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Deportations Under Way as Some Movement on Capitol Hill on Immigration; Israel's Controversial Warnings of Air Strikes on Gaza; Israeli Opposition Leader Backs Netanyahu Actions; Armless Rwanda Boy to Get Prosthetics
Aired July 15, 2014 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Jerusalem. Once again, we want to welcome our viewers from the United States and around the world.
Much more coming up on the crisis here in the Middle East momentarily.
But there's been a new development in that immigration crisis along the U.S. border with Mexico. Deportations are now under way. Dozens of women and children, some just months old, are now back in Honduras after they were deported from New Mexico on a chartered flight. The plane arrived at a city with a reputation as one of the murder capitals of the world. And U.S. Homeland Security officials say more deportations are just ahead.
In a new "ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, 53 percent of respondents support Obama's nearly $4 billion emergency plan to try to end the crisis. Both the president and Republicans in Congress get low marks in the poll. About a third of the respondents approve of President Obama's handling of the crisis. 23 percent approve of the way the GOP is handling it.
Up on Capitol Hill, some movement today on the issue. A house Republican working group presents a report to the full house GOP. And a bipartisan bill to deal with the crisis is now being introduced.
Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; and our senior political analyst, David Gergen.
David, how much of a problem for both parties, who are struggling to deal with this crisis, is this, especially in terms of dealing in a humanitarian way, a compassionate way, with children?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, certainly the pressure mounting, Wolf, here in Washington. Not only does the Congress want to go home soon, in the next three weeks, they've only got 12 working days before they want to go on a month-long recess, but we've got all these children continuing to pile up on the border and now deportations are starting. There is movement here in Washington. But the parties are moving in opposite directions. What's the surprise about that? But I have to believe, Wolf, given the nature of this crisis, given the fact it is a humanitarian crisis, that they will not go home in Congress without coming to some sort of at least short-term resolution.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And I think, you know -- I think, Wolf --
BLITZER: You agree?
BORGER: Yes, I do. I think there's been some flexibility shown on both sides. I don't think the Republicans are going to give the president as much money as he wants. But they may say to him, look, you know, we're going to change the 2008 law a little bit to make it easier to send these children back. And the White House has said, look, we need a little bit of flexibility. I think the people who are kind of left out of this are the liberal Democrats who are saying, you know what, this is a humanitarian crisis, solely a humanitarian crisis, and we should find a way to keep all of these people here and what the administration is saying is maybe we keep some and maybe we deport some back. But you have to allow us to have some flexibility here. So I think both sides having punted on immigration reform now have an obligation, and they know it, to get something done on this crisis.
BLITZER: And the clock is clearly ticking, David. As you point out, they're going to go into recess very, very soon. So the fact that the White House is now stepping up its briefing, David, for members of Congress, what does that signal to you?
GERGEN: Well, I think that's a good sign. The White House is getting more deeply engaged. The president will need to spend more personal time on this. He is going to be meeting with Hispanic legislators, but he has to reach out beyond that caucus.
I must say, the strange thing about the deportation that you reported today this is not about Congress. This was the administration, the executive branch, sending these people home to Honduras, to the murder capital of the world, as you call it. And it's not clear what the future of these children will be once they get back in Honduras. I would think the Democratic Party would be much more -- much tougher about what kind of conditions are they going back to.
BORGER: They are. Yeah, I think they are. I think they are tougher. That's where the division -- there's sort of an irony here, which is of course the issue of immigration reform has always been an issue that has united the Democratic party, right? And it's been an easier issue for them to run on against the Republican Party. They can say the Republicans stonewalled immigration reform. You've heard it all. What's interesting about all of this right now is that the Democratic Party is at a juncture where it is divided over what to do in this particular instance. And the president has a problem here with border-state Democrats, with progressive Democrats, and he's got to figure out a way to thread this needle, as do Republicans, by the way, who are talking about securing the border and cannot walk away from this.
BLITZER: David, you advised four presidents, Democratic presidents, Republican presidents. If you were advising this one, would you tell him to go down there and see for himself what's going on?
GERGEN: I'd tell him to get up to Capitol Hill at this moment. He missed his opportunity to go to the border. That was a terribly unfortunate -- he should have gone, but it is what it is. Right now, he ought to be focusing like a laser on the question of getting some sort of legislation passed. He's got to corral not only the Republican, he's got to corral his own Democrats. Steny Hoyer just a short while ago said Democrats in the House didn't want to buy into a change in the law being put in the spending bill. They want to keep the two separate and have hearings on the change in the law and make it a much more extended process well into the fall. Republicans are not going to accept that. The president needs to bang some heads together and bring moral pressure to get a resolution to this so these kids, you know, are saved.
