Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 20, 2018 Guest: Tim Kaine, Andrew Cuomo, Roger Marshall, Efren Olivares, Luis
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And that's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN live from the border.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're really, really pathetically week, the country is going to be overrun with millions of people.
HAYES: After all the deception the President gets caught.
TRUMP: We're signing an executive order I consider to be a very important executive order.
HAYES: Donald Trump forced to slink away from his own policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame, shame, shame!
HAYES: Tonight, the ongoing and lasting damage of family separation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These kids are still in the system. We don't know where they are.
HAYES: What happens next on the ground?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a very high likelihood that they will not be deported together.
HAYES: And how everyone should have seen this coming.
TRUMP: They're not sending their finest, does that sounds familiar?
HAYES: When ALL IN live from the border starts now.
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HAYES: Good evening from McAllen, Texas, I'm Chris Hayes and we're in the city with the largest immigration processing center in the entire country and it is the epicenter of this crisis. Tonight, four weeks since we started covering this story as a moral crisis that has seized the conscience of the nation and drawn the world's condemnation, Donald Trump the President of United States has been forced to back down. Faced with overwhelming outrage, the President withdrew his policy of ripping children away from their parents after they've crossed the southern border or at least that is what he says he's doing. There are new major issues and major loopholes that deserve scrutiny and this story is not over. We're going to get to all of it. But for weeks, the President and his enthusiastic partners have been lying and obfuscating about their own family separation policy. They've been blaming it on Democrats, they've been blaming it on non-existent laws. They have even been pretending that the policy they enacted that led to the separation of 2,600 children simply did not exist.
And they seem to have been hoping all along that once again that they can bluff and lie and gaslight their way through. This time, however, they got caught. In the last day or so, the backlash over family separation exploded. As Americans of every political persuasion and every religious denomination all across the country learn new details about some 2,500 migrant children taken forcibly from their families by our government. They listen to audio of little kids crying for their parents. And last night we all found out about so-called tender-age shelters, that is more accurately detention centers for toddlers and for babies in U.S. custody. We finally saw the first images of those babies. This one given to a reporter of New York Times, a 12-month-old taken away from her family and held at a facility in Brownsville, Texas. So today, just a few days since claiming his hands were completely tied on the matter, the President signed an executive order which purports to reverse his own family separation policy attempting to save face by once again lying about how it came to be.
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TRUMP: There's a problem that's going on for many years as you know with many administrations and we're working very hard on immigration. It's been just left out in the cold. People haven't dealt with it and we are dealing with it.
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HAYES: Again, he created it and Jeff Sessions created it, and Kirstjen Nielsen created it. But the President now faces -- Trump may be backing down from separating the children from their parents, he is not crucially giving up on his policy of cracking down on every single adult crosses the border illegally called "zero tolerance." That is going to continue. And so now, instead of being confined to those so-called tender age shelters, the children will now be detained indefinitely together with their parents. They will be sent to family detention centers which the Pentagon under the executive order has been ordered to prepare military facilities, camps on military bases for families jailed.
And as to the nearly 2,500 children, the crucial question of what will happen to them, the 2,500 children who right now as you're listening to me are separated from their families and been sent to different locations in 17 states around the country, right now the administration just a few minutes ago says there are no plans, they will lift no finger to reunite them with their parents while their parents await court hearings. The reaction from Washington, I'm joined by Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat from Virginia and I want to start on this. HHS just saying we are going to make no move or no attempt to reunite the 2,600 children taken from their families in our custody with their parents. What do you think of that?
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: Well, I think it means that their alteration of the policy today didn't end their heartlessness. If they're not going to lift a finger to reunite these kids with their families, then the American public needs to stay outraged until they do. This is a humanitarian atrocity that this administration created, the separation of these kids devastating to the children and devastating to the parents. And what we need to do is stay on this administration until they stop the detention, until they reunite these kids with their families. And I'll tell you, Chris, we're going to have to really stay on them on this reuniting because any administration that was cavalier enough to strip these families apart thinking that the American public wouldn't care, why would we trust that they would be diligent in trying to reconnect parents with kids. We're going to have to stay all over them to make sure that they do it.
HAYES: In terms of trust, I mean there's a question about when you read the text of the executive order. There seem to be some rather large loopholes. One of them being that they're directed to essentially keep families together essentially in the bounds of the law and resources I think is. I'm paraphrasing the executive order. Do you trust -- here it is, "where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources." That's the only directive. There is no word of the use "shall" there, that they shall keep them together. Do you trust that this, in fact, will and the policy that they won't keep doing this?
