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President Trump's Ban on Immigrants from Terror Prone Countries Implemented; President Trump's Executive Order on Immigrant Ban Examined; An 11-Year-Old Syrian Refugee in U.S. Interviewed. Aired 2- 3p ET

Aired January 28, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: He has working as a translator and had worked with the U.S. military while in Iraq. There is one other that we understand who is an Iraqi national who is also being detained, but still unclear exactly what's taking place in terms of how much longer he might be detained.

Again, our reporting from Rachel Crane is that in all there are about 12 people including Hameed Darweesh that had been detained there at the airport. And we also heard Hamid earlier when describing, he said it was customs officials who held on passport after he handed it over. And he said apparently what will happen next, who do I need to talk to, and then apparently one of the officials called President Trump.

All right, let's talk a little bit more about this and the potential ramifications that comes from this. Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief with the "Chicago Sun Times" back with us. So Lynn, we know on the campaign trail Donald Trump had promised there would be a ban of all Muslims. There were modifications of language along the way. Executive order number 14 signed last night and already it being put into practice, but we're seeing, whether it be at JFK and perhaps other places, there are some confusion about who this applies to. And now we hear from the White House that it also includes those who are green card holders. If you are from any of these seven nations and you have a green card, you are not going to be able to enter, reenter the U.S. at least for now. I'm talking about Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Iran. So Lynn, what are the signals sent from this White House thus far?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Fredericka, if this involves green card holders, and we're talking about a bigger universe of people than just the smaller must remember of people who might have been caught up in the situation in transit, which would mean it would be just a day or so. There are many, many more -- a green card that means that you are in the United States legally. And now I would bet that this also then would be subject to a lawsuit if it includes green card holders because it legally would be a different status of people than people who are just entering the United States through the refugee program.

WHITFIELD: So Lynn, does the interpretation mean, erasing then of all State Department executed policies as it pertains to, because that's the body that would be involved in the granting of visas, whether it was, you know, emergency status where there's this two year vetting of number of people coming from places like Iraq, people who have been involved working with the U.S. military whose lives are threatened. They are vetted, even those from Syria, and then those who have green cards, a different type of status and vetting. So does this mean all of the standards have been erased and start over after, perhaps, you know, a 60-day, 90-day period has passed?

SWEET: You asked such great questions. I don't know. But this isn't just a matter, and I hope people think about this it way, of just visas. And I understand that President Trump, as one of your earlier guests said, was elected on this policy, but I think perhaps more after a discussion of the longstanding United States policy on refugees. It was borne out of World War II. It was born out of the United States not taking in Jewish refugees who were the victims of Nazi persecution when they had to be turned back.

So there's historical precedent, especially when you're talking about the category of people, as you've been addressing throughout your show today, who are people who have been helping the United States. So it is still so much to sort out here, Fredericka. It's not one size fits all when you're talking about people not being allowed in the United States because of their country of origin or because they have been legally allowed to be here under our green card system.

WHITFIELD: So Lynn, hold on. We've got another significant development coming from the White House. I want to bring in our Ryan Nobles who is there at the White House. What else is happening, Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredericka, there's obviously a lot of confusion as to exactly how this executive order is impacting green card holders, and we're getting some clarification not only from the Department of Homeland Security but also from officials here at the White House, and essentially what they're telling us is that, for the most part, if you are a green card holder from one of these seven countries impacted by the executive order, initially you will be denied access back to the United States.

However, there is a process where you can apply for a waiver in an exemption that will be reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security and approved or denied by a case by case basis.

[14:05:00] The problem, though, is sources within DHS are telling us that they're not exactly sure how that process is going to work. Keep in mind, this executive order is barely 24 hours old, so there is lot that has to be worked through in terms of that process.

So for the most part, if you do have a green card, initially, as we said before, you will not be granted access back into the United States. But there is a process to apply to get back into the U.S. but we should point out, Fredericka, that if you're a green card holder in the U.S., you've already gone through a very thorough vetting by the United States government to even have access to that green card. So it's not exactly clear what secondary level of vetting will be required by the Department of Homeland Security to assure these residents of the United States are able to come back here to this country. That's something that's still not clear and still something we're trying to figure out not only from the department of homeland security but here at the White House as well.

