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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Examining Advances in Artificial Intelligence; Discussion of Immigration Reform. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 25, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're not going to settle it and solve it right now.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. FAREED ZAKARIA GPS starts right now.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, THE GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you today from Los Angeles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA (voice-over): We'll start today's show with guns. Just why is America so different from the rest of the world when it comes to firearms?
RYAN DEITSCH, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Why do we have to march on Washington just to save innocent lives?
ZAKARIA (voice-over): And just what does the Second Amendment really mean? I will talk to two great experts.
Then, what is Russia's response to Robert Mueller's indictment of Russian nationals? Will the charges have any effect on Moscow's meddling? We'll explore.
Also, the ongoing war in America over immigration. What does the Trump administration want the face of America to look like? How should the Democrats respond?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. A few weeks ago, the Economist Intelligence Unit published the 10th edition of its democracy index. And for the second consecutive year, the United States failed to make the top bracket, a full democracy, and was grouped in the second one, flawed democracy.
America's slide is part of a global trend. In this year's report, scores dropped for more than half the world's countries.
What Standard Professor Larry Diamond described 10 years ago as a democratic recession shows no sign of ending. The nature of this recession is perhaps best seen by looking at the state of the free press worldwide. Take Kenya, until very recently considered a hopeful story of
democratic progress. Last month, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta instructed the country's main television stations not to cover an opposition event. And when they refused, he shut them down.
Turkey is now the world's foremost jailer of journalists according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Let me underscore that fact.
The government that has imprisoned more journalist than any other is democratically elected. And one year after the failed 2016 coup attempt, a U.N. report found that at least 177 news outlets had been shut down in Turkey.
It might be possible to brush these stories aside as the inevitable backtracking of developing countries, but what to make of the turn of events in Hungary and Poland, two places that wholeheartedly embraced democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union?
In Hungary, Viktor Orban's administration has used a series of clever tactics to muzzle the free press. The government has effectively taken over public broadcasting. It has showered friendly media with advertising money and drastically cut advertising spending in critical platforms.
Many of these same tactics are now being employed in Poland which has been a poster child for its stellar political and economic reforms since the fall of communism.
Even in long-established democracies like Israel and India, we are witnessing systematic efforts to shrink the space and power of independent media that is critical of the government.
In Israel, the criminal allegations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which he denies include his dealing with press barons to ensure favorable coverage.
In India, Narendra Modi's government has launched a highly questionable fraud and money laundering case against NDTV, a powerful and persistent critic of some of its policies.
More than 20 years ago, I warned that the distinctive problem facing the world was illiberal democracy, elected governments that systematically abuse their power and restricted freedoms and liberties. I subsequently worried that America could head down this path.
Most people dismissed the danger because American democracy, they said, was robust with strong institutions that could weather any storm. Press freedom, after all, is guaranteed under the First Amendment.
But consider Poland and Hungary, which not only have strong institutions of their own but also exist within the embrace of the rule-based European Union institutions that have explicit constitutional protections for freedom of the press. In America, in just one year in office, Donald Trump has already done
damage. He has threatened to strengthen libel laws, strip network licenses, and tax the owner of a particular newspaper. His administration has blocked the merger of a news organization he considers biased while facilitating the merger of an organization with more favorable coverage.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.
Institutions are just collections of rules and norms agreed upon by human beings. If leaders attack, denigrate, and abuse them, they will be weakened. And this, in turn, will weaken the character and quality of democracy.
[10:05:07] The American system is stronger than most, but it is not immune to these forces of democratic decay.
For more, go to cnn.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week.
And let's get started.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a week and a half ago has opened up arguably the most robust debate on guns since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School more than five years ago.
But the question is, will just as little action come of the debate as came of it back then?
Well, President Trump said on Wednesday it's not going to be talk like it has been in the past. Yet he and Republicans ardently embrace the gun lobby.
In addition, even gun control advocates recognize that the Second Amendment does seem to protect Americans' right to bear arms, as the phrase goes.
But what does the amendment say and what does it really mean? And why is gun culture in America so pervasive and so different from the rest of the world?
Joining me now are two scholars who have thought, written, and spoken at length about these issues.