KAINE: Chris, no. I don't trust it. I think there's four big unanswered questions in addition to this sort of depending on the resources loophole you point out. Will the families be indefinitely detained? Where will they be detained? What will the process be to determine their future status? And will you treat lawful asylum seekers as criminals? As you know just last week Attorney General Sessions said that no longer would the United States treat well-founded claims of violence or domestic abuse as a reason for asylum. This is a dramatic change in U.S. law. So what we now start treating lawful asylum seekers and many of these 2,500 -- 23,00 to 2,500 kids are in that cat or are we going to treat them and their parents like they're criminals now? Huge questions, huge loopholes, and then you get to the question of and what about the kids that are already in custody, what are we going to do with them?
HAYES: There's some talk about some bill being voted out in Congress. There was a big fight between Mark Meadows and Paul Ryan today. It's unclear whether they have 218 votes for either of the two bills that have been entirely crafted by the Republican Caucus an extreme bill and a less extreme bill. Is there anything that's going to happen legislatively in the United States Senate in the next week or so?
KAINE: Well, we're going to see what the House does but I'll tell you, Chris, I'm very skeptical about it and here's why. We came up with a bipartisan bill in February. I was the Democratic drafter, Lindsey Graham the Republican drafter, we introduced it with 16 co-sponsors, eight Democrats, eight Republicans. It accomplished two objectives that the President said he wanted, permanent protection for 1.8 million DREAMers and $25 billion over ten years for border security. We put strings on the border security money so it couldn't be used for a vanity project like a wall where a wall wasn't necessary but we basically did a deal and came to the President said both of these match what you've asked for. Can you take yes for an answer? Chris, you know what happened. The President's political advisors got to him, told him that no you've got to be tough on these immigrants and so he did a 180, pour cold water on it and trashed it. And since that moment, instead of looking for bipartisanship, he has doubled down on cruel, harsh policies, ending DACA, ending the temporary protected status for refugees, threatening to end family unification, threatening to end the diversity visa program, talking about shithole countries. This from a President who still is obsessed that President Obama isn't a U.S. citizen. The reality about President Trump is it's not the illegal. He will try to punish immigrants lawful or unlawful and we're seeing in the nation of precipitous decline on foreign tourists willing to come here foreign students willing to come study here, that's who this man is. And so I'm very skeptical that anything he would support at this point would be anything good.
HAYES: All right, Senator Tim Kaine, thank you for your time tonight.
HAYES: I'm joined now by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York who is suing the Trump administration over its policies for detaining migrant children. Governor, my understanding is that that lawsuit was in concert with some other states over the specific policy and does the executive order signed today change the legal status of that lawsuit?
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: No it doesn't, Chris, and it's good to be with you. I think -- I heard your opening -- I think the situation is even worse. I don't think the deception has stopped. I think the executive order is a sham. I think it was a press release to vent some of the anger but I don't even think it's legally enforceable. If you read the executive order, it says they're going to set up family detention centers. The only problem is they can't set up family detention centers. There is a body of case law the Flores settlements that we've been talking about where this has been litigated for 20 years. And the court has said you cannot put young people in a detention center except for a very brief period of time. So you can't set up a family detention center. And if you want the loophole in the executive order, it says as permitted by law and then it says the Attorney General shall go renegotiate the Flores Settlement. They've tried to do that many times before. The court is not going to allow them to put young people in detention centers. That's how we got here in the first place. When they put in zero tolerance on April 7th, they were basically arresting the parents, they couldn't detain the children so they now sent 2,500 children to the wind and we have to now go find out where they put them. So when the executive order says we're going to set up family detention centers on DOD bases, but by the way, the Attorney General has to go get court permission first, I don't believe that permission is ever going to come. I think this is just the President continuing to create a crisis using 2,500 children as political pawns and then leaving it to the Congress to try to get a settlement and his settlement is going to be I want a wall. Literally, the name of the executive order is affording Congress an opportunity to address family separation. This executive order is just a press release.
HAYES: Let me ask you about the -- when we talk about the children scattered to the winds, some of them have come into your state. There was footage last night, a New York 1 seemed to capture some young girls being taken to a foster care facility in East Harlem, New York. Two questions, do you know the number of children taken from their parents currently in the state of New York and what are you going to do as governor since HHS isn't going to do it, what are you going to do as Governor to reunite them with their families?
CUOMO: Well they're roughly 300, the best we can determine. They are all in the federal jurisdiction. It's so bad, Chris, we wanted to send doctors, mental health professionals, counselors, etcetera because just imagine the trauma these children have suffered. I mean, it can score them the rest of their lives. We offered to send state resources to help the children, the federal government said you have to go through an application process, it's going to take two weeks. They don't even want to tell the state how many and in what facilities. That's why we started the lawsuit which is the federal government violated the due process rights of the children and the parents in the -- by the federal constitution citizens and non-citizens, undocumented people still have a fundamental right to be in their parental care. And that's what our lawsuit is going to be about. And we're going ahead with that lawsuit because as you pointed out, there's no provision in the executive order that even speaks about the 2,500. And as a matter of fact, they have said they're going to continue doing what they're doing until they can get a new plan in place. And by the way this executive order, I'll bet you a dollar tonight never gets executed.