WHITFIELD: There's another couple of questions. Is Lynn Sweet still with us? So Lynn, so let me ask you, you've been covering Washington for a long time, and just listening to what Ryan was saying, customarily when there's an executive order and it will involve a number of agencies, this is Homeland Security, State Department, Department of Justice, usually, are there a set of instructions or a fanning out of instructions on how this will be executed before an executive order would actually be honored? It almost sounds like based on what, Ryan, you were saying people haven't sorted out. It's been in the reverse, the executive order and then instructions come to follow. How is it usually done?

SWEET: Well, it would have a little more preparation time, especially when it goes to the treatment of people, green card holders. I just got, and I'm sure our Ryan did, or he might have been there. There is a briefing of foreign reporters at the White House today, and here's what's interesting because one of the storylines here right now is that this was unfolded in an organized way. So the White House is saying, they're thanking the State and Homeland Security for the conversations between the officials about the executive order for many weeks.

But I think this green card issue, and forgive me for looking down because I am reading the pool report, these green card holders in the United States will have to meet with a consular officer before leaving the country. So this is something that is a surprise because I don't know if we necessarily took the discussion about refugees being allowed in the country to be extended, Fredericka, to people here illegally with the green card.

WHITFIELD: OK. Hold tight, Ryan and Lynn. Thanks so much.

I want to also get some reaction from the Middle East. CNN international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Beirut for us. So Nick -- it looks like we're having a problem with our signal, and that happens.

So Ryan, back to you, then. You mentioned, people with the green cards when they're trying to make their way back into the United States, they may initially be denied. They have to apply for a waiver. Oftentimes when people leave, go outside of the country even if they have their green card, they don't have all the other information. They're not traveling with that information that allowed them to get their green card in the first place. So if they're now residing in the U.S., they left all the stuff. What's the expectation or we've been getting any more detail from the White House as to what will that reapplication process entail?

NOBLES: Fredericka, I don't think you need to look further than what is actually happening in airports around the world and here in the United States. It's clear that people with green cards have a difficult time getting on planes and getting back here to the United States. There are anecdotal reports of some people being able to get on planes and others reports of people not being able to get on planes. So when Lynn talked about the administration, and you're right, our

Athena Jones was in that briefing that was just taken place by White House officials. When they talk about this being conducted in a very thought out and organized way, at this point, and it is early on in the wake of this executive order, there really isn't a lot of evidence of that. When you talk to the airlines, a number of major airlines have reported that they're still trying to figure out how this applies to them and their travelers.

For instance, on the Qatar Airways website, they put a link to the U.S. customs and border enforcement website for more information, and there's no information at all about this new executive order on that website. So there certainly seems to be an information gap between the administration officials that have put this in place and then the actual people impacted by it. And those are the questions that are going to have to be answered here over the next couple of days.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much for that information, Ryan.

Let's try Beirut again. Nick Paton Walsh is there. So Nick, there you are. How is this being received? What are people saying about the order?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The most vociferous reaction so far is from Iran who called this, quote, "an insult," and, quote, "a gift to extremists."

[14:10:02] They're one of seven countries within that ban here, one which the United States had an incredibly complex and volatile relationship with, outright hostile much of the time. But there are many key areas after the nuclear agreement, after what they seem to be off on the same side fighting ISIS and Iraq and Syria where they was growing potential for cooperation.

But it's also interesting to see how Iran has chosen to phrase this executive order, quote, "as a decision to restrict travel for Muslims," and that is often how it's being perceived in this part of the world. Those seven countries, Muslim majority, not of course, all the countries that have Muslim majorities affected by this order at all, but it's being perceived specifically as targeting that particular religion.

