tv Washington Week PBS June 23, 2018 1:30am-2:01am PDT
>> a crisis at the border and in washington. i'm robert costa. we discuss president trump's zero tolerance immigration policy and its cost both political and human. tonight on "washington week." president trump: we're going to keep families together but the border isoing toe just as tough as it's been. [applause] >> president trump insists the administration's hard line immigration stance remains but o does an face on his policy of separating children from parents who enter the country illegally. amid the firestorm, the president blames democrats. presid t trump: democrats don't care abouthe impact of uncontrolled migration on your communities, your schools, your
hospitals, your jobs, or your safety. >> and mexico. president trump: mexico is doing nhing for us except taki m ouroney and sending us drugs. >> on capitol hill house republicans postpone a vote on a long-term legislative fix. >> we've all been negotiations for the last several weeks. we'll spend the weekend, delaye a vill next week. >> but the president tells them to stop wasting their time trying to pass lislation before the mid-term elections. what's next for the more than 2,000 children waiting to be reunited with their parents and what's next ins? congr we examine the challenges ahead with nancy cordes ofbs news, michael shear of the "new york times, yeganeh torbati of d reuters, andan balz of "the washington post." >> this is "washington week." funding is provided by --
>> their leadership is instinctive. they understand the challenges of today a research the technologies of tomorrow. some call them veterans. we all them part of our team. >> on a cruise with american cruise lines journey along the colombia and snake rivs travelers reforge the route forged by lewis and clark more than 200 years ago. american crue lines' fleet of paddle wheelers travel through american landscapes to historic land marks where you can experience local customs and culture. american cruise lines, proud sponsor of "washington week."
>> additional funding is provided by newman's ownna foundation, ng all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultur differences in our communities. the corporation fopublic broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, moderator, robert costa. robert: good evening. dramatic and stark images of thousands of children at the border sarated from their families transfixed americans and people abroad andtoked international outrage. more than h 2300 childrene been taken from their parents since early may, since they crossed the u.s.-mexico bthder t documentation.
warehouses onverted and tents children alone without parents, confined in chain link spaces and sleoring on fats. reports that the government was holding infants and toddlers in so-called tender age shelters proved to be a tipping pnt. lawmakers visited the border and there was global outrage. british prime minister theresa may delivered a sharp rebuke. >> the pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing. this is wrong. c pope francalled the policy immoral. for days the president and his a administrationd others. president trump: i hate the children being taken awa the democrats have to change their law. that's their law. >> congress and the courts created this problem and crose cess alone can fix it --ng ress alone can fix it. robert: on wednesday thet presiden did what he said he couldn't do and sigd an executive order stopping the government from separating families. the action allows families toai be detd together but not
for more than 20 days. nancy, we saw the president signing his name on that executive order and it could be challenged in the court. we alsoaw the images of stone-faced congressional republicans. what's next for tm on capitol hill? nancy: it is very unclear, you know, on o hand they've got this legislation, this compromise bill, a between moderate and conservative republicans. they were hoping to hold a ve on thursday that got shifted to friday. now, perhaps next week. as the present tweetshat they should just give it all up, that's leading some republicans to say, whyhould i stick my neck out there and vote for legislation when ino don't even that the president is going to back it? and then you've got moderates who say but if you don't hold this vote we want to try a sh our own legislation. and so republican leaders are reallynaught i a catch 22 here, holding a vote next week on a piece of legislation that couldooail, even worse
for the gop, and then what does congress do? robert: could there be something narrow that maybe increases the amount of judges dealing with these cases? nancy: that islan b. you have a lot of senate republicans pushing for something that looks like that. then the question is, can they rat any demc support? they'll need it. it's not at all clear democrats are e going to backn a narrow piece of legislation that says, ok. you can hold the children with their parents, no longer separated, but hold them indefinitely, for a year or tir until t parents finally get an asylum hearing. a lot of democrats say that is inhumane. >> it is also not entirelha clear congress even has the legal authority to do that, to s children could be held indefinitely, because the basis of the restrictions on the current restrictions on children being held is a court decision based on constitutional premises ofes du pr not on legal authority created by a congressional piece of legislation.