Saul Cornell is a professor of American history at Fordham University and the former director of the Second Amendment Research Center at the John Glenn Institute, and Adam Lankford is a professor of criminology at the University of Alabama.
Thank you, both, for joining me.
Adam, let me begin with you. What I want to ask is the debate about guns and violence, it seems to me, in America should begin with the recognition that we're just on a different planet. You know, that's why I think of the mental health issue as a dodge
because we have 20 to 30 times as much gun violence as any other advanced industrial country. It's not plausible that we have 20 to 30 times as many people with mental issues than, say, England or Germany or France.
You've looked at it and you've actually run correlations specifically with gun ownership. Explain your findings.
ADAM LANKFORD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Sure. I did a global study of public mass shooters over 40 years, and I looked at 171 countries.
And I did test for differences in suicide rates, homicide rates, firearm ownership rates, national wealth. And I was trying to explain, why does the United States have so many more public mass shooters than other countries?
And you're right. So when it comes to suicide rates, there are more than 40 countries around the world that have worse suicide problems than the United States does. But by far, the statistically significant association was between firearm ownership rates and public mass shooters.
We're number one in the world in public mass shooters by a lot. We're number one in the world by -- in terms of ownership rate by a lot. And, of course, we're number one in the world in terms of total firearms, way more than even bigger countries than us, such as China and India.
ZAKARIA: And to put this in plain language, wouldn't it be fair to say that what that suggests is that while other places may have troubled people -- by the way, it's a smear on mentally troubled people to assume that they're all violent.
By and large, they pose -- the only danger they pose is to themselves. They are not more prone to violence toward others.
But even if that were the case, the fact that those people don't have easy access to guns limits the damage that they can do either themselves through suicide or to others through homicide.
LANKFORD: Yes, you're absolutely right about that. So in other countries where you have someone who does decide to commit an act of mass murder, for example, in China, the most common weapons there are kitchen knives and blunt instruments, not firearms like is the case here in the United States.
And as a result, when you have mass murder in China, you don't see 58 dead as we saw in Las Vegas, or 26 dead as we saw in Sutherland Springs, or 17 dead as we saw in Parkland, Florida last week. You see five, six, seven dead.
So it does make a tremendous difference when we're talking about weapons availability. ZAKARIA: Professor Cornell, people say, well, the Second Amendment is
sacrosanct and that is why there is a limit to what can be done about all of this. You've studied the history of it.
And what I recall in the 1930s and '40s, the federal government placed a lot of restrictions on gun ownership, and the Supreme Court went along with them. So how is that possible that if we have this fixed view of the Second Amendment?
[10:09:56] SAUL CORNELL, PAUL AND DIANE GUENTHER CHAIR IN AMERICAN HISTORY, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, the simple fact is that we've always had gun regulation. Gun regulation existed at the time of the Second Amendment. It actually got more intense after the adoption of the Second Amendment.
And even if you accept Justice Scalia, who was pretty pro-gun and whose Heller decision, for the first time, defined the Second Amendment not in terms of a militia based right but in terms of a right that had little to do with -- nothing to do with the militia, even he conceded that there is wide room for regulation and that guns have been regulated for a very long time.
So, really, the Second Amendment poses no barrier to gun regulation, particularly if you think that the political process would weed out any extreme gun regulation measures. We could pretty much do almost anything that's being debated now, would be consistent with the Second Amendment. The real problem is a lack of political will.
ZAKARIA: Adam, when you look at the issue, there is this broader issue of the gun culture, all right, and we can't get away from it. The NRA is very effective. One of the reasons they're effective is there is grassroots support.
How is that different in America? You know, Australia has a great hunting culture, outdoors culture, but America seems, again here, almost unique.
LANKFORD: Yes, I think you're right. And certainly, part of that is based on our history, this idea that -- you know, a lot of Americans believe we need guns because we need to be able to protect ourselves from tyranny.
I guess the irony here, though, is, you know, the biggest threat being posed these days is not the government coming into your house and terrorizing your family. It's sending your kids to school, going to work, going to a movie theater, going to church, going to a nightclub, and then being faced with this threat of public mass shooters.
So the tyranny is really being perpetrated by the public mass shooters, and other countries take, frankly, a much more practical position.
