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Trump "Fine" with Buttigieg's Marriage, at Odds with Pence; Palm Beach Mayor Mack Bernard Discusses Concerns over Trump Administration Sending 100 Immigrants per Week to Palm Beach & Broward Counties; Report: Same-Sex U.S. Couples' Kids Denied Birthright Citizenship. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 17, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:31:23] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: President Trump appears to break with conservatives and even his own vice president on the issue of same-sex marriage. He says it's absolutely fine for Democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, to campaign alongside his husband.

Here's what the president told a FOX News host who asked him about Buttigieg and same-sex marriage.


UNIDENTIFIED FOX NEWS HOST: Don't you think it's great to see you have a guy on the stage with his husband and it's normal. It's not --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's absolutely fine. I do.


UNIDENTIFIED FOX NEWS HOST: But is it a sign of great progress in the country that that is just --

TRUMP: Yes. I think it's great. I think that's something that perhaps some people will have a problem with. I have no problem with it whatsoever. I think it's good.


KEILAR: Alexandra Rojas is executive director of Justice Democrats, a political action committee, and Dana Bash is our chief political correspondent.

So, we know that the vice president certainly opposes same-sex marriage. He has gotten this back and forth with Pete Buttigieg and has come down to faith. That is what the discussion has been.

How do you read this? Is this the president agreeing with someone who is basically saying, isn't it great, or is he trying to send a message to the LGBTQ? I don't think the former.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it has the benefit, if you are the LGBTQ community, of getting a message.

But it's how the president feels. He's agreeing with that interviewer because it is where he comes from. It is -- I mean, he's even talked about his relationship presidency, precampaign with Elton John. He actually did reach out to the LGBTQ community during his convention speech, if you remember, which was the first time any Republican had done that.

I mean, this is one of the holdovers from the fact that he was a Democrat. And he's a New Yorker.

And the difference between him and Mike Pence is that Mike Pence -- and I talked about this with him extensively. Mike Pence has a very strong religious conviction against gay marriage. He insists it's not discrimination, it is his First Amendment right to have that conviction and that's not a conviction the president has.

KEILAR: What do you think?

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: I don't think it really matter what the president says. It matters what the administration has done.

Every single day, you have Vice President Mike Pence, throughout his career, and already banning trans members from the military. There's an attack on civil rights in this country, across the board.

So at the end of the day, it's pretty sad that we're, you know, looking at the president expressing a basic level of human decency in this case versus the actual reality, which is an administration which is constantly calling for an attack on LGBTQ citizens.

KEILAR: What do you make of him saying what he says here in this interview and the policies? What is your perception of where he just sort of, in a nonchalant way, says, no, it's great? But you're looking at the policy some of which you mention.

ROJAS: I think the policy are what matters, right? That's what's going to impact everyday people and it's what is impacting American citizens.

It's really nice rhetoric that he is able to use, but, again, what is the entire administration doing? It is waging a war against transgender people within our military and LBGTQ --


BASH: It's a really important point that this was a moment of candor, a moment of reality of how the president actually feels versus the necessity that he feels he has to engage with politically to keep his base happy.

It's not just about immigration. It's not just about abortion. This is another issue where, not all -- and it's definitely generational. It's not only political. It's geographical. It's not only on ideological and political lines.

But the vestige of people who are sort of core conservative voters disagree with it. And, you know, that is a reality that has political operatives understand and maybe that's why we've gotten to the point that policy has changed. It is, obviously, not where his heart is.

[13:35:40] KEILAR: Dana, Alexandra, thank you so much to both of you.

A debate erupts over the SATs, giving students a, quote, "adversity score" to reflect where they're from.

Plus, they are American citizens who used a surrogate in Canada to start a family. But because her parents are gay, because this little girl's parents are gay, the Trump administration reportedly will not recognize this baby's citizenship, even though it recognized her brother's. And this family is not the only one.


[13:40:44] KEILAR: Missouri is looking to be the next state ready to enact harsh restrictions on abortion. The Missouri State House just passed their bill which bans abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. As with the law signed in Alabama earlier this week, there's no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The law is expected to be signed by the state's Republican governor.

