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Trump on Possibility of War with Iran, I Hope Not; U.S. Steps Up Campaign Against Chinese Tech Giant Huawei; White House Is Split on Whether There Is Enough Evidence Against Iran; Trump Reports Making At Least $475 Million in 2018; New Brexit Party Campaigns Ahead of European Vote; Former Australian Prime Minister Dead At 89. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 16, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, one man is dominating the news, can you guess who? Donald Trump. He's blacklisting Huawei, but the Chinese tech giant is threatening to hit

back. Also this hour.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE reporter: Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?



GORANI: The U.S. President says he does not want a war amid rising tensions with Iran. But when asked, he says, I hope there won't be one.

We'll be live at the White House as President Trump unveils a new immigration plan. Tech giant Huawei warns blocking the Chinese company to

do business in the U.S. would quote, affect tens of thousands of American jobs.

This after the new executive order signed by President Donald Trump to combat, he says spying. China says the U.S. is abusing the concept of

national security. Meanwhile a U.S. based Huawei official is not ruling out legal action. He says all options are on the table.

Huawei is one of the world's largest suppliers of telecommunications gear. Let's bring in our tech correspondent Samuel Burke. Also joining us are

U.S. security analyst Samantha Vinograd, she is in New York. Samantha, I want to start with you. One analyst quoted by "Bloomberg" said the Trump

administration action is a grave escalation with China. They are citing national security concerns without naming Huawei but is there cause for

national security concerns here with regard to a company like Huawei?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think there certainly is. We've seen lawmakers on both sides of the aisle express support for

the fact that Huawei and ZTE pose national security risks to our telecommunications infrastructure. Senator Mark Warner a few hours ago

expressed support for moving ahead with actions to punish Huawei and ZTE for these kinds of activities. So I think the threat is real.

The question is whether the mechanism the President has chosen, executive orders are a vehicle for addressing this threat. There is 150 days

implementation period in which the Department of Commerce can take the time, has to take the time to write rules for implementation. We have seen

President Trump flip-flop on actions against China in the past. I would not rule out yet that this is not a done deal. I think we have to consider

it in the context of the trade war with China.

GORANI: What do tech experts say about the person for Huawei to be a threat if it participates in 5G networks in countries like the U.S. and the


SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: There's really no evidence. And the people who are in the know, the people who are

looking at this seriously, will tell you that we don't have any evidence of this, what there is, is potential. And so what they really are then making

a decision, is this something we wanted to leave behind this type of technology and the inexpensive cost of it? Because Huawei comes much

cheaper setting us back so we can try to protect ourselves from this potential risk.

I want to put up on the screen what Huawei is saying about this. It's restricting our company from doing business in the U.S. will not make the

U.S. more secure or stronger. I think that's debatable. This will only serve to limit the U.S. I'd say that's true. Leaving the U.S. lagging

behind in 5G deployment and eventually harming the interest of U.S. companies and consumers.

A report just came out in the U.K. today saying something similar but saying it would be worth that risk. Even if the U.K. suffers techno

technologically, because they believe this particular group, it would make the U.K. safer, they should pay that cost.

[14:05:00] GORANI: The idea that this national economic emergency should call for the ban -- the -- from not allowing Huawei to buy U.S. components.

Does this not smell also of some sort of economic move? Some sort of business move to punish a -- or try to halt in its tracks a big tech giant

from China?

VINOGRAD: It does. President Trump likes to do everything he can to prop up U.S. exports. When you look at the companies that might be affected by

the export ban. It actually runs counter to his actions to again try to prop up our experts, vis-a-vis China. At this point I think we have to

consider this move within the larger context of the trade war and not just the export perspective.

When we talk about the national security risks that China poses and I'm responding to the comment that there's no evidence of what Huawei and ZTE

do. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been very vocal about these threats, he has access to classified intelligence, I do think that they are

real. We also know that China has the ability to penetrate entire supply chains of products, whether it be semiconductors or telecommunications

infrastructure. I would not mitigate the threat that these companies pose at this point.