ZAKARIA: Professor Cornell, what are the simple things that could be done that, in your view, are incontrovertibly constitutional and will pass muster pretty easily? CORNELL: Well, the first thing to realize is that people who seem so
pro-Second Amendment don't seem particularly supportive of the First Amendment, so we have to lift the ban on doing research.
I mean, Congress has made it pretty clear that if you work for the CDC or the NIH, you can't do research. And we can't formulate more targeted, more effective policies unless we can gather data and analyze the data.
So the first thing we need to do is to allow people to do research on gun violence. I mean, clearly, there's nothing in the Second Amendment that prevents that.
We need to -- despite people saying that we should just enforce the laws on the books, we have to actually fund the ATF and allow it to use the most recent technologies.
ATF is prohibited from updating their methodologies to take advantage of modern digital sources and digital searching capability. Certainly, if we can do a background check for a gun, we could do some background checks about ammunition.
I mean, I think we want to know when, suddenly, there is a spike in consumption of ammunition. If someone's buying thousands of rounds but they are not starting a competitive shooting hobby, we want to know that.
ZAKARIA: Gentlemen, thank you both. Very, very sensible, same perspective that I hope has some impact.
Next on GPS, how have Robert Mueller's indictments reverberated in Russia? I will talk to Stephen Cohen and David Sanger about just that when we come back.
[10:17:46] ZAKARIA: Robert Mueller's indictment of Russian nationals landed with a boom in the United States. Even President Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said that the evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election was now really incontrovertible.
President Trump later tweeted his satisfaction with those remarks, but we didn't hear much from Moscow on it except for a few dismissals. So I wanted to talk about that and the effect the indictments will have on the U.S./Russian relations.
Joining me now, Stephen Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at NYU and Princeton, and David Sanger is a national security correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN national security contributor.
Steve Cohen, let me ask you. Mueller's indictments, of course, are symbolic or meant to persuade -- none of these people are ever going to see the inside of an American courtroom. They are Russians. But I suppose they were meant to convince those Americans who doubt that there was, in fact, a systematic Russian government effort to interfere with the 2016 elections.
You have always been skeptical that there was such a plan, that it was some kind of great crime and it needed to be investigated. Are you now convinced?
STEPHEN COHEN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF RUSSIAN AND SLAVIC STUDIES, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Absolutely not. Let me issue the obligatory disclaimer. I am not nor I have ever been a supporter of Donald Trump, but I am a supporter of facts.
Let's remember what this story is because it's the overarching narrative in which Mueller and this investigation operate.
According to the story, Russian leader Putin directed kind of an attack, they say, on American democracy in 2016, which included stealing Mrs. Clinton's e-mails and disseminating them as well as the social media activities by Russians that Mueller is now investigating.
What is being said is that President Trump was put in the office or abetted by the Russians. And people go on to say that he is, therefore, in some way, under control of the Kremlin and therefore, treasonous. So I see here two crises and with this, I'll stop.
[10:20:01] One, a crisis with the American presidency. This has never been said by an American president before so far as I know.
And secondly, a crisis of American/Russian relations because we are now in a cold war much more dangerous than the preceding one. And we have to ask ourselves, if we don't trust our president to keep us out of a nuclear conflict or any kind of war with Russia, are we doomed?
And these are the consequences of what we call Russiagate for which I can find no factual evidence.
ZAKARIA: David Sanger, no factual evidence? The Mueller 37-page indictment did have a lot of facts in it.
DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It sure did, Fareed.
And when you go through the 37 pages, what you get are intercepted conversations between people who were working in this troll factory as we call it, a four-story building in St. Petersburg, who were churning out the Facebook posts, the Twitter posts, the advertisements that were calling on Americans to come out in the streets. Sometimes to bring both sides of a divisive issue out in the streets at the same time in Florida and New York and in Texas.
And clearly, Mr. Mueller had access to some intercepted American intelligence. He didn't say where some of this came from. And it appeared, if you read the indictment carefully, that they've also turned some people who they didn't name but who were participants in all of this.
So I don't think there's much of a question that it happened. Now, to Mr. Cohen's question, did it affect the election as it created a crisis? We don't know, and Mueller does not state that it had any effect on the election.
