After the Obama administration announced Friday it will not deport young illegal immigrants that meet certain criteria, CNN's first interview went to an immigration rights leader who raved to the network that "Today is, I think, the happiest day of my life."
The activist, Gabby Pacheco, appeared in the Time magazine illegal immigration cover story that CNN featured multiple times on Thursday, and herself noted that the DHS announcement was timely in light of the magazine cover hitting stands on Thursday. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Anchor Kate Bolduan did not press Pacheco over any controversy in the announcement, but rather tossed her bland softball questions like "what is your reaction to today's announcement?" and "What does it mean immediately for you and your family?"
The soft interview enabled Pacheco to gush over the new policy as a "brilliant political move" stopping the "colossal waste" of deporting talented young illegal immigrants.
"To finally know that my dream to contribute back to this country, my country, I'm an American, regardless of the paper that tells me that I'm not. For me, it's a realization of that dream," Pacheco told CNN.
It took CNN upwards of an hour to interview a guest opposed to Obama's executive order. Anchor Don Lemon interviewed Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Friday.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 15 on CNN Newsroom at 10:36 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
KATE BOLDUAN: We are also joined by Gabby Pacheco who, on the phone, she is an immigration rights leader from Miami, Florida, and was also featured op this week's cover of Time magazine, a fitting cover for Time magazine this week. Gabby is the founder of the Florida-based youth-led group Students Working for Equal Rights. And she began organizing undocumented students in her community. Again, she is joining me by phone. Gabby, I guess, first off, what is your reaction to today's announcement?
GABBY PACHECO: Kate, I wish you could see my smile. I wish that all of you could see how happy I am. And as a person that has been living in this country for two decades, I have three educational degrees, (Inaudible), and I'm just waiting and dying to be able to go into the classroom and work with my children, work with autistic children. Which is my dream.
BOLDUAN: Um, what do you – you probably were hearing the discussion we were having just before we came to you. Thinking about it, obviously, there's a lot of talk – you talk about policy. But you also talk about politics. Do you see this – some see this as obviously the President trying to shore up support among Latino voters. Is that – obviously maybe a smart move? What's your take on the politics of it all?
PACHECO: Well, I want to echo what some people have been saying. And it's that it's a really brilliant political move from the President to have finally done this. And I want to say that it wasn't really calculated. This is something we have been putting pressure on the President. We walked from Miami to Washington, D.C. in 2010 asking the President for the same, to stop the deportations, to stop separating us from our families. And what we're seeing is that in the communities, one point-plus millions of folks being deported from our country, that really has been hurting the President. And the President really needed to do something to stop the colossal waste of talented individuals from being deported from this country That was just not the right move to do for him. And him doing this, and finally today on Plyler v. Doe, the anniversary, 30th anniversary of the historic supreme court decision, I think, and the Time magazine coming out in the stands was just the right time to do it.
BOLDUAN: And tell me, a lot of this is about – we talk politics, we talk policy, but this is about people when it comes down to it. What does this mean – and of course we're waiting for more details as the announcement is – there's a conference call going on right now. But what does this mean for you? What does it mean immediately for you and your family?
PACHECO: Well, you know, today is, I think, the happiest day of my life. To finally know that my dream to contribute back to this country, my country, I'm an American, regardless of the paper that tells me that I'm not. For me, it's a realization of that dream. It's the realization of being able to feel whole and being recognized for all the times that I was in school standing up and pledging allegiance to the United States of America.