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Middle East on the Brink; Ball Is in Congress's Court; Dozens Killed in Gaza; Politics & Immigration; Israeli Airstrikes Target Hamas; Interview with Rep. Bob Goodlatte

Aired July 10, 2014 - 13:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: America in crisis. There are flash points here and abroad. On the border between Texas and Mexico, undocumented children are being detained. We'll take you there live.

And the Middle East is on the brink. Sirens going off in Israel. While airstrikes hit buildings in Gaza. What does this mean for U.S. foreign policy? We'll ask Congressman Adam Schiff.

And the president is coming under fire for his handling of all of it. We'll go live to the White House to see how the administration is dealing with the issues.

Hello, I'm Dana Bash in for Wolf Blitzer who's on his way to the Middle East where he'll be reporting live on "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 5:00 Eastern.

Now, here in the U.S., the political battle heats up and the children just keep coming. Here's the latest on the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the U.S. President Obama's request for $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee in the next hour.

Also, two members of Congress say they'll introduce a new bill as soon as today. It would make it easier to send the children back to Central American countries. Those that don't directly border the U.S. Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar and Republican Senator John Cornyn are behind the legislation.

And President Obama and Texas Governor Rick Perry met to discuss the crisis, but they emerged with very different views. Perry says border security should be the number one priority.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: We need to secure the border. You need to put these National Guard troops on there. We need to change these policies that are enticing people to come to the United States and these policies that I'm talking about are where that if you're from one of the Central American countries rather than from Mexico, you're treated differently. These incentives, if you will, that if you come into the United States, you can say, stop those policies and secure the border. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: As for the president, he says he's open to deploying National Guard troops but that's only a temporary fix. He says members of Congress should focus on a long-term solution.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, in the long run, the best way to truly address this problem is for the House of Representatives to pass legislation fixing our broken immigration system which, by the way, would include funding for additional thousands of border patrol agents. Something that everybody down here that I've talked to indicates is a priority.

Now, the Senate passed a common-sense bipartisan bill more than a year ago. It would have strengthened the border, added an additional 20,000 border patrol agents. It would have strengthened our backlogged immigration courts. It would have put us in a stronger position to deal with this surge and, in fact, prevent it.


BASH: Now, the 10s of thousands of children at the center of the immigration crisis have one goal, to make it across the border, excuse me, to the U.S.

Let's take a closer look at the situation along the border and what really happens once they make it across. CNN Correspondent Alina Machado is in Mission, Texas, just across the river from Mexico. Alina, give us a sense of what you're seeing there.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, there is a very strong law enforcement presence in this area, especially the closer you get to the Rio Grande. We are on the river right now. And the reason why there's such a strong law enforcement presence in this area is because just on the other side of the river is Mexico. On the side that we are is the U.S.

Now, a little while ago, I want to show you some video that we shot, it shows several boats going through the river. And we believe that on one of those boats was governor -- Texas Governor Rick Perry getting a firsthand look of the border situation here. We understand that he is in the area today.

Now, we've been checking out the area. We went into town into McAllen, Texas which is just about 15-20 minutes from the river here. And we know that many of the undocumented immigrants are going through a catholic charities shelter in town, getting some food, getting a fresh change of clothes, maybe taking a shower before they're able to board a bus and continue on to their next destination -- Dana.

BASH: Well, you mentioned that when they reach those areas, they're able to at least take a shower. But do you know what happens next? I mean, once they get through there, once they get to that place, where do they go from there or does every story have a different answer? MACHADO: It all depends. I know that, for example, for the children,

the unaccompanied children, many times those children, as far as we've known just from talking to some of these children, they are kept at these federal detention facilities. And then, once they make contact with a relative in the U.S., they are then transferred to wherever that person may be, whether it's in Miami, Houston, D.C., New York. These people are all over the country.

And the understanding is that once they get reunited with their family members that they're going to go before an immigration judge who will then determine their future.

BASH: And that's exactly the backlog that they're debating in Congress, whether or not there's a way to fix that. Alina, thank you very much for that report.

And the reception that the undocumented women and children get once they're in the U.S. depends on where they go. Two southern California towns have very different reactions to the immigrants' arrival, and children are left in heart-wrenching limbo as the crisis rages.

National Correspondent Kyung Lah has the tale of two cities.



KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The indelible image of the immigration battle in Murrieta, California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back to Mexico.

LAH: Locking the front of the border patrol station from three buses of Central American undocumented immigrants. The buses forced to turn around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not in Murrieta. Not in Murrieta.

LAH: Almost 200 miles away, planes from Texas land. Varying mostly undocumented women and children. They move to buses which arrived to an open and quiet border patrol station in El Centro. In this town, they're moved to local charities, temporarily sheltering the women and children.


