Behind The Headlines – September 22, 2017

Behind The Headlines – September 22, 2017


– (female announcer)
Production funding for Behind the Headlines
is made possible in part by: the WKNO Production Fund,
the WKNO Endowment Fund, and by viewers like
you, thank you. – Changes to immigration policy and the impact on Memphis,
tonight on Behind the Headlines. [dramatic orchestral music] I’m Eric Barnes, publisher
of the Memphis Daily News. Thanks for joining us. I’m joined tonight
by Mauricio Calvo from Latino Memphis,
thanks for being here. – Glad to be here. – (Eric)
And John Smarrelli, from CBU, President, thank
you for being here. – Thanks for the invitation. – (Eric)
And Bill Dries, senior reporter with the Memphis Daily News. – The show we’re doing
today is inspired or is a result of the
proposed changes to DACA, the- President Trump
has said that DACA will expire in six months. It has caused quite a scramble
among a lot of groups, it was pushed for
by certain folks and really resisted by others. DACA was put in place
by President Obama in 2012 that allowed
children who had, you all could correct me
when I get this wrong, but children who
were brought here at a very young age,
from another country, undocumented parents and
they are undocumented to apply for status
and move towards a legal status where
they could work they could drive, they
could go to school. Is that correct? So some 800,000 kids and
now young adults and adults fall into this category. So let’s talk your reaction,
I’ll start with you Mauricio, when that proposal, that
Trump had talked about it, President Trump had talked
about it on the campaign trail, some people were frustrated
he didn’t, you know, reverse the executive
order on day one, he waited six,
seven, eight months. What are your thoughts? – So it’s very
complicated, of course, like anything on immigration, obviously it’s a
humanitarian issue, but it’s also a practical issue. I mean, there’s a lot,
depending on who you ask, anywhere between 8,000 to
10,000 people in Tennessee under this category
and thousands of them are here in Memphis, so even though the President
may be saying that, but he said that
during his campaign, 10,000 people in
Tennessee are working, driving, going to
school, and just kind of pulling the plug on
that, it makes a mess for colleges and
universities, for landlords, for the economy. And besides it’s again the
humanitarian aspect of that. So, yeah, it’s rather complex. So he said he was gonna end DACA on the first day of
his administration, he waited eight
months and even that, he said, well
we’re gonna end it, but I might revise it later, a lot of mixed messages and
it makes it very confusing. – Dr. Smarrelli, CBU
has been very open and very aggressive
in bringing DACA kids and working with
undocumented immigrants. Your thoughts on this? – Our mission has
been to reach out to those individuals, who again, otherwise wouldn’t get
a college education, that’s our mission driven, so it makes perfect
sense for CBU to do this, but the confusion
that this has led to, the anxiety in our students
is my major concern because there’s a
constant sense that, are we gonna be deported, are we gonna be able
to complete our degree, what is gonna really happen. And I think that’s sort of
the situation right now, is this uncertainty, this
anxiety among our students, and you know, what
do we do next, and they’re looking
for the adults to sort of set the lead and set
the pace for moving forward. I think what the president
did in his action is sort of force
the issue, you know, what are we gonna do next,
what are we gonna do next, and I think that really is a, I think there’s an
opportunity there for our legislators to
do what they need to do but there’s
certainly the anxiety on the part of our students. – Right, and President
Trump has said, that he wants Congress,
the reason that he’s saying it’s gonna expire in six months is he wants Congress
to do something and some critics, and I
think even one federal judge said, look, the executive
order Obama issued is not the way to approach this, is not legal, is not
the right way to do it. It should be Congress
act to give legal status to these kids or not, but that it should not be
done by executive order. – I’m a firm believer in that. Let’s develop laws
that make some sense for these young individuals
who are going to be great contributors
to our society, and I think that’s what
he was trying to push, the President was trying
to push in removing DACA. – Yeah, Bill. – So it sounds so
simple on the surface, and of course in politics
nothing is simple as okay you have six
months to work this out. This seems in one way to be
a new kind of uncertainty or a new chapter of uncertainty because there was
certainly uncertainty during the Obama administration and a lack of consensus
on a consistent policy not only on this issue but
on other immigration issues, and Mauricio you’ve
talked about that even before we had the
change in the White House. – Yeah, the frustrating
things here, I mean, is once again how
are the things… The president could have said, Congress, if you don’t
act on this in six months, I’m gonna pull the plug. It’s different than
pulling the plug and then kicking
the can to Congress, to a Congress that, by the way, has not been able to
accomplish anything. You know, they haven’t
been able to accomplish healthcare reform, tax
reform, any of these things, so you are telling
the Republicans now you have to fix this
