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Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) is Interviewed About Trump's Immigration Crackdown, and Deny Poor Immigrants Green Cards, Citizenship; White House Announces Policy to Increase Difficulties for Legal Immigrants to Obtain Public Assistance; Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci Comes Out against President Trump's Reelection. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- won't have their day in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The virtues of self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. immigration services will factor in whether the immigrant receives public assistance. The government will consider those negative factors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sets out a chilling effect. It certainly is not the way America should run.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, August 13th. We've made it to 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me. We do begin with important details about the serious irregularities of the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead. According to a source, one of the two people assigned to monitor the convicted sex offender in his cell was not even part of the correctional force. This person was just filling in as a guard, just filling in. What's more, Epstein had not been checked for hours before his apparent suicide. All this as prosecutors focus on Epstein's coconspirators.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, the Trump administration is making its move to clamp down on legal immigration. A new public charge will make it more difficult for people who rely on government assistance, things like food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid, more difficult for those folks to obtain permanent legal status in the U.S., a green card. The measure would favor wealthier immigrants and hurt poor ones.

BERMAN: I want to bring back Andrew Gillum, former mayor of Tallahassee and a CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, CNN political commentator, April Ryan, CNN political analyst, and Bakari Sellers, CNN political commentator. Who Bakari? BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Has endorsed Senator Kamala Harris.


HILL: There we go.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She should be paying for ear time.

HILL: Oh, come on.

BERMAN: So Angela, I want to start with immigration, if I can. These new measures, which will create a new bar for legal immigration, people already here in the country and people trying to get a green card. Put that on top what we saw last week with these raids in Mississippi. It seems very much that the White House has a very specific August plan, an August message they're trying to send here.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it is trying to be an extremely White House. And by what I mean when you look at the fact for maybe not the first time in history, but typically what happens in ICE raids is that the owners and operators are targeted. Instead it was the workers. So let's just start there. And then when you look at the folks who would be targeted who are legally in this country, we're talking about folks who need assistance, that is a very clear -- not even a dog whistle. I've said this once before. It is a foghorn. It's a sound off to the worst among his supporters that says we don't believe that certain people who are different from us belong here. And I think that is exactly the problem with how he's running this country.

HILL: One thing that's interesting to point out, too, is that this is according to a study from the Cato Institute last year that found immigrants are actually less likely to consume welfare benefits, and when they do it's generally at a lower dollar value than native born American citizens.

GILLUM: The same stat is true for crime. Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native born citizens. Yet you keep hearing the rhetoric of this president that continues to target folks who, by the way, what we're learning from folks in Mississippi, these weren't folks who were breaking the law. These weren't folks who were actively disrupting a community. As we are told by the people who live there, these were law-abiding, participating members of society with children in schools. This administration plain and simple is terrorizing these communities. They're terrorizing communities of color.

They're attempting to say they're sending a strong message around immigration. If you were sending a strong message, why won't you disincentivize the incentive, which is work? Why aren't they going after the people, the employers? Why aren't they being fined $30,000 a day for every violation that they commit? No, because that isn't the point here. This is a political point. It's a shrewd one. This administration is pursuing it, in my opinion, as a political strategy for reelection, a base strategy. And I believe it's inconsistent with our American values.

RYE: They also have to pay the fines.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But Andrew, I do not believe that this is political. I believe this is totally racial, because at the very beginning --

GILLUM: Except for this guy race is politics.

RYAN: Race is a hard issue now. We've had laws in place, we've had all sorts of legislation, but at the end of the day, what does it do? It's about the heart. And his heart is dark. He doesn't want a browning of America, but his heart is dark. Here's the bottom line.

RYE: He's not on his own, otherwise they would stop voting --

RYAN: Exactly. It's not about the president. It's about those who enable him. But here's the issue. There are several pieces to this. One, it was first about illegals, and now it's about legals. It's not about immigration. It's about brown people, the browning of America as we've talked about in the coming years, that we're going to see a majority of Americans that are minority. We have babies now being born in this nation that are majority-minority babies in this nation.