HAYES: We're going to see as that -- as that continues. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, thank you for making some time.
CUOMO: Thanks, Chris. Thanks.
HAYES: For more on what happens now after the President reversed or appeared to reverse we should say his family separation policy I'm joined by two of the most dogged reporters on this story. NBC News National Security and Justice Reporter Julia Ainsley who's been covering this for a very long time and knows the details which are complicated inside and out, and MSNBC Correspondent Jacob Soboroff who has done outstanding work on the facilities, has been in contact with HHS and all the different players. Let's start with that HHS statement, Julie Ainsley, which I really found to be somewhat shocking actually even just in tone, it is -- it is a kind of live dismissal of what is on the front of minds for everyone not the least of which the actual parents which is OK how does reunification happen?
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER: You had the exact same reaction I did, Chris. When I was going back and forth with the spokesman at HHS and I had to say, wait a minute what you just said the process is for these children going forward is the same process that existed before the President did anything today. Is like the reality of what the President did doesn't exist in the universe for these 2,500 children. They laid out how they would still try to place him with relatives, place him in foster care but I just thought, wait a second, I thought they didn't have to be separate from their parents. But if you read through the executive order, it really doesn't say anything about that and right now HHS is actually in the dark. I mean, they're telling us to check in with other agencies, the other agencies aren't saying anything.
So for right now, and I think it's especially a symptom of the fact that the President had turned on a dime on this issue and didn't alert a lot of the agencies, just like they didn't when they started this policy of separating them. But for right now it seems that they're going to keep them separate so the children the 2,500 children will stay with HHS or presumably be sent off to foster homes around the country while their parents stay under the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service. That's where they have to stay if they're going to be prosecuted. And another unanswered question and Senator Kaine brought this up as well is where do newly arriving families go?
We know that ICE detention facilities for families right now are almost at capacity. They have 3,335 beds and at a rate of about 420 people families crossing the border every day, they would fill up in eight days. So where do they go? What is the Defense Department's responsibility in all of this and are they going to be kept in humane conditions? Because the Florida settlement in the 90s was about addressing that exact question what conditions are good enough for children, and it was determined under the Obama administration when they went back and revisited that agreement that very little conditions are suitable for children and certainly not those that last over 20 days. So a lot of questions to come and I just hope that we don't -- and I know you won't, Chris, but I hope that we don't leave the story behind and assume that all these problems are solved because this executive order today.
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: So I've also been reaching out to HHS. The HHS has basically said this grandfathering issue whether or not these kids are going to be grandfathered is up to DHS just like Julia is saying. So I was texting with DHS earlier and I said, you know the kid is going to be grandfathered, have been separated anything? Check our tweeted statement, they said -- I said it says nothing about grandfathering. If you're looking at that or the 2,500 out of luck, this is important. No answer.
HAYES: OK. So that's -- so we have no answer on that. We have no answer at Julia's point about the massive you know tent camps. They're presumably going to build like the one in the Tornillo. The other thing we don't know is will this go into effect tomorrow? I mean, I talked to a public defender today and every morning she's got -- they've got 75 people coming through the courthouse in McAllen and they asked these parents, are you separate from your kids. Tomorrow morning, we're going to find out if the answer is yes. And we don't know whether what's going to happen.
SOBOROFF: We have absolutely no idea. We've had no idea all along. This is all about questions. This entire thing has been about asking questions. We're the toddlers? Where are the girls? What happens to the kids today that are in the Border Patrol facility? They're basically in limbo between the executive order and the old policy. What happens? What -- literally what happens tomorrow when people walk across the border under the (INAUDIBLE) bridge, picked up by the Border Patrol and brought into that detention facility, are they going to be charged? This is a criminalization obviously of asylum between the ports of entry. And again, it's all about these questions that we do not know the answer to and we are not given the answers to.
HAYES: Julia, do you know anything and you may not because again there's so many questions here and because so much of this has been shrouded in mystery intentionally. It's -- they have acted like they're hiding something from the beginning. We have lots of reports about people being turned away at ports of entry. We have reports that CBP has even moved where they stand on the bridge to the median of the bridge so that they can stop people from touching an inch in U.S. territory to deny them the legal right to asylum. Do you have or is there anything about whether that practice is systemic or whether that's going to stop? Do we know anything? Are they communicating anything about that?
AINSLEY: So I was in touch with some people at DHS today about that very issue, not spokespeople, people who probably aren't supposed to be talking to the media but they're giving us more of the truth about what's going on and what they're saying is that DHS intentionally did not send more people to the border like asylum officers, like those judges that the President was so intent on sending at the beginning who would be able to adjudicate asylum cases more quickly and that really all of the resources that they've seen have been on the law enforcement side along the border between those ports of entry so that they could be arresting more families and it's intentional. I think some of the best reporting on this was from Mariana Atencio yesterday when she spoke to families who weren't able to get into ports of entry and they're having to make the decision, do they go in illegally and risk being separated from their children or do they continue to stay in one of the most dangerous cities in this continent.