and go home and claim that the only victory that
you have is immigration, I mean it’s highly unlikely. So the President
could have, again, said if you guys don’t fix this, you know, we’re gonna end
this program in six months, or, option B, here’s a proposal, as executive I am
proposing this, this legislation, what do
you guys think about it? But it’s this thing about just leaving no option on the table and let Congress figure it out while Congress is unable to
get anything done lately, it’s I mean I don’t
trust Congress, and I don’t trust the
President, quite frankly. – What to you makes
sense for conditions? On a DACA that is
a legislative act? – Well, I mean, so what
conditions are we okay, I mean what are we
willing to compromise? I mean I think DACA is
a really good example. So first of all people had to
be in the country for a while, it’s not amnesty,
it’s a pathway, so again it was something
where students, I mean young children, had to had arrived
when they were young, they had to be in the
country for about five years before they could apply, they had to go through
a background check through an FBI background check, they had to be fingerprinted, they had to report
where they lived, they had to be either
enrolled in school or have been to
school, so they have all these, you know,
common sense requirements, this, if you will,
vetting process, and then in that case
they got a work permit and they got, they were
allowed to stay to work. You know, it’s funny
because people, some people, don’t want folks to
be here undocumented but they will also
block any effort for them to be documented. When people talk
about getting in line, this is a perfect example
of people getting in line, and they got in
line and they did what they were supposed to do. The President, President
Obama had to act on an executive order because
Congress wouldn’t move, so I think those
conditions are fine. I don’t think this
should be amnesty, this is not for everybody, there are certain conditions, and people have to be in school, they have to be behaving,
they have to be contributing, and, you know, I think
that makes sense. – So, John, with the
uncertainty on this, the new uncertainty and
then the uncertainty that this is an executive order and at any moment it
could be rescinded and it doesn’t
look like Congress is going to come up
with anything permanent, what have you been
telling students who are referred
to as the dreamers, under the dreamers act. – We have been
telling our students we’re taking a more
optimistic view than maybe my colleague
Mauricio is saying. We are optimistic that
there can be legislation that will lead to a pathway
of permanent status. These are contributing
members to our society, I mean the impact of
rescinding DACA is incredible, it’s billions of dollars
at the federal level. $460 billion, I
believe over 10 years in terms of just
impact on the economy. Even the Tennessee economy, we’re looking at
$350 million a year in GDP impact if all
the DACA students who are working right
now would go away. It makes absolutely
no sense to me from a political,
financial point of view to say go away, we don’t want
you anymore in our country because they have
been, as Mauricio said, they have done what
they had to do, they are working, they
are going to school, and they are achieving
at rates that are as equal to or even greater than many of our traditional
students at CBU. And it’s up to me as
their President to say I’ve gotta go to every
Congress-person I can talk to, every Senator I can talk to and say, these are contributing
members to our society, and that’s really what
the issue is for me. – And what do you hear
from our representatives in Congress, each of you. – There’s, I mean, I’m
hearing bipartisan support but yet, going back
to what Mauricio says, can they get the act done, can they get the Dream Act or
some of the other, Bridge Act, or some of the other
proposals that are out there, can they get it done? Because I think there’s
bipartisan support for getting this done, but– – And it’s not that
I’m not optimistic, I, what I guess, I just think
when people get too optimistic we can get complacent and
we can just stand away, say, like, oh, they’re
gonna take care of this. I mean, Dr. Smarrelli
just said so many things that are common sense but
it seems like common sense is the least common of
the senses nowadays. I mean there are so
many things that make sense and yet they’re
not happening. And I think we need to
hear from more people like John and CEOs from
companies here in Memphis, we have heard from
people in Silicon Valley and other big names, everybody needs to be
making this a big deal. It is a big deal, not only
for those DACA students, it’s a big deal for the economy. I was talking to somebody
at a company here in town at a large company and
I was telling them, look, I guarantee
you you have hundreds of these kids working
in your company. They just don’t wear a flag,
saying, hey, I’m a DACA, I mean HR will know
who these people are, but you probably have
hundreds of these people working for you here
at your headquarters and nationwide too. So, you know, if one day
they start disappearing, that is gonna create
an HR mess for you, it’s complicated so
people need to get out of their comfort zones and stake a position, say
we need to speak up on this. – Was it, in hindsight,
a mistake, I mean, and you guys correct me on the
procedures where I’m wrong, to file for, to go down
