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White House Launches New Push for Border Plan; Interview with Gov. Rick Perry; Interview with Senator Jeff Flake; Perry Talks Border Crisis with President Obama; From Guatemala to Mexico to the U.S.; White House Launches New Push on Border Plan; Emmy Nominations Announced; $100 Billion Mistakes with Your Taxes

Aired July 10, 2014 - 09:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: That is such a -- you know, if you've been here in Washington, Kate, I'm sure you've seen groups of those veterans come into standing ovations at Reagan Airport.




KEILAR: It's so great. What a great, great deed that they did.

Thanks, guys, so much.

PEREIRA: See you.

KEILAR: NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning, I'm Brianna Keilar in today for Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me.

And we begin this morning with the Obama administration and a new all- out push to get Congress to approve a nearly $4 billion funding request to help children detained along the U.S./Mexico border.

Today that request will be reviewed in the Senate at a hearing held by members of the Appropriations Committee. And a top White House official, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, will do his best to sell the plan to some skeptical lawmakers who claim those funds don't solve the larger problem of securing the border.

For his part, the president is fighting back against critics who have slammed him on everything from the way he's handling the issue of immigration to not visiting the border.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress has the capacity to work with all parties concerned to -- directly address this situation. They've said they want to see a solution. The supplemental offers them the capacity to vote immediately to get it done. But the problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem. The challenge is, is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?

Another way of putting it, and I said this directly to the governor is, are folks more interested in politics or are they more interested in solving the problem? If they're interested in solving the problem, then this can be solved. If the preference is for politics, then it won't be solved.

This isn't theater. This is a problem. I'm not interested in photo- ops. I'm interested in solving a problem, and those who say I should visit the border, when you ask them what should we doing, they're giving us suggestions that are embodied in legislation that I've already sent to Congress. So it's not as if they're making suggestions that we're not listening to.

In fact, the suggestions of those who work at the border, who visited the border, are incorporated in legislation that we're already prepared to sign the minute it hits my desk.

If I sponsored a bill declaring apple pie American, it might fall victim to partisan politics. I get that. On the other hand, this is an issue in which my Republican friends have said it's urgent, we need to fix it. And if that's the case, then let's go ahead and fix it.

This is something you say is important, as I do. This is an area that you have prioritized, as I have. Don't wait for me to take executive actions, if -- when you have the capacity right now to go ahead and get something done. I will sign that bill tomorrow. We're going to go ahead and do what we can administratively, but this gives us the tools to do many of the very things that Republicans are seeking.


KEILAR: Now one of the president's most vocal critics on immigration has been Texas Governor Rick Perry. The two men met yesterday after a headline-making exchange earlier this week when Perry initially refused to do just that right there, greet Mr. Obama at the airport, but in a face-to-face discussion, Perry renewed his request for the president to visit the border and stop the flow of immigrants crossing it illegally. And in an interview with CNN's Kate Bolduan, Governor Perry talked about the crisis and whether he will be able to work with the White House on a solution.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: On this latest crisis, I have to ask you, Governor. You said last month that the administration on this was incredibly inept or they're in on this somehow. After your meeting today with the president, which one is it, Governor?

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Well I don't know, and that's the reason I asked that question a month ago was, why haven't we had any more action out of this administration? And you know, again, the president has come to Texas. The president was gracious and allowed me to give him my insight on this, and I appreciate that, but the fact is, he still hasn't acted, and so actions are really important in this process.

BOLDUAN: But words are important here as well, as you're saying, as you think as Republicans believe that the president's words in talking about the Dream Act previously, that has sent the wrong message to Central America so words do matter in this debate.

Do you really honestly believe as you said in that interview last month that the administration might be in on this somehow? I mean, you're suggesting there's some kind of conspiracy here.

PERRY: No, what I'm suggesting is that this administration and their words and their actions or the lack thereof are part of the problem. I think you're putting the words of conspiracy in my mouth, which I did not say.

