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Trump sticks with "zero tolerance" for migrants. TRANSCRIPT: 06/21/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Beto O`Rourke, John Sandweg, Tim Wilkins, Lorella Praeli, Michelle Goldberg, Vanita Gupta

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 21, 2018 Guest: Beto O`Rourke, John Sandweg, Tim Wilkins, Lorella Praeli, Michelle Goldberg, Vanita Gupta

KATY TUR, NBC MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They walk through Mexico like as walking through Central Park. It`s ridiculous.

HAYES: The President`s catastrophe continues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happens to the kids now that have been separated from their parents?

HAYES: Tonight, new confusion and chaos as an administration that stripped 2,000 children from their parents cannot answer how they plan to reunite the families they tore apart. Then, ALL IN exclusive video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you work for the U.S. government?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t tell you anything.

HAYES: Migrant children led through an airport without parents in sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you taking these children?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t tell you anything.

HAYES: Plus, through the propaganda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump did the right thing.

HAYES: From the photo ops.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m looking forward to seeing the immigrant children.

HAYES: How the resistance to President Trump`s family separation came through? When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We are as you can see back from the border but hear me well this story is far from over. Tonight a new phase in the immigration crisis of the President`s own making, the humanitarian crisis he precipitated as the Trump administration prepares to hold families together in indefinite detention. Government agencies tell conflicting stories about the current policy and almost 2,500 children taken from their parents remains scattered around the country with no clear plans to reunite them. The President today insisted he`s not backing away from the so-called zero tolerance for unauthorized immigrants despite having caved to pressure over his family separation policy.


TRUMP: If we took zero tolerance away, you would be overrun as -- you`d have millions of people pouring through our border. If you took zero tolerance away everybody would come right now they`d be getting their little belongings unfortunately and they would be heading up. You would be -- you would have a run on this country the likes of which nobody`s ever seen.


HAYES: Wait, just to be clear. I just want people to understand this. The zero-tolerance policy was started six weeks ago, OK. So you got to ask yourself was the country being overrun seven weeks ago or eight weeks ago? Is the President telling the truth about what`s actually going on? Those comments offering more evidence of regardless of the denials from other officials, the crackdown was explicitly intended to deter more people from coming to the U.S. As part of that crackdown, today the Justice Department asked a federal court from permission to detain children in US custody with their parents for as long as the government wants essentially. Now under 1997 consent decree, kids cannot be detained for more than 20 days. The President`s new executive order calls for migrant children to be held with their parents for as long as it takes to the parents to adjudicate their asylum claims, to be prosecuted civilly by ICE keeping them indefinitely in family detention centers.

Now, that approach was tried by the Obama administration and ultimately and properly rejected by a judge. But even as the Trump administration moves to detain migrant families indefinitely, we`ve seen a couple signs that not everyone`s on board with zero tolerance. A senior official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection told The Washington Post today the agency will no longer refer migrant parents who come here illegally with their kids for criminal prosecution. The officials said Border Patrol agents were instructed last night to stop sending parents with children to federal courthouses. The Justice Department then denied there`s been any change in policy and so prosecutions would continue.

But get this, according to a source I spoke to earlier today in the border city of McAllen, Texas where I just spent a couple of days, charges were dropped this very morning against 17 team people who`d been arrested for illegal entry because those people are "heads of households." In other words, because they came with children. A lawyer in McAllen told NBC News each of those 17 parents already had their children taken away from them. The question now is where those children are? The government will not identify where it`s keeping roughly 2,500 children ripped away from their families. We know anecdotally some of those children are in Texas near the border while others have been sent as far as Virginia, Michigan, and right here in New York. Officials told NBC News there`s no plan in place to reunite those children with their families but according to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that is not the case.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary, is there like a plan for reuniting the children who have already been separated from their parents.

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY, UNITED STATES: We have a plan to do that. As you know, we do that out the back end so it`s a combination of DHS, DOJ, HHS reuniting as quickly as we can.


HAYES: Notice what she said there. We do that out the back-end which appears to mean after parents have been prosecuted. Today First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to a shelter for migrant kids in McAllen, Texas and her spokesperson asked us to please not read anything into the fact that when she did that she was wearing a jacket that read, "I really don`t care, do you?" in giant letters in the back. Obviously, she was not trying to send any messages about the level at which she cares.


M. TRUMP: I`m here to learn about your facility and I also like to ask you how I can help these children to reunite to their families.


HAYES: I`m joined now by MSNBC Correspondent Jacob Soboroff who visited the facilities himself and has been reporting intensively on this. No one seems to know what the agency on what`s going on. Is that a fair characterization?

