Return to Transcripts main page
Caribbean Braces for Massive Storm; Pyongyang Threatens to Blow up U.S. Mainland; Trump Ending DACA. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired September 6, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:06] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: A massive storm is lining up to strike more than a dozen Caribbean islands before heading towards the U.S. mainland.
VAUSE: North Korea more defiant than ever promising more so-called gifts to the U.S., a likely reference to another imminent missile launch.
SESAY: The Dreamer controversy -- they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, now the White House is ending the program that protects them from being deported.
VAUSE: Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
VAUSE: Hurricane Irma is now one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record. With winds of almost 300 kilometers per hour, the Category 5 storm is being called potentially catastrophic.
These images are from a resident in Saint Bart's in the Caribbean and they show how the island is already feeling the effects of Irma.
SESAY: And here's a look at the storm from the International Space Station. You can see clearly just how massive it is.
The White House has issued an emergency declaration for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says preparations quote, "should be rushed to completion". And in Puerto Rico people were rushing to stores on Tuesday emptying shelves of food and water.
VAUSE: Mona Barnes is the director of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency. She joins us now on the line from St. Croix. Mona -- thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
What are conditions like there right now? How are you coping with all of this?
MONA BARNES, DIRECTOR, VIRGIN ISLANDS TERRITORIAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (via telephone): Well, good evening.
Presently we're just preparing for this Category 5 hurricane, Hurricane Irma. Right now the people of the Virgin Islands, we are bunkering down. Our preparations that should have been made have been made already.
VAUSE: So what are your biggest fears when the worst of the storm hits? And I guess that's more than just a few hours from now.
BARNES: Yes. Well, it's scheduled to come most through our territory starting tomorrow morning. And our fear is, you know, just the devastation that is potential with the size of this storm. But we have done everything in our power to prepare. Our Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Operations Centers activated and is in full throttle.
The federal partners are on the ground from FEMA as well as from the Department of Defense. And the government has instituted a curfew that will start at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow and will go through 6:00 p.m. on Thursday.
But right now the biggest concern is we want to make sure we don't lose any lives within this storm. And so we have been encouraging people to stay inside, to batten down, put on your shutters. If you are in your homes please do not go outside. If you have furniture that can become flying missiles, go ahead and pick those up and put them in a safe place.
VAUSE: Ok. Mona -- well, it has been 30 years since the U.S. Virgin Islands were hit by Hurricane Hugo. And Irma is expected to be even worse. So we wish you all the best and hope to check in with you in the coming hours.
Mona -- thank you for being with us.
SESAY: Right now, let's go to CNN's Leyla Santiago who is live in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Leyla -- thank you for being with us.
We see the wind whipping up slightly behind you there. Give us a sense of conditions there.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. We're certainly starting to see the winds pick up. That started just -- probably a few hours ago.
That said, the day has been relatively calm, certainly a lot of fear as you talk to people on the streets, in the stores -- people trying to find water, generators at the last minute, basic supplies for hurricane threats.
But for the government, they've actually evacuated part of the east side of the island. They're trying to use these last few hours that they have to get people out of those flood-prone areas. They have established 460 shelters -- not all of them are open yet. But they're working on that getting ready for tomorrow. But really the feel is let's wait and see what tomorrow brings. But I don't think a lot of people think it's going to be good. The governor is already saying this is -- this could be catastrophic and a magnitude of a weather system Puerto Rico has never experienced before -- Isha.
SESAY: Yes. Absolutely. And we know it's been nearly a century since Puerto Rico was hit a Category 5 storm.
[00:04L56] Tell us -- I mean what are the principals concerns for a storm like this heading Puerto Rico's way? I know that there are -- there is some talk about fears of electricity going out and of course, the infrastructure --
SESAY: -- not being able to withstand such winds.
SANTIAGO: Well, you know, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island so they're used to this time of year the tropical storms and the hurricanes. But again, this is a Category 5. No one has ever seen anything like this that I talked to.
As a matter of fact, today when I was talking to somebody at work at one of the stores I mentioned or I asked her, what are the products that are in demand right now? What are people doing to get ready for this hurricane?
SANTIAGO: And she stopped me right there -- Isha. And she said, oh this is not a hurricane, this is a beast. So, you know, not only are they concerned about what could be the destruction to come but also, it's worth mentioning Puerto Rico has another storm that it's dealing with and it is the economic crisis -- $70 billion in debt.