BORGIA: Yeah, and, you know, if you look at the polling here, you look at what the American public is thinking, I think they've had it. I think they've had it with both parties in this. So Congress better get something done pretty quickly here.
BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much. A lot to do within the next few days before Congress goes into recess.
Coming up, we're going to hear what the Israeli opposition leader says about the bloodshed here in the Middle East and his country's response.
But up next, Israel often actually warns Gaza residents of impending war strikes. We're going to tell you how they do it and why it's become so controversial.
BLITZER: With no cease-fire now in sight, Israel has resumed its attacks on Hamas inside Gaza. Israel has often been warning residents of impending air strikes. Israelis say it's for humanitarian reasons. But it's become controversial. Not everyone sees it that way.
Tom Foreman explains.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The firepower on both sides of this conflict has been pretty intense. Hamas has fired about 1,000 rockets into Israeli territory. The Israelis say they've hit about 1,500 of what they call terror targets in Gaza. They've killed more than 180 people, injured about 1,400. Those numbers might be higher if the Israelis were not in the business of warning people about the attacks. And this is controversial. Let me explain what we're talking about.
Sometimes they broadcast on the radio that they're going to hit certain neighborhood. Other times, they've called homes and said to the people inside, get out, we're about to hit your place. Other time they fly over and drop leaflets explaining where they're going to hit, which roads are clear for evacuation and when people need to move. Some of those leaflets say things like, "Israel is currently attacking and will continue to attack every area from which rockets are being launched at its territory."
And one other way they warn, the fourth way, is probably the most controversial. That's called roof knocking. They fire a low explosive charge or a missile with no charge to hit the roof of the building, to warn the people inside they're about to be hit, as they will be in moments, with a much more powerful missile that can level the whole structure.
The Israelis say they're saving lives by doing this. The Palestinians say this is psychological warfare, that it's about keeping people off base, keeping them afraid. But the Israelis are committed to it. They've been doing it since 2006. There's no sign they're going to stop.
BLITZER: Tom Foreman reporting for us.
Coming up, it was a moment that will forever change the life of a 23- year-old Rwandan man who lost his arms when he was only 6 years old. We'll show you what's going on.
And Israel's opposition leader getting ready to weigh in on the fighting in the Middle East and his country's response to the crisis.
BLITZER: Israeli opposition leader, the leader of the labor party here in Israel, Isaac Herzog, is weighing in on the current crisis in the Middle East. In the past, he's blasted the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for failing to come up with a viable plan that would bring peace to the region between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Herzog is the son, by the way, of the former Israeli president, Haim Herzog.
Earlier, we met to discuss the Israeli government's response to the crisis and the attacks coming into Israel from Hamas.
ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI OPPOSITION LEADER: They've have bombarded Israel, including now, in a major bombardment all over the country. And nobody would have accepted it, nobody. Therefore, I think the Israeli government showed restraint throughout. And accepted the Egyptian proposal. And waited for six hours. And Israel was fired at constantly. And people in the shelters don't give a damn. They just want this over. And I definitely there -- to support my people, absolutely.
BLITZER: But you would like Israel to go further in the peace process with the Palestinian Authority and make greater concessions.
HERZOG: Definitely. I said the following. Had I been prime minister, I would have blown Hamas very strongly, but I would have gone to Ramallah where Mahmoud Abbas is situated --
BLITZER: the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.
HERZOG: Right. Mahmoud Abbas. Knocked on his door, looked him in the eye, and start negotiating an agreement between us and the Palestinians. The exit strategy for this crisis should include the following: Very strong involvement of Egypt. And very strong involvement of Abbas.
Now, as we speak, Abbas and al Sisi are due to meet. And they are --
BLITZER: The president of Egypt.
HERZOG: And they are the axis of the moderate forces in the region, together with the Jordanian king, who can be partners in configurating a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians. It's a must. The only exit for fostering security in the region is to deal with the Palestinians in peace. However, when it comes to terrorists, there is no compromise at all.
BLITZER: Is this fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza going to continue?
