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Report: First Lady Visits Child Detention Center; Alarming Amount of Times Trump Administration Changed Its Story; GOP Delays Vote on Compromise Bill for Immigration; Trumps Order Does Not Address Reuniting Families Split Up; Black Teen Shot by Cop Who Was Just Sworn In. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 21, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right, Wolf, thank you so much. Hi, everyone, I'm Brooke Baldwin, one day after they reversed the policy of separating families at the border even though it's still not clear how or when or even if these children will be reunited with their parents, his wife, the first lady, Melania Trump, just made this surprise visit to the border. She was there for a little while and didn't stay too terribly long. Touring this Texas housing center housing 58 children between the ages of 12 and 17.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Thank you so much for having me here today. I'm glad I'm here and first of all let me begin to recognize each of you and thanking you for all that you do. For your heroic work that you do every day and what you do for those children. We all know they're having, they're here without their families and I want to thank you for your hard work, your compassion and your kindness you're giving them in these difficult times. I'm here to learn about your facility which I know you house children on a long-term basis. And I also like to ask you how I can help these children. So, thank you, again, for all that you do. And thank you, as well, thank you, all, for what you do. Thank you very much.


BALDWIN: So, let's talk about this visit with our White House reporter Sarah Westwood who is there. I have a couple questions for you. First, do we know how this whole idea came together? This visit to the border. Was it Melania's idea?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Kate Bennett is reporting that this is not an ask for permission type of situation. Melania Trump informed that she was going to the border and see the facility where these migrant children were being held and the president was supportive of her decision. She visited three different classrooms and spoke with the children who are being held there. Asked a lot of questions of the workers who are staffing the facility, including how she could help the reunification process, children and their families. This coming as the White House is still not being clear on how exactly they plan to reunite the roughly 2,300 children who have already been separated from their families at the border. BALDWIN: In listening to what we heard, she was talking to the people

at this facility. Obviously, this is a carefully choreographed visit, everything is fine. The children are smiling, nothing to see here. But the perspective as we watch her walk through this facility, this is a crisis of the administration's own making.

WESTWOOD: That's absolutely correct. President Trump continuing to deflect blame for this crisis today as he pointed fingers at Democrats, once again, for refusing to back his immigration priorities. We should note the glimpse inside this facility is quite rare as the administration has been very strongly restricting journalists' access to these facilities. So, the glimpse inside. It was highly choreographed and very tightly controlled. It was unlikely that we were going to get candid shots but Melania Trump going inside this facility afforded us a rare glimpse inside one of these facilities where these children are being held without their families.

BALDWIN: Just a small percentage of the 58 children who had actually been separated from their parents, which is what so much of this week and this coverage and this outrage has been about. Do you know, Sarah, why didn't she, in addition to this facility, why didn't she go to one of those centers, one of those detention centers, as well?

WESTWOOD: Well, we're told that Melania Trump did have an additional stop on her schedule. But because of the weather conditions in McAllen, Texas, there is a flash flooding happening there right now. They had to cut the trip short. As you mentioned, only a handful of the children at this facility were separated from their families.

[14:05:00] The rest crossed the border as unaccompanied minors and how they arrived at the border is being mixed. So, she did visit the facility, but not necessarily touching on what is at the heart of this crisis, which is the families being separated and, more importantly, the likelihood that some of them may never see their parents, again, Brooke.

BALDWIN: On that final note, Sarah Westwood, thanks so much. After repeated claims that an executive order could not end family and end family separations. In just this past week, the White House made so many U-turns on key parts of this policy, we have to call him out. When the heartbreaking images of children first began to emerge the president and the Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen started out by denying a policy existed in the first place.


KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, Homeland Security Secretary: This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That's their law.


BALDWIN: Now, hang on, that very same week Steven Miller, the chief immigration strategist told "The New York Times" and I'm quoting him, " It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero- tolerance policy for illegal entry. Period. And when asked if enforcing the zero-tolerance policy was meant to deter migrants from crossing the border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said this.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hopefully people will get the message and come to the border at the port of entry and not break across the border unlawfully.


BALDWIN: Get the message. OK, got it. Back in May, White House chief of staff told NPR, quote, a big name of the game is deterrence.


BALDWIN: But Secretary Nielson, she didn't like that word.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you intending for this to play out as it is playing out? Are you intending for parents to be separated from their children? Are you intending to send a message?

NIELSEN: I find that offensive. No. Why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps as a deterrence.



BALDWIN: No. And if you are keeping score, flip-flop number three. Many in the administration have blamed the overcrowding at these detention centers on a shortage of judges for immigration hearings. Here is Trump's adviser Marc Short.


MARC SHORT, TRUMP ADVISER: Congress has not given additional resources to adjudicate these cases more rapidly.


BALDWIN: But, the very next day, the president rejected the call for more judges.


TRUMP: Ultimately, we have to have a real border, not judges. Thousands and thousands of judges they want to hire. Who are these people? BALDWIN: As for what the president wants from congress, he ignited a

flurry of confusion when he said this about two immigration bills that are up for a vote today.


TRUMP: Looking at both of them I certainly wouldn't sign a more moderate one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the bill have?

