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Protesters Organize Across Country against Trump Administration's Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy; Some Democratic Politicians Call for Abolition of ICE; Protesters Gather Near President Trump's Property in Bedminster, New Jersey. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 30, 2018 - 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 HOST: From coast to coast demonstrators are demanding an end to the separation of migrant families brought on by the White House's zero tolerance policy, and we're seeing impassioned pleas for empathy and action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE GUERRERO, ACTOR WHOSE PARENTS WERE DEPORTED: Even some 17 years later I still remember how it felt when I first cried out for my parents and they couldn't answer. I am here as a voice for thousands of children without one.
AMERICAN FERRERA, ACTRESS: I am here as a human being --
FERRERA: -- with a beating heart who can feel pain, who understands compassion, and who can easily imagine what it must feel like to struggle the way families are struggling right now.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father came to America at age 17 with $400 in his pocket. Now he has his own business, a wife, my sister and I, a nice house in a beautiful neighborhood and is a proud American citizen.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, "HAMILTON" CREATOR: I will make the world safe and sound for you. We'll come of age with our young nation. We'll bleed and fight for you, we'll make it right for you if we lay a strong enough foundation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: A variety of voices and approaches there in the nation's capital. CNN correspondent Rene Marsh is at the rally in Washington just across the street from the White House. They're on the move now. So Rene, what's happening?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can tell you we left Lafayette Park and we are walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, and then we've more or less stopped here at the Trump hotel. This has really become an extension of the administration, at least a symbol of it, I should say. So as the protesters are making their way past the hotel, you can hear it. You hear the boos.
MARSH: So this is what we're -- so, Fred, as they make their way past the hotel they are booing and they're making their displeasure known.
We are now headed towards the capital, which is straight ahead. So we've got a little bit of ways to go. Before we get to the capital we've got to go to the Department of Justice. But again, Fred, we are talking about thousands of people, they have shut down Pennsylvania Avenue as we walk with these protesters here holding their signs. Again, as you know, their big beef here is with these immigration policies that separate --
MARSH: So you see those trucks there, Fred? They're honking their horns almost as in support -- in support of the protesters, and the protesters are reacting here. I can tell you there is a lot of enthusiasm, and the enthusiasm is, look, we are all bonding together to make sure that the administration knows that they are not in agreement with this policy.
In speaking to a lot of these people I think some of them realize that perhaps these policies may not change, but they still want, number one, for the administration and Congress to get this message and they say they also want immigrants to get the message as well.
We're not seeing anyone drop off, the crowds are staying here and they are marching. No one is peeling off. They are sticking together. As we've been mentioning all throughout the day, it is quite a warm day here in D.C., quite a hot one, probably the warmest we have seen since this year began. But everyone I speak to out here says that is all secondary, Fred. They are thinking about the families. They are thinking about the children. They want these policies to stop.
So now we are approaching the Department of Justice, and at that point they may stop again once they get to the Department of Justice as they finally make their way towards the capital. Obviously, Fred, what spurred all of this that we're seeing here, the viral videos that we saw of children crying for their parents, parents separated from their kids as they crossed the border into the United States. Those images went viral and it really tugged at the heart strings of many of the people that we've been speaking to out here. So they call for any policy that the United States does to be done with compassion, and that's the message I keep hearing over and over again, Fred. Back to you.
WHITFIELD: All right, Rene Marsh with people who are committed to their cause today.
Now let's check in with CNN's Ryan Young. He is in Chicago where the crowd size had stretched something like a mile. What are you witnessing there?
[14:05:10] RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's stretched over a mile at this point, Fred. And what we wanted to do was get sort of a bird's eye view. We got on top of an elevated platform on the L here. And you can look back this direction. Look, this has been this long in terms of the stretch of people for over 25 minutes now. During your last interview we had some of this video going up. One of the things we noticed is sometimes it seems like the crowd is actually swelling and growing larger.
Since about 10:00 a.m. this morning we have seen thousands and thousands of people sort of join this point. In fact we talked to some officers along the way. They believe this march here is in the tens of thousands of people. One thing that we've noticed is the energy continues to build.