LAH: And even help toddlers like Rudy and his mother board buses to family waiting in Washington State. Two cities in the same state, same issue, two completely different reactions. Demographics may help explain why. Murrieta sits more than 85 miles from the international border. 70 percent of the city is white. The bedroom community of San Diego is relatively affluent with only seven percent of households below the poverty line. El Centro sits a stone's throw from the border, only several miles away. Over 80 percent of the city is Latino. Its economy relies on Mexican tourists and immigrants and struggles with 25 percent below the poverty line. (on camera): When you watch television and you see what's happening

in Murrieta, what is your impression of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's pretty -- it's pretty sad.

LAH (voice-over): El Centro's mayor pro tem is himself a Mexican immigrant. His city, he says, is on the front line of the border crisis and sees the desperation up close.

(on camera): Are they thinking about the people on the bus, in your opinion?

FRANK SILVA, MAYOR PRO TEM, EL CENTRO, CALIFORNIA: They're thinking about them but in the wrong way, from my perspective. I don't necessarily condone the activities but, again, it's not up to us to decide what happens to them. It's up to us to provide them with an environment that's safety and healthy.

LAH (on camera): Why is it in towns like El Centro that they're not having the same sort of reaction as Murrieta is?

SILVA: Apples and oranges.

LAH (voice-over): Murrieta's mayor says you can't compare the two cities. They're too different. He also believes the ugliest elements of the protests are not from his residents but outsiders coming in.

ALAN LONG, MAYOR, MARIETTA, CALIFORNIA: The world never got to see the compassion that Murrieta has and what we're known for.

LAH (on camera): Is it possible that the buses will come and that we will see compassion here?

LONG: Right -- well, you know, right now, we're still a destination point. Border patrol is still not talking to us much.

LAH (voice-over): A tale of two cities, two reactions to a border crisis that's not going away.


LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Murrieta, California.


BASH: Now, let's turn to the politics surrounding the border crisis. President Obama describes his meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry as constructive, but Perry and others continue to slam the president for not visiting the border to see the crisis firsthand.

Let's get straight what's really going on with our White House Correspondent Michelle Kosinski. And, Michelle, you heard the bluster from both of these leaders.


BASH: What are you hearing about what really happened behind the scenes?

KOSINSKI: Yes, I mean, it continues today. The real problem is that the president is in Texas, and it's for fund-raisers. I mean, if he didn't originally have plans to go down there, I don't think that this would have been as vocal as it's been day after day after day. But, you know, it gets to the point where, now, wouldn't it look strange if the president sort of gave into the political pressure and then decided, OK, now we are going to go down to the border?

So, what it seems like, and we talked to strategists as well, they want to try to find it on their own terms, a way to address the problem maybe more visually along those lines but on their own terms, again, and not seeming to give in to this very harsh now pressure coming, to some extent, from both sides -- Dana.

BASH: And, Michelle, you pointed out last night, after the president spoke, that, you know, if he calls that kind of visit theater in a photo op, then what about all the photo ops that he has done umpteen times over his presidency.

But let's talk about the substance. A lot of -- a lot of discussion from the president about the fact that Rick Perry, the Texas governor, was urging him to do things. And he said, why don't you tell your fellow Republicans in Texas to help me in Congress? You know, again, a lot of bluster but did you get the sense that there was actually a meeting of the minds substantively on how to fix this, behind the scenes?

KOSINSKI: Right, Dana. I mean, it seemed congenial. It seemed like both sides there in that meeting wanted to get down to the business of this. I thought it was interesting that there was a little bit of give and take. I mean, the president saying that the governor of Texas told him, well, why don't you just act? You need to just act right now. And the president shooting back, well, you know what? Taking executive action is what has riled up so many Republicans and caused the speaker of the House to threaten to sue me.

So, it is one of those situations, at least from the White House perspective, that damned if you do, damned if you don't. And the president laid out each of Rick Perry's requests or points of concern. And the president said, hey, I agree with every single one of those. He laid out how each of those concerns is addressed in his request to Congress, and then took it a step further and said Congress needs to act on this. Rick Perry is influential. Why doesn't he urge House Republicans to take this up and act on it quickly? And that's something that the White House has been urging for about a week and a half now -- Dana.

BASH: They have. And, you know, let's talk about that money, Michelle. Maybe they got a sign of hope from the House speaker who this morning said but he does want Congress to pass something to deal with this before they leave for August recess. Do you think that they -- I mean, it seems to me that the bottom line is whether or not the White House is going to convince enough members in Congress to change the policy in order to get members to agree to the money. Do you think -- how was -- KOSINSKI: Yes, it's really --

BASH: Go ahead.