TRUMP: I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security.


BALDWIN: The White House then said the president misspoke and stated that the president does fully support the moderate bill. And finally, here this ultimate reversal which brings us where we are today. I'll let the president speak for himself.


TRUMP: That's the Democrats' law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now. I will leave here -- no, no. You need their votes. You need their votes.

Can't do it through an executive order.

We are signing an executive order in a little while. We'll keep families together.

By the way, today I signed an executive order. We're going to keep families together.


BALDWIN: Mr. President, listen to those reporters' questions. Just because you say the same thing over and over, it doesn't make it true. You signed this order ending your own policy. I mention those two immigration bills as the vote is under way on one of them. Moments ago, the president solely blamed Democrats.


TRUMP: The Democrats are causing tremendous damage and destruction and lives by not doing something about this. They know that. They know that better than anybody up there with a pen.


BALDWIN: The first of the two bills up for a vote today is the more conservative Goodlatte bill which offers no citizenship to Dreamers. The other bill is the compromise proposal and considered one of the most robust pieces of legislation immigration to come to the House floor in more than a decade. It would give $25 billion towards a border wall and would grant a path to citizenship to Dreamers. Those undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children.

[14:10:00] So let's go straight to where the action is here in Washington, Capitol Hill and CNN congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly. Phil, what's happening right now?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, that lead in and all the sound you played in the week that was a really good primer that explains what's happening right now with House Republicans. You know House Republicans have been willing to take up for almost a decade or more. The reason why, this is such a divisive and confusing issue inside the party, in terms of where the elements break down. You mix that with where the president has been or not been on various positions throughout the week. You get to where you are throughout the moment.

The conservative bill is being voted on as we speak. That will fail. It does not have the votes to move forward. What leadership has been working with House Republicans to try to pass is that second proposal. Here's what's going on with that. That vote has now been delayed, sources tell me. There was just a meeting inside Paul Ryan's office between leadership and key members. They have come to the conclusion that members don't know enough about the bill. An all-member briefing about that bill later tonight. The vote will be moved to tomorrow.

Here's the interesting element of all of this. They are very short on the votes for that bill, too. And aides that I have been talking to said there are no expectations that moving the vote to tomorrow will change that vote count dynamic. What this has become is Republicans taking on an issue that they haven't found the majority of votes for to this point and recognizing they still can't find the majority of votes and then, apparently, pushing it out for another 24 hours.

The end game is going to remain the same. I think why that all matters here, Brooke, you note, the president wants a broader proposal. Wants something that funds the border wall and wants something that doesn't make a targeted fix to the family separation issue that we have been talking about for the last couple days. The House will not be able to deliver that. The Senate is not able to consider that. When it comes to legislation, all this week has proven is no matter what the president does, Congress hasn't been able to find any way out either.

BALDWIN: Phil, thank you. Phil Mattingly up on the hill.

Next, the most important question is this, what happens to all these thousands of children. We'll speak with a former ICE director who says it is possible they will never be reunited with their parents.

Protests erupt after police shot and kill a black teenager running from a traffic stop. The officer had been sworn in hours earlier that same day. You're watching CNN and I am Brooke Baldwin.


[14:15:00] BALDWIN: Welcome back, I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN. First this hardline immigration bill that the house just voted on has failed as expected. Meantime, the so-called compromise bill, as Phil is expecting will get a vote tomorrow. We know the president has signed this executive order stopping his own policy of separating families at the border, but a catastrophic question is this. What now happens to the more than 2,300 children who were taken from their children and currently being held in shelters without mom and dad? Nothing we read in that executive order and nothing we read from the administration since explains how this takes care of that problem. Polo Sandoval in the small border town of McAllen. The order doesn't say where the families would be detained, and it doesn't say whether children will continue to be while the locations are built. What happens now?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Adding to all of that uncertainty, Brooke, is the question of whether or not we'll continue to see the actual prosecutions happen. Let me explain what happened today. The surprising development that went down here in McAllen, Texas, earlier today. McAllen's federal courthouse. They were coming to be charged with illegal entry into the United States, just the same way that we have seen many mothers and fathers be charged since zero tolerance policy. That never happened. Even before the judge set foot in the courtroom. The assistant U.S. attorney decided to drop those charges against the 17 mothers and fathers. But we still don't know why. Many people here including the attorney you're about to hear from who specializes in civil rights, Carlos Garcia, suspects it's about this climate of uncertainty that we're living right now because of the president's implementation of zero policy and yesterday's executive order.


CARLOS GARCIA, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think it's a direct result of what is going on with our administration that they are changing things on the fly.


SANDOVAL: Let me tell you about these 17 people. Transferred from the federal courthouse to a detention center. These are people detained by immigration authorities earlier this week. This is part of their preliminary hearing which, again, we've seen so many times before with this zero-tolerance policy where they get charged, they enter a plea and then may potentially be reunited with their kids. So that is the question now.

[14:20:00] What will happen to these 17 mothers and fathers? When will they see their children? I am told by an attorney and several sources that the children were already taken away. They were not with relatives and they're in foster care. In foster care and somewhere in the United States at one of these centers. What we're trying to find out is, A, why did the U.S. attorney decide not to implement zero tolerance policy coming from the White House, and, B, what will we see you tomorrow here in McAllen, Texas and in federal courthouses across the country?