GORANI: Is there a difference between what's called core and none core? Based on the leak that came from this national security meeting in the U.K.

it was considering the acquisition of noncore gear. Is that safer in a sense?

BURKE: Technologically it depends who you speak with. You have to remember that 5G is built on top of 4G technology it does seem like these

are countries that are caught in the middle. They want to have this technology, it's cheaper, it doesn't -- it is more effective they say. So

they want to have it in some parts maybe that could help mitigate the risk. Technologically, I haven't met one tech expert that doesn't say if for some

reason they found Huawei, the risk could be mitigated and they could patch it, they say.

GORANI: Let's also remind our viewers, that Huawei has done business with European and Western countries, correct?

BURKE: To pick up on a point Samantha was saying, how this has an adverse effect on American exports. The decision the Trump administration has made

here, will make it so that Qualcomm -- they'll have to apply for an export license to do this. We don't know if they'll get that export license. The

stocks are down 4 percent.

GORANI: That's not panic, I find that interesting. Maybe there is hope that this means, as Samantha was saying, it's 150 days before all this goes

into effect.

BURKE: You're putting not just Chinese business in the firing line, the Trump administration is also putting American business --

VINOGRAD: And our intelligence sharing too. I will not.

GORANI: Samantha go ahead.

VINOGRAD: In addition to that this move is putting pressure on our intelligence sharing relationships. The administration has said that if

European countries don't follow our lead, that we will have to cut off some of our intelligence sharing because of continued reliance by our

intelligence partners by our networks. Regardless of what happens with this, I imagine behind the scenes, the director of national intelligence is

speaking with his counterparts in the U.K. all over Europe, to tell them there might have to be steps taken to tamp down our inning tell against

sharing for this reason.

GORANI: And that's a big issue when it comes to combating real threats, whether it's terrorism, whether it's other threats that could be cause for

concern for all of these countries and these allies in Europe.

VINOGRAD: Certainly, we're about to go to war with Iran. President Trump says he hopes we don't. We're sharing incredibly sensitive and timely

information with our counterparts. The idea that we might have to walk back from some of this intelligence sharing, because of the Europeans

reluctance to follow our lead on these issues, is terrifying from a threat perspective.

GORANI: What impact on Huawei if they can't buy these U.S. components anymore?

BURKE: This is a huge loss. I think what this all shows, I think we don't think about this enough, the Chinese are really pulling ahead of the

Americans when it comes to technology development. Whether it's a Huawei iPhone that many of your viewers will be holding in their hands. It used

to be when I reported on Chinese tech company, people would tell me these are copies.

Slowly they've been able to move ahead and make better technology. Whether it's the cameras, foldable phones. Or if it's this 5G equipment that every

telecom operator I speak to tells me it's better than the competitors and costs less. They've been able to pull ahead of Silicon Valley, it's an

incredible turn of events.

[14:10:00] GORANI: Is 5G much better than 4G?

BURKE: It's I going to 4G from 3G. If you were already busy tube stop, you'll notice the difference in the next year if there's --

GORANI: I guess I don't use my phone to stream very heavy data loads and things like that. Thanks very much to both of you there, for helping us

cover this top story.

Our other top story here, as we continue to bring you up to date on the news. Soaring tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the "New York Times" is

reporting, the United States has declassified a photo of a small boat in the Persian Gulf caring what is said to be an Iranian missile.

CNN had already reported that such images helped convince the Pentagon that Iran could potentially pose a bigger threat to United States interest. The

President is meeting with the Swiss President. Possibly to establish back channel talks with Iran through Switzerland. Before that meeting there was

this ominous exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran.

TRUMP: I hope not.


GORANI: We are covering both sides of this story quickly developing. Fred Pleitgen is standing by now in Iran's capital Tehran. First though,

Barbara Starr joins me now from the Pentagon. When you asked the President, are we going to war, and his reply as I hope not, it doesn't

sound too reassuring.

BARBARA STARR, CHIEF PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the President has one essential issue he is look at right now. There's no question about it, if

there's an Iranian threat. And an Iranian threat to American forces and American interest in the region. The red line certainly is to be ready if

the Iranians did attack U.S. troops or U.S. interests. Or there was intelligence they were imminently about to attack.