So if there is destruction on this island who will pay? How will they be able to rebuild? That is a significant question. Now, the governor did ask for President Trump to declare a state of emergency as you have spoken about.
You really got to see the relief on the governor's face when he announced that that happened so they will get some resources pre- landfall that will be activated. But there is that concern of what will happen if there is mass destruction here.
SESAY: Yes. It's a very real concern as you made a very important point given Puerto Rico's economic troubles.
Leyla Santiago -- please stay safe. Thank you for the reporting. We'll check in with you.
VAUSE: Ok. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now from the International Weather Center. Ok. So where is Irma right now? And what is the path it's taking? Who's sort of in the most immediate range right now of Irma?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, John -- I was just looking at the population across these islands, the leeward islands, of course. And we're talking about an area that has up to about five million people when you take St. Kitts, St. Nevis, Antigua, Bermuda -- put all these together that would be the population. And Puerto Rico, you get up to about five million people.
And we're talking about five million people in the path of a storm that has catastrophic implications. Any time you get to be top of the charts there, the 4, the 5 -- we're talking of course, major, major damage.
And it sits some place here. We know impact with some of these islands including Antigua inside the next 12 hours. Now, the islands there generally flat. This storm system is going to provide tremendous damage as it goes across this region. In fact, when you look at the National Hurricane Center, the verbiage they use on such storms we know.
Power outages would be widespread. They could potentially last weeks or months and most of this area would be uninhabitable for weeks or months as well. So as communication is lost across this region, it's going to be one of those storms that you'll see a lot of aid, a lot of people going out there and it would be very hard to get communication out of it for the coming weeks across this region.
The storm system is poised to potentially strengthen even, believe it or not within the next 24 or so hours. We think, as it interacts with some of these islands, there will be some variations in its weakening and then potentially restrengthening as well.
But the final destination, of course, a lot of people looking at this very carefully because the storm system, the guidance on it has been rather concentrated. That is, good agreement between the models that this will push in somewhere towards Cuba some say Saturday morning across this region.
Some of the models say this wants to turn right and head toward the eastern coastline of Florida, by the way, the most populated area of Florida -- about five million live in that region.
Some of them say it can have a Hurricane Matthew-type track. That would kind of skirt the coastline, go up towards the Carolinas.
Other ones -- about the other half of the models shifted out towards southwestern Florida, the least populated corner of Florida.
Either way, the storm is so large, John that whether it makes landfall on the western or eastern, the hurricane force winds could actually extend from both coasts of Florida as it makes landfall. So definitely a story that we're going to be following over the next week or so.
VAUSE: Anxious times for a lot of people right now. Pedram -- thank you.
SESAY: Yes. Thank you -- Pedram.
SESAY: Turning our attention to North Korea now. And it could be preparing for another missile launch this weekend as it celebrates the founding of the republic. South Korean sources have said they believe the North is moving an intercontinental ballistic missile.
VAUSE: At the same time Pyongyang is threatening to annihilate Americans by blowing up the U.S. Mainland. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on new resolutions and sanctions for North Korea next week.
But Russia's president says North Koreans will eat grass before giving up their nuclear program and sanctions will be useless.
SESAY: Well, let's bring in CNN's Ian Lee, live this hour in Seoul, South Korea. And we also have our own Alexandra Field standing by in Tokyo.
Ian Lee -- to you first. The South Korean navy on Tuesday conducting live fire drills off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, clearly an intended show of force. But what, if any, additional action is currently being taken by Seoul to rein in Pyongyang?
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's that continuous show of force that we've seen ever since they detonated that hydrogen bomb.
[00:10:02] And those naval exercises will continue through Saturday. We're told that live fire drills will also pick up again next week.
They want to show North Korea that they're ready for any sort of scenario, any sort of outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, this strong show of force.
But what we're looking at is a two-pronged approach here. You do have these exercises which show that and you also have the diplomatic measures that South Korea is trying to take.
President Moon is in Russia meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk about this crisis on the sidelines of an economic forum. And we're hearing from them right now where North Korea is going to be top of President Moon's agenda when he meets with President Putin.
But you know, the one thing that we've heard from Russia is that sanctions aren't going to work on North Korea. Although we did hear from the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, telling the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Russia is ready to consider a new U.N. Security Council resolution.