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like it did yesterday and the day before that and when this policy was in place. It`s the same thing that it sounded like when Kirstjen Nielsen was staying on the White House podium briefing about where are the girls. Do you know where the girls are? Yes, I think I do. Maybe I don`t it`s up to DHS, HHS, no. And it was the same thing about unwinding about whether or not these kids that were detained, the 2,300 them we`re going to be grandfathered out of it. And so you`re asking -- I was asking to HHS what`s going to happen? And last night, first they said it`s up to DHS, then they wrote the statement and said actually no, we made a mistake about that. It is as confusing and as big of a cluster frankly as it`s always been.

HAYES: So we don`t have -- I mean, last night -- yesterday you and I were tracking this, right? In the first they said, well, we`re basically not going to lift a finger. There`s no -- there`s no process in place and we`re not actually going to try to reunite these kids or families.

SOBOROFF: That`s right.

HAYES: Then there was a little bit of walk back of that. Now you got her saying, well, we do it on the back end, but am I right that they have not announced any expedited process for reunification as a priority?

SOBOROFF: No, absolutely not. It`s the same as it`s always been. And today, several calls that I`ve made they said the whole goal of HHS is to reunite you know, unaccompanied minors with their families. But that`s always been the goal. That doesn`t mean anything other than they`re going to go through the process and they could end up in a foster home.

HAYES: I want to be clear about this because they put out a statement that I felt was very deceptive. It said, of course, it`s our goal to reunite them with a relative or sponsor. That`s just restating first principles of what they say they`re trying to do. That is not the same as get them back to the person that took them here and was taken away from them.

SOBOROFF: That doesn`t mean we are going to undo the terrible mistake that essentially we`ve admitted we have made with this executive order and put them back with their parents they were separated from. They could very well -- they could very well end up in a situation like all you (INAUDIBLE) and never see their parents again.

HAYES: There`s word that there`s authorization coming down for 20,000 beds to be made available on military bases.

SOBOROFF: That`s right.

HAYES: What is the deal with that plan?

SOBOROFF: Well, so military bases as you and I were talking about last night sort of are this carve out that allow the federal government do things in this unlicensed way. It means they`re not being detained in ICE detention which as you know means that they`d have to let them out after 20 days unless they were able to get around the existing law in some way. So those 20,000 beds are 20,000 human beings that we don`t know ultimately what their future holds.

HAYES: And we don`t know what jurisdiction will control over them which is the crucial question.

SOBOROFF: That`s exactly right.

HAYES: There`s also the fact that there`s lots of confusion at the DOJ level. I mean, I talked to a courthouse source this morning. He said, we came in -- we didn`t know they let these 17 people go, see Customs Border Patrol. Immediately DOJ comes and said, no, no, that`s not true.

SOBOROFF: I was amazed to hear after you reported that this morning. There were some people trying to brush it off and the government saying that was just a one-off kind of deal those 17 people. It just -- it just happened this morning in McAllen.

HAYES: Jacob Soboroff, you`ve been doing fantastic work on this and I want to make sure that people watch your special this Sunday on "DATELINE," it`s Sunday, The Dividing Line. It`ll feature Jacob`s reporting over the last several months which has really been stellar. It`s good as anyone on this issue. You don`t want to miss it. Again this Sunday 7:00, 6:00 Central here on NBC.

SOBOROFF: Thank you.

HAYES: All right, let`s turn now to someone who represents the border region Democratic Congressman Beto O`Rourke, represents a stretch in the border around El Paso, Texas. He`s also running to unseat Ted Cruz in the United States Senate. Congressman, welcome. What is your understanding of where things stand now as someone who actually serves the United States Congress?

REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS: The crisis before us right now as you pointed out is that we have upwards of 2,500 children who have been taken from their parents after parent and child survived a 2,000 mile journey, the length of Mexico, made it to this country just when they thought they had found shelter and asylum and safety. The trauma visited upon those kids, they are still enduring until we can get them together with their parents. And it`s unclear if the administration is doing anything at all whatsoever to make sure that they are reunited. Temporarily at least they`re going to stop taking kids from parents but this idea to build out 20,000 beds for additional days and months and maybe years of detention shows that this administration, the President admitted it today, is using these punitive traumatic measures to try to deter essentially lawful asylum seeking on the part people who are leaving the most dangerous countries in the world. And Chris, there`s one thing that I`ve got to tell you.

HAYES: Please.

O`ROURKE: By CBP`s own admission, family unit apprehension is down four percent to date this year over last year. Unaccompanied alien children is up only three percent over the same time last year. So insofar as we have a crisis situations is of this administration`s making.

HAYES: Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second. The numbers are down year over a year?