And something that's interesting about, maybe a fashion statement that people are making, when you look at the fact that the first lady wore that jacket, a lot of people have taken that jacket and used it as a part of their cause, but when you look down this street right here, this is over a mile long when you look back this way. And I'm going to turn the camera across the elevated platform here, you can see the subway, these are people who have decided to stand and take a break, and then the line still continues. They actually walked by the ICE building. They chanted out there for quite some time, but then they continued their march.
And the energy just flows all the way through it. Like I told you before we were talking to people who have never protested before but they felt like this was something they wanted to stand for. And you see it's almost like they have these block captains at the end of each block who are cheering everybody on. We walked back this direction so you can just see the shot of this crowd again because it is just so massive.
Rene was talking about the fact it's one of the hottest days of the year there in D.C., well, it has been the hottest day so far here. We have seen a lot of people in terms of just handing out free water to make sure this crowd stays hydrated. There's so much passion when it comes to the idea of uniting families. You can hear it in their voices as they walk the streets. People say this is about the identity of America and they wanted to be here to fight. And as you can see by the massive crowds it's an amazing sight in terms of the people and how large and how it just keeps going and going. Fred?
WHITFIELD: The passion is intense as is the heat there, Ryan. Heat index, what, 100, feels like 100, but not at all melting away, you know, the commitment from people there. Ryan young, thanks so much in Chicago.
Let's talk more about all of this that we're seeing across the country today. Here with me right now is Matt Viser, CNN political analyst and deputy bureau chief for the "Boston Globe," also Nathan Gonzalez, CNN political analyst and editor and publisher for "Inside Elections." Good to see you both. Nathan, I wonder, is this demonstration mostly about the separation of families at the border, or has it also flowed into other things? You've got a Supreme Court justice now vacancy, you've got people who are concerned about labor rights, voting rights. Is this really a conglomeration of many things?
NATHAN GONZALEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Democrats in particular are looking for any and every opportunity to oppose the president, voice their disapproval. We saw this from the day after he was inaugurated with the women's march.
WHITFIELD: Is this a Democratic issue?
GONZALEZ: I think the Democrats are more likely to come to the protest and to voice and to be vocal and to be public about their disapproval with the president. And so I think this one is primarily about immigration, but I'm sure that the same people that are out there disagree with the president on multiple issues.
To me wondering about -- looking forward to November and the midterm elections, I know Republicans are concerned the Democratic turnout is going to be up. The question is can Republicans maintain or improve their turnout among their own voters?
WHITFIELD: So Matt, is this apolitical, or is it that you are seeing more Democrats who are outspoken about this but not necessarily because Republicans are not feeling, I guess, as passionate about this issue, just not out loud?
MATT VISER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think probably most of the people we are seeing in the streets today are probably opponents of president trump and his policies. Of course, some Republicans would include themselves in that category, but it's largely kind of a Democratic base that's really fired up right now, largely over this issue, but as Nathan was saying, there is a lot on the table. And a lot has changed over this past week with the retirement of Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court that's jacking up both sides really to a level that it's hard to see any more mobilized and passionate.
GONZALEZ: I think the Republicans who don't like the ripping apart of families and what's going on at the border, they are probably more at home, but the question for me, again, looking at the midterms, do they punish what the president is doing, do they punish Republican incumbents and candidates, or do they reward Democratic candidates to say we need Democrats to have control of Congress in order to put a check with the president? I think that's where the midterm dynamic plays out.
WHITFIELD: So we've heard a number of lawmakers today who were in attendance who used this as an opportunity to say it's time to abolish ICE, Immigration Customs Enforcement. This was Senator Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts earlier. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [14:10:05] SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: The president's deeply immoral actions have made it obvious, we need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality and values.
WARREN: This moment is a moral crisis for our country. Dr. Martin Luther King said, there comes a time when silence is betrayal. We will not be silent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So the president via Twitter has been very critical about this saying, OK, ICE now then perhaps police later, but we haven't heard that jargon come from any of those who are proposing to do away with ICE, but, Matt, is it a mistake that perhaps, you know, this takes away from that singular issue that does seem to cross party lines, which is the splitting of families? Now you bring in ICE, people are confused, what do you mean? No border protection at all? What's going on here?