So this is something that would require a United States military response. You could not let it go unanswered if there was around attack on the U.S.

by Iran. Is that war, is that a strike? Who knows? More broadly, the challenge right now for the administration is to try to find a way to show

Congress and the world the intelligence that indicates that Iran's intention, its capability this time around is different, is more imminent.

Is more threatening than their usual provocations. They have to show why they are taking this so seriously. There's a lot of skepticism out there.

GORANI: Sure, and there's a lot of skepticism, we all remember the Iraq war, Barbara, we all remember that intelligence that ended up not

necessarily panning out, in the way that the administration at the time had sold it. And in this case, I guess there are a lot of people trying to be

more careful with what we're hearing from the government and the administration, Barbara.

STARR: They are. They are. They are trying to be careful, and I think it's why you're seeing the Pentagon focus so much on the word deterrent.

They sent the aircraft carrier, they sent the B-52 bombers as a message of deterrent to Iran, to show them U.S. resolve, to show if they were even

thinking about attacking the United States, that the U.S. had enough firepower to make them try to think again about doing that. The U.S.

military, they are the last guys that ever want to go to war.

Defend the country, yes, they're not looking to get involved in a war that they -- that they analyze could take more than 100,000 troops if you were

to all out go to war against the Iranian regime. This would be a very tall order. At the Pentagon, they're hoping deterrence works. That the dog

doesn't bark. That there is silence that absolutely nothing happens. That may be an interesting proposition. If nothing happens, was the

intelligence wrong or was Iran deterred?

GORANI: Fred, what's the answer to that question? What are you hearing in Tehran here, especially when we hear from the U.S. President, I hope not,

when he's asked whether or not there will be war with Iran?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iranians have been saying for a while now, they're not looking for any sort of escalation

in this conflict. And in fact they believe it's been the United States that's been escalating the situation rather than themselves, the Iranians

are saying they're not the ones that are looking to move this forward. The Iranians are also saying if there is some sort of escalation, they would

strike back and strike back in a major way.

You almost hear both sides saying the same thing. On one hand you have the Trump administration saying that they don't want an escalation but if there

is one, the United States obviously has a lot of firepower in the region.

In the Iranians are saying they don't want an escalation but if something happens, senior commanders are saying, they'll not only use their ballistic

missile program, but their militias they have in various countries could get involved as well. It was quite interesting. Because Iran's foreign

minister he was in Japan today also actually talking about this very crisis and he once again blamed the United States for escalating the situation.

That's listening to some of what he had to say.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We believe that escalation of tension in the region is not in the interest of anyone but Iran. We

will not be the party beginning escalation but we will certainly defend ourselves and respond to any threat against our national security.


PLEITGEN: One of the things that the Iranians are also very well aware of are some of these perceived divisions in the Trump administration. What

Trump seems to think that some of his advisers are moving too quickly, too forcefully, and what could be a point of no return. In some sort of crisis

that could happen whereas President Trump seems to be more careful about things.

President Trump is meeting the head of Switzerland. The Iranians continue to say there's going to be no negotiations with the United States. The

Foreign Minister of Iran said this once again today. One of the things the Iranians keep saying, before there are going to be any new negotiations

with the Trump administration, they want sanctions to be loosened, they want to be able to sell oil again on international markets. They want

companies to be able to invest here without being punished by the United States and they would like to see the US obviously go back to the nuclear

agreement as well.

Of course all those are preconditions that I don't really think anybody sees that the Trump administration being willing to fulfill, Hala.

GORANI: Lastly, how does it work through the Swiss? The U.S. President is beating the swiss President is that because the thinking is, he'll go

through the Swiss to communicate with the Iranians.

STARR: The President has put out this message point to the Iranians, pick up a phone. Call me. There are not direct communications. There are a

number of intermediaries that are available through other military forces, and other diplomats, including the Swiss to pass messages to Iran. The

swiss have acted over the years as the official # intermediary if you will. Since diplomatic relations were suspend ed suspended so long ago. They're

talking about seeing what is possible and seeing, perhaps what is on his end.