BOLDUAN: No, you actually did say the word, "I hate to be conspiratorial, but I mean, how do you move that many people from Central America --

PERRY: And I hate to be conspiratorial. I hate to be conspiratorial. I did not say I was.

BOLDUAN: "How can you move that many people from Central America across Mexico, and then into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?"

PERRY: I don't know.

BOLDUAN: I'm just asking, Governor.

PERRY: I don't know. And there is --

BOLDUAN: Because words do matter, you know that.

PERRY: I totally understand, but the real issue here, rather than getting into a semantics battle, is whether or not this president is going to lead this country.

BOLDUAN: Can you work hand in hand, though, with a president that you criticized so harshly on an issue that is so important to you? Can you get past the politics?

PERRY: I did today. So I suspect we will.


KEILAR: And joining me now another lawmaker whose state has been impacted by the surge in undocumented children coming to the United States, Republican Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona.

Senator Flake, thanks for being with us this morning. And you really know firsthand, we've seen these pictures obviously this hits home for you, children transferred to your state after Texas shelters became overwhelmed. Tell us more about this situation that Arizona is facing. SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: You know, Arizona has kind of been

ground zero on this immigration issue for a long time. The Tucson sector finally after years and years of programs to try to change and stem the tide there we were able to do it and the Tucson sector hasn't been as busy on the border region as it has been in the past, but then all of a sudden, because we have some of the infrastructure there that's not being utilized and we have these unaccompanied minors shipped from Texas, and so we're right in the middle of it again. And Arizonians are saying, boy, when do we get a break here? So yes, it's really impacting the state.

KEILAR: The president is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with this crisis.

FLAKE: Right.

KEILAR: When you look at the president's request, what do you think?

FLAKE: Well, my -- my problem with it is $1.8 billion of it, so the bulk of it, when you remove the fire suppression funds, that's about $600 million, the vast majority of it is goes to HHS, which has no role at the border at all. In fact, it's only charged with taking these children and warehousing them and then settling them throughout the country, and so anybody looking at this document from the president would say we're keeping the status quo.

We're going to continue to take these kids and warehouse them and then settle them around the country. That's exactly the wrong message to send to those in Central America, to those parents, to those families, to the cartels and others, because it tells them, keep doing what you're doing. We'll keep doing what we're doing, and that's just the wrong message.

KEILAR: So your concern and the concern of many Republicans is that these children will be absorbed, that they won't be deported. But I also wonder, is there some tension as well in the Republican Party? There are a lot of folks on the border or borders from border states and they know certainly in the short term something has to be done.

FLAKE: Right.

KEILAR: Even if you don't like President Obama's proposal, this is a crisis. Something needs to be done. And then you have many budget hawks, Republicans. You're in the unique situation of being in both camps.

How do you deal with that divide, maybe not $1.8 billion to HHS but the money --

FLAKE: Right.

KEILAR: This is going to cost money, right?

FLAKE: Right. Yes. And I don't anybody believes that this isn't an emergency and it doesn't require some additional spending. The question is, are we going to solve the problem with it? There's a great corollary here. A couple of years ago we had a big influx of Brazilians, so-called other than Mexicans coming across the Mexican border into the U.S. It was a big, big problem, and the way we solved it is actually had a program to repatriate those Brazilians back to Brazil, to hold them, detain them and do that.

And in 30 days the problem was cut in half. In 60 days, the problem was cut by 90 percent. We need a similar focus here and we just haven't got that from the president yet.

KEILAR: But many people, Senator, look at that and they say you're just setting up a revolving door and if you apply it here it's on a much grander scale and that that's not realistic. Would we really be where we are if Congress had gotten its act together and been -- been able to shepherd immigration reform through both chambers?

FLAKE: Well, I do think the situation would be better had Congress moved like us or had the House moved like the Senate did. I was one of the authors of the Senate bill. I believe in immigration reform, I agree with the president there. We need to do it. I hope the House acts, but having said that, we've got an immediate crisis that needs to be addressed, and we're not going to stem the tide of these unaccompanied minors coming until there are planeloads of children and their families being returned to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. That's the bottom line.

