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CROSSFIRE

Obama & Perry Meeting Now; Obama About to Speak on Border Crisis;

Aired July 9, 2014 - 18:28   ET

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


S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST: Right now President Obama is taking a brief time out from his busy fundraising schedule to focus on the border crisis.

VAN JONES, CO-HOST: Well, it's too bad most Republicans and the Democrats can't focus on anything but the name calling. The debate starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, the crisis at the border. Are children suffering as Washington plays politics?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress just said no to fixing our broken immigration system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So cruel.

ANNOUNCER: On the left, Van Jones. On the right, S.E. Cupp. In the CROSSFIRE, Representative Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, and Representative Jim Bridenstine, an Oklahoma Republican. What happens to the children? Plus the "Outrage of the Day." Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm Van Jones on the left.

CUPP: I'm S.E. Cupp on the right.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, two members of Congress. We are standing by for President Obama to speak. He'll be coming out of a meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry about the children's crisis at the border, and we'll bring the president's statement to you live.

This is -- this crisis is Obama's Katrina. That's how one Democratic congressman is referring to this crisis. Obama is on a fundraising trip filled with pool, beer and glad-handing. So in an effort to avoid meeting with the kids at the center of this crisis, this is the photo op that we all get instead.

It is inexcusable that Obama is not at the border, the epicenter of this humanitarian disaster.

Van, you worked at the White House. What's the president thinking? JONES: Well, first of all, I wish he had gone there, but I think we

all -- I think we all know -- I think we all know he had gone, you would be sitting here saying he's wasting money, it's a big photo op.

CUPP: It's a useful photo op.

JONES: We're going to have a big fight, then, I can tell right now. So listen, in the CROSSFIRE tonight, I'm happy to welcome two great congresspeople. Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, and Oklahoma Representative Jim Bridenstine. Welcome to the show.

Fellows, this has gotten both of you. Now listen, this has gotten. So politicized and so hyped up. At the bottom line, though, we're talking about kids. And my understanding is, like, most Republicans want to take these young people, put them in a plane, a boat, a car, a wheelbarrow and just dump them back where they just came from. And you talk about Honduras, the murder capital of the world. Why do you want to send children back to the murder capital of the world?

REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, hold on one second. You -- you mentioned Honduras. I spent a lot of time in Central America. I'm a Navy pilot. I did counter-illicit trafficking operations as a Navy pilot. I was there just two years ago doing counter-illicit trafficking operations. And I can tell you very clearly crime and poverty were bad then. Crime and poverty are bad now.

JONES: And so -- and so you think that the kids decided to leave just because...

BRIDENSTINE: No, no, crime and poverty were bad two years ago, three years ago, four years ago. There's a difference. The difference is now we still have an open southern border, 44 percent of it under operational control. This is a GAO report. Forty-four percent of it is under operational control. You can't tell me it's secure...

JONES: What's your solution? What's your solution? Is your solution...

BRIDENSTINE: You can't tell me it's secure while children are streaming across the border. I want to -- I want to finish my point on America.

Crime is not worse. The only difference is we have the president of the United States and we have a number of members of Congress and, of course, folks in the media saying that we need to get them here and then turn them into citizens. That's what's creating this crisis.

JONES: Do you agree with that?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: I don't. And I think Jim is absolutely incorrect on the law, No. 1. Let's just establish what the law is.

We passed the law when we created the Department of Homeland Security, and it said that unaccompanied minors, when they arrive in the United States, are within 72 hours to be released by the Border Patrol -- that is the police -- and handed over to the refugee division of Homeland Security. That's the law. And they're supposed to be put in the least restrictive.

Now, that happened when there were calmer times. When reasonable people sat around the table and said, "This is how we should treat children."

Look, that's not only 2002, Jim. In 2008 we passed an anti- trafficking -- anti-trafficking law. I've got to tell you, Michele Bachmann voted for it. OK? Mr. Gohmert from Texas, who thinks every immigrant that comes here...

CUPP: Yes, but...