O`ROURKE: If you look at F.Y. `18 May 30th to F.Y. `17 May 30th, this is from CBP own Web site. I just looked at it before I came on your show, the numbers are actually down for family units. They`re up slightly for unaccompanied alien children. So they are provoking this crisis. They are deeping it by sharing information from the Office of Refugee Resettlement which has custody of those kids with ICE so that as we`re trying to place kids with their relatives in the U.S., ICE is first scanning them, picking up some of them for deportation and then we`re unable to release those kids to their relatives in the U.S. thereby continuing to warehouse these kids and artificially creating a crisis of capacity. So when you see CBP officers and you may have seen this in McAllen and Reynosa rejecting lawful asylum seekers from crossing into this country at an international bridge thereby providing an incentive for them to cross in between ports of entry and then arresting them, then taking their kids from them, they have absolutely created this crisis. This did not exist until Donald Trump, the President and his administration decided to make it a crisis.

HAYES: Well, I wonder -- I wonder the President said something I thought fairly astounding this morning about asylum. He said, we shouldn`t be hiring judges by the thousands as a ridiculous immigration laws demand. We should be changing our laws, building the wall, hire Border Agents in ICE - - and here`s the crucial part -- not let people come into our country based on the legal phrase they are told to say is their password. He`s referring to asylum there that is enshrined both in domestic U.S. law and international law that is widely recognized across the world as a human right. What do you think of him calling it a password?

O`ROURKE: I think this is terrible. We know it`s inhumane. We know what we`re doing to these asylum seekers when they try to come to this country. And I think I`ve shared with you meeting a young mother who had fled Honduras with her seven-year-old daughter who tried to cross in between ports of entry but then when she did turned herself into a Border Patrol agent she didn`t run away, didn`t try to evade detection. She just thought this was the way that you present yourself for asylum. To be arrested then, I think contravenes our own laws certainly does international law, is inhumane and now up to us to decide if this is un-American. That might be decided in the court. It might be decided if Congress gets a backbone in the legislature. But one way or another, we`re going to be judged for what we do, for what we fail to do at this moment. And just to put it into context, Chris, if you go back to the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, you had 1.6 million apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last year it was something like 400,000apprehensions. We have the capacity to address lawful asylum claims. We`re the wealthiest and the most powerful country on the planet and those who lawfully belong here through a lawful asylum claim where they can prove credible fear, there`s no telling what they will do for the United States. The jobs they`ll create, the art that they will produce, the families that they will raise here. That`s the story of this country 230 years and counting and we lose that at our peril, This is going to be decided right now. It`s up to all of us that President precipitated. He made this decision. Now it`s for us the American people to decide it.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Beto O`Rourke, thank you for your time.

O`ROURKE: Thank you.

HAYES: For more on what happens now to migrants children in the U.S. I`m joined by John Sandweg, He`s former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.


HAYES: You have expressed some skepticism and I think a fake fear if not panic about the logistical capacity of ICE to coordinate with HHS to successfully reunite parents and children. Why are you worried about it?

SANDWEG: Well, I don`t think anyone thought about this when they launched this plan. Frankly, I don`t see any signs that there was any planning at all. You run into a thicket of laws and regulations when you separate kids from you know, when you apprehend kids at the border. You end up in state courts, state guardianship, you know, foster care, and I think we`re beginning to see that now when the administration has rescinded the policy but there doesn`t appear to be any plan at all about how they`re going to get those kids back to reunited with their parents.

HAYES: I want to play you something that Sessions said today and whether you find it credible. This is him talking about whether they ever intended to separate children and families. Take a listen.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: The American people don`t like the idea that we`re separating families. We never really intended to do that. What we intended to do was to make sure that adults who bring children into the country are charged with the crime they`ve committed instead of giving that special group of adults immunity from prosecution which is well in effect we were doing.

HAYES: Do you think they never intended to separate children?

SANDWEG: No they, they definitely intended to separate children. Listen this policy -- the prosecution along the border is one thing that`s always been selective. We only prosecute a very limited number that people actually cross the border unlawfully. Certainly, you think with limited resources, you want -- don`t want to prosecute parents for bringing their children across trying to flee you know, violence in South America -- Central America over people who are bringing drugs in the United States. I got to tell you, one thing I don`t think the media is covered yet is who was not prosecuted while they prosecuted these parents. The U.S. Attorney`s office, the federal courts all are very limited resources along the border and frankly, they are overwhelmed but with cases that are deserving a prosecution like drug smugglers, like coyotes and like felons who are trying to get back into the country.

HAYES: Yes, in fact, I had -- I had someone tell me that the ratio of people`s criminal records to non-criminal record used to be 90 percent on criminal records ten percent without, that it flipped on its head once the (INAUDIBLE) has started. Meaning 90 percent of first-time misdemeanor entries, Honduran moms, El Salvadoran dad`s, as opposed to people that have crime.