[08:05:08] Also there's going to be an effect on the economy. When you start saying you cannot have your wick, you cannot have your housing vouchers, there's going to be an increase in poverty. But the issue is, what's next? What will those in the Latino community and even in the other communities, like the African-American community, we have migrants from the Caribbean nations as well and Africa that are going to be impacted. What is next? We know that the tri-caucus, the CDC, the CHC, and the Asia-Pacific Caucus are working together to get answers from the White House and see what litigation they can do. This is going to have a spiraling effect.

SELLERS: This is more than political, though. And I think this is how Democrats have to reframe this issue slightly, because a lot of times we get talk up in talking points. Democrats, we struggle when it comes with immigration sometimes, we struggle when it comes with having these heartfelt discussions about poverty. Reverend Doctor Barber talks about it all the time in very eloquent ways.

But this is a hard issue. This is about people. You said it earlier today, Andrew, and it struck me, because they're individuals who send their kids to -- send their children to school, and they go to work. These are hardworking Americans. Nothing more, nothing less. They came to this country for an opportunity to actually make a better life for their families.

RYAN: And a lot underemployed.

SELLERS: And here they are, they're working hard, and they have to under this campaign of fear and this campaign of terror simply because of the color of their skin. If they were Nordic immigrants, they're not facing a raid. That's a fact. RYE: I think that's just it. And I don't want to argue your point,

but my perspective on what Andrew was saying about they are his politics now is there's no separation. I say often that racism is a bipartisan or a nonpartisan issue. I believe that. It is far more egregious under this president. He believes that we are now back in 1864 or something. But I think it's politics --

RYAN: Politics is about helping people, though. It's about helping.

RYE: That's what it's supposed to be.

GILLUM: Can I just say, listen. But that's what we think at this table, that it is about helping people. And my point around it being about politics and the shrewdness of the way in which this administration is pursuing this immigration policy is actually it's not about the people, it's not about the heart. It's not even about the framing and the Founders' belief around his country of being a place of refuge for those who are willing to go and work hard and, by the way, follow the rules and make a better life for themselves and their family. That isn't what this is about for this administration. They are going where they're going. They're going to the gutter because they believe it serves their politics, not humanity, but their politics.

BERMAN: Let me shift the discussion ever so slightly, but it is connected to this. Look, on this show 24 hours ago Anthony Scaramucci who was communications director for 10 minutes, or 11 days inside the White House, he broke up with the president on TV here. He said he no longer supports the president --

RYAN: They were dating?


BERMAN: One of the reasons he gave -- one of the reasons he gave as he told Anderson last night in a follow-up interview is the president is giving people, Scaramucci says, a license to hate. Let's play that.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: So people want to criticize me for speaking out now, that's legitimate. But there's others that feel that way, and they don't have the courage to speak out. And so what I'm asking them to do is think about it. When you go to bed tonight and you're thinking about your country, don't focus on your wallet or pocketbook. Focus on what's right for America, and say is this guy normal? Is this the way to handle things in America?


SELLERS: There's an old African-American or negro proverb that says we been done told you this.

(LAUGHTER) RYAN: We done told you.

SELLERS: I see my Democratic colleagues all over the country now running for president, everybody is calling the president a white supremacist and we're having discussions about white supremacy and all of these things, and these are not new issues for us. The fact that race. Stokely Carmichael said it best as he was discussing racism --

RYE: Go on and quote Stokely.

SELLERS: I'm quoting Stokely Carmichael this morning. He said if you want to lynch me, that's your problem. But if you have the power to lynch me, then that's my problem. As we said earlier, so there are people who have been living -- the fact that Flint, Michigan, still doesn't have clean water, right, the fact that kids still go do school where the heating and air falling apart, the fact that in Mississippi, not only are they doing this, but in Benny Thompson's district, rural hospitals are shutting down, these are systems of oppression that we have been living in a for a long period of time.

RYAN: And this president can do something about it instead of talking about it.

SELLERS: Listen, welcome to understanding, Mooch. But I am not giving you credit for a low bar of realization.