KEILAR: Yes. Very complicated situation. Complicated even more by politics in an election year.

Thanks for joining us, Senator Jeff Flake, appreciate it.

FLAKE: Thank you.

KEILAR: Now as 80,000 children could cross the border into the U.S. this year alone without their parents, the Obama administration is saying they are desperate to escape the poverty and the violence plaguing their home countries, specifically the Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

You just heard us talking about those nations.

CNN has gone directly to the region to show you exactly what this journey is like.

Alina Machado is along the U.S./Mexico border but we're going to begin with Gary Tuchman. He is on the border between Guatemala and Mexico where the trip begins for many of these children for just over $1.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the Suchiate River which separates Mexico from Guatemala. Right now we're in Guatemala, the western most part of the country, across the river, the southernmost part of Mexico and you could see throughout this river there are rafts of people who are trying to get across the border and they're doing it very easily. This is very unlike the border going to the United States where you have to be secretive about it. I want to give you a look here to give you an idea of how open this

is. There are police here. There are police all over here and no one minds that people are going across the river from here in Guatemala into Mexico.

You can see this family of three, a mother, a father, and their little boy. They told me a short time ago they're getting ready to go on this raft. The rafts are made with these huge inner tubes and they're getting ready to go across from here in Guatemala into Mexico. They are hoping also to get into the United States.

This river is active from sunrise to sunset and in addition to all the police being here not caring that people are crossing from here in Guatemala to Mexico, what's really amazing is about a mile in this direction is the official border station. The official border station is right down there. So even though the Border Patrol people from Guatemala and Mexico work over there, they don't seem to care either. This is a very active business. And the going rate right now for crossing is the equivalent of a $1.30.

And this is the family we just met, a little child and his parents, the man in the red shirt with the stick is the pilot of this raft. This guy that just got the $1.30. Typically what happens they will go to the other side, they will go into Mexico. There are taxis and vans and also bicycle taxis on those side which will take them in a lot of cases to a nearby city in Mexico called Tapachula. In Tapachula they'll stay in shelters and then try to figure out where to go from there. But it is a long way from Tapachula, Mexico, the southern part of Mexico right near here to the United States. It could take them weeks to get there, if they get there successfully, and that's an open question.

The police are not only friendly here, they're actually encouraging us to go for a ride on one of the rafts, they're saying, yes, go into Mexico, so we are. And this is our skipper.

Your name, sir?


TUCHMAN: This is Paluco. We paid him $1.30 already to go on the raft with him.

Paluco, is this a fun job?


TUCHMAN: Fun? Easy?


TUCHMAN: You like taking people into Mexico?


TUCHMAN: OK. People leave Guatemala, come with Paluco, he takes them to Mexico and then if they succeed, they end up in the United States but if you do this in the Rio Grande in Texas, you're going to be in a lot of trouble. You can't do it in front of cops. But here with Paluco, you can do it in front of everybody.

Paluco is now taking us into Mexico but unlike most of the people on this river, we're going to head back into Guatemala and spend the next couple of hours watching people continue to cross this river heading north.

Gary Tuchman, CNN.


KEILAR: That was Gary Tuchman reporting.

We're going to go now to the U.S./Mexico border where Alina Machado is standing by.

A very different situation. We saw a porous border there from Guatemala to Mexico but it's a very different situation where you are, Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, anywhere you pretty much go in this area, in the McAllen, Texas, area, you will see a very strong presence -- by the Border Patrol. Right here we found this surveillance stand we're told is manned 24/7. Right now there is a Border Patrol agent in there and he's going to be there for several hours keeping an eye on the border looking for people who may be crossing.

And just so you get a sense of where we are, you see that road right behind me, that road that goes down there, that goes to a dam, but if you walk over here with me, you see a river. That's the Rio Grande River, and on the other side of that river where you see what appears to be a park, that is Mexico.