And I think the reason the President was so upset with General McMaster, his national security adviser, is that he didn't restate what Vice President Pence said, which was it had no effect on the election.
We simply don't know what the effects were and we may never know that.
COHEN: Let me point out the so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg began as a strictly commercial operation a number of years ago to promote the guy's restaurants. He then learned that if you got fake people to say his restaurant was great, business ticked up.
So he began to sell this service, sort of fake news service, to Russian politicians. And the market was so good he decided to expand it to the United States. The people who have studied this have been able to -- and don't even claim that it's had any impact on our elections.
And let me add to what David Sanger has said. Neil McFarland reported in "The New York Times" there is no evidence it was even tied to Russian intelligence. And McFarland says it's unlikely that it was because it was such a clumsy, essentially commercial operation.
Now, are we really going to endanger the American presidency and our relations with Russia with what is not truly, so far as we can see, hard intelligence? Factual, but scuttlebutt? I mean --
ZAKARIA: All right, let me ask, David, the sort of central question, I imagine, that Mueller is looking at is whether the release of some of this data, you know, the Hillary Clinton e-mails and such, was in some way coordinated with the Trump campaign.
And it seems to me that is where you get at the issue of not the Russian interference but also the issue of whether there was some connection or collusion with the Trump campaign.
SANGER: That's a very good question, Fareed. I think the President was initially quite happy with the indictment because he looked at it and it indicted a group of Russians. And, you know, you didn't hear much criticism of Director Mueller -- or Special Counsel Mueller for that indictment because he was going only after Russians.
The next indictments may well look at the -- we don't know this for a fact, but we believe that one of the things he's looking at are these intelligence agency connections that went into the DNC and into John Podesta's e-mails. And then would come the question, were they getting any guidance, any coordination from anyone in the campaign?
There's been no evidence of that, hard evidence out there yet, other than what you describe, which has been the overall statements of President and some others in the campaign made during the campaign.
And it's very possible that the Russians didn't need any guidance, that they seemed to be pretty savvy about how to operate in the American political environment. It's also possible that there was some level of communication.
And I think as the President got increasingly upset last weekend as he thought about the indictment, it's because it struck him that that's the direction that Mueller is going.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating stuff. I'm sorry we got to leave it at that, but we will be back on this topic with both of you. Thank you, both.
[10:25:04] Last week on the show, you heard Bill Gates tell me he's not worried about America ceding dominance on artificial intelligence to China, but another billionaire check mogul disagrees. So does the A.I. future belong to Beijing? We'll explore when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment, Bill Gates once said that a breakthrough in artificial intelligence allowing machines to learn would be worth 10 Microsofts.
Today, as we all know, not only can machines learn, but they can learn some things -- how to play chess, for example -- with much greater mastery and speed than any human.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are transforming entire professions and vast swaths of the economy from medicine to automobiles. Most experts believe that the country that dominates A.I. will lead the world in the next technological era.
It might seem that the U.S. is the obvious, indeed the only likely winner here. But, in fact, there is another country that many experts say is gaining ground: it's China.
[10:30:01] The race to dominate A.I. hinges on data.
ZAKARIA: The more data you have, the better your machine can learn and the smarter your algorithms become. China is a data-rich market like no other. It has 800 million Internet users, three times as many as the U.S., according to a December report by the Eurasia Group. And most of them come through mobile phones, which have a dizzying amount of data on their users. It also has a government that has reams of data which it can gather and share with private companies almost at will and weak privacy regulations.
In an interview with Gates for last week's show, I asked him about the rise of China in this area. He said no one can beat the Americans on tracking shoppers' data and targeting ads. So on the commercial side, America is still way ahead. But China may have a sizable advantage in a significant area, fields that often require government involvement, like health care, education, planning, the military. That's because the Chinese government has wholeheartedly taken on multiple roles vis- a-vis A.I., as a cheerleader, as an investor and as customer, says Paul Triolo of the Eurasia Group, who coauthored the December study.