I think some here to will see an absence of logic. Donald Trump did cite 9/11 as one of the reasons behind this, but the vast preponderance of attackers in that particular terrorist attack on U.S. were from Saudi Arabia, not impacted by this ban. Neither is Afghanistan or Pakistan where there have been many terror ties in the past, too. So very specific nations targeted here. And the broader indefinite ban against Syrian refugees I think will be taken by those inside the country have long looked for U.S. assistance in their fight against the Assad regime as yet another slight against them too.

And I think many reeling at this point from the broad confusion this executive order has sown. As you heard just earlier on, there are people with green cards, some being allowed back in and some not being allowed back in. Many people worried, frankly, to even try to fly to the United States in case, for example, they land and then are refused travel and have a black mark against their name.

Fear here, I think fear what that means from the new White House in terms of this policy towards the Middle East, but also for those who have very close relationships to the United States here. And I think what comes to mind here is that dangerous belief that complex problems potentially have very simple solutions. This is what might be perceived to be the simplest possible solution. Ban a bunch of people from a bunch of particular countries that have ties at times, rarely, to terrorism, but doesn't anywhere near get towards solving the complex issue of jihad terrorism here in this particularly volatile region, how that sometimes rarely leads back to attacks on the United States. Fredericka?

WHITFIELD: Nick Paton Walsh from Beirut, thank you so much. We're talking about those bunch of countries, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Iran.

In the meantime, a U.S. congressman representing New York says 11 travelers are still being detained at JFK airport in the wake of President Trump's order banning travel and immigration from several of those mostly Muslim majority countries. Another detainee, an Iraqi who worked for the U.S. in Iraq was released over an hour ago. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMEED KAHLID DARWEESH, DETAINED AT JFK AIRPORT: I have a special immigration visa on my passport, me and my family, because I work with the U.S. government, I support the U.S. government in the war. But when I came here, they said, nope. And they did it as if I break the rules or do something wrong. I'm surprised, really.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, I want to bring back now CNN's Rachel Crane. She was out there and remains there at JFK. So Rachel, a lot of people have turned up, many of whom are protesting this executive order. What are you experiencing there?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. As you can see behind me, a pretty sizable protest has gathered, about 200 people demanding the release of these 11 remaining detainees. Unclear the status of when they will be released, if they will be released, where they originate from, where they were coming from. But as you pointed out, Darweesh now released. When he came out, when he was released, of course incredibly happy. He said he had not slept all night long. He had been traveling with his family, his wife and three children, yet he was the only one of his family members that was detained. And as Congressman Nadler pointed out, that to him highlighted the arbitrary nature of this executive order. But take a listen to what Darweesh had to say upon release.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMEED KAHLID DARWEESH, DETAINED AT JFK AIRPORT: This is the humanity. This is the soul of America. This is what pushed me to move. I'm very, very thankful to all the people who come to support me. Thank you very much. And always we know America is the land of freedom, the land of freedom, the land of the right. So this is what pushed me to come here. And I'm very thankful and I'm very happy. Really I forget what I face and what will happen to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CRANE: Fred, he went on to praise America, to say how much he loved America. And when asked what his message was for Donald Trump, he actually said that he liked Donald Trump, that he was just unclear about this policy. Fred?

[14:15:01] WHITFIELD: Right. And on the people, he said you have the greatest people in the world, people here in the United States. All right, Rachel Crane, thank you so much from JFK. Keep us posted there.

All right, coming up, what does all of this mean for immigrants traveling abroad, and what about foreign nationals working for the U.S.? We'll discuss all of that with my panel next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees creating backlash, confusion, and also support. The ban barring travelers from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. Iran's president calling it an insult to the Islamic world. Americans now banned from traveling to Iran in retaliation, according to Iran policy.

Let's discuss this with our panel now. Back with us is Lynn Sweet, who is the Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times," David Gergen is a CNN senior political analyst and a former presidential adviser to Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton Joining us by phone. Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst. Bob Baer, who is a CNN intelligence and security analyst also joining us. Good to see and hear from all of you.

