BORDER OUTRAGE

Over 2,000 children who crossed the U.S. border illegally with their parents have now been separated from them. We’re looking at next steps and political fallout for the President over The White House’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Aired on June 18, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> PRESIDENT TRUMP'S HEARTLESS POLICY OF RIPPING APART FAMILIES WHO ARE COMING TO THE UNITED STATES SEEKING FREEDOM FROM FEAR, FROM VIOLENCE IS CRUEL, INHUMANE AND BLATANTLY UN-AMERICAN.

THIS ADMINISTRATION IS PERSECUTING AND PROSECUTING THOSE FLEEING DANGER, TAKING BABIES FROM THEIR MOTHERS AND FATHERS' ARMS CAUSING GREAT TRAUMA.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS POLICY.

IT IS CRUELTY FOR CRUELTY'S SAKE.

THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE AS A NATION.

THAT WAS NEW YORK CONGRESSWOMAN CAROLYN MALONEY PASSIONATELY DENOUNCING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY OF SEPARATING CHILDREN FROM PARENTS WHO CROSSED ILLEGALLY INTO THE U.S.

GOOD EVENING.

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THE DEBATE OVER TRUMP'S POLICY OF SEPARATING FAMILIES AT THE BORDER IS HEATING UP.

OVER THE WEEKEND, DEMOCRATS HELD SEVERAL PROTESTS AT IMMIGRATION DETENTION CENTERS AROUND THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING ONE IN ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY.

FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP WEIGHED IN ON THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE WEEKEND SAYING SHE HATES TO SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING AND BELIEVES THIS NEEDS TO BE A COUNTRY THAT, QUOTE, GOVERNS WITH HEART.

FORMER FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH TOOK IT A STEP FURTHER IN A STATEMENT OF HER OWN LABELING THE POLICY AS, QUOTE, CRUEL AND IMMORAL.

NEARLY 2,000 MINORS HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THEIR PARENTS AT THE BORDER BETWEEN MID-APRIL AND THE END OF MAY ACCORDING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.

THE ISSUE WILL NOW TAKE CENTER STAGE ON CAPITOL HILL WHERE CONGRESS PLANS TO TAKE UP A PAIR OF BILLS THIS WEEK AIMED AT ENDING THE PRACTICE.

NOT ONLY IS THIS TONIGHT'S LEAD STORY AND THE CONVERSATION GOING ON IN HOMES AROUND THE COUNTRY, BUT IT ALSO EPITOMIZES OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE HERE AT PBS WHICH LOOKS AT POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

JOINING ME TO DISCUSS ALL OF THIS IS ELLIS HANNAGAN, WRITER OF THE POPULAR TRUMP'S AMERICA COLUMN FOR METRO PAPERS.

ELLIS, WELCOME BACK.

GOOD TO SEE YOU.

SO MANY DIFFERENT TAKES ON THIS.

A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE EITHER BEEN OUTRAGED OR SOMEHOW RESIGNED TO THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO.

FIRST, YOUR TAKE.

THIS IS A TOUGH ONE TO DEFEND.

ONCE YOU USE THE PHRASE YANKING CHILDREN AWAY FROM THEIR PARENTS, GOOD LUCK MAKING A CONVINCING DEFENSE OF THAT.

BUT WE SEE A LOT OF PEOPLE ATTEMPT TO MAKE DEFENSES.

FIRST, OF COURSE, WE HEARD FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS SAYING THAT THIS WAS JUST SIMPLY ENFORCING THE LAW AND, THEREFORE, NECESSARY TO DO.

WE'VE HEARD FROM SOME OTHER PEOPLE PARSE THAT OUT IN TERMS OF, LIKE, THE PARENTS ARE GOING TO DETENTION CENTERS SO THE KIDS CAN'T BE WITH THEM.

THEN WE'VE HEARD FROM THE PRESIDENT AND SEVERAL OTHER PEOPLE FROMMING HIS CIRCLES SAYING THIS IS THE DEMOCRATS FAULT AND IF THEY'D JUST FIX THEIR BROKEN LAW, WE WOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THIS.

BLAME DEMOCRATS, BLAME THE PARENTS AND BLAME THE KIDS BUT I'M SORRY.

TRYING TO PORTRAY THIS AS SLEEP AWAY CAMP IS NOT GOING TO WORK.

