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Undocumented Activist Freed after Detention; Time Warner Refuses $80 Billion Bid; Politician's Photo-op Gone Bad; Adam Kwasman Confuses Bus of YMCA Campers for Migrant Children; Sheriff Paul Babeu Concerned About Arrival of Migrant Children; Hamas May be Open to Cease Fire

Aired July 16, 2014 - 9:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. We'll have that story in a few minutes. Thanks so much. Have a great day.

NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: Happening now in the NEWSROOM --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're just lucky. You're not better.

COSTELLO: Boiling point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of you are better than them.

COSTELLO: Immigration lines drawn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not born here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not born here either.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have to go back to Mexico.

COSTELLO: As the face of the movement is detained then released.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, SITUATION ROOM: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Echelon, Israel, that's right near the Gaza border. We're going to have the latest on what's going on including my own personal experience.

COSTELLO: Cancelling on Comcast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can help me understand is disconnecting our viewers. That's how you can help me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But how is that helping you though?

COSTELLO: And unlocking the truth. An eighth grade heavy metal band, 12 years old, getting the chance of a lifetime at nearly $2 million record deal. Malcolm, Alec and Jared are here.

Let's talk live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello, thank you so much for joining me. We begin what Jose Antonio Vargas, perhaps the most famous illegal immigrant in America, he's a free man, at least for now.

The undocumented immigrant, journalist and activist has been released after briefly detained at a Texas airport by Border Control officials on Tuesday admitting to officials he did not have a visa to be in this country.

To dig deeper on the story I want to bring in Tania Chavez. She's an activist and toured parts of McAllen, Texas, with Jose. She herself is an undocumented immigrant in the United States.

Good morning.


COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm happy you're here.

In fairness, officials at the airport in McAllen were following the law, right? Jose claims ignorance but he must have known that.

CHAVEZ: No. When we invited Jose Antonio Vargas to come to south Texas he had never been here before. And it wasn't until I asked him how are you going to get out of the Rio Grande Valley that he realized he might had a little more difficulty getting out, and so this is very normal, yes, indeed. The agents at the airport were following the law. However, it is a reality that we have lived for many years in the Rio Grande Valley. We can't get out of this cage.

COSTELLO: And now he has a passport, a Filipino passport, right? But he's here in the United States illegally. He's been here since he was 12 years old.

Why can in McAllen, Texas, do you need -- well, our Border Patrol officials able to ask you if you're illegal immigrant or not?

CHAVEZ: Well, we are in a zone that's very militarized. We have over 3200 Border Patrol agents in the region. And we have -- to the north, we have differing checkpoints and we also have the international bridges. However in our community, in every corner, at the gas stations, we have different agents, different Border Patrol cars and so when he went to the airport this is something very normal, unlike any other part of the United States, when you go through airport security the only thing that they ask you is for an ID. If you have a state I.D. then you can go through.

However here in south Texas besides the TSA you have to go through Border Patrol and they are right next to each other. So when you have a foreign passport they just hand it over to Border Patrol. And so unfortunately this is a reality that we live that doesn't happen in the rest of the nation because we're separated. We are segregated from the rest of the state. And when we live in border communities it's very unique and something that is rarely highlighted.

COSTELLO: Right. But, you know, they have different problems with the states along the borders with Mexico, right? They are trying to control the influx of illegals coming in to the country. And that's why officials say it's like that in McAllen, Texas. Critics say and I want to ask you about this.

CHAVEZ: No. No, this is something that has already happened. This has always happened. This is nothing new.

COSTELLO: OK. I want to ask you this. Critics say that Jose and you yourself, you're the Dreamers, you want to become citizens, you're here since you were kids, but you're also fueling our current crisis by giving would-be immigrants false hope. Are those critics right?

CHAVEZ: I couldn't hear the last part of your question.

COSTELLO: I was just wondering if you think the critics were right when they say the Dreamers are responsible for the influx of immigrants pouring into the country right now.

CHAVEZ: No. This issue of kids coming in has been happening for many years because the United States has never paid attention to what is happening in Central American countries. This has nothing to do with the Dreamers. I think a lot of critics are saying that probably would have qualified for the action. This issue has happened and the president was notified way before.