VISER: It is really the mobilization of the left, of the progressive part of the Democratic Party. And it's becoming really a litmus test for 2020 candidates. You saw Elizabeth Warren there staking out that turf. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, others who may run are also doing that. But as you point out, there's no legislative option for this to happen. There is not going to be an abolishment of ICE. So there is a lot of politics involved in it right now that doesn't lead anywhere policy-wise probably.
GONZALEZ: And it might be the right politics for a 2020 Democratic nomination, but Democrats have to do well in the 2018 midterm elections. All these people either don't have a real race or don't have a race at all when you have Democratic incumbents, Democratic candidates who Republicans say they want them to answer that question because they are saying you are for amnesty, you're for open borders, and try to pound them with it this November.
WHITFIELD: And it seems problematic, too, because ICE is a portion, it's under the umbrella of U.S. customs and border protection, but when some people here do away with ICE, are they also thinking, wait, does that mean do away with all kinds of border protection?
VISER: Yes, I mean, it's a lot of --
WHITFIELD: It's going to be confusing for the electorate.
VISER: But it takes a lot of explanation, and that old rule in politics when you are explaining you're losing. In this case there is a lot to educate the public on what ICE does and what it represents and what abolishing it would mean. So it takes a couple steps to get there, which is complicated for Democrats, I think.
WHITFIELD: Nathan Gonzalez, Matt Viser, good to see you both. Thank you so much. Happy Fourth weekend. We're almost there to the Fourth of July.
Next, we'll head west and get the latest on immigration protests in Texas, Oregon and California. We'll be right back.
[14:17:00] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. We continue to cover the protests going on in cities across the country. Let's go now to the southern border. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in McAllen, Texas. So Diane, what are you seeing there? We've seen hundreds, thousands of people converged in big cities like L.A., Washington, New York, Chicago. What about there in McAllen where the processing center is?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, those images coming out of here are kind of is what you're seeing a lot of people use to dress up, the silver blankets. They're talking about seeing the kids in cages. Those images came from here in McAllen. Our population in this particular area not quite the same as Chicago or New York, but population considering a couple hundred people showed up.
And I want you to meet the two organizers, Fred. They are people who just graduated high school. This is Sara Vann and Oscar Lopez. Sara, why did you feel the need to organize this? You have never done anything like this before.
SARA VANN, PROTEST ORGANIZER: No. We felt like this is our community down here, and it's a predominantly immigrant community. And these are people that we've known all our lives that are being affected by this. This isn't just the beginning of this with Trump's zero- tolerance policy. We need to defund ISIS -- ICE, I'm sorry. And this has been going on for way too long, and this needs to end now.
GALLAGHER: And Oscar, you guys, again, planned this entire rally. You had a couple hundred people here for two and a half hours. What is the message if you had one for the president of the United States?
OSCAR LOPEZ, PROTEST ORGANIZER: I think that we need active legislative efforts to ensure that families are reunited expeditiously, and furthermore zero-tolerance needs to come to an end. It's not practical or humane to criminally prosecute everyone, all the migrants that cross the border. These people are not just illegal immigrants. They are asylum seekers and they deserve to be treated with respect.
GALLAGHER: Thank you both so much. I appreciate it. And again, Fred, two recent high school graduates from here in the valley planned their protest. Not on par size-wise with what we saw in the different communities but passion-wise and education-wise because the people who live in McAllen have been dealing with not just the zero-tolerance policy but their battles with the treatment of migrants for years now. And we talked to a lot of people who had strong feelings about not just what should be done but the way that this particular administration is going about it. First and foremost they spoke about the treatment and humane treatment of those who are coming across and making sure that instead of narrowing the scope for asylum that it could even be expanded to accept more individuals here into this community and into the rest of the country they said.
WHITFIELD: And they are closest to what is under the microscope. All right, Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much in McAllen, Texas.
Let's head now to Portland, Oregon, where people have converged there for the same reasons. Dan Simon, what are you hearing and seeing from people there?