RYAN: Let me say this, let me say this. Like Mooch or hate Mooch, he was in the White House 11 days and then he went to big brother, and it took him a little while to come to this Damascus road moment. The light blinded him. But there is a piece right here that there is a moral obligation now that he's stepping to.

[08:10:03] And he sees -- I've been talking to him on e-mail over the last couple of days. We've been talking for a long time anyway, but over the last couple of days he's said, look, I don't like what the president has been doing. No, no, no. He said with Elijah Cummings, with what's happening in Baltimore, what's happening with Congress, the squad. And he even said what happened to me. And he has been feeling this way for a while. But I'm going to say this, he is paying a price now. Just like I have, he is getting death threats. But there is a moral moment right now. And for real he's saying that the president should not be reelected, he is absolutely right.

RYE: Of course, but he gets no points for this because --

RYAN: I'm not giving him points, but I'm saying he has stepped up to the moral -- his moral compass is now pointing right.

RYE: Listen, this is where he thinks that he's going to get something out of it. It is the same thing that your girl did. I'm not going to bring her up in this hour. But you cannot after you have the benefit of working in the White House and acting like you have the inside track then turn and all of a sudden act like you didn't know exactly who this guy was, I'm not giving you credit for this. He absolutely was complicit. He was complicit when he wasn't defending. He was complicit when he wasn't defending Congresswoman Waters or Frederica Wilson. I don't give a flying you know what that he's now ready to say after people received death threats, you don't deserve this now because now I received this.

RYAN: He received death threats after he said it.

GILLUM: First of all, death threats, all of us can agree that that is beyond the pale. We can have disagreements without death threats. The problem is Scaramucci has been complicit now just in this administration, but in the leadup to this administration. He worked for this candidate. This is a candidate who was sparking fights at his campaign rallies. This is a candidate --

RYE: And offering to pay the legal fees.

RYAN: We can't just call out Mooch. We've got to call out all the Republicans who are supporting him.

RYE: We should. We should.

RYAN: It's not about the president. It's about his enablers.

GILLUM: If I could care finish, the only point I would make, and I could care, frankly, less about what Scaramucci has come to as a realization.

RYE: Does he have a book deal.

RYAN: Not yet.


GILLUM: The truth is maybe if I could see him go out on a roadshow and start to recruit other likeminded individuals who are out there. I'm not sure what brought him to this crossroads. The truth is the enemy of my enemy is my friend in so many ways of speaking. If he wants to go out there and actually commit himself to making sure that this president is not reelected, not just in coming on morning shows and doing whatever promotions it is he's doing, but actually getting out there and doing the work, I would have a great level of respect for him.

SELLERS: I also wanted to highlight, and I know we're highlighting these individuals who are having these changes of hearts. This is a discussion --

RYE: Lowlighting them.

SELLERS: This is a discussion going in a party, how do you win, do you go get these people, and yes, we should focus on this, welcome, Mooch, to the party. But I also want to highlight the people in this country who are tired. I want to highlight the people in this country who have been living under the thumb of oppression who have been living under this campaign of terror for a very long period time. And so while we give Mooch praise, I think -- what's the over-under on Mooch speaking at the DNC, right. I wouldn't be surprised if he had an eight, 10 minute slot at the DNC. But I also want to highlight those individuals who are now living in

fear like we were talking about, those individuals who every day have been living the same life for years, and we're not even -- we don't lift them up but --

GILLUM: Bakari, I think you're completely right, and I think if we were to make them the focus -- so my wife and I sent our kids to kindergarten yesterday, right. So it was a good moment, but in some ways it was also a very difficult one, right. We spent five years pouring, loving, trying to make them the best humans they could possibly be to then send them into a school system where they're going to now learn what it means to respond to an active shooter. And they're going to come home and they're going to ask us what that means. And we're going to have to explain it, we'll have break it down, and we're going to have to, quite frankly, for the time we spent building them up and shrouding them in love, now they're hit with this reality, and unfortunately I'm going to call it Trump's reality. This is the reality that he's cultivated. It's showing real live consequences through carnage on streets in American cities, and he can't get away from, in my opinion, taking responsibility for what he has created.