GORANI: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thanks to both of you.

There may be no official leadership contest yet, but the race to become Britain's next Prime Minister is on, with one familiar face announcing his


Also, President Trump is about to lay out his immigration proposals. What does it include or who do these proposals leave out? Minutes away.


GORANI: Welcome back, much we have an incomplete but very fresh idea of how the finances of President Trump stack up. He has released a disclosure

that reveals he has made at least $479 million in 2018. This financial disclosure was released by the White House just minutes ago. This is not

like releasing a tax return, it doesn't go into granular detail. It gives the headline number. And that's almost half a billion.

He's maintained his interest in the Trump Organization. And as many of you know has not released his tax returns as has been custom for U.S.

Presidential candidates to do over the last several races. Now, here in the U.K., it's the news that surprises no one. Former British Foreign

Secretary Boris Johnson has publicly thrown his hat in the ring to become the next Prime Minister. With Brexit still in turmoil, the countdown is on

to Theresa May's departure.

May has been under a lot of pressure to quit. She finally it appears bowed to the inevitable. She now says she will confirm the details of her

departure in early June, regardless of whether she gets her Brexit deal through or not. With British lawmakers arguing about when and how to leave

the European Union. U.K. voters are getting ready to vote in next week's Parliamentary election. One of the candidates is the leader of the Brexit

Party. Nigel Farage is using the campaign to press the case for a complete break with the EU.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Back on the road and riding high in the polls. Nigel Farage is returning to the campaign trail with a more

middle of the road movement.


DOS SANTOS: Hoping to sway Labour and Conservative voters who feel betrayed over Brexit.


FARAGE: I'm really good.

DOS SANTOS: The Brexit Party may only be a month old. But as central promise to respect the results of the referendum has one that loyal

followers at the expense of Britain's two main parties.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted out anyway. It just happened, it's just become a complete shambles.

DOS SANTOS: If predictions become reality. He wants to have a say.

FARAGE: We demand space on the negotiating table. If people vote for this, they deserve to have their voice heard.

DOS SANTOS: Ahead of the votes, the Brexit Party is touring the U.K. and whether it's the working man's club or the conference halls of


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please welcome to the stage, Nigel Farage.

DOS SANTOS: The mix of personality and populism is popular. Even if the Brexit Party's only policy thus far appears to be Brexit itself.

Are you going to be voting the Brexit Party?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will, no question about it.


DOS SANTOS: Part of what makes the Brexit Party a force to be reckoned with, is its ability to deliver its message straight to the people in

rallies like these taking place up and down the country, it's all part of the strategy to get those who feel betrayed mobilized to the ballot box.

Few U.K. politicians could join a crowd like this on a Tuesday evening to work.

This is political star power coupled with words of warning for Westminster.

FARAGE: I thought we lived in a democratic country. I've learned that we don't live in a democratic country. And I made a promise that if I had to

return to the front line of this, then next time I said it would be no more Mr. Nice Guy, and I meant it.

[14:25:00] DOS SANTOS: That front line has shifted. The Brexit Party's next stop may be Brussels, but it's unlikely to be their last. CNN,



GORANI: Leading in many polls. Australia is saying good-bye to one of its longest serving Prime Ministers. Bob Hawke has died at the age of 89. He

won four elections between '83 and '91. He's been described as a champion of labor to a lovable rogue. Simon Cullen has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [14:25:00]

SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bob Hawke is what Australians like to a Larrikin. He loves sport especially when Australia won, he loved to drink,

he loved to joke, even at his own expense. The charismatic former trade union official went on to win four elections, cementing his position as one

of Australia's longest serving Prime Ministers. He was as much add ease with voters on the street as he was with Presidents in the White House. In

Washington, he advocated for stronger ties between Australia and the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of Australia.

CULLEN: Diplomatically, speaking truth to power.

BOB HAWKE, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, AUSTRALIA: Trade issues must not be allowed to fester or to erode our wider friendship or alliance.