HAYES: All right, Julia Ainsley, and Jacob Soboroff, so great to have both you. Thank you for your work. I should mention, Jacob will be reporting an hour on the border crisis, phenomenal piece of work. It's going to be on Dateline Sunday. The show is called the Dividing Line that airs Sunday at 7:00, 6:00 central on NBC. You definitely, definitely want to check that out. Much more on the ground here in McAllen, Texas on what the President's executive order really means, what it doesn't mean and what will happen crucially to the children already detained but first is the GOP now fully the party of Trump? A Republican Congressmen joins me next.
HAYES: Longtime GOP strategist and MSNBC Analyst Steve Schmidt declared last night he was leaving the Republican Party which he called out fully the party of Trump. "Ronald Reagan, he tweeted, would be ashamed of McConnell and Ryan and all the rest while this corrupt government establishes internment camps for babies. Every one of these complicit leaders will carry the shame through history. They have disgraced their country, brought dishonor to the party of Lincoln." Around that same time, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Utah was also tweeting this. "I can't sleep tonight. I know I shouldn't tweet but I'm angry and sad. I hate what we've become." Many Republicans in Congress have expressed reservations about the Trump policy of family separation crucially not a single one signed on to Democratic efforts to pass a standalone bill to stop it. With me now a Conservative Congressman who described the separation policy as terrible, Congressman Roger Marshall, Republican of Kansas. Congressman, it was yesterday I believe or a few days ago the President said explicitly I can't just sign an executive order to stop this and then today he signed an executive order to stop it. Was the President lying?
REP. ROGER MARSHALL (R), KANSAS: No, not at all. I think the President was much like a big ship sailing into the wind trying to tack back and forth. He started down a policy direction, it wasn't working quite the way he wanted it to so he tacked it over to this side. I think that you have to keep in mind the President's main objective is always national security and securing these borders so he's going to keep that as his priority. Certainly, he was concerned as much like you and I are about the children and he's going to try to fix this problem as well.
HAYES: If he was -- if he was concerned about the children, why did he only act after several weeks after 2,600 children have been separated, a massive media outcry, people turned against him at Capitol Hill, and after he gave a speech the other day in which he said you have to take away the children to applause.
MARSHALL: Yes, exactly. I think there's some more facts that need to be reported. We went with the illegal crossings coming across our Mexican border from 15,000 a month to 50,000. This was becoming --
HAYES: Congressman --
MARSHALL: This was becoming a crisis. This was becoming a crisis --
HAYES: Congressman, I know the --
MARSHALL: -- and he was reacting to fix the crisis and keeping those priorities for national security number one.
HAYES: I asked a simple -- I ask a simple question and the question was this which I'd like you to answer if possible. If the President was upset about separating children, why did he put a policy in place and separated children, not tell the truth about that being his policy, and then stick to it for six weeks while 2,600 children were separated and not change until an outcry happened?
MARSHALL: I think he was trying to keep his priorities straight which is exactly what he did and he's continuing to do that. He's -- if you would just know the President's heart the way I know it, he loves children. You saw what happened in Syria when the children were bombed with chemical weapons and how his heart response to this. The President's intention was never to hurt families, his intention was always national security and border security. And now we had the situation arise and he's addressing it now.
HAYES: We have -- we have interviewed -- on this network, we've interviewed mothers from Guatemala and Honduras whose sons have been killed by drug cartels, who have fled a thousand miles north risking everything, are they a national security threat?
MARSHALL: I think that when you have 50,000 people crossing our border at the same time that's a problem.
HAYES: I'm asking you a question about specific --
MARSHALL: Let me -- and I'm trying -- and I'm trying to answer, Chris. I think you have to share the rest of the story. The number of families that are -- that are posing as families as quadruple are trying to cross our borders. So you're having people that are doing human trafficking, terrorists and cartel members using usually young kinds as --
HAYES: Where is your evidence that there are terrorist -- where is the evidence of that. I have heard that. Where is your evidence for that? Where is an evidence of a terrorist using a child to cross the border? I would like to see some evidence of that.
MARSHALL: Right. So I think what I would encourage you to do is go look at the kids that are under the age of five years old that are being in custody right now and see how many of them were separated from true parents as opposed to from cartel members of from traffickers. So I think you need to do some more investigating reporting and that's why I'm going to the border myself this weekend to sort this out.
MARSHALL: Yes, sir.
HAYES: Well, Congressman, I would love it if either you or I could get into the facilities with five-year-olds but they won't let us into the facilities with five-year-olds. And I really would urge you to talk to some of these parents firsthand to determine whether you think their traffickers and I would also say, don't you think traffickers and cartels who of course have been trafficking people and running drugs through this country for decades and have tremendous power in Mexico and Central America has better ways of people getting in then haggard Honduran moms at a -- crossing the Rio Grande with two kids in toe?
