talking about this, he has said before they don't need to be too concerned or too worried.
At the same time you have this CNN poll from not that long ago, from March of this year, and it shows 60 percent of Americans right now when asked which immigration policy goal should the government's top priority be, 60 percent say let undocumented immigrants with jobs stay in this country, become residents and eventually work toward citizenship. I mean, he's working against some tough numbers here, is he not?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He is but I think that that's been his consistent approach to public policy since he began his office. He's on a number of issues taking positions that seemed designed solely to appeal to his base and not to the broader American public. And this is an issue that plays well for his base.
Shermichael is correct in his analysis of what's going on with DACA but that perspective unfortunately is only a small part of the Republican Party perspective. At the same time the president is perfectly willing to send mixed signals to people and that's what's so disturbing about this. You can't tell people that they should rest assured and I'm going to take care of you and I'm going to deal with you with compassion and heart, at the same time pursue a policy that's incoherent with the message of comfort that you're communicating.
HARLOW: So what about --
BOYKIN: This isn't --
HARLOW: Hold on, Keith, but what about those that would argue, the counter argument could be, look, this was not legislation passed by Congress. It failed to pass the Senate in 2010 so you have an executive order by President Obama that can easily be overturned by any president that disagrees with it.
Some would argue this is President Trump putting the onus on Congress to settle this once and for all, and to give some answers, final answers to Dreamers like the young man we just had on the program. Is that a fair argument?
BOYKIN: Well, given the president's failure to succeed with repealing Obamacare it's unlikely that his threat to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell in Congress is going to have any sort of significant impact in moving the ball forward. It would be better if the president could sit down and actually have a negotiation, a discussion about how we can collectively in a bipartisan way create a reform policy that settle DACA or that pursues DACA's outlines.
But the challenge here is that Donald Trump does not like President Obama and everything he is doing in office seems designed -- almost everything seems designed to erase President Obama's legacy. And so instead of sitting down with Congress to come up -- and Republican and Democratic leaders to come with a solution he'd rather just pass -- he'd rather just sign an executive order or create some sort of new policy initiative to erase President Obama's legacy and create his own legacy. That's not the way that leadership should be.
HARLOW: I had a follow up for Salena. I can't ask it because we need to get to the U.N. You're looking at China's ambassador to the United Nations speaking now on North Korea.
LIU JIEYI, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS (through translator): Disregarded the resolution provisions of the Security Council conducted once again the nuclear test.
[10:40:03] The Chinese government resolutely opposes and strongly condemns the nuclear test of DPRK in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and maintaining the nuclear non-proliferation system and peace and stability in Northeast Asia this is the firm stand of the Chinese government and also the general aspiration of the international community.
We strongly urge the DPRK to face up squarely to the firm will of the international community on the issue of the denuclearization of the peninsula and earnestly abide by the relevant resolutions of the council, start taking actions that are strong, deteriorating the situation, and not in line with its own interests either and truly return to the track of solving the issue through dialogue.
The situation on the peninsula is deteriorating constantly as we speak, falling into a vicious circle. The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully. China will never allow chaos and war on the peninsula. The parties concerned must strengthen their sense of urgency, take due responsibilities, play their due roles, take practical measures, make joint efforts together to ease the situation, restart the dialogue and talks, and prevent further deterioration of the situation on the peninsula.
The proposal by China and Russia of a two-track approach which promotes the denuclearization of the peninsula and establishment of a peace mechanism in parallel the suspension for -- suspension initiative which calls for the DPRK to spend its nuclear and missile activities and for the United States and the Republic of Korea to suspend their large-scale military exercises and the step by step conception from Russia are the basis on which both countries jointly proposed a roadmap to resolve the peninsula issue.
This joint initiative by China and Russia is practical and feasible and addressing the most urgent security concerns of the parties concerned, easing the tension as soon as possible, preventing the escalation of the situation round after another round, achieving through dialogue the denuclearization of the peninsula and maintaining the peace and stability of the peninsula and the region. We hope that the parties concerned will seriously consider this and actively respond to it.