and so it's unclear the legal experts i talked to wheer or not congress could even pass a legislation that says, sure. go ahead and kp familie and children together for months or years. robert: when you think of the families as they watch all this with the administration and congress, you've bee reporting this week for reuters about how the department of health and human services is loo perhaps fingerprinting adults coming in to try to make it easier to connect the c tldren wiir parents. is that possible? what is being done to reconnect these families? yoip yeganeh: that is a little separate. what we've been told a few weeks ago is they are now going to exphe category of people they're fingerprinting coming to claim children. this wase sort of bef the migrant crisis exploded on to the news. experts and adv ates are really fearful and worried a lot about that decision, because they fear with g ater cooperation between h.h.s. and i.c.e. which is responsible for deporting peam here illegally, you -- people here, illegally,
potentia p sponsors,ents, family members of the kids who could come and claim them are going to be afraid too so because they may find themselves deported. given d that information to i.c.e. so it's just like sort one example of the ways in which we don't really quite know what is going to happen to these children. theerhildren who separated from their parents are just a subset of a larger portion of children that, you know, crossed here without their parents and are also in the o custod the department of health and human services. it's just very unclear what the path is for reuniting them. robert: what is also unclear, yeganeh, is what is being done from the federal perspective. you wrotehis week for reuters about how one child stopped eating and fell into depression at one of these centers. another who could walk on his own now asks his mother to carry him everywhere. a third child started biting other children. there is a federal response to ree medical, psychological issues these chi are facing? yeganeh: those stories from all
from children kept at family detention centers. there are only three in the united states able to house families together. experts have found that any sort of detenon for child whether in one of these centers or at a harsheril fy is damaging to the child. they really urge the government to be limited in their usef family detention. you know, even putting aside thoseue i the government only has like 3200 beds in these familyettion centers and so, you know, in one month alone they dained like 9400 families crossing the border so it is very unclear where if the zero tolerance policy continues even if they're able to kind of get the permission to hold families longer than 20 days where those families would go, would the startuilding sort of tent cities on military bases? what kind of standards are those going to have? what effect is that going to have? robert: mike, real quick. you've been reporting on could t the on be providing 20,000 new beds for these
children, these families? michael: so the department of h.h.s. which is the agency that really takes custody of children in this system has asked the pentagon to assesst where i might have facilities hat could provide up to 20,000 beds over the course of the next several months. itiv is indic of the confusion that we feigned ourselves in and more to point the government finds itself in after this very sort of last-minute executive order that the story from the pentagon about who would be in those beds has changed back and forth literally almost by the hour. last night when i was doing reporting, initially it was these are 20,000 beds for what they called unaccompa children which would mean the parents aren't there. then the pentagon sd, well, actually maybe the parents would be there, the families, then they went back to, no. it's just for the kids. today when we talked to them they said, it's not determined yet. it might well be that would be used for families but it's up to h.h.s. i think, yo know, they're
scrambling to find space becauseha they understand if this goes on for weeks or months theyeed lots more space. if they don't have the space to hold the families then the only option, probably, would be either to release them, which president trump doesn't want to do, or to separatehem again, which obviously led to the crisis that we're in. that's thema dil robert: bringing it back to president trump, dan, i thought of you this week when i saw the president in minnesota for a rally and you've studied and done a lot of reporting this year on midwestern voters who support president trump. they were right there with. h amid all of this that was going nt, on immigration. the presi whether on twitter or on stage, remains defianak what do you of it all? dan: immigration was one of the central messages of his campaign and one of the issues that struc hardest and with most intensity among the c supporters of the president. it is an issue that he is unwilling to back off on or
unwilling top. give i think it's one of the reasons there is still so much difficulty trying to get anything done in congress. there is a question of is he prepared toua ay make a deal to take this issue off the table or does he prefer to have the issue? that rally was another example of the power of that issue you know, as bad politically as all of the images were thisf week,he children and the chaos on the border, there's another realitych w is the issue of open borders is still an issue that plays well with a lot of the country and a lot of those trump supporters.oi he's not to give that up. i think there's understanding that as long as wethese kinds of situations, he's going to continue to push hard on that. >> and, yet, with voters in the middle, it's hard to think of two more sim pathetic aspects of the immigtion debate than d.a.c.a. recipients, these dreamers who were brought hereau thraw no of their own, and young children -- toddlers,
little girls, littl boys, separated from their parents at the border. the president has now managed to put t two populations front and center in the immigration debate which republicans think is a nightmare in november. that's why this week you saw republicans in congress who even just a week ago were rationalizing the zero tolerance policy, saying, well, it is very im portant and need to serve as a deterrent turning around this week and saying, it's it needs to stop. the president is the person who cantop it. dan: i think the president and his party obviously have different motivations here. they are thinking of november and a democrat i contacted today and said ho you think this affects november? he said it will affect the suburban districts butave to see whether it fades. but for the president, a republican i talked to last week said one of the things to think about the president is that he has traded aprfl which
is to say less worried about his approval rating, he has traded it forntsity. his particular style of politics is to generate intensity pmong theple that are with him. robert: thathrase particular style of politics. it matters, mike. you've done a story this week a about howorney general jeff sessions and white house adviser steven miller have been cultivating many of these ideas and policies for years. this isn't something that justf came out o the blue. >> no. exactly. in fact, a lot of people date theort of first utterance that president trump or then candidate trump me about sort of immigration and sort of grant sentiment from the time that the announcement of his campaign, when he came down and talked about rapists and murderers coming over from mexico. in facs it g back much further. there were -- there was a speech that he gave before he announce for the presidency in texas in which he called people coming acros the border from mexico vomit.