RYAN: But Trump's reality has caused people to feel like they have been bullied into submission. They are very fearful of saying anything. And the bottom line, I'm going to spotlight Nikki Haley, I'm going to spotlight the former ambassador for having lunch with the Mooch. And let me tell you why I spotlight her. She did something very bold. She did something very bold. She was in this administration when Elijah Cummings house was broken into and the president said whatever the devil he said about my friend, my congressman. I'm Baltimore through and through. I know, but everybody doesn't know.

RYE: I think they know now.

RYAN: But for her to say, when the president talked about him, laughing at him for his house to be broken into, and then Nikki Haley comes and says this is so unnecessary, and then Kellyanne is going to say this is unnecessary 2020, I give her credit for that. That took a lot of chutzpah.

RYE: I'm not giving credit to people --

RYAN: People are tired of this. This is a message.


RYE: That's not what I was going to say. What I was going to say was I am tired of the standard being so low that we applaud people for doing the very thing --


RYE: Hold on, April --

RYAN: It takes each one to come out and say something. RYE: No, it's too late. It's too little too late. Congressman Cummings, just like you, he may be your congressman from your district, he's a mentor to us, he's the chief oversight --

RYAN: That's right.

RYE: -- person responsible for checking on this administration and providing some type of checks and balances, I don't care if she's tweeting. I want her to figure out how she's going to get her former boss to stop activating the people who are breaking into his house and causing members of Congress who are like family to me to receive death threats.

And you, they need to say something more. It is too little too late. I don't give a flying damn about a tweet. I don't care about Instagram post. I don't care about a book they write airing them out.

It's too late. It's too late. It's not enough, I'm sorry. I can't do the little --


RYAN: I get you, I get you. But it takes each one of us to stand in our perspective faces. I have to shine a dark light in the dark s faces and I get called out for it. But each one of us has to stand up --


RYE: -- putting a tweet. I am not comparing the courageous work you do to that nonsense. But I'm saying I'm not going to put them on the same pedestal that we put you. You are the peoples champ. She is, I don't know what to call it, it's going to devolve. I hadn't slept.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm going to say what is an absolute agreement among all of us which is the lowest common denominator is not a place for compliment.

RYE: Yes, that's the thing.

GILLUM: These are people doing what is right, what is appropriate, what is decent, what is not partisan, by the way. What is decent and what is appropriate, what you want for your children --


BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me just say this really quickly. One of the things that I would say that I would challenge Nikki Haley and Anthony -- I know Nikki very well and Scaramucci that this is not enough. The damage that has been done, this is not enough to have some self-realization.

I'm agreeing with you. This is me agreeing with you.

RYAN: But we need everybody to stand up. SELLERS: We demand, this country demands, the better angels of our nature demands that you do more. So, you may be comfortable at this bar but we demand more.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Speaking of better angels, Bakari was calling for a break. Angela is making fun of me.

So, it is time for a break right now. We made you wait from the 6:00 hour to the 8:00 hour. What does one do on wait and they come back on this show?



RYAN: One of the greatest gospel artists in the world, he's got a remix and he heard it on the plane.

GILLUM: Can I get journalistic credit for --


BERMAN: Angela, April, Bakari, thank you very much. Bringing it home.

RYAN: Bringing it home.

RYE: Bringing it home.

BERMAN: Thank you all. I appreciate it.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Just ahead, Congresswoman Norma Torres is the only Central American American serving in Congress, she will get -- give us her take on President Trump's new plan to target legal immigrants like her. She came here legally. That's next.


[08:23:03] HILL: The Trump administration announcing a new policy change yesterday that could drastically impact the number of legal immigrants who were allowed to stay in the U.S. if they use government assistance.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Norma Torres of California. She says the proposed change is, quote, just an excuse to rid the country of people who look like me.

Congresswoman, good to have you with us today.