[14:20:03] DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Fred. Pretty large crowd has assembled here at this park in Oregon. Portland, Oregon. And we should also point out that you have this action here at this park, but just a couple miles away you have a 24/7 encampment surrounding the ICE headquarters there. It has gotten tense at times, there have been some arrests there in recent days.
And here in Portland they kind of see themselves as a leader of this movement that we're seeing all across the country. I want to introduce now you to Julia here. She has her one-year-old daughter. You can see her sign. It says, kids need gardens not guards. She is indicative in terms of the people that are here. Julia, tell me why you felt so compelled to act and come to the park today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a nursing mother, and I heard that a woman had her child ripped from her arms while she was nursing. And that's really impacted even every time I've nursed my daughter since then. And I have a little boy there is and I just try to get them out in nature as much as possible. And when I think about kids being locked up in old Wal-Marts it just makes me really sad.
SIMON: Are you somebody who has gone to protests before? I know that Portland obviously is a city with a lot of civic activism in its blood. Are you somebody who comes out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not usually. I came to the women's march also. I'm certainly concerned about the freedoms for my children in the future and where the world is going, so I just want to support positive things as much as possible.
SIMON: Julia, thank you very much.
And Fred, I think what she said there is key. We've talked to other people like Julia, people who don't normally come out in protest for various events. These are sort of first timers, if you will, people who felt so galvanized by this movement that is really sweeping the country, and obviously you see the results here with hundreds if not thousands of people congregating on this park here in Portland. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Dan Simon in Portland, Oregon. Thank you so much.
So protests are also getting under way south of there in Los Angeles. Joining me right now CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell. So, Josh, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE, is under a lot of scrutiny, some Democratic lawmakers pushing for it to be abolished all together. So help explain ICE's role in carrying out the administration's immigration policies. JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Hi, Fred.
Things are getting under way here in Los Angeles, and that seems to be one of the topics of interest here is not only the issue that we've been seeing as far as what to do on the border as far as separating families from their parents and children and that aspect. But as you mentioned there is this other underlying issue, and that is what about the law enforcement agencies themselves?
And one thing that has been of hotly contested debate of late is, are these agencies doing what we expect them to do? I have to say a lot of that comes from the top. A lot of this is being set by national policymakers within the Department of Justice. We know this zero- tolerance policy which we've seen as far as how to enforce the laws, and that really is a directive that goes down to the agencies, the men and women on the ground executing. I can tell you it's a difficult job when that discretion is taken away and officers at the border or in ICE that have this mission as far as deportation and investigation, they have to take those orders. So they're caught up in the middle of this.
It's really going to be a national policy issue that lawmakers have to look at. That's one law enforcement aspect that we've been seeing with the number of these debates -- or these rallies, rather, you've been seeing them around the country. Another issue I want to talk about, Fred, briefly is what goes into these events and actually putting them together and piecing them together. There's a lot we see, there's a lot we don't see when it comes to event security.
I want to bring in here Sergeant Hector Guzman form the Los Angeles Police Department. Sergeant Guzman. We were talking a little bit. I was talking to some of your colleagues earlier. And there is obviously a lot that we see. There's a lot that we don't see as far as the law enforcement presence here. Talk to us about your posture and you plan for these events.
SGT. HECTOR GUZMAN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: That is correct. We have sufficient resources on hand to handle any situation. We don't expect or we don't anticipate any issues. We have worked with these event organizers in the past, never had any issues.
As you mentioned, there are a lot of resources that you see, some that you don't see. But at the end of the day this is a family event. Our main goal is to facilitate a planned and permitted peaceful march. Our biggest concern is safely moving a large crowd from the beginning of this event to the end, and for that we have our department of transportation partners on hand who help us with the road closures and help us facilitate that safe crowd movement.
CAMPBELL: And that's a key point when you talk about it being a family event. We were talking to some of your colleagues in different agencies and that seems to be the theme here, that although you see uniform police presence, folks have to remember that a lot of your role is actually ensuring the security of the people here that are exercising their First Amendment right, correct? GUZMAN: That's correct. And a big role and a big thing that we do to
help us achieve that goal is work in advance with the event organizers. There is a lot of planning like you said that goes into -- in advance that goes into this event, and a lot of that is working hand in hand with the event organizers, communicating with them before, during, and after the event to make sure that we are on the same page as to what they expect from us and what they expect from -- and what we expect from them.