SANDWEG: I`ll guarantee you that people who were smuggling drugs the United States whose cases were not taken because the resources weren`t there during that same time period that they`re prosecuting parents.

HAYES: Crucial questions. So we`ve got -- they`re appealing to Flores because they want to hold people indefinitely found in detention. Flores says you can`t do that. That I think. Well, let`s put that aside. Let`s say you can`t do it, right? There`s this idea that well, what are you going to do? They`re just -- you`re just going to release them into the interior of the country. They`re going to be at -- you`re shaking your head.

SANDWEG: There`s a simple fix to this. It`s called Alternatives To Detention, ATD. The problem is it`s got to be paired with -- and yes, I understand people`s frustration. You let families into the United States, they think they`re gaming the system, right? The reason they feel that way though is because the courts they prioritize those cases as soon as they`re not "detained." Court that Attorney General Sessions controls by the way. So yes, you can come into the United States as a family, maybe it takes three, four years before your asylum hearing. I can understand the frustration of that. A simple fix, hire more judges, put people on ATD. It`s border security. Frankly, it`s zero tolerance. You`re going to have some tough results there but it`s a lot more humane than ripping kids out of their parents` arms.

HAYES: Or detention. I mean, one of the things I want to be clear here.

SANDWEG: Or detention.

HAYES: Most of these people you would agree, the vast majority aren`t -- there`s no public safety reasons to detain them, right?

SANDWEG: No, Chris --

HAYES: People have this idea that -- I was down there talking and I think it`s literally moms with kids. It`s desperate people. I mean, there is no reason to hold them in jail.

SANDWEG: Well, Chris, honestly, one thing that`s a problem with our detention system emigration writ large is it`s not truly risk-based. You`re not detained like you`re in the criminal justice system which I understand people you know, they have lots of concerns about. But the criminal justice system, you`re detained if you present a flight risk or public safety risk. In the immigration system, that`s not entirely true. There`s a complicated set of laws that govern largely who`s going to be detained in immigration court? People are apprehended to the border are subject to mandatory detention. Historically though, a lot of discretion has been utilized simply because we don`t have resources. I`ll tell you what. The President`s idea of building 20,000 beds, it`s not going to happen. He doesn`t have the money for it. It costs ICE $350 to $450 per bed to family detention. So if you looking at 20,000 beds, you`re looking at about $3.5 billion annually.

HAYES: They don`t have that anywhere near that in their budget. I mean, they`re going to run out of runway here, right?

SANDWEG: There already there at the end of it right now. I mean frankly, they`ve been attending at higher levels than usual, higher levels than they`d been budgeted for.

HAYES: They`re going to run -- I mean, the other thing that`s about alternatives is detention. There`s a pilot program that was stopped which was intensive case management. It was about I think a third or fourth of the cost.

SANDWEG: $4.50 a day compared to $450 for a family. For one bed for --

HAYES: Wait a second. Say that again. $4.50 a day, you give someone a case manager and they showed up for court hearings I believe the 99 percent at the time.

SANDWEG: With the case manager you`re looking a little bit higher. I think maybe in the $20 to $25 range.

HAYES: OK, but not $450 a day.

SANDWEG: No. ICE currently spend something over $300 million to maintain about 2,500 family detention beds You`re going to build 20,000? Congress is going to appropriate $3 billion to spend on that when you can do the ATD with an expedited court date and have just as much security impact. This isn`t about being softer or being tough. You know, this about being smart. John Sandweg, thank you for being here. I appreciate it. Coming up, an ALL IN exclusive. Haunting new video of detained children being led through an airport and an interview with a migrant team being transported out of McAllen Texas, no idea where she`s being taken. That audio in two minutes.


HAYES: That video, the one you just watched was taken at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning in the middle of the night at the airport in McAllen, Texas, the city where I`ve been the past two days and the home of the nation`s largest immigration processing center. What you see in that video, it`s a video you`ll only see here on ALL IN. The small group of detained migrant teenagers, many in matching outfits being marched single-file out of the airport just getting off a flight at 2:00 in the morning. They then put to a van by their handlers, destination unknown. We have this video thanks to my next guest who quietly spoke to one of those kids on the flight who told him she`d been detained and had no idea where she was being taken. Joining me now is the man who took the video and spoke to those kids, Journalist Tim Wilkins with the activist group People`s Action. Tell me about the context in which you saw these kids.

TIM WILKINS, PEOPLE`S ACTION: Yes, I was on a flight, American Airlines flight from Dallas to McAllen. It was delayed so it left after midnight. And there was this group of very clean-cut, very polite young people who I noticed in the airport. Only when I got on the flight did I realize when I saw their wristbands and their matching clothes that there was something going on here. Now there were a total of six spread out through the plane with two chaperones in the front and two in the back.