GUTIERREZ: If I could just finish. Is bringing a disease. Even Steve King, who talks about using electricity and cattle prods on immigrants to keep control over them, voted for it. It's the law of the land. What the president is doing is following the law of the land. And you know something? It's a good law. It's a reasonable time line...

CUPP: But Congressman, the Wilberforce Act was enacted in 2008, and in three years, 2008 to 2011, we processed about 15 -- 15,000 unaccompanied minors.

What happened, do you think, in 2012 that led to the spike that we're seeing now, currently 52,000 unaccompanied minors, expecting hundreds of thousands more? How do you explain that?

GUTIERREZ: Here's how I explain it. No. 1, you have a broken immigration system.

CUPP: We've had that for quite some time.

GUTIERREZ: Again, if you want me to explain it, I will.

CUPP: Please do.

GUTIERREZ: OK. Honduras is the murder capital of the world. Let's just establish that. We can gloss over it, but it is the murder -- it's actually more dangerous to be there than in Kabul.

BRIDENSTINE: And it was more dangerous five years ago and six years ago and seven years ago.

GUTIERREZ: I'm going to finish my thought here. It's the murder capital of the world. El Salvador and Honduras. They're only coming from three countries.

So answer your own question. Why aren't they coming from Nicaragua? Why aren't they coming from Mexico? Why aren't they coming from Belize or Costa Rica? Why aren't they coming from Panama? Why aren't they coming from anywhere else? They didn't get the note that they were supposed to come?

I think unfortunately -- unfortunately part of -- let me just say this.

CUPP: Coincidence.

GUTIERREZ: Let me just say this. When my friend says that you can just come here and receive American citizenship, I'm going to tell you something. The drug traffickers and the drug cartels, they're taking note of that, and they are exploiting because that's what they do. Human struggling.

BRIDENSTINE: Well, they've gotten that -- they've gotten that sense from folks that are saying that. Now...

GUTIERREZ: But you said that. You said that if you arrive, that there's a welcome mat to the United States. If you arrive here...

BRIDENSTINE: That's never been my message.

(CROSSTALK)

CUPP: One at a time.

BRIDENSTINE: That's been your message on your side of the aisle. Not mine.

GUTIERREZ: I never said that.

BRIDENSTINE: What I would say is you're talking about following the law. In 2006 the Secure Fence Act was passed. It required the president to have 100 percent operational control of the southern border. The GAO said that he only has operational control over 44 percent.

The president needs to follow the law and secure the southern border. An open border and the idea -- I'm not saying who -- I'm not saying who is saying it, but the idea in Central America is that if you come here, you get to stay. That's not my idea. That's an idea of officials in Central America. We've got to deal with that.

JONES: This is what I get confused about. I feel like we're living in two different countries. When I talk to people who are from the Latino community, people who are concerned about what's going on, on the ground, tell a completely different story. They talk about the fact -- they call Obama the deporter in chief. It's in fact, the case, if you want to deal with the facts, that under George Bush we had a 3 million person increase in undocumented people. Now we actually have a net decrease in undocumented people under Obama.

Why do Republicans keep hammering on this idea that somehow we have an open border when, in fact, the numbers just don't bear that out? We have a new refugee crisis with these children on top of massive deportations for normal immigrants. Isn't that true?

BRIDENSTINE: Are you suggesting -- after everything you've seen, you're suggesting that the southern border is secure, which is required by law? GUTIERREZ: Can I say one thing? We have never had more Border Patrol

agents on the southern border than we have today. The president is asking for additional. You know how you secure the border? You fix the broken immigration system.

CUPP: You're pleased -- you're pleased with the level of border security, Congressman?

GUTIERREZ: Sorry?

CUPP: You're pleased with the level of border security?

GUTIERREZ: No, no. Here's what I'm telling you. Is that -- is that the children are handing themselves over.

CUPP: Well, they're not handing themselves over.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, they are. They are being captured by...

JONES: We've got to go.

GUTIERREZ: ... the Border Patrol.

CUPP: They are not.

GUTIERREZ: And they are being held, and they are being...

CUPP: They are being used. They are being used.

JONES: We're going to come back. Hold on. We're going to come back. And when we do, we're still waiting right now for President Obama to finish his immigration meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry. When we come back, I'm going to tell you why they actually have more in common than you might think.

