News O'Clock: Wait, Trump Did WHAT About Immigration?
In today's episode: It's Earth Day, there's an earthquake and ANIMAL CROSSING RAP!
On today's show it's kind of ironic that we’re stuck inside on the 50th Earth Day, isn’t it? Also take heart, parents: even Elmo’s dad is feeling stressed out.
And there’s a bunch of confusion after the president said he’s “shutting down immigration” because of the coronavirus. Luckily, we have BuzzFeed News immigration reporter Hamed Aleaziz on to explain what we do and don’t know.
The date is April 22, 2020 and the time is... News O’Clock!
Check out the full episode transcript below!
Casey Rackham: The first COVID-19 death in the US was earlier than we thought. So, yikes! Even Elmo's dad is tired of dealing with his kid every day. And Trump says that he's shutting down immigration because of the coronavirus. But what's actually happening? We've got BuzzFeed News immigration reporter, Hamed Aleaziz, on to tell us.
Hayes Brown: The date, April 22nd, 2020.
CR: The time, News O'Clock.
HB: Good afternoon. I'm Hayes Brown.
CR: And I'm Casey Rackham. Welcome to News O'Clock.
HB: How are you doing today, Casey? How are you holding up? You're doing okay?
CR: You know, honestly, we had an earthquake very early in the morning in California. And it was actually a pretty scary one. I'll say, first of all, it was only a 3.8. I don't know what only means to various people throughout the country, but it's lower scale than Southern California people are used to. But it was in Windsor Hills, which is very close to where I am in Los Angeles. And it shook my dresser for a really long time. I got so many texts from friends. People were rushing to put their shoes on. One of my friends thought it was the big one.
CR: It was startling. And Hayes, all on Earth Day
HB: It's fitting. I have never been in an earthquake. The one earthquake that happened in the place where I was living, I was out of town that day. So, I have no point of reference for what a 3.8 feels like. I am assuming bad, though.
CR: Yeah. I don't want to bore you. I have so many earthquake stories I could tell. But to put that into perspective, I did live in California for the Northridge earthquake in 1994 and I believe that was a 6.7, and that was catastrophic for Los Angeles. So, 3.8 is lower, but I think just because the epicenter was so close, it felt a little bit bigger.
HB: So, there was a tornado warning in New York City yesterday. So, nature is definitely trying to double kill us on top of the virus.
CR: What is that about? I didn't know. I was so shocked to see that.
HB: We've probably earned it. Okay. I pay to keep piling on like this, but it's time for the [Corona Minute 00:02:10]. Can we get one minute on the clock?
CR: Here we go. On your marks, get set, and go.
HB: So, the first COVID death in the United States was earlier than we thought, which is not so great. So, two people who died in February in California, Santa Clara County, had COVID-19. One died on February 6th, one died on February 17th. This is weeks before we thought that there were cases that were actually killing people in the US. So, it's good to know that now; it would have been nice to know that then.
HB: Meanwhile, the Senate passed a new $400 billion plus spending bill that would replenish the funds for the small business loans program that ran out earlier this week. The bill does not contain any provisions on food stamps or anything like that. It does provide more money for testing for coronavirus, which I guess is a win. The bill now goes onto the house, which is likely to pass it remotely. They're working out how they're going to manage that right now.
HB: Jumping outside of the US, Singapore is not doing great after being pretty chill at the start of this crisis. Back at the beginning, Singapore was being widely praised for its early response, and in mid March it only had about 300 cases. As of Tuesday, there were 9,000 cases, mostly migrant workers who were being packed into dorms and are taking the hit due to those close quarters. So, that's the Corona Minute. Was it a minute this time?
CR: I honestly think you were under a minute, but I have to say so much was packed in there. I was thinking about how you said the first death was earlier than we thought, around February 6th or in between February 17th, and my first thought is actually I don't remember what date that is. I know I see the date in front of me, but I don't know when that was logically.
HB: Right. Ironically enough, I think February 6th was one of the last days of Trump's impeachment trial. So, that was going on at the same time.
CR: Well, as much as I love your Corona Minute and how much joy it brings me, it's time for today's good news, bad news. And this is where I bring you some of the most 'aww' and most 'my God! No' stories from around the internet.
HB: All right. What's good today?
CR: Well, good news for any parents that are feeling stressed by the lack of school and daycare services and having their kids around all the goddamn time. You're not alone. And even Elmo's dad is sick of his son's shit. So, if you don't know Elmo's dad, his name's Louie. He was introduced in 2006 for a video for kids of military vets. And recently, Sesame Street released a PSA, last week, for parents that is beyond relatable, even for us.