HAYES: I want to play a little bit of your interview with this teenage girl. Take a listen


WILKINS: Can you tell me who you are and who you represent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I can`t tell you any of that.

WILKINS: Do you work for the U.S. government?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t tell you anything.

WILKINS: Where are you taking these children?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t tell you anything.


HAYES: So that obviously wasn`t the girl that you were interviewing. That was actually the person who was with the kids who wouldn`t give any information.

WILKINS: That`s correct. After -- while I was on the flight, I managed to speak discreetly with a young lady who was sitting in the row in front of me who was -- had been detained three days earlier. She was from Guatemala and had been swept off with the others and we`re told we`re taking you, not told where or why. Let`s listen at that right now.



HAYES: So you were talking to her to her on the plane sitting behind her.

WILKINS: Yes, I was sitting right behind her and discreetly introduce myself.

HAYES: Now, she says she came alone and I just want to be clear here because there`s been sort of mixing of like children taken away from their parents and unaccompanied minors which is something that existed before the Trump Administration under the Obama Administration. She said she came alone so for all we know these were people that that were not taken from their parents, right?

WILKINS: Based on the age of this first group that I observed, they were all young teens, 14, 15, 16, my guess is that they arrived in this country alone. Now when I left McAllen the next morning, Monday morning, lo and behold there was another group of minors in the airport, and that group included two toddlers, a boy, and a girl clearly not older than six years old.

HAYES: One of the things I think that people are discovering is both that children being separate from their parents and them being cast before winds like those toddlers if indeed they were -- they were taken from their parents, but also there`s this sort of like crazy system that exists existed kind of under people`s noses for years stretching back to the Obama Administration of dispersing these unaccompanied minors across the country.

WILKINS: Absolutely. You know, there are some here in the New York area who are being resettled as we speak.

HAYES: Yes. It`s interesting too that the airlines have now started to sort of raise a hue and cry about this. We had some information from one flight attendant who said she was lied to by ICE, who said that it was a soccer team. You can see some in the in the video you took. They look like they`re sort of in uniform. And American Airlines has now said we have no knowledge the federal government has used American to transport children who have been separated from their parents due to the recent immigration policy but we would be extremely disappointed to learn that this is the case. We, therefore, requested the federal government to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy.

WILKINS: Well, as of this moment, they can consider themselves informed that detained children have been traveling on their flights. I was on the flight. I spoke to the young lady who confirmed that fact so I certainly hope they`ll follow through on that promise.

HAYES: Do you know if anyone else associate with the airline knew?

WILKINS: I witnessed an interaction in the Dallas Airport where the two handlers, the blurry man who you see in the video had an exchange with the ticketing agents clearly to get seat assignments or whatever. I thought it was curious but I didn`t even know that they were traveling as a group until I saw them reunited in the McAllen Airport and realized that they were the handlers. So clearly either American has you know a standing arrangement with ICE or with DHS but clearly, there`s some arrangement in place.

HAYES: Yes, it seems unlikely that an airline -- and this is the sort of thing you would imagine has been sort of contracted in bulk rather than just sort of one-off purchasing of tickets.

WILKINS: Correct. And you know, we know that they have these agreements but you know, they would have to identify these passengers in some way and they all had their prison bracelets with their names on them.

HAYES: Right. Tim Wilkins, thanks so much for being with me.

WILKINS: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, tracing the policy of family separations, some of the very first days of the Trump administration. The evidence we first reported that proves family separation has been in the works for much longer the administration wants it to think right after this.


HAYES: We`ve watched the Trump administration twist itself into knots trying to come up with one coherent explanation for why we are separating immigrant children from their parents.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has called it a deterrent. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen infamously lied and said there was no such policy. We now know there was, of course. Jeff Sessions said the bible made him do it. And Trump is, of course, trying to blame the Democrats.

We know the administration was laying the foundation for this inhumane policy since the moment Trump arrived at the White House. And the reason we know that is because this show broke that news in March of 2017, a month after Trump took office. All In obtained documents, along with a reporter at Reuters by the name of Julia Ainsley, showing that the new administration had radical new plans for people at the border.


HAYES: In an apparent effort to make good on a campaign promise to end so- called catch and release, the Trump administration is planning to radically expand the number of women and children placed in immigrant detention.

All In has exclusively obtained meeting notes from a town hall that Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum chief John Lafferty held for aslyum officers last month. In those notes, he indicates DHS is planning to expand the number of family immigrant detention beds from the current level of around 3,500 beds up to 20,000 beds, an increase of nearly 500 percent.

Also in the meeting notes, a description of a proposal to potentially end the current practice of keeping women and children together after they`re apprehended, a proposal also reported today by Reuters.

Indeed, the administration now considering separating women and children at the border with children placed in protective custody away from their mothers. Reuters reporting that part of the reason for the proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the U.S. with their children.