However, what we need at this point in time is some relief. And what these kids need is a due process. And even these kids coming in to the country they wouldn't be able to qualify for relief if something similar happened with action program. And so we need to be careful to say that these are two completely separate issues. We're talking about the immigration system for 11 million undocumented individuals who are in the nation and then we're dealing with a humanitarian crisis.

And the reason they are fleeing is because they are fleeing for their life because they are being told either you join a gang or you will be killed. And those are two complete separate issues that have nothing to do with each other.

COSTELLO: All right. Tania Chavez, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I have to move on to a bit of breaking news now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

COSTELLO: That's right. It's breaking news and it has to do with Time Warner, our parent -- parent company, rather, saying thanks but no thanks to a multibillion dollar takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch owns media powerhouses like 21st Century FOX as well as networks like FOX News. Time Warner, as I said, is the parent company of CNN.

CNN Money's Christina Alesci is following this story.

Good morning, Christine. Tell us more.

CHRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, right now we're getting word from Time Warner, our parent company, that in fact Time Warner has rejected the bid that FOX made last month. We know now it's an $80 billion bid that they made, FOX that is, for Time Warner and this makes a lot of sense for FOX. I mean, there are a lot of reasons that FOX would want this.

Sure, they make a big deal about the synergies that would come into effect on the back end, taking out some of the overlap between the networks. Also you have to take into consideration that Time Warner has a premier channel like HBO which FOX would value very highly.

And as these discussions went on between the two companies, there was discussion of also divesting CNN to appease regulators that may see anti-trust problems with FOX owning CNN. So it's a developing story right now. All we have is Time Warner saying that they did approach FOX, and -- sorry, FOX did approach Time Warner and Time Warner saying they are rejecting the deal right now.

COSTELLO: OK. When you say right now, is there wiggle room in that right now?


ALESCI: That is the big question. Look, in deals like this one, oftentimes the first no doesn't mean a definitive no from the seller. So oftentimes what this boils down to is getting the right price. Obviously here there are a lot of shareholders that own both stock in FOX and Time Warner and there's going to be pressure on Time Warner to actually do something to generate the kind of value.

Of course Time Warner saying look, we don't think that the deal that FOX proposed at this moment is the right one. We want to move forward with our strategic plan. But that doesn't mean the door is completely closed. Discussions could restart again. And FOX could put more money on the table to sweeten the deal which is something, again, that you often see in a lot of these mergers and acquisitions.

COSTELLO: All right. Christina Alesci, thanks so much. We'll check back with you.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM Hamas continues launching rockets at Israel after a cease-fire that never got off the ground. A live report from Wolf Blitzer who is on a border city in Israel. That's coming your way next.


COSTELLO: The fight over illegal immigration is quickly turning into a spectacle. You need to look no farther than Oracle, Arizona, a small town just about 100 miles from the Mexican border.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're just lucky. You're not better. None of you are better than this.


COSTELLO: That's what it looked like yesterday. Protesters and counter protesters all lining the streets to yell at each other while waiting for a bus full of undocumented children to arrive except that bus did never show up. Not only that but the protest turned into a photo-op gone bad for a politician running for Congress.

Brahm Resnik from affiliate KPNX has more.


BRAHM RESNIK, REPORTER, KPNX: Republican Adam Kwasman was in Oracle this morning to protest the bussing of migrants to the shelter. He told me later in the day that he saw the buses and he saw the fear on faces of young migrants. I had to tell him there was no fear on any faces and there were no migrants. Those were YMCA campers he saw.

Adam Kwasman was making a speech.

ADAM KWASMAN (R), ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: The reason why Lady Justice was blind for --

RESNIK: But then the Republican congressional candidate suddenly stopped. He got word a bus was heading down the road and took off for it. It's what Kwasman and the Oracle protesters were waiting for, a confrontation with a bus full of migrant children. Kwasman tweeted from the scene. "Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law."

He included a photo of a yellow school bus.

KWASMAN: I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses, and the fear on their faces. This is not compassion.