But everyone seems to know what they want the answer to be. And that is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. They just don't know what the equation will be to get North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons.
SESAY: That is the quandary.
Ian Lee -- thank you. Alex Field -- to you now in Tokyo. Right now at least, no apparent sign of progress when it comes to those new tougher sanctions on North Korea which Japan has been pushing for. But President Trump did announce on Tuesday that Japan and South Korea would be allowed to purchase highly-sophisticated U.S. military equipment.
So I guess the question is, how much comfort are people in Japan taking from that if they're at least not seeing any movement on the sanctions front?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, it is a strong message that President Trump is putting out there and it would be intended for people in Japan who found this sort of comforting or reassuring. It would also project some strength when it comes to the alliance between Japan and the U.S. and also South Korea and the U.S.
Then again, it isn't exactly kind of news to people here in Japan. There is this longstanding alliance, defense agreement with the United States. You've got some 50,000 U.S. troops who are already stationed here.
The chief cabinet secretary here in Japan was speaking this morning about that. He essentially said that yes, this is something that Japan wants to continue to do to procure the highest level defense equipment from the United States. But that they've been continuing to do it and that this is part of a long-term strategy that Japan has had in place.
This threat that has materialized from North Korea is not new. It might seem as urgent as ever or as big as ever but, frankly people in Japan have been living under the threat of North Korea for decades now. Certainly they have seen a number of ballistic missile launches so they are counting on their government and for its relationship to the United States to have the best missile defense system in place right here in Japan.
When it comes to the idea of sanctions, that's the idea but people here in Japan are very much behind. It is what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is very much pushing for. You did hear the Russian President Vladimir Putin talking about his take that more sanctions would be ineffective but Prime Minister Abe is making his way to Russia where he will be having what we are told will be a candid discussion with President Putin about the future, about the North Korea issue and certainly he will be continuing to push for more sanctions against North Korea -- Isha.
SESAY: All right. Alex Field, joining us there from Tokyo. Thank you -- Alex.
VAUSE: We'll stay with this story a little longer. Joining me here in Los Angeles, Clayton Dube is the director of the U.S.-China Institute; and in San Francisco Philip Yun, the executive director of the Ploughshares Fund. Thank you both for being with us.
And well, first to you, the U.N. held a conference on disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday. It seemed an opportunity for the North Korean ambassador to deliver this warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAN TAE-SONG, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The recent self-defense measures by my country, DPRK, a gift package addressed to none other than the U.S. The U.S. will receive more gift packages from my country as long as they rely on reckless provocations and futile attempt to put pressure on the DPRK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Paul -- this seems to have gone from emboldened to taunting. Philips -- sorry. Philips -- this seems to have gone from emboldened to taunting.
PHILIP YUN, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: Oh yes. Yes. You know, this is kind of standard North Korean practice here. You taunt -- you know, bluster they're going to bluster back and twice as hard.
So we've got this sort of war of words that has been ongoing. Several times we had it back in April. We had it back in July. And now with this new test -- another round right now.
[00:15:00] You know, the good thing right now is that even though there's a lot of things going on the ground, there's nothing there that really indicates that any kind of unilateral attack on either side is actually imminent in any way, shape or form.
VAUSE: And Philip -- my apologies, you have seen Paul Carroll outside, your old colleague so that was my --
VAUSE: Forgive me for that.
Clayton -- you were expecting this U.N. Security Council vote on sanctions next Monday, sanctions which many doubt will actually have any impact which now it seems the Russians and the Chinese are unlikely to support. So what happens after that? Where does this all go?
CLAYTON DUBE, DIRECTOR, U.S.-CHINA INSTITUTE: it's a good -- it's a very good question.
And I don't know where this goes. We're really in uncharted terrain at this point. The Chinese have never really very much worried about the North Korean nuclear weapons program. They saw it as irritating the United States.
But they have reached the point where they've managed to mobilize South Korea, to bring South Korea closer to the United States. They've even scared Japan so seriously that they might consider hosting nuclear weapons, if not creating their own.
And so China is in a very difficult box and is quite resentful of the fact that they chose the occasion of this big BRICS meeting to launch or to test this new nuclear weapon.
And so this is a very dangerous moment. We don't quite know where anyone will go.