HAYES: Again, that was 14 months ago. After our report aired, John Kelly, then the secretary of Homeland Security, was asked about it on CNN.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If you get some young kids who manage to sneak into the United States with their parents, are Department of Homeland Security personnel going to separate the children from their moms and dads?

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, I am considering it in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network, I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents.


HAYES: Yes, in order to deter.

This policy has been this administration`s plan all along.

Joining me now is Julia Ainsley. She happens who is the reporter who broke that story for Reuters in 2017 about the administration`s plans to separate families at the border and who is now the national security and justice reporter for NBC News.

Also with me, Lorella Praeli, she`s ACLU`s deputy national political director and director of immigration policy and campaigns.

So, Julia, I wanted to sort of resurface this because there is a way in which people in the administration have talked about it that they kind of were caught unawares that this kind of came out of nowhere, that they wanted to do prosecution but they didn`t really think through the back half of it and if you prosecute people, you`ve got to separate.

The documents you obtained, the documents we obtained, the reporting we did more than a year ago shows this has been something debated and planned and mapped out inside this administration from almost day one.

JULIA AINSLEY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, I`m glad we`re on the same team now. I remember I personally got these documents, the same ones you probably got and I kept thinking can this really be true? Could they really be thinking about separating women and children? And then again John Kelly came out and confirmed that, and you had the same thing. But I still thought could this ever really be reality. And then we`ve seen that reality play out this week.

But what it proves, Chris, is that this not only was a policy that was floated from the very beginning -- I remember that town hall, the date here is February 2, that was just weeks after Trump took office -- not only was it a policy from the very beginning, but it was absolutely a deterrent.

So the argument that we`ve heard this week and that we heard from Secretary Nielsen was that this is just a tragic by-product of what happens when you get tough on the border and you have to prosecute all of these parents. But what we know, Chris, and what you know from when we got these documents over a year ago, is that this was the plan. It was to deter families seeking asylum. This wasn`t to crack down on criminals or those millions that trump talks about coming over the border.

HAYES: That`s key, that the separation was the point. It wasn`t a by- product. It didn`t flow from the decision to prosecute. And in fact, it still doesn`t in a way that`s a little complicated having to do with civil detention and criminal prosecution. But that was the point.

And Lorella, do you feel like you`ve gotten a straight answer from the administration about what the policy is now?

LORELLA PRAELI, ACLU: No, we haven`t gotten a straight answer. We don`t know how and when the kids will be reunified.

And, you know, I feel like if the administration`s evil enough to take children from their parents, and to separate them without a plan to reunite them at the right time, then they`re just plotting their next step right now, Chris.

HAYES: Let me ask you something, Lorella, right now what they`re trying to go back to is essentially a status quo under the Obama administration. Obama administration radically expanded what they called family detention during the unaccompanied minors coming in 2014, 2015 that was struck down by a court under this consent decree. What do you say to people who say, oh, you guys are upset now, because it`s Donald Trump but you weren`t upset when it was Barack Obama.

PRAELI: We organized mobilized and held the Obama administration accountable. I think what is different today is the zero tolerance policy. And what you`re seeing it`s a deliberate strategy from this administration. You see that in the case of DACA, and you see that with these children. They`re using kids, they`re using young people, to twist the facts, to create chaos and to create a new scenario and state of chaos so they can advance their anti-immigrant agenda in congress. That`s what this has been about from the beginning.

So they seek to separate families at the border to create chaos. They`re now going to jail families. They`re going to try to do so indefinitely. And they`re going to want to move them through the process without due process as quickly as possible.

HAYES: So, Julia, I wanted to ask you what you -- I was confused -- I read the court filing from the Department of Justice today in which they were petitioning to change the terms under which they can hold people, right. They want to hold families for indefinitely in sort of family jail indefinitely.

It appears that they`re saying if you don`t give us that, we`re going to go back to separating parents and kids. But I can`t imagine they`re going to do that. But am I wrong? Am I misreading that document?

AINSLEY: No, I think the argument that they`re laying out, and you`re not wrong at all, the argument they`re laying out is we don`t keep them indefinitely. We will be forced to separate them because that`s the only way that we can carry out this law.

But as Lorella knows, and as you and I know, there are alternatives to detention. I even heard one of your previous guests talk about that. You can do ankle monitors. You can have people call. And they`ve also found that if you assign a case manager, it`s much more likely that people come back to court. There have been studies done on that.

So, the argument they`re laying out is probably not going to fly. We know the judge. Judge Gee (ph), who they are going to, she`s the one who came out strong when she interpreted this 1997 Flores agreement to apply to what the Obama administration was doing in 2016 when they were holding women and children past a certain period. And they said this applies to children with their families not just children who are unaccompanied.

