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Attorney General Sessions Announces End to DACA; Cat-5 Hurricane Irma Heads Towards Florida; Obama Weighs in on DACA. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 5, 2017 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Ken, you want to respond?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, quickly. Look, I appreciate how you feel like you'd like the law to be.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDRE SEGURA, LEGAL DIRECTOR, ACLU OF TEXAS: No, I'm not talking about how I feel, sir. I'm talking about the law.

CUCCINELLI: Hey, I sat quietly while you spoke. Now you please --

(CROSSTALK)

SEGURA: Well, you are mixing my words.

(CROSSTALK)

SEGURA: I'm not talking about how I feel.

CUCCINELLI: The assertion --

BALDWIN: Guys, please.

CUCCINELLI: -- that this president has not taken up the legal fight because he might win, is just wrong. I mean, this is legally in parallel to the DAPA program, which was found unconstitutional in the same court. And if you just take constitutional as what will the court with jurisdiction say, this court has spoken to a virtually identical program. We all know the outcome. And what the president did today gives this a two-and-a-half-year life. If he said, no, we're going to fight it, guess what, it would be over in two months with a preliminary injunction like that.

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: -- would apply across the country. I have one more point. One more point. And so you said just this is an execution of prosecutorial discretion. That is not true. This is the affirmative issuing of work permits. That is not the exercise of withholding prosecution. That is going out and legalizing the illegal.

BALDWIN: Go head.

SEGURA: Sir, I think you might --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Laura, I see you. Let me just say, Laura, I see you.

(CROSSTALK)

SEGURA: I think you might not understand the process, sir. I think you might not understand the process, sir. When people are given prosecutorial discretion in this country, they are given work authorization. And the court that you're referring to is just the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

CUCCINELLI: That is just wrong.

SEGURA: Yes, it is. That court of appeals of the Fifth Circuit was wrong. The issue has not been decided by the Supreme Court. And there are, although DAPA is legal, and the Supreme Court has not decided that it's not, there are significant differences between these two programs. The DAPA program would be much bigger. The DAPA program was termed in terms of lawful status, which DACA does not. But the Fifth Circuit was wrong on the DAPA decision. The Supreme Court has not spoken on this. So you need to be clear about when you say a court has ruled this unconstitutional. It is not the ultimate court. And president after president, for decades, have used this prosecutorial discretion.

BALDWIN: OK, Laura Coates.

CUCCINELLI: Whatever.

(CROSSTALK)

SEGURA: That's a good response.

(LAUGHTER)

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Andre, actually, is absolutely correct in that the unconstitutional definition that's being used by Ken is actually inaccurate with respect to this case. And remember, it's all about the process here. We keep referring to DAPA case and what's happening in Texas. Remember, at the time the Supreme Court weighed in as to whether or not there should have been notice and comment proceedings for DAPA proceedings, you had Justice Scalia, who had just passed away, and you had a 4-4 split, which meant that there is no precedent on this issue. It has not been declared unconstitutional. The issue they're having with Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department at the moment is they do not want to be in a position to defend what is otherwise a lawful exercise of executive authority under the prosecutorial discretion standard, but they don't want to agree with the policy that they have set on the campaign trails, and before, at the Senate confirmation hearing they don't agree with. That was the policy behind it. But either way, it is not only premature, it is inaccurate to say that the DACA program is unconstitutional. Having said that, it is the prerogative of the president of the United

States and the Justice Department to try to do away with the policy. That's the risk of having done an executive order for the past President Obama. Not declaring it something more forceful.

Either way, however, it is a prerogative that most presidents, at least since the '80s, even back to the '50s, have exercised in terms of setting immigration policy. How do you know? Because you have the Constitution under Article II that says they can do so. You've got the code of federal regulation that you can do so. You've got a whole host of laws. So I'm not clear why you would use the argument that it's unconstitutional when that has no bearing on a case that has not been decided by the ultimate arbiter of the Constitutionality, the Supreme Court.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: OK, OK, OK. I've got all these lawyers, and I appreciate that you are -- back and forth on constitutional and not constitutional. Laura is correct. Ultimately, it was up to the president. We can't change the past. The man has ruled vis-a-vis his A.G. So this program is getting rescinded.