CULLEN: In the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre, he tearfully condemned the Chinese regime, offering safe harbor to Chinese dissidents

fleeing the violence.

HAWKE: Thousands have been killed and injured, victims of a leadership that seems determined to hang on to the reins of power at any cost.

CULLEN: It was on the domestic front that his most significant reforms will be remembered. After a turbulent start, he guaranteed the future of

universal health care for all Australians, opened the economy to the rest of the world, and a lasting reconciliation between Australia and the


HAWKE: The important thing is what's in our minds. And our hearts.

CULLEN: He also spoke passionately in favor of feminism.

HAWKE: A commitment to give women a full say, a real choice and a fair go.

CULLEN: After 8 1/2 years he lost the leadership to his deputy. He retained a special place in Australian's hearts. And as an 82-year-old,

cemented his place in Australian folklore by downing a beer to raucous applause. News of his passing was confirmed on Thursday by his second

wife, who said in a statement, today we lost Bob Hawke. A great Australian. Many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era.

His death, just days out from Australia's national election, provided a rare moment of unity for the country's political leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had a great intellect, he had enormous passion. And he had courage. Bob Hawke loved Australia and Australia loved Bob Hawke.

CULLEN: An affection that endured to the end.


GORANI: Still to come, it was the centerpiece of his campaign. Now in just moments, Donald Trump will tell us exactly what he wants to do about

immigration. We'll have his comments from the White House live.


[14:30:47] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Welcome back. A lot going on in the world. Of course, there's the news about Iran, the U.S.

President met the Swiss president. Could this be the start of some sort of back channel communication with Iran? We know the secretary of state, Mike

Pompeo, also has been busy in the region on the phone with some Middle Eastern leaders in that part of the world. We'll see what impact that has

on the growing tension between the United States and Iran.

What we're also waiting for is for the U.S. president to make an appearance in just a few minutes. He's due to come out and outline his immigration

policies. So far, we've just heard the broad strokes. But the plan is expected to address border security and allow people to enter the U.S.

based on a merit-based system.

You remember immigration is one of the big issues he campaigned on, and that his critics absolutely loathe about him, some of them. One of the

first things he said when he announced his candidacy was, he called Mexicans mostly rapists and drug dealers. There's also been that

controversial family separation policy at the border. And that is something that the critics of Donald Trump, and his administration's

approach to immigration have pointed out as being inhumane.

So let's talk to Doug Heye. He's a Republican strategist. He joins me now live.

We're expecting the president to outline a policy. But are you surprised it's coming this late in his administration when immigration was really the

centerpiece of his campaign when he ran?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. To be honest, Hala, I think the answer is yes and no. On the one hand, Trump has consistently talked

about immigration. He's changed his language about it a little bit. It used to be build the wall, now it's finish the wall. So he's trying to get

some credit for what's been done already. I should say credit amongst his supporters. If you're not a Trump supporter, you're not going to support

the policy.

But also know that he hasn't been able to really get much done, something really on this. It's a very hard issue. I've spent two and a half years

working in the House of Representatives trying to get things done on immigration. And you want to talk about a wall, trying to get immigration

legislation through Congress is the hardest wall that there is.

But this isn't so much about policy that that's what he's going to be talking about. This is about politics and this is about 2020.

GORANI: And what's -- so what is the goal here for the president about politics? Because from what we understand, and what we've been told is

there will be some concrete proposal here, at least. They're not just insults hurled at neighbors.

HEYE: Well, I think with Donald Trump, we can always depend on both, unfortunately. But this is about rallying his base, immigration is core to

the Trump presidency, it's core to his message. It's why -- when Republicans criticize Trump, they do so on very specific policy proposals.

But they didn't really stand up to among the issue of executive orders, because this is where it's really hard to separate the policy from the

personality. It goes hand and hand with Trump.

It's why you see him always go back to this issue. It is his bread and butter. And in a campaign that I think is going to be on both sides, more

about base motivation than it is persuading voters, this is an issue that resonates really strongly with his base.

GORANI: Well, I would take a bet that the first question is on Iran, by the way. If he takes questions during this event, because really --

HEYE: For impeachment.