HERZOG: It looks a very unfortunate development. It looks as if the Israelis have gained restraint and have not gone into Gaza and have not gone terrestrial or boots on the ground. It may develop into that. It may escalate. Nobody wants it. But --
BLITZER: A lot more people are going to be killed, including the Israeli soldiers.
HERZOG: Nobody wants it. And we definitely -- I personally see it as a last option. However, look, if hundreds of missiles were launched at Israel. Millions of people are in shelters. This is impossible. And at the end, after having shown resilience without defense equipment, without shelters, without emergency configurations on the ground, at the end, we have to defend our people. If we are attacking and attacking, if it doesn't work, we have to attack further.
I do hope that there will be a cease fire worked out that will enable an exit strategy that will change the situation in Gaza as well as in our relationship with the Palestinians.
BLITZER: Isaac Herzog, the opposition leader here in Israel, thank you so much for joining us.
HERZOG: Thank you very much, indeed.
BLITZER: 17 years ago, a CNN producer met a Rwandan boy who lost both of his arms because of punishment by his father. She has since been a significant part of his life. Their story when we come back.
BLITZER: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. And even after that horrific event, the country was wracked with violence and unrest. During that time, a CNN producer, who was in Rwanda, met a young boy who had suffered a shocking act of cruelty.
Our Michael Holmes has the story of what happened next.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 17 years ago, while on assignment in Rwanda, CNN producer, Ingrid Formanek, met a 6-year- old boy who broke her heart.
INGRID FORMANEK, CNN PRODUCER: He's a good boy. He'll be taken care of.
HOLMES: Patrick Mbarushimana lost both of his arms as a punishment by his own father. He became an orphan and lived in a local hospital in the northwest part of the country.
FORMANEK: Winter of 1997, '98, there was an insurgency raging in Rwanda. There had been a massacre by the rebels, insurgents, so we went to do a story about a hospital. There was this little kid that started following us around and he didn't have any arms.
HOLMES: Exactly what happened to Patrick is unclear. In the memory of a 6-year-old, his father burned his arms. Other villagers remember Patrick being tied up and left in the forest until gangrene set in.
FORMANEK: So some of the story is fuzzy but for a father to do this to his own child is the ultimate cruelty, and he's able to have the spirit that he's got, you know, with how this happened to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Patrick, we're going to pop this off. Can you get out of it? There we go.
HOLMES: Patrick is now 23 years old. Ingrid and Tharcisse Karugarama have been Patrick's guardian since 1997. Ingrid giving him financial support while, Tharicisse, a lawyer and former justice minister in Rwanda, adopted Patrick.
They have come to Boston, Massachusetts, where United Prosthetics is making and helping offset the cost of prosthetic arms for Patrick.
FORMANEK: This is going to make further adjustments?
PATRICK MBARUSHIMANA, ARMLESS RWANDAN ORPHAN: This is going to become my parents since then up until now. I am who I am because of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slip this off. HOLMES: His adopted brother, Morris, is also here in Boston. He's
been Patrick hands, and now he learns how to put on the new prosthetics so he can help. But Patrick has been able to do most things without arms. He's even a self-taught artist.
FORMANEK: What's his name?
FORMANEK: Neil? I don't know Neil. Is he a famous rapper?
MBARUSHIMANA: He is.
FORMANEK: From the beginning, he'd draw pictures. His teacher would say, he's very good at this.
HOLMES: And he also writes and raps music.
MBARUSHIMANA: Music is my name that I use when they look at who I am today. I don't see a puzzle. When I see the miracles that have happened to me, I see who I am. So today I know who I am.
This is perfect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Good.
HOLMES: With his prosthetics, Patrick will have to relearn everything. He wants to be able to do basic functions like drink water from a bottle, take a shower, and put on clothes.
MBARUSHIMANA: It will come.
I will keep practicing.
HOLMES: After some coaching in Boston, Patrick will go back to Rwanda.
HOLMES: It's a long road ahead but he's already come so far.
BLITZER: What an amazing, amazing story. I have known Ingrid for many years. We've worked together. She is one wonderful woman.
Thanks very much to Michael Holmes for sharing that important story for all of our viewers here in the United States and, indeed, around the world.
I'll be back later today. A special "Situation Room," a special report on the crisis going on between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Right now, among my guests, the special Middle East envoy, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He'll join us in "The Situation Room" as we continue our special coverage.
For now, thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Jerusalem.
For our viewers in the United States, Don Lemon starts right now.
For our international viewers, "AMANPOUR."