JUST LIKE THE THING RICH PARENTS DO EXCEPT YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOUR PARENTS ARE.

IT'S NOT SELLING, JENNA.

WE'VE SEEN A LOT OF PUSHBACK FROM EVEN SOME SURPRISING HARD-LINE TRUMP SUPPORTERS.

WE'VE SEEN FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION.

WE'VE SEEN FROM SOME PROMINENT REPUBLICAN SUPPORTERS.

KELLYANNE CONWAY.

YEAH, OKAY, WE'LL GET INTO THAT IN A SECOND.

SOME HAVE OUTRIGHT SAID THIS IS WRONG AND NEEDS TO STOP.

PEOPLE LIKE, WE'VE HEARD FROM KELLYANNE CONWAY WAS SAYING THAT WHILE THIS IS NOT OKAY AND SHE'S NOT COMFORTABLE WITH IT, IT'S STILL NECESSARY.

FAIR ENOUGH.

I MEAN, THAT'S THE ARGUMENT.

THE PRESSURE WAS RISING ON THIS THING PARTLY BECAUSE OF THE DEMONSTRATIONS YOU'RE DESCRIBING.

REALLY THE FACT IT CUTS ACROSS SO MANY LINES.

THE AMERICANS ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THE NOTION OF TAKING INNOCENT KIDS AND WHATEVER YOU THINK OF THE PARENTS COMING HERE, THE KIDS DIDN'T ASK FOR IT BUT SEPARATING THOSE FAMILIES FOR WHAT REALLY, AT BASE, IS THE SMALLEST OF CRIMINAL OFFENSES.

A MISDEMEANOR, IMPROPERLY CROSSING THE BORDER.

COULD CONCEIVABLY PRODUCE SIX MONTHS IN JAIL.

MOST CASES LIKE THAT YOU'D NEVER GET A MOMENT OF JAIL TIME.

IT'S NOT A PENALTY THAT REALLY MATCHES THE OFFENSE.

AND, OF COURSE NOW WE'VE -- SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE SEEN THIS ONE VERY HEART-WRENCHING IMAGE OF THIS LITTLE GIRL WHO LOOKS TO BE ABOUT 2 WHO IS STANDING THERE SOBBING AS HER MOTHER IS BEING TAKEN AWAY.

IS THERE ANY INDICATION -- I UNDERSTAND THEY'VE OPENED UP SOME OF THESE DETENTION FACILITIES TO THE PRESS TO GIVE THEM A LOOK.

IS THERE ANY CLEAR UNDERSTANDING AS TO HOW THIS IS BEING HANDLED AND IS THERE A PLAN TO REUNITE THESE FAMILIES?

THERE'S NOT YET.

THEY SAY THIS IS A PROCESS AND IT'S GOING ON.

IT'S TAKING A LITTLE LONGER.

BUT THE REASON IT'S SO SLOW AND THE REASON IT'S SO DIFFICULT IS THAT THE NUMBERS ARE SO BIG.

OUR BORDER PATROL ISN'T STAFFED UP TO HANDLE THIS.

THEY WERE NOT ASKED TO DO IT DURING THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION, WHICH ALSO BELIES THE ARGUMENT THAT SOMEHOW OR ANOTHER THIS IS SOME DEMOCRATIC LAW THAT THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION IS STUCK WITH.

THIS COULD BE CHANGED RIGHT BEFORE THE END OF OUR CONVERSATION WITH A POKE OF THE TWITTER FINGER OF THE PRESIDENT OR STROKE OF THE PEN.

THIS COULD BE DONE.

I'M TELLING YOU, THE PRESSURE IS RISING.

THE PRESSURE IS RISING BUT WE HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO HAS MADE SORT OF HIS POLICY POSITION AND ALSO HIS PERSONALITY POSITION OF NOT BACKING DOWN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

THAT'S TRUE.

THAT'S TRUE.

HOW DOES THIS WORK THEN?

CONGRESS IS PUSHING.

YOU CAN COME UP WITH A NUMBER OF SCENARIOS.

THE DIABOLICAL ONE IN MY HEAD, TELL ME IF THIS MAKES SENSE.

BLAME JEFF SESSIONS.

WHAT IF TRUMP TOMORROW SAID THAT DAFTARDLY ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS HAS BOTCHED THIS AND MAYBE I NEED TO FIRE HIM OVER IT.