MARSHALL: You know, how can you explain that the number of families, people posing as families have quadrupled? How can you explain the number of people asking for asylum has increased exponentially?
HAYES: Congressman, I just asked you. What is your evidence? You keep the word posing -- Congressman, I'm just asking you. You keep the word posing, you keep implying that these people are making up stories that five-year-olds have been coached, that they've been taken by traffickers. What I'm asking you is to present evidence that that is happening in any systemic way.
MARSHALL: And certainly that would -- that was my questions for DHS yesterday and they reassured me what I just told you is the truth. And so I think when I go there this weekend, I'll try to sort it out more. But why don't moms with legitimate family go through the proper routes? If they want asylum, why don't they go through the legal route where their children would be protected? Why would mom jeopardize -- why would moms try to -- attempt to sacrifice their own children? Why don't they follow the law of our lands?
HAYES: Congressman, can I ask you this? Congressman, do you have moms in your district?
MARSHALL: Yes, I delivered over 5,000 babies so I have a few months of my district.
HAYES: OK. You know -- you know how important that bond between a mother and a newborn baby is. You know what it would mean for your patients if they were ripped away while they were nursing their children. You know what it would mean for a mother if they were trying to protect the child from danger. I just don't understand why it seems so hard for you to empathize with the plight of these people that are coming for legitimate reasons. They are terrified to be where they are and what I'm hearing from you is they're being irresponsible with their kids and they're faking it.
MARSHALL: No, Chris I have great empathy. Like the President, I have great empathy for these children and for the moms. I want to do everything possible to keep their families together. I've said over and over, this is a terrible situation and I want to fix it and that's why I'm going to vote yes tomorrow on our -- on our legislation to fix the problem, a long-term fix that gives long-term certainty to this very terrifying situation. So I want to fix -- I think we can have both. I think that we can have a country of laws. I think that we can have security and I think we got compassion as well. It doesn't have to be either/or.
HAYES: I -- that I agree with you entirely and I want to ask two final things. One is that when you do come out here I would ask, I would plead, that you actually talk to some of the lawyers who represent some of these cases here, maybe meet some of the people who are coming and talk to them about their stories to determine whether they're telling the truth or not.
And my second question for you is, I just want to get this on the record, because you were -- were you in the meeting with the president with the House GOP?
MARSHALL: Yes, I will commit to asking those moms. And, yes, I was in the meeting with the president last night.
HAYES: OK, so just the final question here. This is the president recounted about his appearance there. He said, "had a great meeting with the House GOP last night at the Capitol. They applauded and laughed loudly when I mentioned my experience with Mark Sanford. I have never been a fan of his." The president castigating Mark Sanford, who lost his primary.
There's two members of the House GOP caucus who have said that's categorically untrue. Is that true?
MARSHALL: I heard a lot of cheers. I heard a few groans. But uncategorically, this president was supported. I do not know if we're going to have a blue wave, a red wave, but we're going to definitely have a Trump wave this winter. And if people don't hop on this Trump train now, they're going to be left behind.
It was like Knute Rockney was talking to us last night, giving us a great speech going into battle. This Republican Party supports this president. I've never seen such engagement and support for a person in my entire life. It's just been incredible. It's like Yankees fans and the Yankees and Red Sox and their fans, they're just totally engaged with this president and they're going to support him to the end.
HAYES: Would you say -- would you say that voters around the country when they're thinking about who to pull the lever for this fall, whoever that name is on the Republican Party they're really voting for Donald Trump, as you just said, because of the unanimity of support, the robust, powerful, and unanimous support of the Republican House caucus for Donald Trump, that when they're voting for a lever there, what they're really voting is for the president or against the president?
MARSHALL: You know, I'm not a professional politician, what I know is that President Trump plays very well in a lot of districts.
I think it's partially true. So, in my district that's probably true, but maybe in a swing state it's not.
HAYES: There is a very simple question, should voters -- should voters when they go to pull the lever, and when they're thinking about who to vote for, whatever that name is of the congressional Republican candidate, what you just said is this is a fully united party behind the president of the United States, a raucous, raucous and robust support for him. Should they be thinking that really they're voting for someone to support Trump when they go and pull that lever?
MARSHALL: I think in the same way that when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection people were voting for Reagan. But I also think I can stand on my own merits as well in my own district, and Kevin McCarthy will stand on his two feet, and so Steve Scalise will stand on his own two feet as well, that we are individuals. What makes this party great is we give choices. We can disagree, and the disagreement leads to greater decision making process.
And this president welcomes that disagreement. He welcomes that banter back and forth.
So, we're all in on Trump. He's going to be a great asset for us this fall.