the path you talked about, you had to come forward,
you had to register, you had to say, here,
I was, I came here when my parents came across
the border illegally, I was a child, I’ve been
here, I’ve lived here for five, ten, twenty
years, however long it is, and essentially register
with the government. I mean, people have
said, well now, there’s a database
of these people who are technically
here illegally, who could be deported,
they registered with HR, they registered
with your school. I mean, do you hear
from kids who say I should not have
stepped forward, I should have stayed
in the shadows because I was safer there? – We heard that
at the beginning. People were
reluctant to sign up, but then, I think when
people saw the benefits and that that was the
only immigration relief that was gonna
happen, people did it, I mean, 800,000
people did it, right. So I’m sure there were
people who never did it for those reasons, but now
people are really worried. I mean, can you
trust Jeff Sessions and his department
that they are not gonna come after these people. They know exactly where
they live, who they are and everything so there’s
this trust factor, but I think people are tired, I think people are
saying, like, I got it, I mean I had enough and we are, you know you hear these things, it’s not, you hear
this thing about undocumented and
unafraid, I think particularly young people
are extremely concerned but we have to also
think that these people don’t live in silence,
they have families that are undocumented, they
are living with their parents. I mean the community is afraid but then people
are saying, like, well, I gotta do this, I mean this is just
like another reality of our broken
immigration system. – Yeah, all of this
is at a time when, we’ve talked a little
bit on the show, with the new administration,
the Trump administration, has, by many accounts,
upped the pressure on undocumented immigrants. More raids by
Immigration Customs, more even NPR had
a story this week about people being
picked up in hospitals, emergency rooms, places
that were considered sort of safe zones where
officials wouldn’t go there. That follows Obama, although
he put DACA forward, he also dramatically
upped the number of people who were
deported, right. I mean, so for the
community, I mean, of, particularly we’re
focused on the dreamer kids who were brought here
sort of ostensibly against their will,
I mean they just went with their family. Is their just an
increasing level of fear. I mean, do you hear that
among your students? – Sure, there’s an incredibly
increasing level of fear. What are we gonna do and
what are we gonna do? I mean, there was optimism
when they signed for DACA because they believed
they could be contributing members
to our society, working members of our society, and going to school and
furthering their own careers. So there was a certain optimism when DACA was instituted I think and that optimism was
that there’d be a pathway somehow, to permanent
residency or to citizenship. That clearly hasn’t
happened yet, and that’s where the
anxiety is now occurring. – And I think just to
add on that, if I could, I think, you know,
not to contradict with what I just said, I
think there’s a lot of people who are willing to
come out and say this is my story,
this, I had it, but at the same time
inside themselves, and they’re young
so they are eager and they have a lot of strength, but this is all, this is
the only country they know. If you were to deport an adult, an adult might say,
well, you know, I used to live there that’s not, I don’t wanna go back
but I guess I can do it. Some of these children
have never been there. I mean they were there when
they were two years old, one year old, so the
impact the anxiety and the trauma is gonna
be harder on them. – Just, I mean, a
student, Frankie, at our institution,
from Honduras, came over when he
was two or three, you know they ask him,
what about Honduras? I don’t care about Honduras, that’s not my country, the
United States is my country. When the Star Spangled
Banner comes on, that gives me goosebumps, not
the Honduran national anthem. That’s the kind of students
these DACA students are right now, or the
kind of people they are. They love this
country and they wanna do what’s best for this country. – (Eric)
Ten minutes left, Bill. – And John, to that
point, I believe Frankie was the young
man who actually went to the White House,
so you have this odyssey where this young man
went to the White House, met the President
of the United States as an example of
the executive order working very much in the open. If in six months,
Congress doesn’t come up with a solution to this,
with a permanent policy, he’s also very much in
the spotlight for this. He could– – But he believes in the
United States of America, he believes that
there’ll be laws or opportunities
for him, and that’s, that’s the beautiful part
about these individuals. As much as it appears,
I mean they’re in this tenuous situation,
there’s a lot of them who just believe that
this is the country where they belong, the country where they can
make a difference, the country where they
can get an education, and work and make a difference. But I agree, Bill, it
certainly put himself out in a very precarious situation by being public with
his DACA status. And you know we really,
at our university, we don’t really record
whether DACA or not, we basically, you know,