So, this could be something that they have to keep appealing over and over.

But another thing I just wanted to build on from what Lorella said is that it`s not just chaos, I think they actually want to instill fear. I remember reporting that when you did, Chris. I remember thinking that gosh, if this never happens, what we`ve reported is already on the front page of every newspaper in Latin America, maybe that`s what they want to do. They want to instill fear to get these numbers down.

And so while this court process plays out and while they detain people longer than they should, whether or not that`s months or, you know, more than 20 days, they will do something through instilling fear that they might not be table to do through a policy.

HAYES: It`s worth considering that the very...

PRAELI: Yeah, I think it`s.

HAYES: Go ahead, Lorella.

PRAELI: It`s fear and pain, right? So, what they`re trying to inflict is so much pain that people who may be seeking asylum don`t come to the United States, don`t show up at a port of entry and claim asylum so that people who are here leave the country. I mean, their overarching ideology when it comes to immigrants in the United States, and frankly, people of color, is that they do not belong here. That we do not belong here. That is the root of their policy and ideology as they set out to undo protections for young people who are legally in the United States right now as they seek to separate families and rip children from their parents, as they end temporary protected status for people here for 20 years, as they launch and announce their Muslim ban, I mean, that is their core strategy. It`s attrition through -- it`s deterrence and it`s attrition through enforcement, right?

So they want to inflict so much fear that people choose to self-deport.

HAYES: All right, Julia Ainsley and Lorella Praeli, thanks for joining us.

Ahead, the public pressure that finally got the president to yield. How it happened coming up.

And the return of Thing One, Thing Two. It`s back. Next.


HAYES: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been embroiled in nonstop scandals for months. And one of the earliest and biggest scandals was his enormous spending on security for himself. You see, Pruitt spent roughly $3.5 million in public money on his personal security detail during his first year in office, which includes at least 20 people who protect the administrator around the clock, which is, as far as we can tell, totally unprecedented for this position.

So when you see a headline like this, "Scott Pruitt spent over $1,500 in taxpayer money on, quote, tactical pants," so why is Scott Pruitt, lover of discount matresses and specialty lotions spending $1,500 on tactical pants? Well, that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Scott Pruitt who is, despite all odds, still employed as administrator of the EPA has a list of scandals a mile long, and the latest sure sounds like a doozy. Scott Pruitt spent over $1,500 in taxpayer money on tactical pants, not just any old pants, special pants, tactical pants.

What are tactical pants? The internet had some ideas? Maybe they`re like these Chuck Norris action jeans, or in 1995 and all the karate kicks you can handle.

Or as one Twitter user suggested, maybe you need tactical pants to sleep on a used Trump mattress. Gross.

But the truth of the matter is it was 40 pairs of pants at about 40 bucks a pair. And those pants were for the EPA`s criminal investigative division and protective security detail agents to have proper attire for search warrants, arrests, disaster responses and training, according to a statement from the agency.

So in the end, it appears, at least, like they were actually sensible tactical pants with a sensible explanation. But our old friend Mattress Lotion Scott has yet to explain the $43,000 soundproof phone booth or the $50 a night apartment or the $1,500 bucks for a dozen pens or the Chick- fil-a deal for his wife or the used Trump hotel mattress or the Ritz- Carlton lotion.


HAYES: As this family separation crisis has captivated the nation, people rose up to the point where the president of the United States, who prides himself on never backing down and being tough and trolling everyone, had to retreat and sign an executive order he did not want to sign.

State TV, however, otherwise known as Fox News and Sinclair Broadcast Group, have kicked things into overdrive in order to find a way to defend the indefensible on behalf of their president.

Last night, Fox News not only was the only cable news channel to broadcast the president`s political rally in Duluth, Minnesota in primetime unfiltered, they bragged about it. Trump rally live and only on Fox News. Other networks ignore presidential rally.

Yes, you were the only ones to run an unfettered live feed of a Trump political rally. That is true. Meanwhile, Sinclair Broadcast Group, the media company we`ve told you about that owns nearly 200 local television stations around the country and forces those stations to broadcast propaganda to support the president, reports like this, the latest edition of the bottom line with Boris, featuring former Trump adviser Boris Epstein.


BORIS EPSTEIN, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Many members of the media and opponents of the president have seized on this issue to make it seem as if those who are tough on immigration are somehow monsters.

Let`s be honest, while some of the concern is real, a lot of it is politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media. President Trump did the right thing by addressing the separation of families from their children on his own.


HAYES: Make no mistake, that stuff works. And when it`s as nonstop as Fox News, it can be effective with the audience.