You mentioned, you know, campaign trails, which got me thinking about the politics of this, Julie. You know, when you add six months to this, that puts us roughly at March, which is, you know, right smack --

JULIE HIRSHFIELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Primary season.

BALDWIN: -- thank you, in the leadup to midterms.

HIRSHFIELD DAVIS: Right. To go back to what you were asking before, the push/pull did have to do with this question of unconstitutionality, because President Trump did have Jeff Sessions telling him privately I'm not going to defend this in court. I can't defend this in court as constitutional. But there is the bigger question now of what happens now.

BALDWIN: Yes.

[14:34:53] HIRSHFIELD DAVIS: And whether or not, you know, you want to call this a six-month grace period or, as Mr. Cuccinelli pointed out, that it's actually more of a two-year period, because if you renew by next month, then your permit could potentially last until October of 2019.

But the fact is, this issue is going to be hitting members of Congress right as they're in primary season, right as they're all anticipating reelection races, and the focus is going to be on them, the spotlight is going to be on them in terms of what are they going to do. We're already seeing the immigration advocates very strongly calling out Senators and members of Congress who haven't come out strongly in defense of DACA. We're going to be seeing them pushing very hard for approval of the Dream Act. We'll see what Republicans and the White House want to try to insist, go along with that. But this is going to be a very hot political debate.

BALDWIN: Yes.

HIRSHFIELD DAVIS: And while congressional leaders had said they were inviting this, I think when the early spring rolls around --

(LAUGHTER)

-- I think they're going to be find this to be not the most convenient debate to be having, but it's a debate that Congress should be having.

BALDWIN: Yes.

No, I see Ken nodding and, listen, I hundred-percent agree.

We're going leave it.

I really appreciate all of you. Thank you.

We're going to come back to DACA in just a little bit, and also talk to a couple Dreamers.

SEGURA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

But let's also talk about Irma. New update on Hurricane Irma. This monster category 5 hurricane packing winds of 185 miles per hour. The latest on Irma's possible track and what the mayor of Miami-Dade just said about possible evacuations out of Florida.

And we are keeping our eye on the markets on this tuesday afternoon. The Dow down more than 200 points, partly due to these escalating tensions with North Korea.

We're also learning about new activity on the ground there, involving the movement of another ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile. A live report straight ahead.

You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:41:11] BALDWIN: Breaking news on this massive hurricane now on a collision course with Florida. Irma, strengthening in the Atlantic, becoming the strongest storm to hit the Atlantic in a decade. It is now a category 5 hurricane, with winds at 185 miles per hour. The Florida governor has already declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties. And you see those store shelves. People are already swiping food in the case of an emergency. A lot of parts of Florida are already seeing long lines for gas.

Let's get more on Irma's path. Meteorologist Tom Sater, in the Weather Center with the latest.

Talk to me.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Brooke, take a good look at this because you don't see this very often. It continues to stagger the imagination with this rapid development and its growth. It just got stronger by another 5 miles per hour. This now ties the second strongest hurricane we've ever had in recorded history for the Atlantic basin. It ties Hurricane Wilma from 2005. Just behind now, Hurricane Allen in 1980. We've got winds up to 185 miles per hour. This is going to devastate the lesser islands of the northern islands of the lesser Antilles. I think it will move right over the island of Anbuda. And, again, it's not going to discriminate between million- dollar homes and nice accommodations and hotels and, of course, everyone else who lives around the islands. After it moves through there, we've got warnings now, British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, they're under a state of emergency. We could see maybe nine, 10, 11-foot storm surges with this. And even though the center may stay over water for the most part, those hurricane winds, Brooke, are going to knock out power and communications.

As we watch it progress forward, we're going to need every single day this week because there will be fluctuations in its strength interacting with land. Not just the eye, but most likely the outer bands will cause it to drop to a category 3. If it makes its way over to Cuba and the northern coast, could drop to a 2. But I think we're going to find the waters, which are much warmer closer to Florida than where it is now, that's going to be like jet fuel. So every day, it's important to watch this.