BALDWIN: Stay down there for us Polo Sandoval. I know you know that area so well. Now we want to bring in someone who anticipated this very thing. The difficulties and impossibilities in this reunification, John Sandweg is the former acting director of immigration and customs enforcement or ICE and former acting general council for homeland security. John, welcome back to you. And, you know, again, it's -- you have this group of children. 2,300 children already separated from their parents. So, how do you reunify them when many of these kids don't even know how to contact mom and dad?

JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR OF IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT OR ICE: Brooke, this is the fundamental failure of the Trump administration on this. Setting aside whether you think this policy is good or bad. I don't think it's defensible in any way, shape or form. If you implement a policy like this, you have to engage in detailed planning and identifying how those kids are going to be reunited with their families, what shelters, what are the capacity? This is painstaking work that needs to be done when you roll out a significant policy. I think what we're seeing with all this chaos no planning was done and suddenly just as quickly reverse course on the policy and no plan to reunite the kids with their parents.

BALDWIN: This executive order that the president signed yesterday. This is all about stopping the separation and having the parents and the kids together, but how does the executive order address the issue of the separation?

SANDWEG: When I reviewed the executive order it's, obviously, silent on that point and reunite the majority of these kids with their parents very quickly. Releasing the parents from custody. That doesn't mean they get a free pass, however. They continue to wait for deportation hearings and put on an ankle bracelet where 96 percent of them historically do appear in court.

BALDWIN: But will they do that?

SANDWEG: I don't know. It remains to be seen. Brooke, I don't think the administration understands once kids are placed in foster care, laws and regulations come into play. A guardian is appointed. Temporary custody over the child. Now you have to go to a state court and pull this kid out of a licensed foster facility and reunite them in a detention center with their parent. Also, the court oftentimes wants to see the parent and make sure the parent is not, you know, not a bad parent or otherwise going to put the child in harm's way. The parent can't do that when they're in custody. This is a very complex area with lots of different agencies and lots of different laws in play and I'm not sure anyone fully understood this when the law was implemented.

BALDWIN: You think about the kids and the zigzag and the journey to cross the border and the parents go another way and guardian or foster care and brought back and it's a lot. It's a lot for a lot of these young people. So, John, if they keep the zero-tolerance policy and they keep it and continue to prosecute everyone who crosses the border legally, where then will they put all of these people? How will they have all the detention centers ready to roll?

SANDWEG: They don't, Brooke, they do not at all. ICE has 2,500 family detention beds available to them now. First of all, I will just flag for you, those are very expensive beds. I spent $350 million annually for 2,000 beds. So, just looking at the numbers of families coming across the border and per the executive order he wants to detain them all.

BALDWIN: We already have 2,300 kids. We already have 2,300 kids. You do the math in a number of beds that you just said, and we already have 2300 kids --

SANDWEG: You're looking at $3 billion to build detention facilities. Moreover, the Flores settlement, the lawsuit that basically governs how children are to be detained, not only does it say they can only be detained for 21 days, it says they have to be detained in a licensed childcare facility.

BALDWIN: Isn't the administration trying to overturn that with this EO?

SANDWEG: The court is not going to overturn that. This is the same judge -- the Obama administration tried to make some modifications to the settlement when they did family detention, albeit on a smaller scale and the judge rejected those efforts. I don't see the court approving any of those efforts now. Look, we're months away and billions of dollars away from these detention facilities inside of Department of Defense facilities.

[14:25:00] You know it's poorly executed frankly the executive order as was this initial decision.

BALDWIN: I'm still back on your $3 billion figure and I'm wondering where that money comes from.

SANDWEG: Well, you saw that -- I think already some of the folks around the president are on to this issue. You see the executive order say subject to appropriations and you heard the president today already trying to blame Congress saying they won't give me the money to do this. Brooke, let me tell you something, I'm for border security. There are smart ways to do it and efficient ways to do this. The president was laughing and criticizing but hiring immigration judges really is the answer.

The other answer is working with our partners in Mexico who have historically been great partners along the border. Working with our partners to encourage them to do more on the southern border and then working in central America to attack some of the factors, the gang violence and the poverty that are driving the people north. That is how you address this problem. You know, unfortunately, we're going the exact opposite way and looking for a quick fix without planning it out.

BALDWIN: You see how the president has been with our neighbors to the north and south when it comes to trade, I don't know how that will go with immigration. We'll leave it there. Former ICE director and great voice to have on the show. Thank you so much.

SANDWEG: Thank you. BALDWIN: The president going off script and, once again, attacking

Senator John McCain. Who is fighting brain cancer. Hear what one woman in the crowd actually yelled back.

And the interesting moment when he questioned why, in his mind, he's not considered one of the elites.

Plus, outrage boiling over in Pittsburgh after an officer just hours on the job shoots and kills a black teenager. The family's attorney will join me live.


BALDWIN: There is outrage in East Pittsburgh today, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager just hours after the officer joined the --