RIGHT?

HOW WOULD DEMOCRATS FOCUSED ON THE RUSSIA PROBE FEEL ABOUT THAT?

AT THIS POINT, THERE'S SO MANY THINGS HAPPEN WITH THE NEWS CYCLE LATELY THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

I THINK WE CAN ALL UNFORTUNATELY AGREE WITH THAT NOW.

A LOT OF SCENARIOS.

YEAH.

AT LEAST WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT THE PRESIDENT MAY OR MAY NOT DO, SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING HE'S ACTUALLY USING THESE KIDS AS LEVERAGE TO GET FUNDING FOR HIS WALL.

THERE'S AN INTERESTING TECHNIQUE.

THE PRESIDENT'S VIEW IS LET'S SOLVE THIS BY GIVING ME EVERYTHING I OPT IMMIGRATION.

YOU AGREE TO BUILD THE WALL AND DO THESE 12 OTHER THINGS AND THEN I'LL MAKE SURE THESE FAMILIES DON'T GET SEPARATED.

AT THE SAME TIME, THAT IS WHAT THE PRESIDENT DOES.

THAT'S HOW HE'S DONE A LOT OF HIS BUSINESS NEGOTIATION.

WHY WOULD WE THINK THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

IF YOU SAY IN ORDER TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM THAT YOU AND I BOTH AGREE IS A BAD SITUATION, YOU'VE GOT TO GIVE ME ALL THESE OTHER THINGS THAT I WANT.

THE MOST LIKELY RESULT OF THAT STRATEGY IS THAT NOTHING HAPPENS.

SO WE'LL HAVE TO SEE WHETHER THE POLITICAL PRESSURE THAT YOU JUST DESCRIBED, DEMONSTRATIONS, THOSE OP-EDS FROM FORMER REPUBLICAN FIRST LADIES, DOES THAT PRESSURE RISE TO THE POINT THAT THE PRESIDENT AND HIS SUPPORTERS HAVE TO FOLD?

I DON'T THINK WE KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT, BUT THAT'S WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING.

I THINK THAT AS WELL AS THE U.S. BEGINS TO GET ANY KIND OF INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE.

WE DID HAVE THE U.N. SAY THIS IS NOT OKAY BUT HOW MUCH HOTTER DOES THE SITUATION GET?

I DON'T KNOW THAT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE IS THE THING HERE.

A BUNCH OF WHINING FOREIGNERS COMPLAINING ABOUT AMERICA DOES NOT SOUND TO ME TO BE --

THAT DOG IS NOT GOING TO HUNT.

THAT'S NOT GOING TO MAKE THE TRUMP BASE CRUMBLE.

BUT A LOT OF DECENT FOLKS ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM SAYING THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE.

WE CAN HAVE LARGER DEBATES ABOUT THE BORDER.

WE CAN TALK ABOUT THELA HUMANITR IMMIGRANT TRADITIONS AND OUR NEED FOR SECURITY, BUT THOSE ARE ALL IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.

BUT, YOU KNOW, IN THE END YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO YANK THESE 6-YEAR-OLDS AWAY FROM MOM AND DAD.

VERY QUICKLY BECAUSE WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

ONE OF THE THINGS THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF IS CREATING HUGE CONTROVERSIES TO DEFLECT FROM SOMETHING ELSE.

IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE WE SHOULD BE PAYING ATTENTION TO?

PROBABLY 47 OTHER THINGS.

IT'S HARD TO ASSUME, THOUGH, THAT THIS IS ALL A CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED PLOT BECAUSE JUST AS OFTEN AS I CAN SHOW YOU EXAMPLES WHERE IT IS EFFECTIVE, JUST AS MANY TIMES IT'S PULLING US ALL AWAY FROM STUFF THE RABO.

SO I DON'T BUY THE GRAND CONSPIRACY THEORY HERE.

I JUST THINK A LOT OF STUFF IS HAPPENING AND IT'S ALL COLLIDING TOGETHER.

THAT IS TRUE.

ELLIS, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

WE'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU BACK, ESPECIALLY IF THIS PROCEEDS TO GET RESOLVED SOME TIME SOON.

LET'S HOPE THAT HAPPENS QUICKLY.

THANK YOU AGAIN.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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