The computer models in excellent agreement, some time on Saturday. We thought yesterday it would be Friday, but now saturday, it will get picked northward, picked up, it will turn to the right. Until that turn happens, we cannot let anybody know for sure where landfall will be. The models are really interesting because some of them are on the east coast of Florida, some to the Carolinas, and a little maybe on the west coast, into the Gulf of Mexico. Can't rule that out yet either. But, again, if you look at some of the models now -- this is a European model in blue. The U.S. model, which handled these storms really nicely. In fact, the European has been spot on, even with Harvey last week. But watch what happens when it gets to Cuba and then moves to the north. As we get into Monday, overnight, this is September 11th, we've got the U.S. model scraping the coast, much like last year, when Matthew moved up in this area and we had historic flooding in the Carolinas. But the European, even since last Thursday, Brooke, has placed it in this area, again, on Monday. That will make possible landfall in southwest coastline of Florida. But anything still goes.

And as we watch this move northward, we're looking at a major category 3, 4, or 5. And when these models continue to show our zone right now, and these models have to do with the U.S. model, we know we're looking at a significant impact by the end of the week. But every day is going to be important, Brooke, as you know.

BALDWIN: I can't believe how intense she is already. Florida taking this super seriously.

Tom, thank you.

In fact, Monroe County, Florida, will be issuing a mandatory evacuation starting tomorrow. All tourists, all homeowners in the Florida Keys being urged to get out of town, get out of those low- lying islands, as the storm is moving closer.

And while a lot of people in the path of Irma will be evacuating, some so-called extreme meteorologists will be heading directly into the storm's eye.

My next guest is one of those who's making plans now to head towards Hurricane Irma's landfall. He is Reed Timmer, an AccuWeather storm chaser.

So, Reed, you do this professionally. You just heard Tom talk about how the potential for how powerful she is. Why do you do this and where are you going?

[14:45:26] REED TIMMER, ACCUWEATHER STORM CHASER & EXTREME METEOROLOGIST: Well, I've been storm chasing for about 20 years and our goals are twofold. The first is to measure wind speed inside the eye wall. We had this instrument deployed in Hurricane Harvey on top of a bridge and we were able to measure some of those tornado-like turns that were rotating around the inner eye wall. So our goal is to deploy this again in the path, and possibly measure some of those winds, hopefully, not even close to 180 miles per hour sustained. But it does look like a powerful hurricane that's going to be threatening south Florida. I have enough food and water to survive for a week out there if I have to. And one of our main goals is also to update on the conditions as they're evolving with this storm as it approaches south Florida.

BALDWIN: You're the one who helps update, so everyone else can figure out how bad it is. How do you ride this out? What are you -- what kind of vehicle are you in?

TIMMER: Well, we'll have an armored vehicle down there. It's covered with a protective coating, a polyethylene Kevlar composite that can protect us from flying debris. You want to find those elevated concrete structures. It's very important that you get out of the path of this thing, basically, because if you don't have a concrete structure, my goal is to find a parking garage and then get in those higher elevations because I'm going up to stay out of the storm surge as well. Because if you're exposed in these types of winds in any conditions or if you're glow that storm surge level, this is a very deadly storm. It's a very deadly storm anyway. You have to take it very seriously. If it does go anywhere near the Keys, you don't want to be on those at all because they could be under water and you could be trapped for a long time. It's very important people in the path of these storms heed the evacuation warnings. This storm is the real deal. We said that about Harvey, and this one has winds that are even stronger.

BALDWIN: Reed Timmer, good luck. Be safe, please. Thank you.

Ahead here, as Washington is grappling over who's responsible for setting immigration policy, it is important not to forget those directly affected by today's big announcement, the Dreamers themselves. Many now facing the possibility that they may be deported from really the only country they've known, America. We'll talk to one of them live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:52:05] BALDWIN: Getting back to the breaking news here today from washington, President Trump announcing the phaseout of DACA, a federal program that allowed young, undocumented immigrants into the country as children get work permits and Social Security cards and driver's licenses. He is, however, giving Congress six months to save it.

With me now, Lucas Codognolla, a Dreamer who came to the U.S. when he was 9 from Brazil. He's now the executive director for Connecticut Students for a Dream.

Lucas, nice to meet you.

LUCUS CODOGNOLLA, A DREAMER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONNECTICUT STUDENTS FOR A DREAM: Thank you for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: There were on your bus, driving, you know, heading down to washington, watched, you know, the A.G. news conference today.

CODOGNOLLA: Yes.

BALDWIN: How do you feel, finally hearing the words coming out of Jeff Sessions' mouth.

