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Sen. Klobuchar On Trump's Plans To Reverse 2 Obama-Era Policies

Jun 16, 2017
Originally published on June 16, 2017 7:11 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Trump seems to be keeping a campaign promise. He told supporters that he would rollback or eliminate policies from President Obama that he disagreed with. Today in Miami, Trump is expected to announce he is tightening back some of the trade and travel restrictions on Cuba that President Obama loosened.

Last night, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly rescinded an Obama policy called DAPA this aimed to protect parents who are in the country illegally but have children who are citizens or legal residents. Let's talk about all of this with Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is on the line from her home in Minnesota. Hi, Senator.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, hi. Great to be on, David.

GREENE: Well, it's nice to have you back. If you - bear with me for one second. I'd love to play you just about 10 seconds of one of your colleagues. This is Senator Marco Rubio, who's going to be in Miami with President Trump for this Cuba announcement today. And here's what he said on Facebook Live.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARCO RUBIO: The goal of these policies is very simple. We want to empower and we want to strengthen the Cuban people without strengthening the Cuban military which controls a significant percentage of their economy.

GREENE: Let's talk this through. So he's basically saying the president wants to figure out a way to keep the diplomatic relations that President Obama established but do some things to make sure the Cuban military is not benefiting. Is there something wrong with that?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, yes. Let's look first. This is not a total rollback. No surprise when 73 percent of the American public supports opening up Cuba. And we've seen success - 50 percent increase in Americans traveling there, more Cubans being employed in the private sector since President Obama made the changes. But what it is is a setback.

It's a setback because there's rumors that it's going to require audits - we'll hear more today - of Americans that travel here. Sporadic audits where you'll have to prove that you met the requirements to go there and keep your records and be able to prove it up to the government. And also a setback, while we want them to convert to private sector with their economy, of course, right now something like 60 percent of that economy is owned by the military.

And so you can imagine someone might want to go to a privately-owned restaurant, that they're going to stay at a hotel with that's owned by the military. And I don't know how Americans are going to figure this out. I don't know if the Cubans would be willing to put signs up on their hotels.

GREENE: Oh, I see. So you're saying that the policy might target just the military but people who own businesses that Americans who are staying in military hotels would probably eat at, they're going to be harmed by this.

KLOBUCHAR: Right because you're going to have a - it's a combination economy that's in transition, right? And we, after 55 years of admitting this was a failed policy, have started to open things up, just like we have in other countries that also may be owned by - have government-owned buildings - right? - that people visit and you're allowed to stay in. So I think that's one of the issues.

But the bigger thing, David, is that we are starting to see momentum. We have 55 U.S. senators on a bill saying we should completely lift the travel ban. And then we have always had a significant number on my bill to lift the embargo all together. And so what I don't want to see is people start backtracking and going back to what clearly didn't work for the Cuban people or the American people for years.

And you're also going to see foreign investment. Moscow has already pledged 2 billion to help them with their rail. The Chinese have been coming in. Europeans are building hotels. And...

GREENE: So you'll see other countries doing things that kind of fill the void that the United States...

KLOBUCHAR: Right because they don't have these artificial barriers.

GREENE: Well, let me let me just move, if I can, to immigration. Last night, secretary of Homeland Security rescinds the deferred action for parents of Americans or DAPA that was designed to protect undocumented immigrants with children who are citizens or permanent residents. I just want to ask you, that was a policy from President Obama with a lot of support, but it was already tied up in the courts, never enacted. So is this a significant move?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, it's significant in that it sends this clear message of where the administration is on immigration policy and probably frightens a lot of people. But you are correct. This was a Texas decision who - which - and the court blocked President Obama's move to open it up to parents and kids, that kids are still allowed to stay here. And then it went up to the Supreme Court and - because we didn't have a justice at the time for a decision. And that's where it is now.

GREENE: All right.

KLOBUCHAR: What would be much more significant is to, of course, remove the kids.

GREENE: And that does not - that is not happening from President Trump as far as we know at this point. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, thanks as always. We really appreciate your time.

KLOBUCHAR: Great to be on. Thanks, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.