Louie: I just want to say-
Elmo: Daddy, can you help Elmo make a pillow [inaudible 00:04:42] please?
Louie: Just a second, Elmo. I'll be right there, son. It's wonderful to get to spend so much time with our children, but it can also be a bit overwhelming.
CR: He goes on to lead parents in some deep calming breaths. And honestly, just telling parents to take some time for their selves because they deserve it, which is so, so true. But Louie won't have to stress for too much longer, because Elmo is going to be busy moving forward, announced yesterday. He's going to be hosting The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo on HBO Max.
HB: I don't know how to respond to that. Elmo is having his own show. Doesn't Elmo technically already have his own show inside of Sesame Street though? Why are we giving him more?
CR: He deserves it Hayes. Okay? And I also just love that they're calling it The Not-Too-Late Show because Elmo's bedtime is 7:30 PM.
HB: That's really cute. And also, I would love to have a 7:30 PM bedtime, I think, moving forward. That would be delightful. I would love that. Honestly, going back to Louie, I think that we need more earnest Sesame Street for adults. We've had plenty of adult parodies of Sesame Street, but I want just a real-ass calming Sesame Street for me. Thank you.
CR: Not even calming. During this time, I mean, it's when you really realize who's jerks and who aren't jerks. And I think that Sesame Street for adults could be a good back-to-basic situation for all of us.
HB: Speaking of not jerks, a really quickly shout-out to new BuzzFeed News dads, Joe Bernstein and Gabe Sanchez, who both had babies this week.
CR: And shout out to our Parents team over on buzzfeed.com who are full-time writers, parents and teachers. My God! What a job you guys have right now!
HB: Bless them all.
CR: Yes, bless them all. And now onto the bad news. For anyone who enjoys music and joy and fun, the movie adaptation of the Broadway hit, In the Heights, won't be released this year at all. Hollywood reporter says it will now come out June 2021. It was originally pushed back from its June 2020 release at the start of this pandemic, and now had to be pushed back even further, but for a good reason.
CR: Director Jon Chu tweeted that the crew and studio decided the best time to release In the Heights movie is next summer when people will feel the most comfortable celebrating in a movie theater together. He went on to say, "I know it's much later than we wanted, but In the Heights movie didn't take 10 years to get made, only to be left in half-empty theaters without the crowd it deserves."
CR: And I couldn't agree more. In case you don't know, Jon Chu also directed Crazy Rich Asians and he knows how to put on... My God! Just a fantastic experience for all of your senses. It's definitely a movie that's going to want to be seen in theaters. And I can't wait for next summer just to like... I feel like the joy that's going to be felt in that room just because of the amazing hit that the Broadway musical was and just how amazing the movie is sure to be.
HB: I am so stoked to see that because New York was hype for this movie. The Heights is right over there. I'm in East Harlem, so across the island from me mostly is where the movie takes place. So, it was going to be just a really big deal when it came out here. So, I am also crushed.
CR: I cried during that trailer, so... And I love crying; fun fact about me. So, I cannot wait for this movie. Okay. When we come back, we have Hamed Aleaziz to tell us what the hell Trump's latest immigration order means. Wait right there.
HB: Welcome back. It's time for Say More. This is where we get to talk some of the best people out there and to spending some quality time with us.
CR: On Monday, the president tweeted out that he was shutting down immigration because of the coronavirus, which left us all going, "What?" Trump then explained his thinking more yesterday, which left us all going, "What?" Times two.
HB: Thank God we have someone on today who has some insight into what the hell is happening here. BuzzFeed News immigration reporter, Hamed Aleaziz. Hello, Hamed.
Hamed Aleaziz: Hi, how are you guys doing?
HB: Not too bad, I suppose, given the everything. So, the president's tweet on Monday, it's safe to say it wasn't part of a well-planned rollout of a new policy.
HA: Yeah, I mean, I think it's fair to say that it took a lot of people by surprise, including those within the Department of Homeland Security, who would theoretically be charged with enforcing such a theoretical policy. And here we are, on Wednesday, two days later after his tweet. We still have no firm details on what this executive order will look like, who it will affect.
CR: Like you said, we're recording this on Wednesday afternoon. Has anything officially changed yet or we're just waiting to see what's coming next?
HA: We're still waiting to see what comes next. I mean, yesterday the president said the order was still being written. Earlier today, it appear the White House officials were saying that it still needed to be cleared by lawyers, the DOJ at the White House. And we still have not seen any firm policy, any order, no guidance sent to officers who would be charged with implementing such a policy. So, again, we really don't know what the situation is.