Now, we know that thousands of undocumented, unaccompanied children are going to be coming to the U.S., are expected to be coming to the U.S. this year, and many of them are going to be coming through this area, and they end up at a shelter, a Catholic charity shelter for a very brief period of time, sometimes just to get a shower, a change of clothes.

And we stopped by that shelter yesterday, and we got a good sense of what's going on there. There's a lot of volunteers. There's also a mobile clinic that is providing some health care to these children and these adults who are crossing into the U.S. The most common complaint they say they are seeing are cold-like symptoms and also dehydration.

Take a listen to what the owner of that mobile clinic has to say.


RAYMOND SANCHEZ, OWNER OF MOBILE HEALTH CLINIC: We have no knowledge of where they're coming from, at the detention center area. But we've seen sometimes where let's say 30 come in a bus, which is a shuttle bus from the city, and we'll see let's say 80 percent. And then there's times where the same number come by and we'll see 25 percent.

MACHADO: Of people who are sick?

SANCHEZ: So, it just varies. It varies a lot.


MACHADO: We did ask the owner, how long does he think that is sustainable, the fact that he's providing these services for these immigrants. He says that they are prepared to provide these services as long as needed. He also says they're relying on volunteer doctors and nurses to help get these people the care they need.

And just to be clear, just so you have an idea of how often these border crossings are happening, we know they're happening but we have not seen anybody actually crossing the border in the time that we've been here in the McAllen, in the Mission, Texas, area.

But, Brianna, as you well know, this situation is still happening.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Alina Machado for us there on what's really the front line of this story. Thank you, Alina.

We'll dive deeper later this hour. The governor of Texas telling the president that he needs to, quote, "Go ahead and act on the growing border crisis," but President Obama is facing down angry Republicans for doing just that.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner apparently for going ahead and acting instead of going through Congress. Don't wait for me to take executive actions if -- when you have the capacity right now to go ahead and get something done.


KEILAR: And we'll be talking with our political panel about those mixed messages just ahead.

Well, still to come, 99 Emmy nominations for HBO, the announcement just minutes ago. "Game of Thrones" got a whole lot of nods.

Nischelle Turner following it all for us.

Hey, Nischelle.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna, indeed. The home box office is bringing them in, but, you know, broadband is making its mark as well. We'll tell you all the nominations, who got in, who was left out. We'll do it when we come back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's tempting to see your enemies as evil, but there's good and evil on both sides in every war ever fought.



KEILAR: Let's check our top stories now.

In Texas, a man is in custody this morning, accused of shooting and killing four children and two adults caring for them. Police say Ron Lee Haskell also shot and critically wounded his 15-year-old daughter. The girl managed to call 911 and told them her father was on his way to kill her grandparents. Haskell surrendered after a police chase and a three-hour standoff.

A terror group has posted a new photo purportedly showing Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl during his time in captivity. He's seen right here posing with a Taliban commander killed in a 2012 drone strike. The photos date and contest are unknown.

And CNN has learned that Bergdahl's reintegration process is nearly done. He should be assigned to a new army unit soon. Bergdahl ventured off his Texas base to adapt to everyday life. It's still not clear if he's spoke on it his family.

And in France, police say they foiled a terror plot aimed at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and a nuclear power plant. They uncovered this plot decoding messages between an Algerian man living in southern France and al Qaeda. The suspect was arrested last June, a month before heading back to Algeria for training on how to carry out attacks.

And they are in, the 2014 Emmy nominations, they were announced last hour. Proud to say CNN received nine, count 'em, nine. HBO, though, leading all of the nominees.

And here to break it down is our entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner.

This is a big morning, Nischelle. What was your takeaway here?

TURNER: Well, there's a lot of takeaways. You said a mouthful and I'm going to pick it up and go.