[14:25:12] CAMPBELL: Perfect. And so far no issues here in L.A.?
GUZMAN: No issue. We don't anticipate any issues. Our biggest concern is safely moving such a large crowd. And it's going to get warm today, so that seems to be sometimes an issue with people dealing with heat exhaustion, things of that sort. We have our fire department on hand to help with any medical issues should they arise, and just remind people to stay hydrated. And we expect a nice, peaceful event today.
CAMPBELL: Perfect. Thanks for the work you do. Thanks for being here.
And Fred, when things are getting under way in Los Angeles, we see the crowd that's continuing to build behind us. We will start to see shortly some speeches. There's going to be some music here, some of the elected officials. And then this crowd will then move to the ICE detention center which is their final rallying point. We will see that take place and continue to bring you those images here from Los Angeles.
WHITFIELD: All right, Josh Campbell, thanks so much in L.A.
Protests in the president's backyard following him on his getaway weekend to New Jersey. We'll take you there live and hear what might be on the president's mind as thousands march against his immigration policies.
[14:30:45] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Live pictures right now of demonstrations taking place across the country. Live pictures right now in Denver. And also protests taking place in New Jersey, not far from where the president is spending this near holiday weekend. People have gathered there. CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez is nearby. So Boris, any chance that the president sees what's taking place there not too far away from Bedminster where he is at his golf course?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know just yet, Fred. That protest was taking place in a library, some three miles or so away from his actual property in Bedminster. The president has not weighed in about these national protests. We've reached out to the press team. They have not gotten back to us.
However, he was this morning reflecting on immigration policy via Twitter. I want to put up some of the tweets now. The president bashing Democrats writing, quote, "The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest, and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I've watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 and clean out the toughest of situations. They are great."
He went on to say "To the great brave men and women of ICE, do to the worry or lose your spirit. You're doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements. So brave. The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance. It will never happen."
Two quick points, Fred. First, it is not all Democrats calling for the abolition Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In fact Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York who first put this idea out there was criticized by some Democrats for saying that. Further, the president is making a quite a leap suggesting that Democrats will go -- certain Democrats will go from wanting to restructure ICE to wanting to abolish police overall.
We do know the president is keeping busy this weekend at his golf club. Yesterday he told reporters that he could potentially interview one or two possible candidates to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kennedy of course announced his retirement earlier this week. The president also told reporters that he whittled down a list of some 25 names to just five possible candidates, though he did say that he was going to be interviewing six or seven, including two women.
We should point out that the president was asked specifically about whether he would ask these candidates on their position on abortion, if he would bring up Roe versus Wade with them, and he said that he would not, saying, further, that he would not ask them about LGBT issues, either. The president did say that they are all qualified, very intelligent, very conservative candidates, though, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.
Still ahead, thousands protest the president's zero tolerance policy at the border. We are back live with all the demonstrations across the country.
[14:38:11] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Increasing outrage as Americans put pressure on Congress and the president to repair immigration policies. Right now thousands of people are marching in Washington and across the country.
Let's get back to CNN correspondent Rene Marsh in the nation's capital. Rene, last we saw you, you were walking with people who had started out at Lafayette Park right outside the White House, making their way to the U.S. capital. Has everyone reached that destination?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I want to just show you the scene here, Fred. I mean, I can't just state how really warm it is, so folks here now that they've reached the destination, I think everyone is kind of just catching their breath, cooling off a little bit. We do know that some 45 people had to be treated at cooling stations and by paramedics here just because it is so incredibly hot.
But the protesters started at Lafayette Park. We then moved down Pennsylvania Avenue making stops in front of the Trump Hotel. We also made stops in front of the Department of Justice and then we continued down Pennsylvania Avenue to make it here where, again, you can see people are just taking a time out and cooling off. But everyone so passionate, so much energy, so much enthusiasm from these protesters. They said, yes, it's hot out here, but that's all secondary. They wanted everyone to hear their message. They do not agree with the separations of -- separation of families. They do not agree with the detention of families. They do not agree with the detention of children. They certainly don't agree with children being held in cages. This is the message they wanted to be very, very clear, not only to the administration, but also to members of Congress.