But first, here's our "CROSSFIRE Quiz." When was the last time Republicans and Democrats came together...

CUPP: Oh, boy.

JONES: You're all bickering. You're all bickering. When was the last time both came together to actually pass an immigration reform bill? Was it 1919, 1986, or 2007? I'm going to give you the answer when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: Welcome back. Right now, we're waiting for President Obama to finish meeting with Governor Rick Perry in Texas. Now, to be honest, both of these leaders are actually approaching this humanitarian crisis on our border from a similar place, unfortunately. From my point of view, Democrats and Republicans seem to be asking the same cynical question: how fast can we ship these kids out of here, dump them back into terror zones, send them back to murder capitals, and never have to think about these kids ever again? Wow, is that who we are as a country now? The Statue of Liberty must

be weeping every single night. And by the way, here's the answer to our CROSSFIRE quiz. Congress has not come together to pass an immigration reform bill since 1986.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, we've got two guys who maybe can do something about that: congressmen Luis Gutierrez and Jim Bridenstine.

I'm going to go to you first, actually, on this. I do not understand why we haven't heard Democrats much more passionate about the right of these young people to stay here.

In other words, when you're fleeing a terrorism, when you're talking about murders, kidnappings, rape, and children are flooding, not just into the United States but into every country in that region, and they say, "I want to get to America," I think we should be proud of that. They're not saying, "I want to go to China." They're saying they want to come here.

But instead, what you hear is the White House saying, "Don't worry. We're going to get rid of these people." Hillary Clinton: "Don't worry. We're going to get rid of these people." Does that bother you? It bothers me.

GUTIERREZ: It does bother me. I wish the president of the United States were going down and visiting the children and visiting the site tonight. I kind of think, you know, if I were on vacation in Puerto Rico, and my wife's aunt was in the hospital and I didn't go see here, I think her family get together and probably say, you know, Sori (ph), you made a poor choice.

I mean, it is important that he do that. Having said that, part of the issue that we have here is the demagoguery around the children and what rights they do and don't have, and what the laws of the United States have.

My friends in the Republican caucus keep saying we won't do immigration reform because we don't trust the president to enforce the law. And yet when he enforces the law by releasing the children within 72 hours, reuniting them to the less restrictive setting, to their parents in many occasions, right, and saying, you cannot -- the law of the United States --

BRIDENSTINE: The law requires they secure the southern border, operational control over 100 percent of the southern border.

GUTIERREZ: I want to talk about this for just -- I know you want to talk about the border, I really want to talk about children --

BRIDENSTINE: Why is it that you don't want to talk about the border?

GUTIERREZ: I do. I do.

BRIDENSTINE: It is funny to me you don't want to talk about the border. GUTIERREZ: I have actually introduced legislation, well before you came to the Congress of the United States, with John McCain in 2003 and 2004, which secured the border.

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDENSTINE: So, if I could finish this one thing --

CUPP: Congressman, we have 30 minutes and we're expecting the president, so I want to get in as much as we can.

Let me push on the logistics of what Van is saying, because I would take every one of these kids in. This is a terrible tragedy. Logistically, I'm not quite sure how we do that and when we shut the faucet off. I mean, is this the new normal? Do we just open the border? How do we handle that?

GUTIERREZ: Here's how we handle that. Number one, we follow the law and we don't use demagoguery when it comes to children that are fleeing drug traffickers and violence in their countries, number one.

BRIDENSTINE: This needs to be addressed.

GUTIERREZ: I'm trying to answer the question.

BRIDENSTINE: Go ahead.

CUPP: Real quick.

GUTIERREZ: So, we're -- so that's the first thing. But when people go on TV and say that they should just simply all be deported and understanding that that is a violation, if the president of the United States on the one hand is the person that doesn't enforce the law and then when he does enforce the law --

CUPP: Congressman, what do we -- what do we do with the 52,000 children that are here and the thousands more who are expected?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what we do. We give them their day in court because that's the law of the land. If you don't want to give them a day in court, you have to change the law.