KOSINKSI: Oh, that's OK. No, it's just -- it's really difficult. I mean, there are philosophical differences behind there somewhat similar to the issue of immigration reform itself, and there are differences of opinion on what are the causal factors there? I mean, some who are opposed to this request say, hey, not only is it a lot of money, but it's a big band-aid. And the White House says, well, it is a band-aid, to some extent, although there is a border security component. But the reason we need to do this is because there was no comprehensive immigration reform passed. So, it's just the back and forth continues, remains to be seen what comes out of this -- Dana.

BASH: Absolutely. Michelle, thanks for that report.

And when it comes to the money, the ball is absolutely, right now, in Congress's court as the crisis grows at the border. Partisan lines, if you can even imagine, are getting even deeper. What are lawmakers going to do? I'm going to talk to a key House Republican next.

And Israeli airstrikes exact a heavy price from Palestinians in Gaza. Will it be enough to stop Hamas militants from firing rockets into Israeli cities? A live report just ahead.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I emphasized to the governor was, 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?


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: That was President Obama in Texas, where he met with Governor Rick Perry. He gave lawmakers here in Washington a really clear message, give the administration the $3.7 billion it's asking for to deal with immigration. But the mantra 'ask and you shall receive' isn't working very well on Capitol Hill.

Joining me now is Virginia Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House.

Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for joining me.

I want to first play for you what the president said yesterday, last night, one of the many things he said last night, talking about one of the big problems he has with getting anything done on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's fair to say that these days in Washington, everybody's always concerned about everything falling victim to partisan politics. You know, if I sponsored a bill declaring apple pie American, it might -- 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 and we need to fix it. And if that's the case then let's go ahead and fix it.


BASH: Mr. Chairman, doesn't he have a point? I mean I walk those halls. Usually I watch what goes on or maybe doesn't go on. It's pretty hard to get anything done up there.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), VIRGINIA: Well, first of all, his apple pie analogy doesn't apply to this situation. He knows that the House Judiciary Committee has worked with him on patent litigation reform, on NSA reform. He endorsed both the bills that we passed out of the committee to address those issues. And we are --

BASH: Yes, but on immigration, you well know, that you - I know you've passed some bills out of your committee, four of them, but on -

GOODLATTE: We have. We have.

BASH: But on the main issues that divide everybody, really, when it comes to immigration, you haven't moved and you're not going to move this year.

GOODLATTE: Well, the issue here is stopping a surge at the border that is brought on by the president acting administratively with his pen and his cell phone to give administrative legalization to people, to not enforce the laws and not investigate asylum fraud. We have a long list of things the president could do right now.

And let's look at what the governor said to him yesterday. He said, why not call up the National Guard? Well, the president had two answers. He said, first of all, the National Guard is only a temporary solution. But this problem of the surge of the children coming to the border and, by the way, it's more than children, lots of parents and families coming could be addressed. The personnel shortage could be addressed with the National Guard.

And then the second thing he said I think was most insulting. He said was, why don't you talk to the Texas delegation and maybe we could do the National Guard if the Congress would pass the bills I want. He doesn't need the Congress to do anything to take the actions that the law already affords him, including sending a very strong message that I didn't hear during his press conference yesterday, that if you come from Central America to our border, you are going to be sent home. He needs to keep reiterating that point.

BASH: Mr. Chairman, you know, it does sound like you're sending the White House a mixed message. On the one hand, you're saying the actions that you, Mr. President, took has created, on your own, has created this crisis. On the other hand you're saying, please take actions on your own to mitigate this crisis. And on that point I want to play another clip from the president last night talking about the conundrum that he thinks he is in with regard to executive action.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I indicated to Governor Perry, you know, he suggested, well, maybe you just need to go ahead and act and that might convince Republicans that they should go ahead and pass the supplemental. And I had to remind him, I'm getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner apparently for going ahead and acting instead of going through Congress. Well, here's a good test case.


BASH: Mr. Chairman, I know you've been working with the speaker since January on a lawsuit. I'm not exactly sure what you're going to see him on. But how do you respond to that?

GOODLATTE: Well, first of all, Article 2 of the Constitution that gives the president his power is very clear. The presidential shall faithfully execute the laws. And that means enforcing the laws that have been passed and signed into law and not creating new laws or changing laws that already exist. There are laws on the books today that the president is not enforcing that would solve this problem. So he's being very clever to try to mix these two issues. But the fact of the matter is that when it comes to calling up the National Guard, when it comes to investigating asylum fraud, when it comes to not giving administrative legalization, when it comes to messaging, that this is something that's not going to be rewarded by admission to the U.S., that people are going to be turned around. All of those things can be done by the president within the law right now, and they would stop this problem.