So David, let me begin with you as someone who advised multiple presidents. What is your reaction to the presidential orders, 14 now by count but particularly this executive order calling for the banning of people coming from these seven nations?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (via telephone): Sure. Fredericka, the president has campaigned on and I think has the support of millions of Americans and trying to keep our borders safer. And when we talks about radical Islamic terrorism, I think he's on target, the appropriate description.

[14:20:14] So we knew something was coming. He had promised it and I think it's expected he would follow through. Having said that, you know, how you do something is as important as what you do in the White House. And in that respect, I think how he has done this is extremely damaging to the United States, namely that if I had been in the White House, I would have recommended, Mr. President, people will judge you by your actions but they'll also judge you by your words. And if you could go on international television, a statement to the world the United States has always been a land that welcomed others, we have this Statue of Liberty. That is what we believe in. We have been at the forefront of admitting refugees. But we have a problem and I am trying to take action in a way that will minimize the problem. We'll still welcome in people. We do welcome Muslims to this country. We have a large Muslim population. And we intend to be a nation that looks after refugees.

We've got the biggest number of displaced people in the world now since World War II, and there are 21 million refugees in the world, the largest number. And I think he also had given days two or three days to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to work out the procedure and that people would have known before they got on airplanes, before the families started going through these wrenching changes in their lives, you know, what was coming and precisely what was coming.

As it is, I think we're left with a situation in which we've hung out a sign saying Muslims are not really welcome in the United States. If you're a Muslim in the United States, you have to be disheartened by this.

And secondly, what he's also sent a signal, I'm afraid, I regret this, but America first sounds like we're going to look after ourselves first and we really don't give a damn about the rest of the world. We don't care how they look at us. We really don't care if we disrupt lives. We're going to look out for ourselves, period.

WHITFIELD: So David, while you said, on the one hand, he is living up to promises made, but on the other hand when you talk about the rigors of the vetting process involving these Syrian refugees and people with green cards who now have already left the U.S. and are traveling abroad to any number of these, and they hail from the seven nations, they wouldn't be able to make it in, what is the message in your view that's being sent from the White House about the rigors that many of these people have already been put through in order to win the privilege of being here in the U.S. under those conditions?

GERGEN: I think it was a missed opportunity, because had he given a statement, he could have said since 9/11 we have built a much more rigorous vetting system. It does take about two years to vet refugees before they come in, and we are making special efforts. So we're going to build on what's done in the past. We just think we need to tighten it up some more. But these are not, these would be important changes, but at the end of the day, when people are vetted, we welcome them in the United States.

I just think this blunderbuss approach to executive orders and to sort of the way we act has an impulsive quality that I think rattles so many others, but coming off the episode with Mexico this past week, coming into this, there's just sort of a sense that the United States, which had been such a leader in the world, is not only pulling back from that but is doing it in a way that is kicking other people in the shins.

WHITFIELD: Nic Robertson, international diplomatic editor, is also with us. And so Nic, is that the message that's being received around the globe from our allies and otherwise who are saying the U.S. is usually a leader as global matters are concerned, but to David's point that maybe this is sending a different message now with that America first mantra and this kind of executive order?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It certainly sends possibly the message that the United States inadvertently, intentionally is sort of ceding the moral high ground here. I think in Europe, we've discussed here the implications for the Middle East, but I think in Europe it sends what for them is an unsettling and disconcerting message. It's not clear that the White House may necessarily be worried or concerned about that. Certainly we've heard President Trump be ambivalent towards the European Union to say that the Brexit and leaving the European Union is a good thing and it's good for Britain and Britain should be right to be concerned about controlling its borders.

[14:25:00] But at the same time this message, and we've seen it today picked up on by nationalist leaders in Europe. Geert Wilders, perhaps the most popular politician in Holland at the moment, has tweeted that he supports this, that this should be extended to other Muslim countries. That's the way he puts it, and he campaigns on an anti- Muslim agenda. There will be elections in Holland in the next couple of months and potentially his party could be the largest party in parliament. That unsettles Europeans.