if you’re qualified, if you are able to get into CBU with our policies for admission, we really don’t say, you’re
DACA, you’re not DACA, you know. Where your country of origin is adds to the diversity
of our campus. – And I don’t- one underlined
question I hear all the time, I mean people will say,
this is very simple they broke the law,
we’re a country of laws, they need to go back. And people have
always said that, and, look, I get it, we
are a country of laws, but one thing that people
don’t often don’t know is that immigration
law is civil law. It’s not criminal law. So this affiliation
about, you know, arresting people for being
in the country illegally, it’s, I mean being in
the country unlawfully, like these children, is
not a criminal violation. Right, and we don’t have to
get into all the details, I mean being in the
country repeatedly could become a
criminal violation, but in the case
of these children they are not in a
criminal violation, so I think there
should be solutions to civil issues, I
mean if they have broken the law in
that specific example, and I use this example before, under the Affordable
Care Act, everybody, by federal law, should
have health insurance. If somebody doesn’t
have insurance, should we, you know, throw
that person into jail? Should we ban them
from the hospital the rest of their entire lives? I mean like it doesn’t
make any sense, you pay a fine and you get
right with the law, right? Or you pay the consequences, but the consequences
shouldn’t be removal. – And there’s also a process
with a violation of civil law or an alleged
violation of civil law, whereby a claim
is made in court. And how many of
these cases though, with DACA, with people
who came here as minors, are we talking about
parents whose visa ran out? Things like that, is that
a factor at all in DACA? – I think so, I
mean, so technically, I think if your parents
were here documented your children shouldn’t
have to worry about DACA, so, because if the
parents are here legally typically the dependents
are legally here. So if you have a DACA
student, a DACA recipient, chances are, again
in general terms, that the parents
are undocumented. And it can get
complicated, because depending on the child
or the age of the person, or whatever, but,
for the most part, yes, that’s part of it yes. – But that’s where it becomes
a family issue in my opinion because you’ve got families,
you know families of six, where three may be DACA
and three may be citizens. So this becomes also,
deportation becomes a significant family
issue and really for us, this is a faith
based institution, the last thing we ever wanna see is families being split
up because of civil law, for lack of a better term, and we really gotta find a way to keep these families together. – With the global environment,
global competition in the workplace, how
much do each of you hear from our corporations here who are recruiting the
best and the brightest, not just nationally
but internationally. Are they concerned? – They’re very concerned. There are lots of skilled jobs
open in Memphis and beyond. – (Mauricio)
16,000. – 16,000 is the number,
and that’s the number and in the United States
there are just lots of jobs for trained individuals, so this whole notion of, oh
they’re taking American jobs, aren’t true, and
the other notion that I just wanna bring
up in this session is the fact that they’re
not taking federal dollars. These are dollars, that at
least for my university, I had to raise from foundations
and other individuals who are willing to
support this program. – They’re not eligible
for Pell Grants– – They cannot
get Pell, HOPE, or any of the
normal, or even loans they can’t take out loans, so we float our own
loans for these students. I mean really the
sort of argument that I’ve heard
from lots of folks who are criticizing me for
doing what we’re doing, the fact that we have
found money outside of the normal channels to
support these individuals and we’re supporting all
the students who come to CBU but these are individuals who
aren’t getting federal dollars so they’re not,
we’re not sort of using federal dollars
to train “illegals” for lack of a better– – Well, we always talk about
how Nashville is growing, 80 people a day they are adding. We should be welcoming, we
should be welcoming density, we need people, I mean that’s
what drives the economy, because when people
are here working, they are buying stuff, they
are paying sales taxes, they are renting an apartment,
or they are buying a car, I mean all of these
things get us going. That doesn’t only benefit
those particular individuals, they’re benefiting
the whole economy. And, again, we said that
number from Memphis, 16,000 jobs, so many
companies are hiring, nobody’s taking jobs
away from anybody, everybody’s contributing,
we need more people and that’s, we’re
losing businesses that could potentially
come to Memphis because we don’t have
a qualified force. One thing that is
particular about DACA is that not every DACA recipient has a college degree
but many of them do, so this is, or they’re
in a pathway to do that, so this is a qualified workforce that we are lacking in our city that we desperately need, so if for so many
different reasons, this has to be,
this has to happen. – Let’s broaden away from DACA with just, you know,
five minutes left here, you talked about 8-10,000
DACA students in Tennessee, about how many undocumented
immigrants are there in Memphis and Tennessee. I mean, it’s one of those
things it’s hard to find because you’ve got people