China calls upon the international community to jointly and comprehensively and fully implement the relevant resolutions of the Security Council on DPRK firmly push forward the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula and firmly maintain the peace and stability of the peninsula.
Thank you, Mr. President.
HARLOW: All right. There you have China's Ambassador to the United Nations, speaking. China obviously a key player in all of this, following those strong comments from the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley.
We've also just learned that the president, President Trump, has just ended his phone call with South Korea's president, President Moon.
Let's go to Seoul, South Korea. That's where our Paula Hancocks is. And we don't have a readout of the call yet but we do know it lasted somewhere up to about 40 minutes.
What's significant here, Paula, this is the first time that the U.S. president and the South Korean president have spoken and it's been 30 plus hours since the hydrogen bomb test by North Korea. First time they have spoken since that.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. And that has not exactly gone unnoticed here in South Korea, which you can imagine, one of the focuses as well was the fact that the U.S. president had spoken twice in 24 hours to Japan's leader, Shinzo Abe, and there were questions as to why the South Korean president was not being spoken to as well but certainly that has now been rectified.
We did hear from senior White House officials telling CNN that Mr. Trump did have some frustrations with President Moon on his stance on North Korea. Feeling that he was too soft on North Korea. Certainly President Moon Jae-in has called for dialogue in the past but we've seen a stronger reaction from him since the ICBM test. Since the nuclear test as well on Sunday.
But we did see that quite remarkable tweet from the U.S. president just yesterday saying about the appeasement that South Korea was doing towards North Korea. And certainly that it didn't exactly go down well here either. Some questioning whether or not that is the correct way to talk to an ally.
[10:45:02] So certainly there are a few notice out of Joynton in South Korea where officially the officials are not going to say that is the case. I spoke to some people on the streets and they were all questioning why talk to the Japan leader twice and not once to the South Korean leader? But we know that has been rectified. We're hoping actually in the next half an hour to get some kind of a readout as to how that phone call went and of course how much of that phone call was dedicated to the free trade agreement which --
HANCOCKS: Which Mr. Trump has said he wants to scrap with Korea.
HARLOW: Just going to say that. You've got to believe that that came up and that that was a tense part of the conversation.
Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul, thank you so much for the reporting.
We have a lot ahead. More on the president likely going to scrap DACA. We're going to debate more on that straight ahead. Stay with us.
HARLOW: President Trump is expected to announce an to end DACA tomorrow. That's the program that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. So that leaves about 800,000 so-called Dreamers facing possible deportation.
[10:50:06] Critics say the decision would destroy the lives of thousands of these children and adolescents. Supporters say, look, this is just the president following through on his campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration. One of those supporters joins me now, Dan Stein. He is president of
the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Dan, it's nice to have you. Let's just listen to what the president said about these young people, these Dreamers back in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to deal with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don't forget. And I have to convince them that what I'm saying is right. And I appreciate your understanding on that. But the DACA situation is a very, very -- it's a very difficult thing for me because, you know, I love these kids. I love kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: So, Dan, is ending DACA dealing with heart?
DAN STEIN, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Look, Donald Trump is basically saying to Congress, Poppy, it's time to grow up and actually start legislating good public policy on immigration. And if some kind of DACA resolution is part of something broader that helps implement Donald Trump's campaign agenda, remember he won on the immigration issue and trade.
And that he has laid out really some very important components whether it's building the wall and enforcement, defunding sanctuary cities, eliminating chain migration, cutting down the levels, e-verify, all sorts of things.
Now the Democrats have kind of said, look, we're not going to meet him half way so --
HARLOW: OK, Dan. Dan, just to what I asked you.
STEIN: They need to come to the table.
HARLOW: The president said -- all right. I think everyone agrees that immigration reform is needed in this country. You know, some of these adolescents and teenagers and people now in their 20s that are so-called Dreamers want answers. I mean they don't want this just by executive order. But my question to you is, is it dealing with heart as the president promised he would do?