You have populist movements in France and in Germany. There are elections there this year as well. So this message will be used and amplified by those populist nationalist parties. And the concern in Europe is that perhaps President Trump is trying to do that, to, if you will, fuel this emerging feeling in Europe and create divides in Europe. And that's a deeper worry here.

Again, this may not be a major concern of the White House at this stage, but as we all know, events change and there are times that you turn to your allies for support in whatever policies you may have a few years down the line that you can't predict today. So you're stretching and growing a divide that you maybe don't necessarily need to grow and at the moment you may not appreciate quite the strain you're putting on it.

WHITFIELD: And then Paul, at least three legal filings against this executive order that we know of by speaking to people involved in it and. In your view, is there a constitutionality problem with this executive order?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there may be some problems in the way this order was implemented. You know, policy formation is one thing, and you could argue the American people have voted Donald Trump into office. His campaign was a campaign of America first, strong nationalism, tighter borders. He has a right to implement that policy.

But on the other hand, implementation of a policy has to be done in a proper and constitutional manner. And what bothered me about this is really governing by Twitter, governing by sound bite. Instead of implementing the policy carefully so he doesn't catch people in transit and strand family around the world, which could have been done if this was phased in. Instead he simply implemented it. And I think there may be problems.

What I'm looking at in particular are these green cards holding people who can't get back into the country. There is an element of rights attached to a green card. And many people with green cards are on the edge of the becoming American citizens. They are allowed to work indefinitely in the United States. And I think they might have the strongest case if they're blocked from readmission.

With respect to other immigrants, the U.S. is allowed to stop people at the border. You don't get constitutional rights generally until you actually enter the United States of America. So constitutionally we can block anybody we want from the United States.

WHITFIELD: But once you're a green card holder, you are a resident.

CALLAN: Yes. You're a resident. And I'm saying there's a difference between the U.S. government has really entered into a contract with you to say that although you're not a citizen, certain American rights have attached. So I think they will have the strongest case in court.

WHITFIELD: Lynn, this on a day where President Trump was scheduled to talk with five world leaders. We know he's spoke with Angela Merkel, and he's been critical of her in the past given she's been an advocate of taking in Syrian refugees. And we know that he had discussions with the Japanese prime minister as well as the Russian president Vladimir Putin, and we don't know yet what was discussed. Might this executive order, or is it your feeling this executive order had to have been on the table in discussions that have already taken place?

SWEET: I don't know if that would be the case, Fred, with the world leaders. But if I may add another layer of complexity to what up on what everyone else is saying. If this is indeed seen as a backdoor ban on Muslims, which it is targeting Muslim majority countries, just think of another goal that President Trump has, to try and broker a peace between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis. If the U.S. is seen as making an anti-Muslim move without the kind of language that David Gergen suggested, to say that is not what we're trying to do. We're not targeting a religion. We're trying to enhance our own inner security, without the kind of messaging, too, I want to put out will that there is a ripple effect from carrying out this impact.

Maybe not domestically because this is what President Trump campaigned on, but I am trying to look a little forward after these talks with world leaders what will their assessment be of President Trump and how they size them up in carrying out his campaign promises and the ripple effect on global policy.

[14:30:13] WHITFIELD: Bob, I think you've already expressed concerns about whether this policy makes this country stronger or more vulnerable.

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: I think, Fred, it makes us more vulnerable. I think, first of all, we have to look at the list. It's arbitrary. The 9/11 hijackers, 15 of them came from Saudi Arabia. Why isn't Saudi Arabia on the list? A lot of radical Muslims come through Pakistan where they're trained. And then you have Egypt, which is in the middle of a civil war. Why weren't they added to the list?

But what really concerns me is Iran has not been traditionally involved in terrorism the last couple of decades. And, you know, what does this bode for Iran? We have an administration that has stated on the record it's very hostile to that country. You have a national security advisor that's hostile to Iran and you even have the defense secretary as well.