sort of in the shadows, they’re not coming forward and
saying they’re undocumented. – Yeah, it’s much
larger than that number, I would argue that
perhaps the large, the vast majority of
undocumented people in Tennessee are older than DACA,
they missed the DACA, they missed the DACA age cut so they are, there
are thousands, I mean so let’s say
there’s 30,000 Latinos in our metro area,
there are probably 20-30,000 undocumented,
I don’t know. – And the answer
for them, you know, to the people who say, look, they came here illegally, and
we talked about this before, what, if you could
wave a magic wand, Congress, not just with DACA,
would do what with them. Because Trump, President
Trump has talked about, you know, deportation,
you’ve got other national politicians talking
about rounding ’em up, they’re here illegally,
they must go back, borders, really aggressive
efforts to deport. Your approach would be what? – Absolutely, you
have to have a system, a process for people
who are in the interior of the country
to become legal. I cannot require
people to be driving to have a Tennessee
drivers license if I am not issuing
licenses, right, or I cannot tell people
you have to buy insurance but we’re not selling insurance. So it’s hard to tell people
you have to become documented, and we’re not documenting
any of these people. So a similar approach to DACA, there was a proposal called DAPA that was for parents
of DACA recipients, tell people, come
forward, tell us that you’re contributing
to the economy, let’s do a background
check, pay taxes, I mean learning is like all
these things that we wanna do, nobody is asking for amnesty,
well some people are, I’m not, let’s have a
process that makes sense and with compromises, it’s
not gonna fit everybody, but if people are
contributing to the economy, and they need to come
out to the shadows, they just need a
process, they just need, people tell me all the time,
get in line, there is no line. Let’s open the line so
these people can come in, pay a fine, pay whatever
they have to do, I mean we’re smarter
than that, like we, we’re figuring out so many
things that are more complicated we should be able to
come up with a solution. – For you, is that
also, you know, some people, what
about border security? Whether or not it’s a wall, but is, should there
be a more secure border as part of that
kind of direction? – Yeah, I mean the
border is very secure, and if I challenged
anybody who has never been through the border,
it’s a secure border. Every country is allowed
to have a secure border. Not only you have
immigrants but you have weapons, you have drugs,
you have human trafficking, so yeah absolutely we
need a secure border, and the third piece, so
in order to fix this, you have to deal with
11 million people who are undocumented
in the United States. You have to have
a secure border, and also you have to decide what are we gonna do because
tomorrow and in five years people are gonna want
to come to this country and we need those
immigrants here. In certain cities,
to a certain degree, I am not talking
about an open border, but we have to deal
with those three things simultaneously, we
cannot wait until we finish the border security while we deal with
these other things. We need to be talking,
have this conversation about border security,
what to do with the 11 million people who are here, and what are we
gonna do with people who wanna come
here in the future. – We need true
immigration reform. The bottom line is we need
true immigration reform that encompasses those
three principles and beyond. – And DACA is a very
good first step. It’s not the ultimate solution, but it’s a good first step. – Do you think there
are politicians and businesses who
like to complain about border security
or like to complain about undocumented immigrants or like to talk
about deportation but that privately are happy
with the system as it is. Happy with the limbo. I’ve heard people
say this before, and it’s an
interesting argument, that they like the
limbo, they like, they can rail against immigrants
and immigration policy but they know no one’s
gonna be deported. And they know there is
the labor that’s there and they are perfectly
happy with the status quo, as imperfect as it is. – I think so, but I think
the opposite is true. There are people
who publicly may, I think there are people
who have a closeted position on this issue, and
for whatever reason they don’t wanna speak up whether they are for or against. And it’s unfortunate,
I think people should be able to say how they feel. You know, I think this
has risen to the level of any other civil rights issue. It’s almost like
if you were to say, would you not support
minorities in your business, or would you not support
LGBTQ people in your business. We wanna raise
immigration to that level, where saying no to that it’s
almost like nonsense, right? – And ironically, is the
Trump administration’s move forcing that
conversation with people. – Right, I mean
I remember, yeah, I remember when every
time we have an issue, an election, we say,
oh, god, here we have an election coming, nobody’s
gonna talk about immigration, now immigration is
center conversation for every elected official. – We’ll leave it
there, I’m gonna give Mauricio the last word. Thank you for being
here, thank you, thank you for joining us. Join us again next week. [dramatic orchestral music

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