STEIN: Look, Poppy. Poppy, there are moral and ethical dimensions that are difficult on this issue as there are on all immigration issues, refugee admissions and others. But remember that President Obama has said for four years he didn't have the legal authority to do this. President Obama to help Harry Reid in 2012 gave now 800,000 people work documents, American jobs who had no right to be here and no right to those jobs.
HARLOW: All right. That's not what President Obama said.
STEIN: So we're -- well, President Obama for four years, 2008 to '12 said I don't have the legal authority to do DACA. He then did it right before the election in to 2012. And the reason he did is was because he was concerned that Harry Reid needed to get out the vote campaign. Hillary Clinton used the same DACA beneficiaries in her get out the vote campaign.
What we have is a political polarization. And DACA as an issue is being impaled on the polarization and the unwillingness --
STEIN: -- of the Democrats to come forward and look for reasonable solutions to fixing our immigration system more broadly.
HARLOW: Listen to what a young man, Santiago is his name, he's a sophomore at Columbia University. He is a so-called Dreamer. Here's what he just told me he thinks should happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO TOBIAS POTES, DACA RECIPIENT: Well, I don't think that mass amnesty is the right way or the solution to this, I do not think that mass deportation is also the right way to this. There should be more systemic -- and even I would support meritocracy base type of immigration where immigrants that have contributed or very likely to contribute to some type could come to the U.S. or those that have first priority to say. I don't think that everybody should be asked to leave. I do think that those with skills should -- with promise should be allowed to stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Is that a compromise that you could live with?
STEIN: Everybody who is weighed in in favor continuing DACA with the possible exception of Paul Ryan, they favored Hillary Clinton in this campaign.
Donald Trump made commitments to his base and --
HARLOW: Hold on. Dan, I asked you -- I asked you, this is a Dreamer who said he doesn't believe in complete amnesty. This a Dreamer who just told me he thinks that there should be some who can stay and some who can't. That it should be merit based, who helps this country move forward.
STEIN: Poppy, listen --
HARLOW: That is a compromise and what I'm asking you is that a compromise that can you live with.
STEIN: It's not a compromise to us.
HARLOW: Is that a compromise that you can live with?
STEIN: Fair is bringing the wisdom of 40 years of hindsight looking at recommendations from commission after commission, reasons why we're in this mess in the first place.
True reform is to examine how we got where we are and make changes to prevent it from happening in the future. And this is what Trump's base, there is what many of the Republican base and ought to be part of the Democratic base want which is the kind of immigration reform that will stop future illegal immigration and prevent the kind of problems we're dealing with here now.
Donald Trump has laid out a plan and in the end is there any -- what about all the Americans who didn't get into school because DACA beneficiaries took those spots? What about all the jobs American kids didn't get because DACA beneficiaries got those jobs? These issues are not so clear cut. What we're looking for is a reasonable --
HARLOW: So will this country be better --
STEIN: We're looking for --
HARLOW: Will this country be better if Dreamers like Santiago are removed from this country?
STEIN: Some people are going to have to go home. But Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to use the DACA thing, the DACA component as a carrot to see if he can move the Democrats to the table to basically -- this is called the art of the deal, Poppy. The horse trade.
[10:55:11] Are the Democrats going to give Donald Trump anything that he wants, that he promised his base in this campaign? The immigration issue was the main pillar of his campaign. It's why he won along with trade.
HARLOW: Let's --
STEIN: There is an obligation to meet him half way.
HARLOW: All right. I'm out of time. Let's see what the president says if that is part of what he says when he is expected to announce this move tomorrow.
Dan Stein, appreciate you debating it. Thank you.
STEIN: Thank you.
HARLOW: We are following all the latest developments of course at the United Nations, the Security Council meeting still underway right now after those strong remarks from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on North Korea.
Also Houston's mayor says the city is drying out after Hurricane Harvey. Now the recovery effort and the fight to fund it continues.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. "Begging for war." That's how U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
Nikki Haley described North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just moments ago at an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war. War is never something the United States want.