HAYES: Final question, can we -- will you agree right now that after you come down here and after you talk to some of the actual people who are coming across the border and their legal representations, you can come back on the show and we can talk about what you learned?
MARSHALL: I'll be honored to.
HAYES: Excellent. Thank you, congressman. I really do appreciate you taking time with me tonight.
MARSHALL: Thank you, Chris. Thank you for caring about these kids and these moms and the entire situation.
HAYES: You got it.
We'll be right back with much more right after this.
HAYES: For all the talk about the White House -- from the White House about criminals and criminal aliens that are streaming over the border, here is what the practical effect of the Trump administration zero policy is, it is to radically shift public resources from prosecuting people with actual criminal records to prosecuting people with no criminal record whatsoever with a misdemeanor, desperate people, seeking refuge.
Earlier today, I spoke with an assistant federal defender from the McAllen office, that's someone working on the front lines of this problem. I asked her to walk us through the difference between the before and after of Trump's zero tolerance policy.
AZALEA ALEMAN-BENDIKS, ASSISTANT FEDERAL DEFENDER: Well, we certainly see a difference in the numbers. When we -- we've been representing clients charged with illegal entry all these years that I've been there, but we would regularly see about 35 clients in any given day, now we're looking at about 150 a day, 75 in the morning and 75 in the afternoon. So, it's certainly volume wise that has changed.
We've also seen a big change in terms of who they're choosing to prosecute. Most of the clients that we're representing now who are charged with misdemeanor illegal entry coming in through the river, they are people with no criminal history and no immigration history.
And what's been most concerning to us, of course, has been the fact that so many of them have been parents who have been separated from their children. I've been trying to track the numbers since May 7, regularly we're seeing 40 or 50 parents a day who are separated from their children, and we've been bringing this to the attention of the courts. And it's really the biggest -- the most suffering, that's all the clients want to talk about.
They're willing to admit I came in through the river and I committed a crime. They plead guilty. And they usually receive time served sentences, but what they really want to know is when am I going to be reunited with my child? That's been their primary concern.
HAYES: So, a five-fold increase is huge. I mean, what has that done to the court, like to go from 35 a day that you're prosecuting to 150 a day, that seems like that would strain the resources of the court?
ALEMAN-BENDIKS: I think it's been demanding for everyone in terms of the detention officers, certainly the court, our office as well, the federal defender's office. We are -- I'm one of 17 lawyers, and so every day we have to get our team together, which includes our investigators, to come in and interview the (inaudible) group of people in a relatively short period of time. We speak to them individually. We make sure they understand their rights. And we present them in front of the magistrate courts.
But I'm -- two dockets a day of 75 people is very heavy.
HAYES: What do you say to people who say, look, well, they broke the law, you've got to do this. This is just the way it has to be?
ALEMAN-BENDIKS: Well, you know, what my primary issue on this has been from the beginning that these parents are really having to suffer the separation from their children. They are willing to say I broke the law and came in through the river, but many of them, the majority of them, have claims of asylum, and those claims have not been heard.
What we're asking the courts is to refer -- to have the government refer them for credible fear interviews, which ordinarily would have happened before the choice to prosecute. Now, it seems to be happening after the prosecution.
HAYES: So, this is a really important thing, it's a procedural thing, but I think -- I want to make sure folks understand. What it used to be is if you get apprehended and you say, hey, look I'm here from Guatemala and I'm fleeing violence and I want to present myself for asylum, they used to have first in the processing a credible fear interview before a decision was made whether to prosecute these people criminally.
ALEMAN-BENDIKS: See, these people -- that's my understanding, because they were not our clients, they were not charged with crimes when they made claims of asylum.
HAYES: You weren't getting these people. This is a new population?
HAYES: It's a new population...
ALEMAN-BENDIKS: ...these were not our clients before.
HAYES: Have they located their children, by and large? Do they know -- is anyone helping them find their children?
ALEMAN-BENDIKS: No. There's no plan for reunification as far as we've been able to determine. We've done a lot in terms of demanding that the government provide us with information. First of all, information about who the parents are and the names of the children who have not been provided with that information. The information that we have we've gathered from our parents.
And in terms of reunification I heard a lot about the ORR and its system, but what I've understood from the beginning is that essentially they're on two different tracks. The parents are in the immigration track, and they are seeking asylum, that's a track that takes months. And -- but when I'm representing them, they're already set for expedited removal. So, with an expedited removal for the parents and the ORR system for the children, there's a very high likelihood that they will not be deported together, and that the parents will be deported without their children.
HAYES: All right, Azalea, thank you so much for taking time. I appreciate it.
HAYES: Coming up, the single most pressing issue we face right now, and that's family reunification. We have the firsthand account of a family that was torn apart, their 14 month old taken by the U.S. government. Here the mother tell her story and what it took to get her child back, that's next. Don't go anywhere.
HAYES: The Trump administration officially announced their putative policy of separating families in April, but they already had been taking tender aged children from their parents at the border for months.