This law along with the restrictions passed in states like Alabama and Georgia could all end up at the Supreme Court.

The Trump administration is said to be sending two Democratic strongholds in Florida an unexpected surprise -- airplanes of migrants from El Paso, Texas. The Palm Beach County sheriff says the federal government, the Border Patrol informed Broward and Palm Beach Counties that it will be sending more than 100 immigrants each week to each of these counties. That's a total of about 1,000 people per month.

Palm Beach County Mayor Mack Bernard has grave concerns about the plan. He's with us now.

Sir, thank you for coming on to discuss this.

MACK BERNARD, (D), PALM BEACH COUNTY MAYOR: Thanks for having me, Brianna.

KEILAR: This is set to begin here in two weeks. What are your concerns?

BERNARD: This is totally outrageous that the Palm Beach County tax taxpayers are going to receive individuals from the border. We are not a border state. Palm Beach County is a coastal area where we have over 1.5 million residents.

And now the president's made the decision that he's going to shift his responsibility in regard to dealing with the humanitarian crisis that's going at the border and shifting it to the taxpayers of Palm Beach County and that's not fair.

KEILAR: I want to preface this question that I have for you by making clear that your county Palm Beach and also neighboring Broward County don't consider themselves to be sanctuary cities. Your county says you're in accordance with federal immigration laws.

You are Democratic strongholds, though, no friends of the president. And the Trump administration considers these counties sanctuary cities.

Do you believe that this move is politically motivated and that the president is making good on his proposal to send migrants to sanctuary cities?

BERNARD: Well, first of all, Palm Beach County is not a sanctuary county and the sheriff's office has been very cooperative with the immigration enforcement in Palm Beach County.

We hope that this is not politically motivated because of the fact that when we're dealing with the issues in Palm Beach County in terms of homelessness, housing, hurricanes, we don't look at political affiliations. We look at addressing the needs of our residents.

And now the president wants to send his problems to Palm Beach County and that's not fair. And what we hope is that administration will create a plan to address this situation.

We have no idea who is coming to Palm Beach County. Are there families? Are there kids and individuals? And we don't know their health issues at all. And this is not fair for the residents of Palm Beach County.

KEILAR: Is the federal government going to step in and offer any assistance here?

BERNARD: They have told us that they have no plans on providing us no assistance whatsoever. And this is totally ridiculous that you're going to send 135 people per week, which is 1,000 per month, to both Broward and Palm Beach Counties, 6000 per year, with no resources.

What we hope is that the administration will reconsider their decisions. But if not, then Palm Beach County will have to address it, which means we'll ask the state -- probably have to declare a state of emergency or federal emergency so that way we can get reimbursement in terms of the costs that will be beared by the taxpayers.

KEILAR: If the federal government would provide the assistant, if they would provide that information that you said you don't have about the makeup of who is coming, would you be open then to receiving folks from El Paso?

BERNARD: Well, Palm Beach County would cooperate with the federal government if there's a plan. As we plan for hurricane season, we plan after hurricane season every year so that we can address our residents in Palm Beach County.

If there's a plan in place, then Palm Beach County will address those residents that are coming because those people are going to need housing and food and everything that is needed, specifically health care.

We don't know if those individuals are immunized. And if they're kids, how will that impact our school system in Palm Beach County?

[13:45:05] KEILAR: But you're saying, if you could have that information, those assurances and those resources, then that's something that you -- you wouldn't have these concerns about?

BERNARD: We wouldn't have these concerns whatsoever because we want to work with the federal government in terms of solving this immigration crisis that's going on, the crisis at the border.

What we hope is that our federal government will address comprehensive immigration reform. Our system is broken.

However, this is a federal issue, not a local issue that should be addressed by the taxpayers of Palm Beach County.

KEILAR: Mayor Mack Bernard, thank you for being with us.

BERNARD: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: We have more on our breaking news. The U.S. set to lift tariffs on Canada and Mexico. So what this means for the economy in the middle of the China trade war.

Plus, the president question why he wasn't warned about Michel Flynn. The problem is, he was, many times, including by the sitting president of the United States.


[13:50:50] KEILAR: The 2020 Democrats are slamming a State Department policy that is stopping some Americans born outside of the United States from obtaining citizenship, their birth right citizenship.