said they're coming over like vomit. if you go f backther in his sort of personal history, you know, obvious there ws the anti --. >> but the ave talkedut the separation of the families for years. michael:ight. part of that was what drew sessions and miller to him was that they saw in him a kindred spirit and had been talking, miller has been talking about the issue of deterrence and how you deter people from coming into this courn a those things is bicep rating the families. i ierviewed miller in his office in the west wing a couple weeks ago and he made it clear amid all of the confusing rhetoric that the other administration officials, whether it is a deternt or not, miller was absolutely clear. he said of course it's a deterrent and there isepo ng back from it because we need to send a message. robert: is it a deterrent? you've been studying and reporting on immigration and
younow president obama dealt with this, a surge of migrants in we saw border crossings drop in early 2017. what is the actual reality at the border with these crossings? who is coming over and wdot the data tell us? >> a lot of these are children and their parents, usually their mothers. i spent some time in guatemala this year. there is an o epidemicf domestic violence, gang violence, real threats people's safety that they're fleeing and, also, obviously an economic element as well. when people feel they don't have anption they're going to leave. you know,ea they may news stories. first of all it takes time for is to trickle down. we'll wait and see when we have new borde crossing numbers at the beginning of july and see if there has been a big drop off. for the lasthree months even as thetr adminion's rhetoric has sort of heated up
the numbers have not ceased. they've continued to increase especially over last year when there was as you mentioned a pretty significa drop inhe first few mondays of the trump administration. i just -- tre was a significant drop in the first few months of the trump administration. thsi rhetoric that prent trump used during the campaign has continued up until this ry moment. he's talking about comparing immigrants essentially to lik an infestation. ec that a his ability to get democrats onboard with any sort of immigration compromise because democrats have their own base to worry about andth even i republicans were to offer a bill that would have some things they would like, for instance, path to citizenship for dreamers, democrats can't sign on to something when they're dealing with someone who is referring immigrants in terms like that. it just doesn't work. robert: that is such a good int. whyon't the democrats give president trump the $25 billion he wants for a border wall?
nancy: they might be willing to giveim the 25 million he wants for a border wall. chuck schumer tried toim give that 25 billion and he says the president wouldn't take yes for an answer. they'r willing to dohat as part of a larger negotiation but there are some aspects of the republican plan that are just a no go for them. to yeganeh's point they're not going to accept, for example, something that deals withhe d.a.c.a. population but doesn't give them legal certainty that they can stay in this country or thatut legal immigration in half, doesn't allow people to bring family members. michael: it goes back to miller and ses there are changes to the immigration system both legal and illegal that sessions and anmiller have beenng to put in place for many years. the so-called moderate bill that the house was i guess is going to vote on next week is filled with changes thatiller
and sessions have been trying to do for a long time that are viewed by the democrats a viewed by the advocacy community on behalf of immigrants asy rea awful. and so, you know, could there be a kind of wall for d.a.c.a.? absolutely. i mean, i think the votes are probably there for that but not with all the other stuff. dan: some of the democrats came away from that episode, as you know, convinced that having offered that money and trump not willing to make the deal, that he prefers the political issue to a deal. robert: is this a turning point, dan? i think back to the ban on muslim countries, people coming from muslim countries, it is barely talked about in washington some days. you think about t north korea summit. it seems to fade from the headlines. this is the issue this week. does this become a real pivot br the whole mid-term scene as both partirel toward november or not? dan: bob, i think it's ak premature to that assessment just for the reasons you say. things move past us and we forget what happened three days
go, five days ago, let alone two months ago or anything. i think one element of this two points. one, this is the biggest reversal that the president has had ton make his presidency. it's the biggest climb down, even though he's continuing very tough rhetoric toward the democrats. it's the biggest reversal he's had to do. that's an important thing. the second is evething that we've been talking about so far tonight are questions tha are unresolved and problems that are not yet fixed. and that don't seem likely to be fixed in the next 20 days or 30 days. so the dhiree to those kinds of issues are continuing to fester intol the f could continue to make this issue a really problematic one for the republicans. yeganeh: i also think chapter toone of the still isn't over. until you're able to find the children who belong to the parents and reunite t are still sort of squarely in his first chapter of