In July China announced a detailed plan to become a world leader in A.I. by 2030, when it says it will have built a $150 billion industry. The Chinese government's ability to collect and dole out data will help enormously. It has extremely close relationships with its large tech companies. These companies share data openly with law enforcement and they don't disclose publicly what they are sharing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
For China, necessity breeds invention. It is home to one-fifth of the world's population and its urban infrastructure is overburdened. It needs solutions now.
Despite China's advantages, experts, including Gates, argue that these advances are not a zero sum game. Many of the algorithms and research are shared openly and will benefit everyone. But others are not so sanguine and believe that the U.S. government needs to get involved in A.I. fast.
An Obama-era plan outlining policies to nurture A.I. was put out at the tail end of 2016, to little effect, experts say. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently understaffed. The White House hasn't even appointed a permanent director for it. The Trump administration seems more focused on manufacturing jobs, which is really about the past, than A.I., which is where the future lies. At a tech summit in November, Google's Eric Schmidt spoke about the Chinese plan, urging the U.S. to develop and implement a national artificial intelligence strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SCHMIDT, FORMER EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF GOOGLE: All right. So if you believe that this is as important as I suspect all of us do, and certainly I believe, then we need to get our act together as a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: This challenge could be the Sputnik moment for America, a race for the future that it just cannot afford to lose.
Next on "GPS," Los Angeles, where I'm right now, is one of America's two biggest hubs for undocumented immigrants. It's a great place to have a discussion on immigration. Is DACA a hill that the Democrats are willing to die on, as the saying goes? Should they be? Back in a moment.
ZAKARIA: Last year the Pew Research Center published some eye-opening statistics on America's immigrant population. The U.S. is remarkable in many ways, starting with the fact that it has more immigrants than any other nation. Out of a total population of about 320 million people in 2015, 43 million were born in another country, more than 13 percent of the population.
Pew says two cities dwarf the rest in terms of their populations of undocumented immigrants, New York and right here in Los Angeles. And with political battles pitched over DACA, deportations and the wall, I thought it was a perfect time and place to dig deeper. Joining me now is Hilda Solis. She is a daughter of immigrants who
made it to the top. She served as President Obama's labor secretary and is now a key official here, an L.A. county supervisor. Steve Phillips is a best-selling author and the founder of a political organization called Democracy in Color. He's a regular contributor to the opinion pages of the New York Times. His column there last week was entitled, "Trump Wants to Make America White Again."
Steve, let me start with that provocative title. You say the Democrats should call the Trump immigration policy what it is, and they're scared. Explain.
PHILLIPS: Right. So very clearly, and The Washington Post had a very good analysis of this, is that Trump's immigration proposals are designed to undo the policies which finally eliminated the pro-white preferences. From 1790 until 1952, the official restriction on immigration in this country was you had to be a free white person. And that was the policy of the United States, upheld by the Supreme Court.
And it really only got changed in 1965, when you had family reunification and no longer having race-based immigration. Those '65 changes are exactly what Trump wants to go after. And the Post has done this analysis showing that the impact of it will be to make the country whiter, to reduce the immigration of people of color. And so it's very clear, and they're very quite unapologetic about it, and what I was writing in the Times about was the reticence of the Democrats to actually call that out, because they're fearful that not enough white people will actually stand up against that.
ZAKARIA: So, Hilda, when you look at this, what I wonder about is are the Democrats more, kind of, shrewdly navigating this space because, you know, the country's still, what, roughly 70 percent white, and, you know, if you take very extreme positions on immigration, are you worried about a backlash? How do you see the issue?
SOLIS: Well, here in Los Angeles, it's very different. I think we are much more progressive than other parts of the country, much like, however, New York, I would say. But I think here we have been able to see more elected officials of diverse backgrounds, in particular Latinos, Hispanic and Asians. We see, I think, a growing acceptance of diversity here.
Even on our board of supervisors, we have, for the first time, women. We have the first openly LGBTQ individual. We have an African- American. We have a Latina. We represent 10 million people about, and I would say, 3 million in our county are immigrants and 1 million I know are undocumented. And that's why we're not -- we're not allowing this administration, the Trump administration, to, kind of, lead us down the path that does want to segregate our communities. We're far beyond that.