VAN JONES, CO-HOST: What's wrong (INAUDIBLE)

BRIDENSTINE: I used to do counterdrug operations. We switched the mission. It's now called counter elicit trafficking operations because these drug trafficking organizations are trafficking children, right? And they are trafficking children in northern Mexico. They take them to northern Mexico because that's the easiest access into the United States.

And in northern Mexico, there are now 70,000 to 100,000 dead bodies where you got gangs killing gangs, cartels killing cartels. They are also killing judges, police officers, politicians, and it's all because we have an easy access point into the United States of America. And you can't deny that when you see what is happening on our southern border right now.

JONES: So, you -- hold on a second. First of all, you're saying that the only reason that there's narco trafficking going on is because our borders open --

BRIDENSTINE: I'm not saying it's the only reason. I'm saying we can secure the southern border and deny access and that also solves a lot of these drug trafficking.

JONES: Would you vote for the Senate bill that actually doubles border security if you had the opportunity? Right now, your speaker, Boehner, will not let you take a vote. Would you -- if you had a chance tonight to vote for the Senate bill, would you vote for it or against it?

BRIDENSTINE: I would vote against it and here's why.

JONES: Why? You just said you want to double border stuff.

BRIDENSTINE: It gives the secretary of homeland security the authority to waive the border security requirements and at the time, Janet Napolitano was telling us the border is secure. You cannot say the border is secure when you got children streaming across it.

CUPP: Congressman, what does the president plan to do with the $4 billion he's asked for?

GUTIERREZ: We're going to ask the president what he plans to do with the $4 billion. I really don't know. I have some serious questions.

CUPP: Yes.

GUTIERREZ: I think first of all, I'm an American. I'm proud to have been born in this country. I say keep the children safe. That is the law of the land.

I'm going to keep coming back to that because if we say we can't trust the president to enforce the law and then when he does, we say he should abandon the law.

(CROSSTALK)

GUTIERREZ: Which is it? He needs the money to enforce the law. If you want to change the law around how --

CUPP: Are you going to vote for the money?

GUTIERREZ: I will vote for the money under these conditions: as long as it doesn't -- how would I say, weaken the right that the children have to their day in court because some of them, we may just return them to death.

CUPP: Any conditions under which you would vote for $4 billion check?

BRIDENSTINE: The $4 billion doesn't solve the problem. We have to do two thing: one, we need to secure the southern border and we need to articulate to folks in Central America that if you come here, you're probably not going to come in. And if you make it, you're not going to stay. If we articulate that, it would solve this crisis. The $4 billion --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDENSTINE: -- current situation.

JONES: No, no, actually, the $4 billion is actually to try to more quickly process the young people through, because we actually -- it makes good sense to me. You have more young people, you need more money it process them through.

But I want to come back, this border thing, can you be specific? If doubling the number is not enough, the fact that we have more than we have is not enough, the fact that we're deporting more than we ever have is enough -- what specifically would you call a secure border? Do you want to have like a soldier at every hundred feet, every hundred yards?

Help me understand what a secure border looks like.

BRIDENSTINE: Sure. So, we need operational control over our southern border.

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDENSTINE: There are parts of the United States there are parts of the United States where we have that. I'll give you a perfect example. Duncan Hunter from San Diego had a great op-ed piece that specifically said in his area of the country, they put in a double fence and with it they have sensors and, of course, they've got rapid teams that could deploy to apprehend anybody that breaks in.

Now, they had a decrease of 90 percent of illegal immigration at that point. Interestingly, there are other places in the country the border is wide open and that's where they're going. We've got to secure the southern border.

JONES: So --

(CROSSTALK)

CUPP: The congressman sounds a little disappointed in what the president's done so far. What could he say tonight that would make you a little bit more confident in his leadership ability?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what I think the president should say tonight. We have laws on the books about how America treats refugees when they come to our borders. I think he should say, I'm going to protect, I'm going to uphold those laws.