story. then there is a whole second chapter that has to do with compet tce. there' morality story and also the competence story, which is that if this administration was not even able to impose its own policy, whichuts you point they've been thinking about for years, in aompetent manner, keeping track of children so you don't lose them, being able to tell people where thoseld cn are, how much credibility is the adminisation goingo have the next time it tries to argue not just to democrats but to republicans that it's time for a new policy? michael: kee in mind to dan's point there are different interests for president and for facing akers who ar the voters this year. the president doesn't face the voters for anothha two and a years. you know, for all of the stuff that's been happening here, his base i b't going toieve he backed down. his base isn't really going to ink, oh, well, you know, now he's not one of us anymore. cause he'sot them locked
in. and i dwonder whether the closer we get to the elections to the mid ter that the gulf between president trump's interests and a given member of co who is running for re-election, that widens. dan: nancy's point about the policy is impornt. this is policy chaos we are seeing. it's a textbook example of a policy put in plac without much thinking and then a policy suddenly reversed aagain without much thinking. they are trying square all that. there is a quote we had in one of our stories today fro a rson from the texas civil rights project who said, either the government wasn't thinking at all about how they were going to put the families back together or they decided they just didn't care. i mean, the ainistration faces an internal problem. if you're one of the people that, you know, at h.h.s. who is having to deal with this, how do you try to fix it? robert: is it h.h.s.? is it the border patrol? is it the department of homeland security? i was in the newsroom this week and just listening to all theen
diff agencies it wasn't clear who is actually taking the lead. i'm wondering when wealk to advocates and experts do they expect migrants to continue to s come perith their children in the coming months so it is not just about those already here butay those who still come? yeganeh: absolutely.d i haven't tal anyone who thinks this is going to effectively shut off. people may think twice but the are still going to take their chances. let's remember, theyalled this a zero tolerance, hundred percent prosecution policy. even at its hite they ere really only prosecuting 60%. they just don't have the capacity to prosecute every single person they catch crossi the border illegally. people are still going to take their chances and hope they'll be able to cross and claim asylum and eventually be released. on the question o the competence and thinking through their policies, this week reminded me so much of the week vethat the first t ban -- i was at the airport at dulles ho were ing people waiting for their family
members to get out. there were lots of lawyers there. throughout the weeks j reporting we didn't even know who exactly the ban applied to in theeginning. d it apply to green card holders? at first it did then it didn't. it was just -- it is frustrating trying to answero ed' questions when you have no idea what the policy is and i felt that way this week, too. it was so difficult trying to figure itut. even our sources in the government i think didn't know. robert: and the republican party that stood by this president for over a year now finally seemeo gently say, stop. nancy: right. in some cases not so gently. you had republican senators and members ofgress who have been so reluctant to cross this esident, really saving that up. suddenly saying, this is not humane. you have to change it. and a growing frustrationhat just in the past four days, first the president said i'm a thousand percent byour legislation, then he said, well, i'm going to change it
after you pass it, whi by the way is not how government works. it doesn't work that waai then he i need you to pass it. then he said just rip it all up and we'll do it after the mid terms. if you're a member of congress and getting these messages, you know, it leaves you extreme confused. robert: we have to keep an eye on congress. the stories can ce and go. we'll keep an eye on congress, republicans, democrats, most importantlyffhe peopleted by policy. thanks everybody. our conversation will continue ngline on the wasn week extra. find that later tonight at pbs.org/washington week. i'm robert costa. thanks for joining us. >> funding for "washington week" is provided by- >> their leadership is instinctive. they understand the challenges of today a research the
chnologies of tomorrow. some call them veterans. we call them part of our team. >> additional funding is provided by american cruise lines, proud sponsor of washington week.ne an's own foundation, donating all of s from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through io the yuen found committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> you're watching pbs. on >> you're watching pbs. on national capg in