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U.S. Prepares For Day Without Immigrants; U.S. Government Uses Songs To Discourage Crossing Border; President Bush Discusses Rice And Rumsfeld Iraq Trip

Aired May 1, 2006 - 09:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome back everybody.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you with us this morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up, we'll following, of course, this big immigration story because, of course, today is a day without immigrants and it's a time where across the nation millions of people are expected to turn out in many cities across the country to voice their support for immigration. We're going to see exactly what those numbers are and what kind of impact it has today.

M. O'BRIEN: It'll be interesting to see the size of the economic impact as many of them stay home from work and school and don't spend money.

We'll get to that in a moment, but first let's get the headlines in for you this morning.

President Bush holding a meeting this hour with the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They are likely discussing the secretaries' recent trips to Iraq. Three years ago today, President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, that large banner behind him with the words "mission accomplished."

It is May Day. May 1st is celebrated as the workers holiday in socialist and former communist countries. Millions of people in Cuba today -- we've got some live pictures from Havana, the May Day celebrations there where attendance is mandatory, of course. President Fidel Castro is at the podium now, I believe, speaking to the assembled masses.

Mediators in Sudan hoping to work out a peace agreement. They were on the verge of one this weekend. The deadline for talks has now been extended. On Sunday, actor George Clooney was among those attending a Darfur rally in Washington, thousands of protesters calling on the U.S. to do more to try to stop the mass killings.

Two Australian miners trapped underground getting food and water for the first time in nearly a week, friends and family rejoicing when they heard the two were still alive. They had basically given up hope. It could take a couple more days to get them out. They are trapped 3,000 feet underground.

And "The Boss" paying tribute to victims of Rita and Katrina.


M. O'BRIEN: That's Bruce, Bruce Springsteen, singing "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live." He took center stage this weekend at the annual Jazz Festival in New Orleans, and no, no, that's not jazz, but that's "The Boss," so he gets to come and he gets to play whatever he wants, right?

Fats Domino, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello just some of the other names headlining in a big event, an event that many thought might not happen this year -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Today immigrants coast to coast are going to be flexing their economic muscle. Organizers of a day without immigrants are expecting millions of people to take parts in rallies and boycotts in support of immigrant rights.

Maria Elena Salinas is an anchor for Univision. She has written a memoir. It's called "I Am My Father's Daughter." She's in Miami this morning. Nice to see you Maria Elena. Thanks for talking with us.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS, UNIVISION: Hi, Soledad. Good morning to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. This is a march with a message. A lot of messages though, actually have been coming out. What do you think is the main message from these marches?

SALINAS: I think definitely is main message is number one, we want legislation that is fair, that is humane, and that is realistic; and number two, we want to be treated with respect. I think for too long now the immigration debate has been more of a one-sided debate where immigrants feel they have been unfairly attacked and unfairly accused of all the ills of this country.

And this is a way of showing -- not only today but the marches that we have seen in the last couple of months, it's a way of showing the unity of immigrants, not only undocumented immigrants, but also legal immigrants and U.S. citizens that are of children of immigrants we could say.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question, though, because as you've heard, certainly, there's lots of debate even among people who support immigrants' rights about the right way to go about it. I mean, do you stay home and have your kids miss school? Do you not go to your job to support immigrants rights?

Or wouldn't it be better -- by some people's perspectives -- to go and work and make money and send your kids off to school? What has the feeling been where you are? What are people saying?

SALINAS: I think that there is that division that you mention, Soledad. There's a division on how to go about it. I think that the message is clear and I think that there's unity as far as what the main goal is and what the message is going to be, but how to go about it there is definitely a division because -- for two reasons.

One, they are afraid that people might not show up to work and might lose their jobs if they did not make arrangements with their employers. Also, having children be absent from school might also send the wrong message at a time when education is so important for immigrant children.

And then there's the other people who think that, no, you have to be strong and have to make sure that you make an impact. I think that if every single immigrant, legal or not, stayed home, did not go to work, did not purchase anything, if this was really a boycott throughout, there would definitely be an economic impact in this country.