But here`s what else works, public pressure from an outraged citizenry, which rises up to respond the way this country has this week. Are Republicans ever going to stop Trump? The Democrats? Maybe the courts? No, it was public pressure that made the executive branch blink this week. It was civil society, which dealt the president this massive defeat. That`s the discussion, next.


HAYES: The headlines, a rarity in the 517 days since Donald Trump took the oath of office as our president, "Trump retreats." It was an incredible societal and political moment. And there`s plenty of people who don`t want it to be an anomaly.

For more on the presidential retreat, joining me now Michelle Goldberg, columnist from the The New York Times whose new column on the Trump family separation policy just posted; and Vanita Gupta president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a former assistant attorney general for the DOJ`s civil rights division.

Let me start with you, Michelle. There`s been this question all along about like -- how will the president be constrained? And what will the institutions hold? And we`ve seen the courts step in and constrain them on the travel ban 1.0 and 2.0 and on DACA. We`ve seen the congress constrain him on the Obamacare repeal with John McCain, you know, the thumbs down.

It felt to me like this was the first time that just civil society, just literally public opinion pressure constrained him.


And I mean, as despairing and apocalyptic and horrific as so many things were this week, I think the one cheering part was that we`ve talked so much about outrage fatigue and people feeling numbed and powerless and overwhelmed, but I think this shows that when people are roused en masse and when they start really calling their congresspeople and congresspeople reported being inundated with calls in a way they haven`t been since the days of the Affordable Care Act repeal, and actually, you know, as maligned as this president`s instincts are, the people of this country have more power than they maybe are led to believe.

HAYES: What did you make of this moment, Vanita?

VANITA GUPTA, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: I think that`s absolutely right that it took the level public outrage over one of the most depraved actions that this administration has taken, and there have been several, or many.

But look, I will tell you that for those of us that were out there pushing on what was the most immoral act that the administration`s taken, the reality is that we can`t be lulled into any sense of false comfort through yesterday`s executive order.

I mean, I remember back in 2006 when I was at the ACLU we sued ICE for family detention conditions at a converted medium security prison in Texas where kids were being held with their parents in the most awful, terrible, inhumane conditions in this prison that was being run by a company, a private prison company called Core Civic Now, that had no business dealing with kids.

And what I worry about is Trump did such an egregious action by separating children from their parents that suddenly now what was egregious in 2006, there are some who think, oh, well, now the problem is solved because of this executive order.

Make no mistake, indefinite jailing of children in prisons is unacceptable, and it violates the law. And that`s why there`s a mass mobilization still being planned for June 30 because we cannot lose sight. There are actions every day, because we cannot lose sight of the fact that where we are right now is still unacceptable.

How are these families and these kids getting reunified? We still don`t know. There are still 2,300 kids without their parents and without having been unified. So we`ve got to keep that pressure on.

HAYES: Well, it`s funny you say that, because I`ve been reporting on some of the organizing that`s been happening and in contact with folks, sources of mine. And, you know, there`s this question about after this announcement was the June 30, there`s this massive mobilization happening for June 30 where they`ve blown out through all their goals, there`s like dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of cities it`s happening and hundreds of thousands of RSVPs. Like -- you know, and there was this sort of unanimity of -- of course we keep going because we build on this momentum.

GOLDBERG: Right. And I think of course they keep going for a couple of different reasons.

I mean, the most stark, right, is like Vanita said these 2,300 people, it`s just astonishing that in this Potemkin solution that Trump has put forward there is no plan to reunify...

HAYES: Literally not mentioned in the document that he signed.

GOLDBERG: Right. And also just there`s -- I mean, it`s just malevolence multiplied by incompetence, which I write in the piece, that you have this assault on kind of expertise in the administration. You have this guy running the office in charge of these children whose background is as an anti-abortion activist and who as far as we know has kind of taken no -- has taken no actions to create a kind of logistical solution to tracking these children who are under his authority.

And so people need to keep the pressure on. And I think it`s important for people to realize that yes, very little was solved when Trump signed that executive order.

HAYES: Vanita, as someone familiar with this litigation, do you think they will -- the court will let them indefinitely detain families together?

GUPTA: I don`t think so. The Flores litigation is a 30-year-old court settlement, came after 10 years of intense litigation. There`s a reason why the court set a 20-day limit on the detention of immigrant children in prison-like conditions.

And so I don`t think so. I think the problem that the court will make the right step, it`s constitutional litigation, and then it remains to be seen exactly what the administration decides to do.

HAYES: What the next battle is.

Michelle Goldberg and Vanita Gupta, thank you both.

Don`t forget to get the latest episode of our podcast Why Is This Happening? with special guest Naomi Klein. It`s all about the crisis that hit Puerto Rico long before the hurricane even made landfall. You can download that episode, subscribe to the podcast on TuneIn or wherever you get your podcasts.

That is All In for this evening.



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