Now, if there is targeted funding that's necessary, the governor is correct, the Congress will find the appropriations to do the things that are necessary. But not $3.7 billion. Not pass the entire Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill, which actually is a part of the cause of this problem, that people believe that they're going to be admitted to the country because other people are being given legal status without enforcement, that's a huge problem.

BASH: Mr. Chairman, real quick, yes or no answer. Given - I understand what you said about the White House and the president doing what he's doing. Will Congress act on anything the president wants in the next month, particularly with regard to the crisis and the money he wants?

GOODLATTE: I think that we will do targeted appropriations, and we are willing to sit down and work out targeted tweaks. But now the speaker -- the former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the leader in the Senate, Mr. Reid, and others have said that they don't support changing the 2008 law. So we're willing to work with him to do those targeted changes that may be necessary to help what he has to do to carry out the law, and we are willing to do targeted appropriations. But we have a list of practically 10 things that he can do right now before anything else happens, and they would be the number one thing to do to solve this problem.

BASH: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

And we've been talking about immigration. It's just one of many issues Republicans accuse the president of bungling. And many of their complaints could be detailed in an upcoming lawsuit, as we were just talking about. Just ahead, House Speaker John Boehner speaks out about his plans to sue the president.

And again in the Middle East, Hamas rockets fired into Israel provoke ferocious and deadly airstrikes by the Israeli military. CNN correspondents are live from Jerusalem and on the border between Israel and Gaza.


BASH: Palestinian officials say Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have killed at least 80 people and wounded more than 500 others over the past three days. The offensive is aimed at stopping Hamas militants from firing rockets into Israel. Those attacks have made wailing sirens and dashing for shelter a daily occurrence in Israel. No Israelis have been killed in part because of Israel's unique iron dome defensive network, which has successfully blasted many of Hamas rockets out of the sky. As for Palestinians in Gaza, they're burying their dead, including women and children, killed in the Israeli airstrikes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said civilian casualties are unavoidable because of Hamas's tactics.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: We'll continue to protect our civilians against Hamas attacks on them. Now, Hamas, by contrast, is deliberately putting Palestinian civilians into harm's way. It embeds its terrorists in hospitals and schools and mosques, apartment buildings throughout the Gaza Strip. Hamas is thus committing a double war crime. It targets Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. This operation could take time. We're resolved to defend our families and our homes.


BASH: The prime minister's words seemed to suggest military action could grow beyond airstrikes. Let's bring in senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman, who is in Gaza City, and our Becky Anderson, who is in Jerusalem.

Ben, let's start with you. What's the latest there?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does look at this point, Dana, that perhaps a ground incursion is on the way. We were in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, in a town called Bade Hanun (ph), where apparently the Israelis have informed local inhabitants that if they want to leave, they have to leave on a specific road out of the town and that it's probably better if they leave all together. But what we saw was that some people had indeed left. They had locked

their homes up. But others I spoke to said not only do we refuse to go, we have nowhere to go, which is really the problem. So they are just staying put, keeping close to their houses. There isn't a lot of people traveling between one town or another. But there is the feeling that trouble is to come.

Now, while we were in Bade Hanun, we were in this street and we saw four rockets streak over our heads. I do believe those were rockets that were aimed at Jerusalem. Two of them were intercepted by the iron dome. Two just hit empty ground. But certainly it doesn't look like there's a de-escalation on the cards at this point. Everybody here in Gaza is bracing for the worst.


BASH: Ben, thank you.

Now let's go to Jerusalem to Becky Anderson.

And, Becky, we talked about the iron dome, which has been enormously effective in blunting Hamas attacks. How confident are Israelis that they're going to -- that those - that the defense system is going to keep them safe?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think things are very, very tense here. Just about two and a half hours ago, as I started my show on CNN International, the sirens went off and we could hear them behind me here in Jerusalem. People started running for shelter. And those sirens indicating incoming fire.

Now, Ben absolutely correct to point out that the rockets that he clearly saw over his head where he was were those fired from Gaza. Two of them were intercepted by that iron dome military defense system. Clearly one of those, and these are movable feats, of course, and nobody never knows quite where they are, but clearly one of those set up outside the city of Jerusalem to rock out - to knock out of the sky any incoming fire towards this city. And we saw the plumes of smoke just behind me out of the window as those sirens went off. And people clearly here in Jerusalem running for what are shelters. In most big buildings here, they will have shelters. If they don't have shelters, they will have stairwells.

But it has to be said, I mean I don't want to be disingenuous here, but to be clearly transparent, it's now 8:30 in the evening and the city is on the move again. It's just after rush hour here. And things are happening again. So, you know, clearly, in this sort of region, things just sort of -- people get on with things. People are out and about. But certainly a tense situation and people very much concerned.