I think Philip is right. I don't think war is likely. I don't think there's going to be a pre-emptive strike by anyone. It would be suicidal for North Korea to do anything.
But we don't know how we step back from the brink. It seems much more likely that we're going to have to move in the direction of containment and deterrence.
VAUSE: And Philip -- with that point, just with regards to the relationship between North Korea and China, Clayton mentioned the fact that, you know, they conducted this nuclear test to almost embarrass Beijing.
The two other missile tests were also conducted within hours of another big event in Beijing. What does that say now about the way Kim Jong-Un sees himself in relation to Beijing? And is this now, you know, I guess a plucky little country that just wants a nuclear deterrence the keep the Americans away? Or does the North Koreans -- do the North Koreans have much grander visions now?
YUN: So I think it's a combination. I mean this is -- a lot of this is really I believe, at this stage right now it's really defense -- it's a deterrence so they know North Korea can, will not be intimidated and subject to regime change.
I think that what's going on here is also as much directed towards China as it is towards the United States these days. I think there is -- it's no secret there's no love lost between those two countries and those two people.
And the North Koreans realize -- think the Chinese are doing what they're doing not because they like the North Koreans it's because the Chinese think that supporting the North Koreans as they have is in their self interest.
But I think these tests -- both the nuclear test and the missile test at this timing is basically telling the Chinese, you know, you're not going to intimidate us either. We're going to do what we want to do and you're going to have to live with it.
And China's got a difficult -- has a dilemma because if it uses all of its leverage, it will have no leverage whatsoever if it does go to the sanctions to the degree that the United States wants, by cutting off all its oil, food. And essentially China's basically said it has no capability for any (inaudible) whatsoever. They're not ready to do that yet.
VAUSE: Well, just to that point Clayton -- because it seems China would always back sanctions with the preconditions that the sanctions would not destabilize the regime which means that the sanctions didn't work. I guess, what has to happen for China to move from that position to,
you know, essentially cutting off the fuel, for example, which would be very effective to this containment strategy?
DUBE: Well, there's things that might be done in addition to or in advance of cutting off the fuel. China has not enforced the economic sanctions. There have been a number of Chinese individuals, Chinese companies that have been fronts for North Korean operations.
And so if they were to more energetically enforce those sanctions. That would be a signal that they were trying to make it very clear that this was about the weapons, that they were not trying to overthrow the regime and destabilize it.
VAUSE: Ok. We're still a ways away from that, I guess. Clearly this is a problem which has been searching for an answer for a long time.
Philip Yun in San Francisco. Philip -- thank you so much. And also Clayton Dube --
YUN: Thank you.
VAUSE: -- here in Los Angeles. Thanks for being with us.
DUBE: It's my pleasure -- thank you.
SESAY: All right. Time for a quick break here.
[00:19:58] Mixed messages from the White House after announcing its decision to end the dreamers immigration program. How the President is tempering that move just hours later.
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
Hours after his administration ended an immigration program protecting nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants U.S. President Donald Trump said he'll revisit the program if Congress doesn't fix it.
This is what is happening in L.A. and around the U.S. as people learned the program is being phased out in six months. Protesters say they'll keep showing up in the months ahead trying to get Congress to act.
The things that are actually confusing at the moment -- the does the President's tweet mean he's second-guessing his decision?
VAUSE: Also why would Mr. Trump call on Congress to legalize DACA when his own Attorney General says it's unconstitutional? Former President Barack Obama who started Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals says the decision to end DACA is cruel.
Earlier on Tuesday, before that tweet, Mr. Trump said he expects Congress to find a solution essentially buying himself a little time and putting the burden on lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly. And I can tell you in speaking to members of Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right.
And really we have no choice. We have to be able to do something and I think it's going to work out very well. And long term, it's going to be the right solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, Republican strategist Luis Alvarado is with us now; so too Attorney Brian Claypool for more on this. Ok.
So Luis -- first to you, the President -- he's now passed the buck to Congress to try and fix DACA.
In a statement though, the Republican Senator Marco Rubio made this point. "It is important that the White House clearly outlined what kind of legislation the President is willing to sign. We have no time to waste on ideas that do not have the votes to pass or that the President won't sign."
That seems like a fair point. But it also seems unlikely to happen.