Number one, there were a couple big omissions and I hate to start with who didn't get in, but the fact that "Homeland" was not nominated for best series even though the last season was critically mixed, the reviews of it. The fact that it didn't get a nomination for best series is a big omission, and Damian Lewis being left off the list for best actor in a drama is also a big omission, because Claire Danes did get nominated for best actress in a drama for "Homeland", and also Mandy Patinkin nominated in supporting actor.

Couple things on the comedy side. I mean, "Modern Family" is one of those shows that always gets nominated, always gets a lot of nominations, always wins for best comedy series, but Sofia Vergara was left off of the list of nominations this year. Ed O'Neill and Eric Stonestreet also left off the list of nominations. The rest of the cast though was nominated for "Modern Family."

So, you know, a little bittersweet morning over there on the lot for them.

KEILAR: But sort of I would say that's bittersweet for them, but it's sort of a sweet, sweet morning for CNN, right? I mean, let's toot our own horns a little bit. Tell us about that.

TURNER: A sweet morning for Mr. Anthony Bourdain, yes, seven nominations for "PARTS UNKNOWN", including best informational series and best writing.

You know, and we are patting ourselves on the back a little bit, but deservedly so. This is such a great series, if you haven't seen it, you should be watching it. It's beautifully shot, so informative.

Anthony Bourdain is that character that you just can't help but watch and think -- I love his job. So, yes, this is a big pat on the back for CNN this morning, and well-deserved for Mr. Bourdain and his team.

KEILAR: It's great and even I was watching the Israel/Palestine episode this week one night and just as you watch what's going on in the news, it lends so much context, it really is educational as well as really enjoyable.

TURNER: Yes, definitely. Yes.

KEILAR: Nischelle, thank you so much.

TURNER: Absolutely.

KEILAR: All right. Have a good one.

Still to come, Uncle Sam -- well, he needs to get a new calculator. That's what we've learned. He's making billion with a "B" dollar mistakes with your money.

Our Christine Romans is tracking that story.

Good morning, Christine.


And this happens year after year, Brianna. I mean, how do you -- how do you misspend half a trillion dollars over five years? I'll tell you how, right after the break.


KEILAR: Chinese computer hackers are targeting American worker this is morning, this time according to "The New York Times", they're trying to dig up information about U.S. government employees, and their targets are the tens of thousands of government workers who have applied for top secret security clearances. The Department of Homeland Security says no critically important information was taken, though they are still investigating. If the U.S. government were a private company, you can bet that heads would roll. A new report says Uncle Sam mistakenly paid out, wait for it, $106 billion last year everything from tax refunds, unemployment, Social Security benefits.

And chief business correspondent Christine Romans joining us now to answer the question that everyone would want to know -- Christine, how the heck does something like this happen?

ROMANS: Heck isn't even the word I would use.

KEILAR: I know.

ROMANS: But yes. It happens, Brianna, over and over again. You can't even audit the entire government as a whole because in some quarters, there is so much money lost, missing or misspent that an accountant couldn't even -- couldn't even do a balance sheet on it, right?

So, let's take a look at here what this is. It's the Government Accountability Office looked at money missed -- wrongly sent out, wrongly paid in 2013, $106 billion given out in error.

Now, if you want to be an optimist, you look at my next chart and you say, well, at least it's not as bad as the year before, $106 billion at least isn't $107 billion.

If you want to be a realist, you take a look at that and say wow, over the last five years, they have mistakenly paid out half a trillion dollars. Do you know how many bridges, roads and tunnels you could build and fix with half a trillion dollars, but instead somehow paid out to the wrong people?

So, what are we talking about? We're talking about Medicare payments that were made in error. We're talking about Social Security payments made in error. Tax refunds made in error. Just about anyplace you got business with the government, you got insufficient paperwork or someone who wasn't -- who turns out wasn't eligible but was paid anyway.

When you look at the biggest error rates, the GAO zeros in on these three for the error rates. The school breakfast program, that's the Department of Ag. The earned income tax program, that's IRS, and disaster assistance loan program for the Small Business Administration.