CODOGNOLLA: You know, I'm not going to lie, I feel really outraged. I feel really mad. I feel really anxious. I think that this announcement is a continuation of an agenda that is based on racism, xenophobia and hate. And for an undocumented person like myself or a DACA person like myself, I feel really outranged in the moment.

BALDWIN: I don't know if you heard the White House press conference, but we heard from the spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. And over and over, she was saying, you know, listen, the president could have said, done, and, you know, cut you all off pretty brutally, or the other option is say to Congress, kicking it to you all, you got some time to figure this out, and it's up to Congress to do their jobs. Do you give the president any credit for doing that?

CODOGNOLLA: I don't. To be honest, delaying the announcement of DACA by six months, for someone like me, it sets in motion a clock, like for me, not to feel safe in this country. And so I know that he extended for six months and he's pushing legislators to come up with a solution in six months. But within these six months, I'm going to be counting down for the moment that I'm not going to feel safe in this country.

BALDWIN: So, you made the, you know, this deal with the government, and the government now has, Lucas, all your information. They know your information, they know where you live, presumably, where your family is. When DACA became an option for people in your position and you came out and you said, yes, and applied for it, did you ever think that this was something where the U.S. government might rescind it in the future?

CODOGNOLLA: You know, I mean, DACA was a victory of the undocumented youth movement here in the country. We really fought hard to get the protection for Dreamers to live without fear of deportation and to be able to work. And so with this announcement, it really makes me angry that, you know, this countdown is now on for when I'm going to lose my permission to work in the United States and I'm going to have to go back into the shadows. And that's something that I'm not going to do, and I don't think we're going to do, Brooke, because we are here to stay.

BALDWIN: What does that mean? What does that mean? Because the question is, for people like you, what do you do? I hear you saying the clock is ticking and you say go back into the shadows. What does that mean for you?

[14:55:08] CODOGNOLLA: The reality is that -- and as you heard today, the reality is that DACA is not a guarantee of relief of deportation. And so for me, I know I'm going to be here to stay. And there's 800,000 others like myself that are here to stay. And so for us, we are going to continue fighting. And I think this announcement is just going to let our movement become bigger so that we keep -- so we are pushing for a permanent solution for us and for our families as well.

BALDWIN: So you will push to stay. I mean, we have to wait and see if Congress gets their act together and is able to help you out.

CODOGNOLLA: Right.

BALDWIN: In the meantime, then-President Obama said he would feel compelled to speak if this Obama-era, you know, executive action went away. You know, do you hope to hear from President Obama? Does it really matter if he speaks up at this point?

CODOGNOLLA: I think what is said and done. It's done by the Trump administration today. He's killed DACA. And it's going to impact the people like myself. And so when you're talking about DACA recipients, the 800,000 DACA recipients that are working, that are contributing to the economy, that are contributing to their communities, you're talking about people like me. And so we do need to come out in support of DACA because we know that DACA works as a policy and as a program. And so you know that there is bipartisan support for a program like DACA. There's support from multiple sectors also. And so this is a program that works. And we're going to be fighting until we win permanent solutions for our families.

BALDWIN: How -- do you have siblings? How is your family reacting? Did you have any siblings born here after you came over from Brazil?

CODOGNOLLA: Yes, I'm actually considered part of a mixed-status family. In my family, there are permanent residents and there are U.S. citizens. My two younger siblings are -- were born here and they've called and they called to check in on me. And I am undocumented. And so we're a mixed status family. And because of this immigration system, it impacts families like ours where I'm not able to legalize my status, but you know, I have U.S. citizens that are part of my family as well.

BALDWIN: Lucas Codognolla, I appreciate you.

As I've been talking to you, I was just handed three-pages worth of a statement from former President Barack Obama. So I'm just going to sit here and read every single word of this to all of you.

This is what we just got from President Obama. He writes, "Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders, and a dynamic economy. And people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that's not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America, kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, and in every single way but one, on paper.

They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they are undocumented until they apply for a job or college or driver's license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people, our young people," he writes, "that if your parents brought you here as a child. If you're willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you'll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years, while I was president, I asked Congress to send me such a bill. That bill never came.

And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know, solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and to our country. We did so, based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportation of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks, and America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these people is wrong, because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating, because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to a country we love. And," President Obama writes, "it is cruel."