One family, a mother and father and their two kids, aged 4 and 14 months, fled El Salvador on a migrant caravan in November. And once they got to Mexico, the mother of the 4 year old stayed back as the father crossed the border at a point of entry with their 14 month old son, and then presented himself to immigration authorities asking for asylum.
They were detained. ICE separated them. And it took a week for the mother to figure out where her child even was, then another two-and-a-half months to get him back.
She shared their experience with our own Trymaine Lee, but at her family's request, because her husband is still in U.S. custody to this day, we are protecting her identity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): We don't come to this country because we want to come. I think that no one wants to leave their life, their family, and leave everything, a whole life, out of nowhere. We come looking, trying to save our lives.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Did you ever imagine that once you got to the border that you might be separated from your husband and your son?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): No, we never thought that my husband would have the boy taken from him. Being so small, well, we thought there was no possibility that he would be separated from the boy.
For me, it was like a cold bucket of water fell on me. I did not even know what to do.
The boy was simply snatched from his arms without any explanation. It took seven days for me to know where he was, plus I didn't know his health status until I confirmed that I was his mother.
LEE: How long did it take you to finally get reunited with your son?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): It took 85 days.
LEE: 85 days -- it took 85 days for you to reunite with your son?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): 85 days to reunite with him. And there were days where I felt like I was a stranger wanting to adopt my own son.
LEE: What was it like to finally get this little boy back in your arms?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): Well, it was a feeling of relief. But, nevertheless, it was difficult to digest the condition he came in. It seems that in the 85 days he was there, he was never given a shower. He had a plague of lice. He was very uncared for.
LEE: What was that first night like when you got (NAME DELETED) back?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): He was scared of me getting close to the bed with him. He was scared of sleeping. He wept until -- well, I remember that day as if it were yesterday -- he wept and it took until 11:35 at night to get him to fall asleep, until the crying exhausted him and he closed his eyes. I went to lay him down, and when I put him down he started to yell again, as if someone was hurting him, and I had to hold him all night.
I had him all night on my chest, and I remember the next day I woke up with a pain in my chest, because he didn't want me to lay him down on the bed.
LEE: After being separated from him for so long, do you hold him closer now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): Today, I practically can't disappear for five minutes, because he starts crying and starts screaming. He ahs to practicaly see that I'm there, because if not, he starts yelling ma, ma, ma, because he can't see me gone for five minutes. I can't disappear because he thinks I've left him.
I've asked myself, "why did this happen to us?" When this shouldn't have happened, and shouldn't happen to any other families. Because the only thing we are looking for is a safe life.
HAYES: There are thousands of families whose children are being detained by the U.S. government right now. The government still has no orders, nothing in place to reunite those kids with their parents, at least as far as we know. Despite Trump's executive order, HHS, which is caring for those kids, tells NBC News it has no plans to reunite currently detained children with their families.
With me now, Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services; and Efren Olivares is the racial economic justice program director of the Texas Civil Rights Project.
You guys know this terrain as well as anyone. You've been working in the trenches here. So, let me start with this, which is a new statement from ICE after HHS said well, we don't know. We haven't gotten any orders.
ICE -- Richard Rocha (ph) says ICE also has numerous field office staff and detention facilities over the country who work directly with Health and Human Services, ORR locally to have regular communication between detained parents and their children in the care of ORR, working to reunite families once they come into our custody.
What do you think of that, John?
JONATHAN RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RAICES: I think that much like many of the writings we've seen, it's very open to interpretation. The -- Mr. Rocha there expresses once families come in to our custody, but he doesn't describe what they're going to do when actual children or parents who are separated have come into their custody.
So, these people are wordsmiths at making you think that they are taking care of these families when in fact what's happening on the ground and inside of these detention centers is absolute havoc, I can assure you.
One hand does not know what the other hand is doing in this government. I can attest to that. I'm sure Efren can as well, because it's often left to us, the advocates and the representatives, who scoot around between these offices, that stay inside their bubble and maintain their talking points. And we have to explain to them what's actually happening on the ground.
HAYES: Do you have faith that, first of all, the policy is going to stop pursuant to the order, you know, and things will change?
EFREN OLIVARES, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: Well I don't know about faith. I know we're going to keep working to document these separations, because the separations will continue. And the executive order appears to imply that they will be reunited after the criminal sentencing hearings, so we will be going back to court every day to document the separations and try to corroborate ourselves that the families were reunited.
HAYES: It's going to be up to you, basically? I mean, to your point, right, there's no internal -- there's no internal processes. Like it's basically you guys making sure that people get reunited.
OLIVARES: If we don't document the separation, no one but the U.S. government knows that these families were separated.
HAYES: One thing I want to talk about here, you know, there's this idea that like we have to detain all these people, and we've got to put them somewhere, and well, you've got this consent decree that says we can't hold the kids with the families, so we've got -- family detention. What are the alternatives? I mean, do these -- the vast majority of these people need to be detained at all, Jonathan?