But it will be more of a symbolic day in which people are participating in many ways. The Catholic Church, for one, says go to work, go to school, and go to mass afterwards and participate in rallies. There are definitely rallies and demonstrations and different types of activities all across the country today.

S. O'BRIEN: Have you heard about efforts to make the rallies more ethnically diverse? I mean, you know, every time we talk -- we talk about immigration, but to a large degree everybody is talking about Mexicans, Mexican immigrants coming across the border, not immigration that certainly my parents and many millions of other people have had into this country, however they got here, legally or illegally.

Do you think there are efforts to sort of show a different face, that it's just not all Mexicans who are coming into this country when you're talking about the greater immigration debate?

SALINAS: There definitely is, and like you say, the immigration debate has been focused so much on the southern border when really immigrants in this country -- at least the undocumented immigrants -- come from all over the world.

There are over a million undocumented immigrants from Asia. There are over a million from Europe. There are about a quarter of a million from Africa. And there are efforts to include them in these types of activities.

I know for one for sure in Chicago, there are Arab organizations. There are Asian organizations. There are Europeans that are planning to participate in some of these marches and go out and maybe not necessarily boycott, but definitely participate in some of the marches and demonstrations, the peaceful demonstrations that will be going on because this is an issue that extended from undocumented immigrants to many immigrants, to immigrants who are already here legally and maybe some that are already U.S. citizens but might have gone through this immigration process in the past, families of immigrants, children of immigrants.

S. O'BRIEN: A much bigger pictures than maybe we can see.

SALINAS: Grandchildren of immigrants. Much, much -- I think definitely much -- when people say we should go out and arrest people, who are you going to arrest because the people that are out there are U.S. citizens.

S. O'BRIEN: It's going to be very interesting to see, especially if the numbers are anywhere near what they're predicting. Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas joining us this morning. Nice to see you as always, Maria Elena. Thanks.

SALINAS: Thank you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The U.S. Border Patrol may be singing the blues as it tries to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the border, but now they are changing the music, hoping songs can stop the march. As AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian tells us, it is taking the border war to a new level. And it's a story you'll see only on CNN.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The warning isn't on the label, but in the music. And the message is serious. Songs aimed at Mexicans thinking about sneaking into the U.S., a gritty, but little known media campaign produced by the U.S. Border Patrol, which says they're airing on some 30 radio stations across Mexico.

SALVADOR ZAMORA, U.S. BORDER PATROL: They sing the very hard- hitting message: If you come across the border area, especially through the desert, you will die.

LOTHIAN: In "En La Raya," a man fleeing poverty in Mexico runs across another man barely alive in the hot desert.


LOTHIAN (on camera): The U.S. government is targeting so-called key feeder states, like Zakatekas (ph) and Chapas (ph). At first, buying the airtime for five different songs, but then, listeners began requesting the tunes, most unaware of the messenger.

ZAMORA: They don't understand, nor do they know that it is a U.S.-based government, law enforcement entity, providing this message.

LOTHIAN: This sort of anonymous strategy is also part of the television and print effort. The campaign No Mas Cruces, or No More Crossings and Crosses, using video and disturbing images as a deterrent, aimed deep inside Mexico, on the border, and now for the first time, inside the U.S. with this TV spot set to hit the air this week.

ZAMORA: Friends, family, distant relatives encouraging the illegal immigration, encouraging the illegal crossing, they, too, will have blood on their hands. LOTHIAN: Ali Noorani, an immigrant advocate in Boston, says this media campaign is in the wrong hands.

ALI NOORANI, IMMIGRANT ADVOCACY COALITION: To educate the public south of the border is an important role to play. However, that role should be played by the Mexican government, by organizations, and businesses and individuals in Mexico.

LOTHIAN: Spending time and money on this message, he says, could be a distraction from finding the real solution to illegal immigration.

NOORANI: President Bush should be passing public policy that serves all immigrants. President Bush should be running public service announcements in Mexico.

LOTHIAN: But the border patrol says early reports show this unique effort is getting the attention of the Mexican people.