GORANI: Right. But Iran, I mean, one reporter asked him as he was hosting the Swiss president, "Will we go to war with Iran?" And he said, "I hope


Now, as I was telling our viewers, there is an effort, it appears, from the United States to find some sort of back channel diplomatic resolution. But

talk to us about a little bit about this administration's approach to Iran, and the ratcheting up of tensions in the region.

HEYE: Yes. It's very difficult to really discern what the overall message or policy is here for the president. There's broad dissension within the

party, or excuse me, within the White House, within his administration on how to handle it. Also made difficult -- more difficult, because Trump

wasn't elected to be really the commander in chief, the world strategist. That's not the role that he's traditionally been.

Iran certainly wasn't his strong suit in the campaign or in his previous life as a businessman, but we know -- and not just Republican politics, but

also broadly in America, a lot of the tough talk that you see from Donald Trump, whether it's about Iran, whether it's about china, those are things

that voters broadly support. Iran is not popular in the United States, and so Donald Trump almost can't go too far.

[14:35:01] GORANI: And, Doug, Donald Trump is walking to the podium now. Listen in.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Please. Thank you. Thank you very much.

We're here on this very beautiful spring day in the Rose Garden to unveil our plan to create a fair, modern, and lawful system of immigration for the

United States. And it's about time.


If adopted, our plan will transform America's immigration system into the pride of our nation and the envy of the modern world. Our proposal builds

upon our nation's rich history of immigration, while strengthening the bonds of citizenship that bind us together as a national family.

Throughout our history, we have proudly welcomed newcomers to our shores. Out of many people, from many places, we have forged one people and one

nation under God, and we're very proud of it.


We share the same home, we share the same destiny, and we pledge allegiance to the same, great American flag.


Our policies have turbo-charged our economy. Now, we must implement an immigration system that will allow our citizens to prosper for generations

to come.

Today, we are presenting a clear contrast. Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages, and, frankly, lawless chaos. We are proposing an

immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages, and safety of American workers first.


Our proposal is pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker. It's just common sense. It will help all of our people, including millions of

devoted immigrants, to achieve the American Dream.

We are grateful to be joined this afternoon by a tremendous number of people from the House, the Senate, and my cabinet. And I love you all, but

I won't introduce you all because I'll be here all day long. But you're all here.

Our plan achieves two critical goals. First, it stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border. And, second, it establishes a new legal

immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.

The proposal begins with the most complete and effective border security package ever assembled by our country or any other country, for that

matter. It's so important.


This plan was not developed, I'm sorry to say, by politicians. We have a lot of politicians. But you respect the people and you know the people

that have developed this plan. It was designed with significant input from our great law enforcement professionals to detail what they need to make

our border -- which is 100 percent operationally secure. One hundred percent.

Everyone agrees that the physical infrastructure on the border and the ports of entry is gravely underfunded and woefully inadequate. We scan

only a small fraction of the vehicles, goods, and all of the other things coming across, including people. And, sadly, the drugs pour across our

border. We're going to stop it.

Investment in technology will ensure we can scan 100 percent of everything coming through, curbing the flow of drugs and contraband, while speeding up

legal trade and commerce. It's the most heavily traded, monetarily, border anywhere in the world, and it's not even close.

[14:40:11] To make certain that we are constantly making the upgrades we need, our proposal creates a permanent and self-sustaining border security

trust fund. This will be financed by the fees and revenues generated at the border crossings itself.

Importantly, we're already building the wall, and we should have close to 400 miles built by the end of next year, and probably even more than that.

It's going up very rapidly.


And I want to thank the Army Corps of Engineers. They're doing a fantastic job on the wall. And that's a wall that is desperately needed.

As we close the gaps in our physical framework, we must also close the gaps in our legal framework. Critical to ending the border crisis is removing

all incentives for smuggling women and children. Current law --


That's right. That's right. Women and children. People have no idea how bad it is unless you're there, and unless you are a member of law

enforcement. They see it every day, and they can't believe what they see.