So does this just presage more problems with Iran which just opens up a can of worms? Are we going to war? Nobody knows that. But this is, the Iranians are going to take this very badly that they were put on that list because the way they look at it is they've been essentially helping us in Iraq by restraining the pro-Iranian militias there, letting our flights come closer, and so on and so on. This is what concerns me is this list in itself makes no sense to me at all, and especially Yemen being on there, which is not a source of international terrorism.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there, Bob Baer, Lynn Sweet, David Gergen, Paul Callan, Nic Robertson, thanks to all of you. And I said David Gergen, right? We don't see you but we heard you. Thank you, David Gergen as well. Thanks to all of you, appreciate it.

All right, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. So Iran retaliating against the U.S. for President Trump's executive order temporarily banning refugees from seven countries. For more on this I'm joined now by CNN international correspondent Ben Wedeman joining me from Istanbul. So Ben, Iran calling this ban an insult to the Islamic world.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this came, a statement from the Iranian foreign ministry, which says it's going to impose reciprocal measures on Americans trying to travel to Iran. Let's keep in mind that there are hundreds of house of Americans of Iranian descent who have relatives, who have businesses in Iran. It appears that now all of that is going to have to be on hold.

Now, according to the statement from the Iranian foreign ministry, they describe the executive order as a, quote, "gift to extremists." They said "It's an obvious insult to the Islamic world and in particular to the great nation of Iran."

Now, of course, let's keep in mind that Iran and the United States, somewhat ironically, are both supporting the Iraqi government in Baghdad in the fight against ISIS. There are more than 5,000 U.S. military personnel on the ground in the area around Mosul supporting the Iraqi army. And of course this is going to cause perhaps complications on the ground as a result of this rift with Iran. Now, I've been in touch with the former officer in U.S. special force

who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he told me he's very concerned about the implications of the executive order. He's sent me this message, if I can read it, Fredricka. He said, "What is the incentive of these people," referring to Iraqi soldiers, "to help us or protect us? They fall into despair and their frustrations will be taken out on us." So the worry is from somebody who served on the ground in Iraq that this executive order could endanger personnel in Iraq.

WHITFIELD: All right, a sobering note there. Ben Wedeman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:42:23] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So President Donald Trump's temporary ban on refugees from seven countries already facing legal action less than 24 hours after it was signed. This after two Iraqis were detained coming into JFK Airport in New York. One of the men has been released. Right there you see him. CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones joining me live right now. So Athena, you're getting reaction from administration officials about all of this. What are they saying?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Administration -- senior administration officials confirming that of two Iraqis obtained at JFK, one has been waived through. The other they say is in the process of being waived through. They've also responded to the comments from Iran about their plans to take reciprocal action. One official said "I assume that would mean to admit people on a case by case basis and we are doing. Most Americans would support case by case admission and not en masse."

I should mention that these officials for the most part are praising the implementation of this executive order which they say has been done by the case workers, agents, and career officials at the State Department and DHS. They said they've done a remarkable and seamless job of implementing this national security executive order. That's of course, despite the fact that there are other places, other airports around the world reporting a certain level of chaos and a lot of concern and uncertainty about how to move forward if you're from one of these seven countries.

But they are happy with this ban. They said that they informed everyone who needed to be informed ahead of time. They didn't want to brief a ton of people because they didn't want to undermine the new rule that would be put in place. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Athena Jones at the White House, thank you so much.

All right, coming up, the New York congressman who said he will fight Trump's immigration ban anywhere, anytime.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:47:17] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. As we told you at the top of the hour, a New York congressman said 11 foreign travelers being detained at New York's JFK airport following President Trump's executive order on immigration. A 12th traveler was released a short time ago after being detained for more than 14 hours. I spoke with the New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler who was on the scene as that Iraqi man was released.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: What do you believe the intention of this order was, because if you read the policy, and I'm just going to quote now a portion that I pulled from the policy. It says "It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes." That is the purpose or the policy as it's outlined. How do you believe it's being executed?

REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: That is certainly a valid policy. We should not admit people who want to do harm to this country. However, all of these refugees, all of the refugees in Syria and then Iraq who would be admitted have been vetted by the American government for up to two years, looking into their bona fides and their records and their -- what they have done and what they have said. And they're all guaranteeing, in effect, not to be a threat to the United States.

Not one single refugee has been admitted to this country and from the Middle East has turned out to pose a threat to the United States. The various people who have in fact committed terrorist acts in this country from 9/11 onward, none of them came from any of seven countries that are the subject of the president's executive order. And it's a real question, by the way, if you really want to protect this country, why are Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Turkey left out of the order? Most of the 9/11 conspirators came from Saudi Arabia.

WHITFIELD: What as a member of Congress will you or can you do in response to this executive order?

NADLER: Well, we can try to change the law with respect to the executive order. Given the Republican control, I don't know that that's likely. But we can point out how senseless it is and hopefully won't be extended beyond the three or four months. And we will oppose it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Congressman Jerry Nadler there, thanks so much. And of course, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:53:03] WHITFIELD: A Syrian refugee with an American dream, an 11- year-old girl tells our Nick Valencia about her first year in the U.S. and how her story is affecting the minds of some Trump voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're one of the best students, huh?

NAWROZ, SYRIAN REFUGEE: Yes.

VALENCIA: Looking at all her school merit awards, it's amazing to think that 11-year-old Nawroz has only been in the U.S. for a year.

Why are you such a good girl?

NAWROZ: I don't know.

VALENCIA: In fact it's only a few months since she learned English, but if you ask her, she is already making America better.

NAWROZ: My name is Nawroz and I am a student refugee, and thank you for welcoming us to our new home in America.

VALENCIA: That's her reciting this letter that she recently read at a nearby church. Her family says an estimated half of those in attendance were Donald Trump supporters. Why does that matter? Nawroz and her family are Syrian refugees. Under President Trump's newly proposed immigration plan, families like hers wouldn't be able to come to the U.S. or, as she says, they wouldn't be able to make America better.

NAWROZ: My dream is I want to become a doctor because I want to help all of us, the children in the world. And I want to make America better.

VALENCIA: Her family fled war torn Syria three years ago. They asked us not to use last name because they're still nervous after all they've been through. Life has been especially difficult for her 14- year-old brother Allen who has cerebral palsy. It's because of him she wants to be a doctor. For two years Nawroz and her family lived in a refugee camp in Turkey. They resettled just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, with the help of Paedia Nixon at the Georgia nonprofit New American Pathways.

PAEDIA NIXON, CEO, NEW AMERICAN PATHWAYS: We are actually proactively going to refugee camps, working with the United Nations, setting up resettlement centers, and going through a careful thought out process.

[14:55:05] VALENCIA: Nixon says Americans who fear terrorist refugees coming to the U.S. have legitimate concerns. But she says the strict 18 to 24 month vetting process for refugees heading to the U.S. should temper any worries.

MAYOR TED TERRY, CLARKSTON, GEORGIA: We've been receiving refugees for the past 35 years.

VALENCIA: Ted Terry is the mayor of Clarkston, Georgia, population 13,000, half of the town's residents are foreign born. Many of them are refugees who he says are the economic backbone of his community. He sees them not a burden but as an investment. TERRY: If you think about the people around you as assets, as truly

valuable and contributing members of our community, it's not draining at all. It's actually very, very energizing.

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Clarkston, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Nick.

And thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. Much more straight ahead in the newsroom with Poppy Harlow next.

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POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hours, 3:00 p.m. eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. You're live in the CNN newsroom. We have a lot of news to get to this hour.

At any moment President Trump will sign new executive orders. All of this comes as one of the latest executive orders that he's signed banned travel for people from seven countries to the United States. At this hour some are being detained, lawsuits have filed. We are also hearing from an Iraqi man just released after being held at New York's JFK airport earlier today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARWEESH: This is the greatest nation, the greatest people in the world. I have a special immigration visa on my passport, me and my family, because I worked with the U.S. government.