RESNIK: That fear on faces of migrant children, Kwasman told me he saw in Oracle. There's just one problem. Those weren't migrant children on the yellow school bus. They were YMCA campers from the Marana school district.

Do you know that was a bus with YMCA kids?

KWASMAN: They were sad, too.

RESNIK: Reporters at the scene saw the children laughing and taking pictures on the their iPhones.

KWASMAN: I apologize, I didn't know. I was leaving the - I was leaving when I saw them.

RESNIK: Kwasman later deleted his original tweet. But we found it on "politwoops," a site that captures politicians deleted tweets. He did back flips, tried to take back the story.

KWASMAN: I said I saw children. I saw children. RESNIK: Those weren't migrant children.

KWASMAN: Those were not migrant children. That's fine.


COSTELLO: Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu joins me now. Good morning, sir.


COSTELLO: What do you make of that politician?

BABEU: Well, a lot of people on both sides of this issue are saying a lot of things. And clearly as he already said he was mistaken. So I think his words speak for themselves.

COSTELLO: You know, according to "The Arizona Republic," there was no notification any migrant children were due to arrive in Oracle yesterday. Yet you guys put out a press release warning the public that a bus was coming. Where did you get that information?

BABEU: Well, first, I wouldn't believe "The Arizona Republic." What I would believe is in fact this press release.

COSTELLO: The newspaper?

BABEU: Correct. This is where -- this is the director of the facility and he put out a press release almost 48 hours ago confirming that, in fact, 40 to 50 unaccompanied juveniles were coming to their facility. And he termed it as the office of Refugee Settlement will provide safe and temporary care to a small number and he listed that this is an urgent request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And the director is Carl Shipman, who is in fact the director. I talked to their attorney as well. Grant Woods, who is the former Attorney General of Arizona. And he said, "Sheriff, they don't have a dog in this fight. They don't have a position on immigration. They are just trying to take care of kids." I said, "Look, I get that. What I'm asking for is just information from Homeland Security." If you're going send unaccompanied juveniles from Texas into my county, just as secretary Jeh Johnson promised before the Senate, he would work with state and local authorities to give them this information. And quite frankly, that never happened. So I believe I have an obligation, not only to share the information that I have with the people that I serve, but I think I have legitimate questions about public safety and in public health as well.

COSTELLO: In your mind, what danger would these 40 kids on a bus going to this boy's ranch that actually is welcoming them, putting in extra security to take care of them, what danger do they present to your community?

BABEU: Well, that's the question that I raised. I've sent letters, faxes, emails. I called myself personally. Not one answer from anyone in Homeland Security in response to this when we know, in fact, they are coming. And if we have 60,000 unaccompanied juveniles just not going to be my county, it's going to be counties across the Southwest and I believe the local sheriff, the local police chief, you should communicate with them. This is a day and age where we expect our government to be transparent, to share this information. I held a town hall --

COSTELLO: And I can understand those concerns. but no one was breaking any laws and it's your job to enforce the law.

BABEU: And I do enforce the law. This is where, what I've said is look, I've got major issues already to deal with. Not only fighting drug cartels where we're the No. 1 passer county for drug smuggling in the nation, fighting the (inaudile) cartel. A year ago we had 123,000 illegals that were apprehended in my county. So what I'm saying is look, we already have enough issues and our job is let's put America first and put our country first instead of spending $3.7 billion for this one time expense.


COSTELLO: Here's the thing. There was no proof that any of those kids on that bus were gang bangers or drug dealers or anything because you know nothing about them and neither do the people on the streets, right? Advocacy groups within your town released their own press release after you released yours and it urged supporters to quote, "provide a peaceful alternative to the fear based panic which is being caused by the recklessness of Tea Party agitators." And you yourself, Sheriff, they named you in this press release. Why would this group accuse you of recklessness?

BABEU: Well, what's happening and what would be helpful here and I said to these individuals, I spoke to them myself and to de-escalate the whole situation is a little bit of information from the Federal government. To take away what would be the mother that lived right next door that was screaming at me saying, you know, what am I going to do with my two or three -- she has three kids and she's a single mom. What answers do I give her? And this is where a lot of this could have been avoided if the Federal government had did, in fact, what they promised and they failed to do that. This is the 60,000 today is --

COSTELLO: But again, no law was being broken. It's your job to enforce the law and ensure a peaceful way to do that, right?