[14:40:05] They also wanted to be crystal clear to the immigrant community. They say they are almost embarrassed by these policies and they wanted it to be clear that all Americans do not fall in line with the policies that have been rolled out by the administration that they just simply feel is not passionate.
And just some more people, you may here some cheering, just some more people filling into the park here where it's a lot cooler. And earlier today we heard from a lot of speakers, everyone from America Ferrara to Alicia Keys, they gave very passionate speeches. And now this is kind of where everyone has come to sit and just take a timeout.
I'm going to actually maybe speak to this lady here. I know you are about to take a photo, but we're live on CNN. You were there marching today, your sign says "They are all our children." And that is the theme that I've heard from almost everyone is they feel like the compassion is missing. Tell me a little bit more about your message.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, first of all, I think that everybody on earth whether or not we have -- he or she has a kid, has been a kid. So everybody ought to be able to feel some empathy for children, especially for children crying for their parents alone at night.
MARSH: I was just talking to Fredricka Whitfield our anchor here, and the 45 people had to be treated for the heat exhaustion. I mean, it's warm out here, but everyone I speak to says that is secondary. It doesn't matter. Forget about the heat. There is something --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hotter in Texas. It's hotter in Texas and there are babies in tent cities. And the other -- and people think that it doesn't make sense to come out and demonstrate, but it seems to me very important to fight back against hopelessness, because I think that hopelessness is an actual tool of tyranny. And when we come out and say we're thinking of the children even if you aren't, we are helping keep hope for them alive as well as for our democracy.
MARSH: And do you do this realizing that the policy may not change? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The policy will change because I'm not going to
ever lose hope. And a whole lot of hopeful people, people filled with hope, can triumph under a small cabal of tyrants.
MARSH: Thank you so much.
So Fred, I'm going to send it back to you here. The march has pretty much come to its conclusion here, but folks are still here with their signs, still talking to each other, and each of them seem to be getting just a little bit of power from the other, knowing that they are all out here for the same reason, Fred.
MARSH: Folks trying to cool down in that 90 degree heat. It feels like 93 heat index in Washington, D.C. But all still very much fired up over all of this. Rene Marsh, thank you so much in the nation's capital.
With me right now to discuss the policy, the protests, Michael Eric Dyson, who is the author of the new book "What Truth Sounds Like." Also joining me Cornell Brooks, the former president and CEO of the NAACP. Thanks to both of you, great to see you both.
So Michael, you first, because America has seen this before, whether it's the dehumanization of people or the power of protests. Which one in this case really might most determine the outcome?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE": Well, I think that the common identification with people across ranges of ethnicity, of color, of sexuality, that woman eloquently talking about hopelessness as a tool of tyranny is absolutely right, this cabal of tyrants about which she spoke.
I think that it's incredibly important to understand that people are identifying with people because they understand we could be next. There is nobody who is safe or protected from the bigotry and from the resistance to humanity that this president has evinced, and that people in his administration, it has trickled down so that they have been emboldened, not only people in his administration but people across this country who have seen a resurgence of the hostility toward the other, and demonizing them and adding stigma to their head.
So we've seen this before in terms of the separation of enslaved human beings from their children, in internment camps, we've seen this when immigration came in this country. So this is something that is a replay of a horrible movie. It was terrible the first time, the replay is even more atrocious.
WHITFIELD: How do you see this, Cornell, because talk about the power of the protest and how people have felt galvanized. First it was the women's march which was incredibly impressive the day after inauguration. Then you had these young people who were joined by adults, this March for Our Lives, and now you have an incredible tapestry of people who are saying they're marching for children who are their children as well.
[14:45:01] CORNELL BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: That's right. That's right. People all across this country understand that these children are not migrant children. They are, in fact, our children because we all are indeed human beings.