HB: I mean, it seems like a big deal to shut down immigration, as the president said, without doing all of these things. So, I guess, explain to me like I am a toddler right now. Based on what we know, which as you said is not very much, who would and would not be allowed to come into the United States under this policy?
HA: So, without the details, it's hard to be so specific. But, yesterday the president did say that this would focus on individuals who were seeking green cards. And to give a little context, immigrants who come to the country to live permanently generally obtain these visas, these green cards through their relationships with family members who are already US citizens or green card holders themselves.
HA: Some people are able to obtain these visas because they've got extraordinary abilities in the arts and sciences or are highly specialized workers and are sponsored by their employers. And each year, around a million of these green cards are generally handed out. About half of those are people who are already in the US, and then another half are those who are outside of the US.
HA: So, we still need to know, is this policy going to affect the people who are outside of the US hoping to come here? Or is this going to affect those who are on temporary visas in the US and hoping to stay permanently? As of now, I'm fielding messages from people who are worried, panicked, asking questions on, how is this going to affect me? Do you think I'm not going to be able to get my green card? So, in the wake of this lack of clarity, there's a lot of fear.
CR: President Trump basically said that this move was necessary because of the need to protect American jobs. Is there any evidence out there that would make that statement true?
HA: Yeah, I mean, I think this is really an argument between advocates and immigration restrictionist, but I will say I did think it was very notable that the Wall Street Journal editorial board pointed to the study today. They were criticizing this attempt by President Trump to focus on this immigration order. And they pointed at a study that said that having more immigrants reduces the unemployment rate and raises the labor force participation rate of US natives within the same sex and education group in these specific areas.
HA: On another level, Trump took a moment to explain in his press conference that farmers wouldn't be effected and those coming to the US temporarily would not be impacted. These are the agricultural workers who come to the US every year, who work for a year at a time and really stabilize the food market. And that's especially important given the pandemic and the issues we face.
HB: I'm just still confused though. I mean, if this whole order is because we need to shut things down because of the coronavirus coming in and shut down jobs, why is the focus then on people who are going to be trying to get green cards, come here permanently? These things don't really line up in my head.
HA: I mean, one thing that people have pointed out, advocates have pointed out is, they believe that President Trump and those around him are taking advantage of this crisis to push policies they've long wanted; blocking asylum at the border and now looking and potentially cutting down on the number of green cards allowed given to prospective immigrants. So, again, this is a really sticky situation.
CR: So, it can obviously be hard to focus on everything happening right now. So, what's the one thing that most people don't realize is happening in the world of immigration right now?
HA: I think the biggest thing is, in one day, the administration extended this order by the CDC that essentially bars the entry of anybody who crosses into the country without authorization. And what that does is it effectively bars asylum at the southern border. So, people are being turned around really quickly.
HA: And more importantly, advocates point to unaccompanied immigrant children at the border who would usually be allowed to enter the US, be sent to a US government shelter, have an opportunity to connect with family who are already in the US and apply for asylum. What's happened as a result of this CDC order is these children are being also turned around quickly and sent back to their countries in Central America. This is an issue that hasn't really been highlighted, but has really worried those in the immigrant community.
HB: Everything is so much. So, really quickly though, Hamed, your bit has really focused on how immigration is enforced inside the US. What's the biggest change you've seen since the outbreak of COVID-19?
HA: The biggest change. For me, it's probably going to be the fact that immigration courts have suspended the hearings of people who aren't currently in custody. Basically, they've postponed these hearings for months out until whenever the pandemic is controlled. This has affected people who are applying for asylum in the courts, who are facing deportation. Obviously, the immigration courts have this massive backlog, over a million cases. So, this is going to only expand it further.
CR: Well, your calm voice is so appreciated. Thank you so much for joining us today.
HA: Thank you for having me.
CR: It's time for the list because if you know BuzzFeed at all and you know how much we love lists. And today, we've got four ways to celebrate Earth Day while you're trapped inside.
HB: Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. That's good. But the world has warmed 2.4 degrees Celsius since then and that's very bad.
CR: Yes it is. And since going out and appreciating the nature we still have isn't exactly advisable right now, here's four ways you can still celebrate Earth Day while safe inside. Number one, give your electronics and your eyes a break today. Honestly, power down. We're all using a lot from staying home right now, and the less electricity we can use, the better.
HB: Number two, check to see if your power company has a green option. This isn't a thing that's everywhere, but a lot of power companies out there do offer the ability to purchase energy from green suppliers. So, check that out.