LUIS ALVARADO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, after seven months of Donald Trump's administration and governance, sometimes we don't know what the goal post is at. And before the Congress and the Senate starts engaging in the battle, they want to know what a win looks like and there's nothing wrong with that.
The question is will the Congress and the Senate actually have the support of Donald Trump knowing that there are people in his own administration that don't want it to happen.
Jeff Sessions being one of the primary forces in the administration that seems to actually not care and we saw a memo today from the White House saying that the people in the DACA program should be preparing themselves for deportation and making documentation runs. And so there is several messages out there and we don't actually know where the White House stands.
VAUSE: But you mentioned the talking points. So we actually got a copy. CNN obtained a copy of the talking points. So if we go to that, it's a little ahead of our schedule but number five here.
[00:24:57] "The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States."
Brian -- does that indicate that DACA recipients should not rely on promises that they won't be immediately deported and that's what's in the cards? BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I wouldn't rely on any promises. This is actually abominable -- John.
Here are some words that come to my mind when I heard about this repeal of DACA. And by the way, I've represented a family in a child abuse case a few years ago in Los Angeles where the child, the younger girl was part of DACA. And let me tell you, she is in a music school right now and she aspires to be a doctor.
So when I heard this today, I was outraged.
But here are a couple of other words that come to my mind -- heartless, selfish and hypocritical. And I'll tell you why. Because I believe President Trump is absolutely punting on this. This is just a pretext. Oh, let Congress try to fix this. What do they need to fix?
President Obama set up DACA in 2012 -- John, to allow Congress to pass immigration legislation. In other words, it wasn't set up to be punted. Here we are fast forward, five years later, guess what? We have a Congress that can't pass any immigration legislation. So what makes anybody in this country think that all of a sudden Congress is going to pass legislation?
SESAY: Let me recap on that and Luis -- this is to you as a Republican. When you hear that there are people on Capitol Hill who are considering tying any kind of progress on DACA to getting the President his money for a war, effectively using these young people as bargaining chips.
You're a Republican -- how does that make you feel? How comfortable are you with that?
ALVARADO: Well, I had conversations all day long with many Republican operatives and leaders on how we're going to make sure that we talk to Congress and we help them get this in a clean bill and likewise, it's not just Republicans, Democrats have been known to put poison pills on many bills as well.
So let's make sure that not only Republicans but Democrats don't politicize. We have an opportunity to actually find a pivot point to bring this country together and hopefully, this will be a message of hope for America and the world that we're actually moving forward if Congress can actually get this passed.
VAUSE: Ok. To those who support the President and Jeff Sessions. They've made the case they're not actually heartless but they are just following the rule of law. It was a point that Jeff Sessions made when he announced that DACA would be rescinded. This is the Attorney General. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The executive branch threw DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Brian -- that's not entirely true because the Supreme Court hasn't made a final decision on whether or not DACA was constitutional -- right?
CLAYPOOL: The Supreme Court hasn't made the decision. And John -- if President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions were so concerned that the courts were going to strike down DACA, why wouldn't they let the courts just do it? Why all of a sudden does President Trump through Jeff Sessions unilaterally repeal DACA?
I'll tell you why. This has nothing to do with respecting the laws and respecting the legislative process. Remember, I was on your show (inaudible) ago about the travel ban.
Did President Trump respect the legislative process then? No, he didn't. He just enacted the travel ban.
But what this is really about John, tragically -- and I've supported President Trump on your show before. But this one, he gets a black eye. And I'll tell you why quickly -- because this has everything to do with enhancing his political score card.
He needs a win. He lost on Obamacare. I've got to get a score on my score card. And this has nothing to do with doing what's right for these folks.
SESAY: And Luis, quickly -- to that point in terms of contradictions on the part of this administration. You know, President Trump waded in to the situation involving Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona and felt that here is a man who had been found guilty of doing something wrong but he pardoned him. He waded into the law.
Then when it comes to 800,000 young people who have not done anything wrong, their parents brought them here -- here he says I stand out and I have to uphold the law. I mean the contradiction -- how does that -- I mean tell me how that strikes you.
ALVARADO: Well, it strikes me as hypocritical because Donald Trump is talking out of both sides of the mouth. The question is, is there a strategy behind this? Or is he just so unprepared for the presidency that he actually has no control of the message machine coming out from his administration.