ZAKARIA: So one of the things I hear from people who are, you know, generally supportive of immigrants, generally like the idea, is the whole issue of undocumented immigrants and the breaking of the law, that it's one thing to support immigration; it's another to reward law-breaking. You know, how do you get around that issue? These people did break the law. Steve?
PHILLIPS: Well, the whole question of who is illegal and legal in this country depends on your interpretation of the status quo for crimes in this -- in this country. This country was stolen from the Native Americans. We're here in California, which was taken by force from Mexico. And so one could argue that everybody is here illegally except the Native Americans. And so -- but in point, so if you...
ZAKARIA: But that's -- that was a long time ago and...
PHILLIPS: Exactly. So what point -- what is the statute of limitations?
There are people who have been here for decades and decades, who have been contributing and have been good parts of the country and, you know, valuable parts of their community. So what point do their contributions morph over into the, OK, they're part of our family; they're part of our community?
There are 11 million people here who are contributing to the economy. They are contributing to the country.
ZAKARIA: When we come back, what do we do with the dreamers, DACA recipients, children of undocumented immigrants? It's an issue that Democrats have made a stand on, but the right says that allowing them to stay is like allowing the children of bank robbers to keep those ill-gotten gains. I'll ask my guests about just that, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis and activist and author Steve Phillips, talking about the politics of immigration.
Let me ask you, Hilda, though, about, you know, L.A. is one of the cities where there's a lot of this talk of sanctuary cities.
ZAKARIA: There's a lot of talk about standing up to federal law enforcement. I mean, this sounds like what you're saying is that local officials should violate federal law by not enforcing it or not helping federal law enforcement enforce it.
Again, it must -- I think it would sit uncomfortably with a lot of Americans if you were to describe it differently. When I think about the Civil Rights movement, this was the argument of the Southern states. The Southern states, the local officials would say, "We're not going to enforce federal law because it violates our culture and values."
So shouldn't -- shouldn't local Democratic officials enforce federal law, whether they like it or not, just the way in which they wanted local Southern officials to enforce federal law? SOLIS: Well, I think, for us here, we have gone a step beyond. We
have abided by, I think, rules of the game that do protect the safety of our communities. No one is here saying that we want to have criminals, no. We know what that means for our community. But we also know that there are good law-abiding people that are just being picked up because they happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time or perhaps they came in through no fault of their own, like many of the DACA population. And you also have another population of people who overstayed their visas, from China, from Europe, from Russia, from South Africa. What is happening about that discussion?
ZAKARIA: Steve, what do you think? This is what, in the South, in the Civil Rights days, used to be called "interposition and nullification," right? This was the argument that local officials, the language that we don't have to follow federal law.
PHILLIPS: Right. Well, the presumption that the law is, well, A, moral, but also sensible -- and so we have immigration quotas which were designed to make the policy more equitable, so you limit immigration. There are roughly 25,000 people per country to every country in the world. So any country -- and a small country in Europe, or Mexico, which is right next door. So it's not illogical or inexplicable that the largest numbers of immigrants who don't have papers come from Mexico and then from China, the largest country in the world.
So we have to have a policy which is based upon reality and facts. And so it's not like there's just one line and everybody gets in it and then...
ZAKARIA: But that's an argument to change the policy, not to violate the law as it exists?
PHILLIPS: Right. Well, that's where I think a lot of people come into the issue around can we agree on DACA; can we agree on the children who are here? They didn't, in their minds, break the law and come over here and sneak into this country. They have been here their entire lives. It's the only country they know. They see themselves as Americans. The children, at least, are blameless. Can we start with them?
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you. There are people on the right who say that's like saying a bank robber's children should keep the money?
SOLIS: Well, I...
ZAKARIA: They came here as the product of law-breaking. Why should they reap the benefit?
SOLIS: Many have left their countries because of civil warfare or poverty and crime and trafficking, all kinds of different situations. And we have a policy in the United States where we allow for refugees, people to apply for political asylum. Many didn't have the means to monetarily come in through that path. Many of these came in as youngsters, some as young as six months, as infants. And they have -- the only culture they know is ours. I don't think they -- they cross the line in terms of criminal
violations, and that's where I do differ with those other opponents that say, "Oh, well they're breaking the law." Well, guess what? The laws are flexible. We should be flexible. And the reality is they have made economic contributions. If we were to get rid of even 8 million individuals that currently work in our system, that are in the underground economy, we would see some hemorrhaging in terms of job loss and economic strife in different parts, I think, of our -- of our country.