This policy said the children born abroad with the help of surrogacy or other forms of reproductive technology are considered to be born, quote, "out of wedlock," even if parents are legally married.

And that means these children are striped of the birth right that they have been entitled to, until the Trump administration started this new policy recently in the last couple of years.

And so far, it's same-sex couples who have a child by a surrogate in another country who are facing these legal and logistical hurdles that could ultimately keep them separated from their children.

CNN reached out to the State Department. They said they do not comment on pending litigation. They said this is long standing guidance. But we have a couple here to tell us about how it is certainly not.

Roee and Adiel Kiviti are two parents who have not been able to get citizenship for their 2-month-old daughter, Kessem.

You were able to get citizenship for your son, Lev.

And I want to thank you both for coming on to share your story.

I want you to first talk about Lev. These -- both of these kids are biologically your children. They have either -- they have one of your genes. And this is the telling aspect, is how this is been treated differently when you had Lev, back in 2016, before this law was reinterpreted and then you're dealing with the different challenge with Kessem.

Walk us through what happened with Lev when you brought him home from Canada?

ROEE KIVITI, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PARTNER WHOSE CHILD IS BEING DENIED CITIZENSHP: Well, it was a straightforward procedure. We went to the federal building to the National Passport Office and submitted the application for a passport, just like anyone else would. We gave a copy of our marriage certificate and his birth certificate.

We're the only parents on his birth certificate. We're the only parents on our daughter's birth certificate. And we get Lev's passport in two days. This was back in January of 2017.

We did the exact same process with our daughter, Kessem, earlier this month, and then received a phone call indicating that this was being treated as an out-of-wedlock birth and, as such, there are additional requirements that need to be met, additional documentation that needs to be supplied.

KEILAR: And tell me about that. What were you told? And why what does this setup for your family, these challenges? Are these challenges you could meet or is this keeping you and your daughter from having this right that your son is entitled to?

ADIEL KIVITI, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PARTNER WHOSE CHILD IS BEING DENIED CITIZENSHIP: This is a strange situation where a suburban family -- we are both American citizens. We've been married for six years now. Our son is an American citizen. And we have a 2-month-old baby girl that is -- her application is not approved.

Basically, what we were told is that effectively our marriage means nothing. Saying that our daughter was born out of wedlock just means that she's not our daughter, it is not a real marriage. It is not a real family. That is what the State Department is saying.

KEILAR: It's really preposterous. You're not the only family that in is this situation.

And I also mention, Adiel, one of the logistical hurdles you are facing, that you've lived in the U.S. for five years, because you've lived in the U.S. You are a citizen. You came from Israel. Because of that, since you came in 2015, you nearly missed this five-year window. What is that creating for you?

ADIEL KIVITI: Yes, I mean, it is really absurd. I probably missed the cut-off by three months.

But I think the main issue is, by American law, when a child is born abroad to a married American couple, this child is entitled to citizenship by birth without any consideration of residency of the parents. Two American parents, the child is born abroad, and the parents are married, then the child should get citizenship by birth.

[13:55:11] The State Department interpretation or understanding of the law is totally flawed. And we feel that it targets specifically LGBT families because, to be honest, when a straight couple is using surrogacy or when a straight couple is using an egg donation or sperm donation, nobody asked them if they are the biological parents of the child. It is just an assumption.

But when an LGBT family is coming and applying -- our application was flagged as surrogacy, and we were marked. And basically, the State Department applied a very unjustified criteria on our family.

ROEE KIVITI: And to be clear, Brianna, a federal judge ruled against the State Department on this in February. And the State Department this week decided to appeal that.

But the judge said very clearly that the State Department, following the Supreme Court's decision, has to treat same-sex married couples as married. And what is happening is that we're being denied those rights, we're being denied of that process.

KEILAR: Yes. That is settled law.

We really appreciate you two sharing your story.

Roee and Adiel Kiviti, thank you for being with us.

ADIEL KIVITI: Thank you.

KEILAR: And best of luck with Kessem and Lev.

As another state gets ready to pass a restrictive abortion bill, one congresswoman tells her own emotional story about feeling shame and turmoil.