[00:29:57] And I think that is the hardest thing to swallow for us Americans that actually there is ineptness in that White House and it can't get things done. And he's punting to Congress and the reality is Congress has a history of not finding success in the last few decades --
VAUSE: But why did --
(CROSSTALK) ALEXANDER: -- when it comes to bipartisanship. So but I think in this particular case, from reading the tea leaves, I think that Congress is going to get their act together. I think --
SESAY: Everything Congress has on this --
ALEXANDER: -- I think if nasty policy and Ryan actually sat down and worked this out, there's going to be an opportunity to bring cohesiveness --
VAUSE: You are the eternal optimist, Luis --
ALEXANDER: -- we need that because -- but I feel that there is the energy right now that I never seen for the last 10 years, coming out of the Congress.
VAUSE: We're out of time. But thank you both --
SESAY: You're going to take a very quick break. (INAUDIBLE) attorney general called DACA "unlawful" and threatened legal action. His reason against it and his reaction to Trump's decision.
SESAY: Hello, everyone, You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause to check the headlines this hour.
VAUSE: Ever since President Barack Obama announced DACA in 2012, there's been broad support for the program, which allows so-called DREAMers, the undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, to come out of the shadows and no longer face the immediate risk of deportation.
Despite that 10 states, led by Texas, were threatening legal action if the Trump administration did not end the program by Tuesday.
The attorney general for Texas, Ken Paxton, is with us now from the state capital of Austin.
Attorney General, thank you for being with us. You see this decision by Donald Trump as a win for the Constitution; President Obama overreached, so this is essentially about restoring the rule of law. Technologically there was never a final decision that DACA was actually unconstitutional.
KEN PAXTON, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, so the president had a habit, President Obama had a habit of overreaching. In this case he acknowledged that he didn't have the authority to do this. This should have been done by Congress --
PAXTON: -- and that's what our argument is, that the Constitution has separation of powers, that the legislature has a specific role; the president has a specific role and, in this case, the president chose to operate as a legislative body and he didn't have the authority to do that.
So this is, by definition, unconstitutional.
VAUSE: But just to reiterate the point, there was still a final ruling yet to be made on that. And this seems to be an open question. Last month more than 100 law school professors and lecturers, they wrote to President Trump, insisting that DACA is legal. This is part of what they wrote.
"In our view there is no question that DACA 2012 is a lawful exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Our conclusions are based on years of experience in the field and a close study of the U.S. Constitution, administrative law, immigration statutes, federal regulations and case law."
So at the very least it seems, it's still undecided?
PAXTON: Well, you know, if it was undecided in the sense that we didn't take this particular case to court because it got rescinded but we had a case that was exactly the same. It's called DAPA, had the same legal principles, same arguments. It was ruled unconstitutional, a violation of separation of powers and an overreach by the -- by the President of the United States.
So it was very likely -- we were in front of the same judges. We were going to get up through the same circuit; likely end up in the Supreme Court. And we won that case previously.
So most legal experts acknowledge that we were going to be successful on the merits.
VAUSE: OK, so clearly this is an issue which your state and nine others believe is one which is crucial, the issue of presidential power. Donald Trump has issued a number of executive orders, which are being challenged in court; the original version of his travel ban, for example. Some courts ruled that they went beyond the power of the executive.
But Texas didn't join the legal fight there. We also had this controversial pardon of the Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio,.
Would you consider a legal challenge to the presidential pardon, presidential power on that issue?
PAXTON: So what we were looking for in this case with DACA and DAPA was the fact that the president didn't have any statutory authority. He literally just changed the law. If you go to the travel ban, we actually did get involved in that case. We just got involved on the -- on the side of the president because the president actually had statutory authority to operate and to have the executive order related to the travel ban.
So there was clear guidance on that. As long as there's statutory authority, the president can operate. When there is none -- and President Obama acknowledged, especially when he did DAPA, that he was making a plus (ph). Said, I just changed the law. And he said over a six-year period that he didn't have the authority to change immigration law.
And yet after saying this for six years over 20 times, he came out and he created DACA and DAPA. So it is interesting that the president himself acknowledged that he didn't have the power and he went ahead and created a law anyway.
VAUSE: OK, well, Texas has about 120,000 DACA recipients. (INAUDIBLE) one study says that could be a $6 billion annual hit to the GDP of Texas, just to the state alone.