BABEU: Well, if you want to talk about laws being broken, what about the laws enforced on you and on me and on every other citizen? But when it comes to immigration, there is no law. There is no consequences. When we welcome --

COSTELLO: There is a law -- but there is a law. I'm not arguing that the law should be tweaked or changed. But, there is a law and these kids, they have a right to a hearing. They are being stopped at the border. They are being detained. But they have a right to this hearing and right at the moment, because of this law, it takes a minute. It takes more than a minute. So you have to find somewhere to house these children. BABEU: They are predicting a year. These kids aren't going anywhere.

If you think they are going to be sent back -- all of these children, you have another thing coming in that. The message that was sent to Central America and to Mexico is if you make it to the border, you're home free. I have a problem with that and I think a lot of Americans say enough is enough. We have to secure this border and then we can deal with this issue of immigration reform, the 11 to 20 million who are here, to have a rational discussion about that. But not until this border is finally secure.

COSTELLO: I get that, but you're a law enforcement officer, so why don't you just enforce the law as it stands now as much as you like to see it.

BABEU: I am. Here's where my job as the county sheriff, I have 420,000 residents in my county. My job is to protect those citizens and not to take on new responsibilities for families and protection of families from Central America. Now I ensure that these roads were cleared. I issued verbal commands myself and everybody complied with those yesterday. This was a public relations disaster. Not by us, but by the Federal government. This is like the case study of what not to do when you're going to send 40 to 60 unaccompanied juveniles to Pinal County, Arizona and use this as the example. If you are going to send these kids to other counties, don't do it this way, please.

COSTELLO: All right. Sheriff Paul Babeu, thank you for talking with me this morning. I appreciate it.

BABEU: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Just 11 days until a month long summer break. Congress is racing the clock to make a deal on immigration. So, can they pull it off? I'll talk with a Texas Congressman about it. That's coming your way in about ten minutes.


COSTELLO: Israel sent 100,000 text messages and calls to people in Gaza overnight warning them to get out ahead of more targeted air strikes.


COSTELLO (voice-over): The death toll from those air strikes has reached 208 now. In the meantime, in Israel residents are taking cover, bracing for more rocket fire out of Gaza. Wolf Blitzer was right in the middle of it. Wolf is in Israel this morning in a city near the border. He joins me by phone. Wolf, what's the situation there now?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST OF THE SITUATION ROOM (by phone): It's still pretty tense, obviously. There seems to be no let up, Carol, in the Hamas rockets coming into Israel. Seen a couple of them myself just a few minutes ago. And obviously the Israeli air strikes continue to power the way, going after those Hamas targets, especially in Northern Gaza. There may be some behind-the-scenes diplomatic maneuvering going on to revive what was supposed to be that cease-fire that collapsed after six hours yesterday. But I don't see a whole lot of troop movement, at least not yet. I know there's people obviously here in Israel. As they hear those sirens go off they run to shelters. Clearly the situation in Gaza is awful at the same time. Maybe there's some progress behind-the-scenes, but I don't see it.

COSTELLO: I know you talked with a leader of the Hamas political wing. Did he give you any indication that Hamas was in any way opened to a cease-fire that would be more agreeable to both sides?

BLITZER: The connection is not that great. Can you just repeat the question?

COSTELLO: I know you talked to a leader of Hamas. I was wondering what he said to you. Wolf, can you hear me?

BLITZER: I think I lost you. I don't know if you can hear me, but I clearly can't hear you. Sometimes the telephone signals go dead. We'll continue this, obviously, at another time if you can hear me. Sorry.


COSTELLO (on camera): All right. We lost Wolf, but he did speak to a member of Hamas. A Hamas leader who said that he was open to negotiations. He was open to a cease-fire. Just not the one that was negotiated by the Egyptians. We'll have much more on Israel later on in the NEWSROOM. I'll be right back.