ZAKARIA: Steve, when you look at DACA, certainly there does seem to be a majority in favor. But I'm intrigued by your thought that the Democrats should be more extreme on this issue, you know, resolutely fighting from immigration policies. Because the polling data I've seen suggests that the public is pretty -- I mean, I don't know -- you can read it different ways -- but they're skeptical about the idea of too much immigration.
PHILLIPS: Well, I would break it out in two different levels. The polls are very clear in terms of the DACA, in terms of the children, that there's two-thirds-plus support, bipartisan; everybody supports there being a solution for the youngsters. And so that's an issue around, well, that's -- why can't we -- why aren't we more resolute, more forceful, more unapologetic in that regard?
What I'm pushing Democrats on is to actually take a stronger stand in terms of reframing this issue. And so if the discussion is, "Well, people are breaking the law and there's criminals coming over here and we have to protect our safety," that's one argument that's really a losing argument for Democrats. If the discussion is that there is an effort to socially engineer this country in order to benefit and prefer white people, which is what is happening and what has been the history of this country. There was a whole effort in the 1920s around -- really, even then it was, like, "Which white people were better? From which parts of Europe, actually, should people be coming?"
And this whole notion about "blank-hole" countries that the president was talking about, that's that same mindset around he wants to prefer white people. And if you have that discussion, and if Democrats point that out, most people in this country don't agree with that.
ZAKARIA: We've got to leave it at that. Hilda Solis, Steve Phillips, pleasure to have you both on.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," we are here in glamorous Tinseltown, but it is not all fancy cars and mansions. We'll tell you about a staggering problem of poverty in a city with great pockets of immense wealth, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: I'm in L.A. this week, and you might know that Los Angeles means "the angels" in Spanish. But many don't know that some of the original settlers who arrived here in 1781 gave the early incarnation of this town a longer Spanish name, meaning "the town of Our Lady, the queen of the angels, on the river Porciuncula."
Luckily, the long name did not stick, but it brings me to my question. Which world capital holds the Guinness world record for longest place name: Baku, Beijing, Bangkok, or Beirut? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is Michael Waldman's "The Second Amendment: A Biography," a fascinating biography of one line, the one line that is at the heart of America's gun debate. Waldman makes us realize just how ambiguous and uncertain the second amendment's meaning has been for most of American history.
And now for the last look. The streets of L.A. are filled with fancy cars and lined with mega-mansions, but those same streets are increasingly known as home to those without a home. On any given night last year, there were nearly 58,000 homeless people in L.A. County, accounting for an astonishing 10 percent of America's entire homeless population. Tent cities and encampments have exploded throughout downtown L.A. and into the suburbs in recent years. In 2015 the city declared the homeless crisis to be a state of emergency. But the number of homeless people has actually climbed another 30 percent since then.
Why has the crisis reached such epic proportions?
Officials point to rapidly increasing rents in a strong economy, compounded by a mental health crisis and insufficient resources for those facing homelessness. Citizens of L.A. are not turning a blind eye. In the last two years, new funding measures have passed to send more money to combat the crisis. But even so, a new report from the county's Homeless Services Authority found that, despite this new funding, there are still over 20,000 beds needed to fill the gap against the uphill battle of bureaucracy and communities that are resistant to welcoming the homeless into their neighborhoods.
Some advocates are turning to more innovative solutions, like this prototype designed by USC architecture students that allows small modular housing pods to be placed quickly in vacant lots.
So as next Sunday's Oscar awards will refocus our attention once again toward Tinseltown, let's not forget the growing crisis of L.A.'s shantytowns.
The answer to my "GPS" challenge is C, Bangkok. The capital of Thailand is officially called -- well, I will not try to pronounce it, but you can see it on your screen. That's 168 letters in 21 words. The locals don't use the official name much, of course, but only foreigners call the city Bangkok. Thais usually call their capital Krung Thai, which means "city of angels."
Thank you for being part of my program from the American city of angels this week. I will see you next week.