Would that be a price worth paying?
PAXTON: Well, look, I don't -- I don't know much about this study. It's a new study. I have not actually seen it. But the reality is, my job isn't to focus on policy or economic impact. My job is to focus on the law.
As attorney general, I don't make policy; I defend the Constitution, I enforce our state laws, I enforce federal laws. That's my job. So I don't worry about policies. I'll let the legislature worry about that.
I also think the president shouldn't be worried about necessarily creating law. That's what the legislature does. So what we're talking about here is separation of powers and federalism, the fact that states have certain rights and the federal government has certain right.
So all we're asking is the president stay within the guidelines of the Constitution. VAUSE: Well, Congress now has six months to find some kind of
solution here, which is exactly what the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, had wanted. Listen to what he had to say on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ABBOTT, GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: These are issues for the federal government, for Congress. It is, again, the architectural design is for Congress to address it and it is right for Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Notably, though, Governor Abbott didn't actually say anything about what Congress should do, given Texas was one of the states that brought this legal action.
Is there any responsibility from your state to at least offer up some kind of a solution here, some kind of input in how this will -- should all play out?
PAXTON: Absolutely. We have 36 congressmen and two senators. I expect them to be offering plenty of input. And that's where the responsibility lies. This is a federal issue. The states do not have control over immigration law and, so, yes, we have a responsibility through our elected representatives.
And that's what I expect to happen, not from attorney general or the governor of the. We don't have any impact on the legislation. But that's why we do elect these representatives.
VAUSE: OK, well, after Hurricane Harvey, Texas is facing a lot of rebuilding and, again, another study for you, this one a few years ago. It found that half of the state's construction workers were undocumented immigrants. That's about 400,000 workers.
Are you concerned --
VAUSE: -- this DACA decision and all the Trump administration policies, which are really aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, might see those workers actually just leave when you need them the most?
PAXTON: Look, again, my job is not really to focus on policy or the economic impact of a policy. My job is to focus on the law. And when you have something that is clearly unconstitutional, which DACA was, then it's my job is to say, hey, wait a minute, we can't allow a president, a rogue president, to operate outside the Constitution because once you make that exception, even if you like the policy, even if you love the policy, we end up on a slippery slope where we have a President of the United States operating outside of his constitutional authority.
As we know, our founders didn't want a king. They separated power and they divided government for a purpose of separating those powers and we're going to live by that hopefully.
VAUSE: OK, finally and I -- once again, I know you're the attorney general, you're not responsible for anything other than the law of the state. But here is a tweet from a guy called Louis.
"I'm a DACA recipient. This is my life on the line. I know nothing else but Texas. I have nothing else anywhere."
So you know, (INAUDIBLE) legal action (INAUDIBLE) legal action will threaten the legal action.
What can you tell Louis now?
PAXTON: Well, I can say for sure nothing's going to happen for six months and probably they'll be some time after that. My hope is that Congress addresses the issue in the next six months or at least close to it so that something like this guy have resolution and know where they stand because clearly, right now, there's a lot of open questions with this being rescinded.
One of the problems with putting something like this in place is, once you undo it, even though it's the right thing to do, it creates a lot of problems. This is one of the reasons that when you go through this process, you want it to be a legislative solution that will last as opposed to having a president that can just issue an executive order, that can be easily undone.
VAUSE: OK. Attorney general Ken Paxton, thank you so much for being with us from Austin. We appreciate it.
PAXTON: Hey, thank you. Have a great day.
SESAY: Time for a quick break now. Coming up, a long legal battle is over for Britain's Prince William and his wife, Catherine. What a French court ruled after a magazine published topless photos of the Duchess.
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
(INAUDIBLE) Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have won their lawsuit against the French magazine over topless photos of her.
VAUSE: William and Catherine wanted more than $1.5 million in damages after the magazine closer published the photos the sunbathing duchess in 2012. A French court agreed their privacy was violated but awarded them about $114,000, which you may have noticed is less than they wanted.
SESAY: As well two magazine executives were fined $53,000. Kensington Palace says the royals are pleased with the verdict and consider the matter closed.
VAUSE: Yes, good.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) message to other (INAUDIBLE).
SESAY (voice-over): Hopefully.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay tuned now for a live, live, live edition of "WORLD SPORT" with Kate Riley.
SESAY: They're live.