CR: Number three, tend to your house plant or your many, many house plants. So many people adopted plants at the start of this. So, today, give them some extra love or if you're over-watering, just appreciate them from a distance.
HB: And number four, I would say make dinner tonight meatless. Carbon emissions from factory farms are just absolutely [bunker-balls 00:00:17:16] huge. So, make tonight's dinner veges-forward as a thank you to the Earth. I mean, and yes, we know that corporations are the biggest problems with climate change, but every little bit helps is how we feel about it here.
CR: You are very correct, it is. But you know what? Anything to make us feel like we're doing literally anything helpful at this moment, I think, would brighten everyone's days.
HB: We need Captain Planet back.
CR: We do need Captain Planet back. I think Captain Planet would love my apartment because I'm currently surrounded by so many house plants.
HB: I mean, same. We have... No! I think we're up to almost a dozen in here. Most of them are not over-watered at this point, but it's been a year of learning, let's put it that way.
CR: Okay. And I definitely don't know the science about this, especially because what I'm about to tell you is from a Grey's Anatomy op, but in Grey's Anatomy they have this room that they created that's supposed to be this extremely calming room, that is literally just... You walk in and it is just plants, foliage, trees everywhere. And a lot of times the characters will go in there when they have to tell another character really bad news, so they're in a really healthy mindset before it happens. So, anyways, surround yourself by plants. I mean, surround yourself with plants.
HB: Very strong Earth Day tip.
CR: Okay. So, for everyone out there, did you celebrate Earth Day today? If so, we want to know how. Open up the Voice Memos app on your phone, hit record, then send yours to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That's, newsoclock, one word, @buzzfeed.com. Or you can DM us on Twitter. We're @Newsoclock, all one word. Be sure to let us know where you're sending yours in from. We're gathering all of the best editions to our list that you send in throughout the week and we'll be compiling them into one mega list. So, keep an ear out for yours.
HB: Okay, time for one more thing, because we cannot let you go until we tell you about this. First though, a confession. I don't actually play Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
CR: And I can't even be mad at you for a second because I don't play either.
HB: We are the worst. We're the absolute worst. My excuse, we're an X-Box household, so I've just been watching everyone play with some very real FOMO.
CR: No, I'm seriously sad for both of us, but I don't even have an excuse because I have a switch, but the reason is that all of my friends are straight up addicted to Animal Crossing and I'm genuinely afraid that I'll get addicted and it'll take over my life.
HB: That's a very real fear. I see this happening, but I have been online enough to basically get the gist of it, sort of.
CR: Okay, yes. From what I've gathered, it's about a capitalist raccoon who loves money.
HB: That was my takeaway too, that Tom Nook is a shady as hell raccoon dog who owns your entire island, lends you money at exorbitant rates. You fish and get frustrated and you decorate your house with random things. And I think that's the game. I think that's it.
CR: Well, since no one is here to correct us, what we have described as Animal Crossing is the correct answer.
HB: Anyway, I bring all this up because yesterday on Twitter, I was blessed to come across this on my timeline. It's a song called Tom Nook Style Beat, and it's fucking fire. Here, take a listen. (singing)
CR: This video pushes forward that we were correct about this capitalist raccoon. He really loves money according to this video. It's flying everywhere.
HB: Man! I love good nerd music. I'm not going to lie. If your music references cartoons, I'm here for. Tobi Lou is a great artist who I first heard of because he's sampled Buff Baby, which is a clip of a song from Adventure Time. So, that sort of thing is entirely my jam.
CR: Okay. Well, I think everyone is probably in agreement that you're going to need to make us a playlist.
HB: Gosh! I don't know how Spotify works. I'm an old. Are you kidding me? So, I will do my best and maybe one day I will get a switch so that I can stop having FOMO and learn what a Tom Nook actually is.
CR: Okay. Good plan. That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for a check-in with BuzzFeed Parents editor, Mike Spohr, for tips and survival techniques when you're at home with your child and/or multiple children during the lockdown.
HB: And remember, if you're going to plant a tree today, make sure it's a specimen.
Donald Trump: But they'll be admiring this tree and they'll be admiring nine more trees. We're planting 10 beautiful specimen trees. They're specimens, all specimens. People may think that's an exaggeration or that's a Trump term. Actually, they're sold as specimens. They cost more money, but they are better.
CR: Be sure to subscribe to News O'Clock on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you go for your sound stories.
HB: And please, take the time to leave us a rating and a review. It helps us figure out what you'd like about the show versus what you love about the show, what can change, what you must insist that we will never change. Also, tell your friends about us and have them set their alarms to make sure that they never miss News O'Clock.