Current law and federal court rulings encourage criminal organizations to smuggle children across the border. The tragic result is that 65 percent

of all border-crossers, this year, were either minors or adults traveling with minors. Our plan will change the law to stop the flood of child

smuggling and to humanely reunite unaccompanied children with their families back home and rapidly. As soon as possible.


We must also restore the integrity of our broken asylum system. Our nation has a proud history of affording protection to those fleeing government

persecutions. Unfortunately, legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims -- these are frivolous claims -- to gain

admission into our country.

Asylum abuse also strains our public school systems, our hospitals, and local shelters, using funds that we should, and that have to, go to elderly

veterans, at-risk youth, Americans in poverty, and those in genuine need of protection. We're using the funds that should be going to them. And that

shouldn't happen. And it's not going to happen in a very short period of time. Have to get this approved.

My plan expedites relief for legitimate asylum seekers by screening out the meritless claims. If you have a proper claim, you will quickly be

admitted. If you don't, you will promptly be returned home. Crucially --


-- our plan closes loopholes in federal law to make clear that gang members and criminals are inadmissible. These are some of the worst people

anywhere in the world, MS-13 and others. Inadmissible. Not coming in. We're taking them out all the time by the thousands, a year, but they come

in. They are no longer admissible. And for criminals already here, we will ensure their swift deportation.


We will keep our communities safe. Americans can have complete and total confidence that under this plan, the borders will finally be fully and

totally secured.


And I know a number of our Republican friends and others -- Lindsey, I see you sitting right there, and Steve, you're working on a plan, an immediate

plan. A smaller plan, but a very immediate plan to stop it as of this afternoon. So, as fast as you can get something done. This is the big,

beautiful, bold plan, but we need something very quickly. And if you can get it done, that would be fantastic. OK? Thank you. Appreciate you

working on it.


[14:45:20] A topic of less discussion in national media, but of vital importance to our country, is our legal immigration system itself. Our

plan includes a sweeping modernization of our dysfunctional legal immigration process. It is totally dysfunctional. The system will finally

be fair, transparent, and promote equality and opportunity for all.

Every year, we admit 1.1 million immigrants as permanent legal residents. These green card holders get lifetime authorization to live and work here

and a five-year path to American citizenship. This is the most prized citizenship anywhere in the world, by far.

Currently, 66 percent of legal immigrants come here on the basis of random chance. They're admitted solely because they have a relative in the United

States. And it doesn't really matter who that relative is.

Another 21 percent of immigrants are issued either by random lottery, or because they are fortunate enough to be selected for humanitarian relief.

Random selection is contrary to American values and blocks out many qualified potential immigrants from around the world who have much to

contribute. While countless -- and you wouldn't believe how many countries, like Canada, create a clear path for top talent. America does


Under the senseless rules of the current system, we're not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in

his class from the finest colleges in the world -- anybody. We're not able to take care of it. We're not able to make those incredible breakthroughs.

If somebody graduates top of their class from the best college, sorry, go back to your country. We want to keep them here.

Companies are moving offices to other countries because our immigration rules prevent them from retaining highly skilled and even, if I might,

totally brilliant people. We discriminate against genius. We discriminate against brilliance. We won't anymore, once we get this passed. And we

hope to get it passed as soon as possible.


Some of the most skilled students at our world-class universities are going back home because they have no relatives to sponsor them here in the United

States. And that's the only way. We want these exceptional students and workers to stay, and flourish, and thrive in America.


Thank you.

As a result of our broken rules, the annual green card flow is mostly low- wage and low-skilled. Newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans and put pressure on our social safety net and generous

welfare programs.

Only 12 percent of legal immigrants are selected based on skill or based on merit. In countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and others,

that number is closer to 60 and even 70 and 75 percent, in some cases.

The biggest change we make is to increase the proportion of highly skilled immigration from 12 percent to 57 percent, and we'd like to even see if we

can go higher.


This will bring us in line with other countries and make us globally competitive.

[14:50:03] At the same time, we prioritize the immediate family of new Americans, spouses and children. The loved ones you choose to build a life

with, we prioritize, and we have to do that. They go right to the front of the line. Right to the front of the line, where they should be.