RYAN: Absolutely not. These are peaceful people who are fleeing for their lives and seeking a better life.
We as a government and a country have opted for the most expensive, the most traumatizing, and damaging way to facilitate refugee travel. It's abhorrent.
What really could happen is that in lieu of all of these billions and billions of dollars poured into the pockets of private, for-profit prisons, we could be providing services to these individuals at a much less cost with more positive outcomes in their cases, but it appears that we've got an administration and a government that doesn't want to see those positive outcomes.
HAYES: In fact, there was a pilot program that was intensive case management in which 99 percent of the people under it who were just released -- they went to family or friends -- reported for their ICE dates?
OLIVARES: Absolutely. And that program was terminated by President Trump.
HAYES: So, it was put in place and it was working. I mean the big complaint, right, is well if we let them go we'll never see them again. The idea behind this was they put this intensive case management, 99 percent show rate on the court dates, including people that were deported, right, so people were showing up to get deported and then what happened, the president...
OLIVARES: ...decided to terminate this program and has then adopted zero tolerance. And this is where we are now.
HAYES: All right.
RYAN: Along those same lines, there was funding in place to provide legal representation to these children held in unaccompanied children shelters, or jails. And that was pulled and canned on May 20 in preparation for this pincer move, as you've described, of making it impossible to find asylum in the United States.
HAYES: Jonathan Ryan and Efren Olivares who are doing really amazing work down here and I thank you for joining us.
OLIVARES: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, how family separation connects to a very clear through line to the worst moments of the Trump administration. Congressman Luis Gutierrez joins me to talk about that next.
HAYES: There's a clear and obvious through line connecting the worst moments and policies of the Trump administration, from his travel ban on Muslims to his comments about the very fine people in Charlottesville who marched with torches and said blood and soil to the atrocious response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico where as many as 5,000 may have died to his policy now of separating children from their parents at the southern border.
Joining me now to talk about all that, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois.
Why was it -- the White House seemed unprepared for the blowback to this. And I think it's because they thought no one would care that these kids were being taken from their parents.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: This one it blew up on them because the -- you're right, Chris. So, when we had the attack against Muslims and the Muslim ban, they said they won, right. We're in court. We're fighting it. Transgender community is said to be locked out of the military. They do things. But in this case, the American people really came through, and really came through this weekend and had a strong pushback. And so I think that's why they had to reconsider.
So here's what I think, Chris. A, they knew -- they didn't care that it was inhumane. They didn't care it was cruel. Here's what they cared -- it was not popular.
Here's what happened, they were speaking to Trump's base, right, but the American people said no. So, there's a disconnect between the Republican Party talking to their base and the majority of the American people. And so they had to.
But let's not -- let's be clear, they haven't changed the fundamental policy. We're not reuniting those thousands of kids back with their parents, and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, still has it on the books that if you apply for asylum, if you apply for asylum, and you're a mother, and you're a woman fleeing abuse, rape, torture by someone, that that is a private matter.
In America, that's a very public matter. It's a very public matter that any prosecutor in any jurisdiction takes very seriously because the American people do not tolerate abuse of women.
And let's remember that's still in place.
So, what they're going to try to do is, what, bring families together.
And let's -- I want to say something, you know, a lot of people bet on one thing, because you saw the stocks. And I think this is an important element, the stocks of the private jail industry, right, went soaring after Donald Trump's election. You know why? Because they bet he was going to be mean and nasty and ruthless with immigrants and he was going to take all of these protections that we had put in place.
I was in San Antonio Father's Day 2015. We challenged Obama. He agreed to the consent decree, the Flores (ph) consent decree. And I want to say one last thing, because I know time is running out, you know, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, said I only can keep children in detention for 20 days. I will resign as secretary of homeland security if I can't release the moms along with them.
And here's what the Obama administration began to do, 20 days detention for children as they apply for their asylum request, right, and the children and the moms were released together. That's the way you do things -- transparent, open.
We did challenge Obama, but you know what, Obama had a heart. He had a soul. He had a heart. He had a center. He had convictions. And we could speak to those.
HAYES: I will say -- just a final thought here -- that for all the people saying where were you when Barack Obama was doing family detention. You, Congressman Gutierrez, activist, organizer, a lot of people were there challenging him on this. You're someone who has been extremely consistent about this. Thank you for joining me tonight.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Chris. Keep telling us what's going on.
HAYES: Thanks, congressman.
I want to mention our most recent episode of Why Is This Happening talks about what happened in Puerto Rico, where Luis Gutierrez has been doing a lot of work, both before and after the storm. I'd encourage you to check it out, along with our conversation with an ACLU lawyer about their suit against the Trump administration over family separation. They're both available wherever you get your podcasts.
That is All In for this evening.
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