And so when we think about the fact that we had Japanese-Americans who were interred, we had African-Americans and Latino-Americans, young people, who have been criminalized under a policy called zero- tolerance in schools as opposed to zero-tolerance on the border.
And so this moral outrage has brought Americans together because so often we have heard family values as a rallying cry of the right when, in fact, it's family values as American values, as inclusive values, that is bringing people all together -- I should say together across the country. When you have -- and around the world. When you have 620 marchers around the world, all across the country, in all 50 states, Democrats, Republicans, old and young. Why? Because we've all been children. We all know what it's like to have a child hold on to us out of fear, out of apprehension, with the need for comfort and security. And we have the government, our government, engaged in the practice of immigration deterrence by administrative kidnapping. That's intolerable.
WHITFIELD: And so how is it that this administration can afford that kind of point of view or even assessment, especially now a day after we hear that this administration didn't even have a plan in place in which to reunify, but there was a plan to use this policy as a deterrent.
DYSON: Well, that's the point. They have not had much forethought. They have not given much consideration to it. What they understand, though, they're playing to the galleys of their most devoted followers who have been hoodwinked and bamboozled by a president who ostensibly is committed to the interest of working class white people and the resentment against the other. They are taking crumbs off of our table, these immigrants coming over here. He even tried this with African-American by saying, hey, we're trying to keep them from taking your jobs, which is balderdash.
The reality is that it's not the -- it's not the Puerto Ricans or the Mexicans or the Dominicans. It's these right wing Republicans who have been vicious in their denial of the humanity of these people.
We can't stress this enough. We can have differences, bipartisan or at least partisan differences that are expressed politically. But what we cannot tolerate in this country is the dehumanizing of the other, to think that the person who stands across from me is not a human being. And furthermore, as Brother Brooks said, when you talk about children, the most vulnerable people on this earth, what families do you value? They value heterosexual white male dominated families, but not families that are an aggregate, a picture of this country in its profound diversity.
So this presidency, this administration is not invested in a serious consideration of human rights or even the civil rights of those that have been denied. It's about the perpetuation of its own legacy of intolerance which translates to votes at the polls. WHITFIELD: So Cornell, largely people can understand the outrage and
people being outspoken about the outrage universally, children being separated from their families. But then how does anyone explain the silence of those who do not seem to be outwardly enraged at the notion of children being separated from their parents, not just for 20 days, but for many days more.
BROOKS: I think there's a certain partisan blindness in the country in a sense that you have people who want to take this issue, which is a profoundly moral issue, and turn it into a D or R issue only, conservative or liberal issue only, when, in fact, it's more profound than that.
And so when you have an administration that not only gave no thought as to how to reconnect the parents and children, but actually had a pilot program for the separation of the children. So we have malevolence and incompetence, bad intent and bad execution coming together. And so anyone who is not outraged by this has to be blinded by a certain partisan commitment to this White House, because the fact of the matter is there's no way for us to explain this morally or historically as anything other than an atrocity. It is, in fact, that.
And where you have evangelicals who are beginning to wake up to the fact that you can't care about the baby in the womb without caring about the babies walking down the street, this is a problem. And it's much bigger than these stories.
DYSON: It's complicity on the part of those people who remain silent.
WHITFIELD: Cornell Brooks, Michael Eric Dyson, it's good to see you both. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
DYSON: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: We will be right back.
[14:54:11] CHRISSY TEIGEN, MODEL: -- is big, beautiful and diverse, like our great city of Los Angeles. It's not small. It's not petty. And not exclusive, like Mar-a-Lago, ultra-exclusive. Tremendous. Tremendous exclusivity. Can you imagine this city without the contributions of immigrants, how bland, how flavorless L.A. would be, how boring? Too many people demonize immigrants like they're stealing something from the people born here. Immigrants don't come here --
WHITFIELD: All right, sorry about that, but you see many celebrities are speaking out against the Trump administration's policy of separating children and families. Chrissy Teigen there with her newborn there in Los Angeles. So many people have come out across the country from coast to coast speaking out on this day of protest.
[14:55:11] Thanks so much for being with me today from Washington, D.C. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Much more of the Newsroom continues with Ana Cabrera in New York after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)