America's last major overhaul of our legal admissions policy was 54 years ago. Think of that. So a major update - and that's what this is, merit

system and a heart system is long overdue. The millions of legal immigrants who have come to America over the past half century are now

cherished members of our national family.

Going forward --


-- it is their interest, and in their interest, and their children's interest, to adopt a green card system that promotes a rising standard of

living for all of our citizens.

Three in four new jobs at the end of last year went to Americans previously out of the workforce. Our economy is better probably than it ever has been

in the history of our country.


And because of that great economy, we're able to do things that nobody ever thought possible before, and that's what we're going to do for immigration,


Wages are rising, but our current immigration system works at cross- purposes, placing downward pressure on wages for the working class, which is what we don't want to do.

Last year, we also passed historic criminal justice reform.


And we had tremendous backing, bipartisan, from Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals. I guess we could also use the word progressives.

A new word that's come about.

Americans with criminal records are getting a second chance at life in higher numbers than ever before. Unfortunately, the current immigration

rules allow foreign workers to substitute for Americans seeking entry-level jobs. So, foreign workers are coming in and they're taking the jobs that

would normally go to American workers.

America's immigration system should bring in people who will expand opportunity for striving, low-income Americans, not to compete with those

low-income Americans.


Our proposal fulfills our sacred duty to those living here today, while ensuring America remains a welcoming country to immigrants joining us

tomorrow. And we want immigrants coming in. We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country, but a big proportion of those immigrants

must come in through merit and skill.


The White House plan makes no change to the number of green cards allocated each year. But instead of admitting people through random chance, we will

establish simple, universal criteria for admission to the United States.

No matter where in the world you're born, no matter who your relatives are, if you want to become an American citizen, it will be clear exactly what

standard we ask you to achieve. It will be made crystal clear.


This will increase the diversity of immigration flows into our country. We will replace the existing green card categories with a new visa, the Build

America visa which is what we all want to hear.


Like Canada and so many other modern countries, we create an easy-to- navigate points-based selection system. You will get more points for being a younger worker, meaning you will contribute more to our social safety

net. You will get more points for having a valuable skill, an offer of employment, an advanced education, or a plan to create jobs.

[14:55:26] We lose people that want to start companies, and, in many cases, they're forced to leave our country, go back, usually, to the country where

they came from, and they'll start up companies, and some of those companies are among the biggest and most successful companies today in the world.

They could've started them right here in the United States, where they wanted to do it in the first place. Now, they'll have a chance.


Priority will also be given to higher-wage workers, ensuring we never undercut American labor. To protect benefits for American citizens,

immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.

Finally, to promote integration, assimilation, and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam

prior to admission.


Through these steps, we will deliver an immigration system that respects, and even strengthens, our culture, our traditions, and our values.

Four months ago, I had the honor of participating in a swearing-in ceremony for new Americans, right here in the Oval Office. It was a beautiful

reminder that American citizenship is the most precious gift our nation has to offer. When we swear in new citizens, we do more than give them a

permit. We give them a history, a heritage, a home, and a future of limitless possibilities and potential.

Our nation used to pride ourselves on this capacity. Our unique ability to instill the spirit of America into any human heart, into any human being.

Many of the Democrats have claimed to be for these concepts at different times in their careers and, in many cases, in very recent history. And I

hope that they will end up joining me and all of the people gathered together today in putting politics aside, putting security and wages first,

and pursuing these historic reforms. It's time.


And if for some reason, possibly political, we can't get the Democrats to approve this merit-based, high-security plan, then we will get it approved

immediately after the election, when we take back the House, keep the Senate, and, of course, hold the presidency.


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

But wouldn't it be nice to do it sooner than that?


But it's not a very long time, is it? Sixteen months.

One of the reasons we will win is because of our strong, fair, and pro- America immigration policy. It's time to restore our national unity and reaffirm our national purpose. It is time to rebuild our country for all


Together, we will create an immigration system to make America safer, and stronger, and greater than ever before.

Thank you. God bless you all. Thank you very much.


Thank you.