I think he should wrap himself around those children say he's going to protect those children, because you know what? I think that's -- America's a lot more generous and a lot bigger and broader and more loving than I think we give her credit for. CUPP: Do you thing the exhortations on both sides are too high that

Republicans probably have unreasonable demands and so do Democrats?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what I think -- as long as my colleagues continue to talk, the border and controlling the border, is part of a comprehensive immigration plan. If you don't do the other parts -- let me give you a suggestion of how you stop people from coming here. You make sure that when they go to get employment, that they must be verified by a federal system. And if you do that, then they can't work.

CUPP: OK. Stay here.

We're standing by for the president. First, we want you at home to weigh in on today's "Fireback" question. Should President Obama visit the kids at the border while he's in Texas? Tweet yes or no using #crossfire. We'll have results after the break.

We also have the outrage of the day and Van is outraged at a lot of people, but you'll never believe who he's proud of.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUPP: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We are awaiting President Obama out of that immigration meeting. Let's go to Jake Tapper now -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: S.E., we've been waiting for President Obama. As you know, he is meeting right now behind close doors with governor of Texas, Rick Perry, who after some give-and-take finally decided he would meet President Obama at the airport when he arrived at Dallas' Love Field earlier today. They're behind closed doors. They are meeting with a bunch of local officials about this tremendous heartbreaking humanitarian crisis as the administration refers to it. Fifty-two thousand undocumented children who have crossed the border in the last few months.

And, S.E. and Van, I know you've been talking about it on CROSSFIRE. And, Van, you've expressed some chagrin at the fact that Democrats and Republicans seem to all be talking about sending the kids back and not taking them into this country.

JONES: Well, I think that's -- for me, that's been a big disappointment. You know, in our country, we have a very long tradition going back to World War II when people are dealing with refugees. These are not people coming here to get a job at McDonald's. These are people who are fleeing terror and violence, and the United States has had a long tradition in our law, if you're a refugee, you get your day in court we figure out how to help you. We don't have this idea you don't belong here. You know, we're going to throw you back over the border.

And so, my concern is that we've somehow gotten so politicized and so polarized that now we can't even look at children fleeing terror with an open heart. That's my concern. Democrats are guilty of it, too. TAPPER: And, S.E., as you know, one of the reasons why this crisis

exists has to do with a law in 2008 signed by President Bush which treated undocumented children who came into this country differently than those from Canada or Mexico who would be presumably sent back immediately allowing them to have hearings. Sometimes, those hearings take up to two years if they happen at all.

We now have word from our reporter on Capitol Hill, Deirdre Walsh, that Texas Senator John Cornyn, who is a Republican, and Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, who is a Democrat, are teaming up to reverse that 2008 law so that it would be easier to send these kids back immediately.

CUPP: Yes. The Wilberforce Act of 2008, and as you know, we were processing hundreds and thousands of children in the three years after the Wilberforce Act was passed, at the border, unaccompanied minors.

But something happened -- excuse me -- 2012, 2013 and those numbers started spiking. So, Republicans are starting to ask why.

I'm curious, Jake, what do you think the president's tone is going to be in the press conference? We saw him in Denver earlier on this trip sort of scolding Congress. What do you expect from him tonight?

TAPPER: Well, it's going to be a difficult line for him to walk because obviously the administration has conveyed time and time again that these kids cannot stay here. At least the vast majority of them even with the law, the 2008 law, that allowed hem to stay here longer if they were fleeing from countries like Honduras and Guatemala where they may be at risk.

But at the same time, he needs to express a humanitarian side that he likes to show. He needs to express sympathy and empathy with the kids in the camp.

I am curious, though, if I can ask Congressman Gutierrez, who has joined the CROSSFIRE panel this evening -- Congressman, if Congressman Cuellar's bill to reverse that 2008 law, which would mandate basically that undocumented children are treated -- from Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador are treated the same way undocumented children from Mexico are and they are sent back immediately to their country of origin, would you support that legislation sponsored by a fellow Democrat?

GUTIERREZ: No, I would not support that legislation. It's a long established position of American jurisprudence. In 1997, you had the Flores Reno decision, which begins (ph) 2002, Homeland Security, and 2008. It's the law of the land. Reasonable people in reasonable times put that law.

TAPPER: I got to hand over the show right now.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.