Let's just get your take on this a little bit more.

REP. NORMA TORRES (D-CA): Good morning.

HILL: Good morning. What did you mean by that that this is really just about ridding the country of people who look like you? TORRES: Absolutely. This is -- it's unfortunate where we are now

with this administration, people of color and minorities, no matter who you are and you came from, we are now here and we are part of America.

He started with saying he was going to deport 11 million undocumented people. Now he is going after legal residents that are here in the U.S. awaiting citizenship. Next -- who's next? Naturalized citizens like me, first generation citizens? I mean, where does he stop?

It is this racism that he has instilled and these policies that he has implemented that is driving so much hate in our community, and we are seeing it every single day in malls, movie theaters, in the highway here in California, and in festivals. It is unfortunate that this president was elected president of the United States.

HILL: We know there have been concerns raised. The attorney general here in New York had said that they will file, that there are things in motion.

Where do you believe Congress can come in here?

TORRES: Absolutely. We will file against this administration if they move forward with these policies.

Let me remind everyone about Proposition 187 in California. This is ballot initiative that seeks to target people of color in schools, and what they did, they turned ICE agents out of nurses, out of doctors, out of school principals, out of teachers, anyone who came in contact with a person of color, they could -- they had the ability to question that person if they were citizens of this country.

[08:25:19] That is not where we want to go.

And guess what? The Republican Party in California has paid dearly. They are nearly extinct in California because of that move.

HILL: As you know, the administration will say that the whole reason behind this is they want to -- and I'm actually quoting Ken Cuccinelli here, saying they want to prevent aliens likely to become a public charge from coming to the use or remaining here and getting a green card. And he touts the virtues of perseverance, hard work, self- sufficiency, he said, laid the foundation for our nation and have defined generations of immigrants seeking opportunity in the U.S.

So, the concern apparently from the administration, again, dealing with legal immigrants, people who came here legally, may need some assistance now is that they either will be or are at the moment a, quote, public charge. Do you see that happening? What are you hearing from folks in your district?

TORRES: No, it is nonsense. What does that mean? I have been working since, you know, I was 16 years old and before that, baby- sitting for my neighbors, an hour here, an hour there. I have been paying into the system. I also -- I'm a mother of three sons. What does this mean? Because I

took a six week maternity leave and applied for a state disability that I would not be able to apply for citizenship if that is the case? It is unconscionable.

When people need a service, they ought to be able to get it, especially when we pay into a system and we're paying taxes as we're working every single day. That is not the norm. That is not the average immigrant that comes to the U.S.

They come here to work. They come here to be a part of the American Dream. They don't come here to take, you know, services away from any other person.

HILL: I like your take on another topic. There is so much discussion, maybe not happening in Washington, I understand there's a recess obviously, but there's so much discussion around the country about what is going to happen now in terms of gun legislation, whether it's background checks, whatever the case may be. And political reporting that Chuck Schumer is actually going to ask the president to withdraw his request to spend $5 billion at the border and instead put that money, request the funding go to programs like counterviolence, extremism programs through DHS, and also FBI domestic terrorism investigations, CDC gun violence research.

What do you think the chances are if Senator Schumer does in fact make that proposal to the president that he would say, yes, you're right, I want to take that money and spend it on something else?

TORRES: I wish that I could say that I am confident that the president cares about American citizens that are being slaughtered in our communities every single day with military style-type weapons. But unfortunately that is not the case.

What is important to this president is winning the debate on a wall. He wants to be able to say I have accomplished nothing else, but here I've built this wall for you.

That is -- this is unfortunate. What we need is to invest in research. We need to know what is driving, you know, white Americans to feel that they are -- people like me are coming in and taking, you know, their jobs. We are not.

And we need to pass some reform with the types of guns that are in a community, and the Senate needs to start passing the bills that we have delivered to them.

HILL: Representative Norma Torres, I appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

TORRES: Thank you.

BERMAN: So this heart breaking video of a girl begging for her father went viral last week after that huge immigration raid in Mississippi. We have an update, an important update about her father, next.