ZAMORA: The ultimate goal is to plant the seed of doubt.

LOTHIAN: And perhaps, like the character in the song "En La Raya," who encountered a dying man, learned an important lesson.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


M. O'BRIEN: CNN has the Day Without Immigrants covered coast to coast, border to border, and beyond. We've a team of reporters standing by all across America, into Mexico, L.A., Chicago, New York, other cities on the map there. You'll see live reports from our Spanish-language news network as well, CNN En Espanol. And when you're away from your TV, go online to get the latest on CNN Pipeline and, all there for you.




M. O'BRIEN: "CNN LIVE TODAY" is coming up in just a little bit. Daryn Kagan has got a busy morning ahead.

Hello, Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We do indeed, Miles. And immigrants aren't the only ones trying to make a point today. Today the small town of Beeville, Texas is fuming over high gas prices. Starting today, angry drivers will boycott ExxonMobil. How many will pass on gas there?

And which would you choose, fat and filthy rich, but thin and dirt poor. Thing about it. A new survey reveals all. LIVE TODAY gets started for our Monday morning in just a few minutes. For now, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Daryn.

S. O'BRIEN: Today's 75th anniversary of the Empire State Building. Our own Fay Wray is there right now, Carol Costello.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Which brings us to the question, can you really stand on top of the Empire State Building, on the very, very top, along with a giant ape, and not blow off? The answer might surprise you. That and more coming your way.



M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Billy Joel. And it's a diamond in the sky, an icon for the city of New York. The Empire State Building, 75 years old today. When I say Empire State, quick, what do you think of? What do you think?

S. O'BRIEN: "King Kong."

M. O'BRIEN: "King Kong," of course. Thank you very much. That's the correct answer. AMERICAN MORNING's Fay Wray or is it Jessica Lange or Naomi Watts?

Carol Costello ...

S. O'BRIEN: Naomi Watts and Carol Costello.

M. O'BRIEN: ... joining us now from the 86th floor, and I don't know if she is going to try to go any higher. Just climb on up and see how far you go?

COSTELLO: Oh, it's pretty windy today. You know, earlier this morning the wind gusts were 50 miles per hour. They had to rope off the section where I am standing because children would roll like tumble weeds if they came into this space.

Right now the winds have seemed to die down, so we hope they stay way. Some tidbits for you about the Empire State Building: 100 lightning strikes per year, and as you can see, they really don't damage the building.

And if you're wondering why I'm not feeling the building sway even with those 50 miles per hour wind gusts, it's because it's made of steel. This thing does not move. It would have to be a 200 mile per hour wind gust for it to move even an inch-and-a-half in either direction.

There are so many great stories associated with this wonderful building.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COSTELLO (voice-over): It's breathtaking in its architectural splendor. But that isn't it. There's something mythical about it. Nothing says romance like Gotham from the 86th floor. Hollywood knows it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about the top of the Empire State Building?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, that's perfect. It's the nearest thing to heaven we have in New York.

COSTELLO (on camera): OK, I have to ask you about the kiss myth, because to me it sounds like a myth that if you kiss atop the Empire State Building, literal sparks will fly.

LYDIA RUTH, PUBLIC RELATIONS, EMPIRE STATE BLDG.: Well it has to be the right time of year, and the right kind of temperatures. And if you're both out here and I told you you have to come with a really handsome man ...

COSTELLO: I know, I've got to do that next time.

RUTH: ... on a really cold winter night and kiss, you will. You will get the static charge.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Wow. Maybe that's why 3.5 million people visit every year. And to think, the building cost $40 million. It took just 410 days to build, but that was back in 1929 when they had more than romance on their mind.


M. O'BRIEN: All right. We apologize. There's the president of the United States after meeting with his two secretaries and the chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff. Let's listen.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for being here as well. Thank you for joining me this morning. They came by the Oval Office to brief me on their recent trip to Iraq.

First of all, I appreciate them both going over there to send my best wishes to the new government and to the prime minister designate Maliki, as well as the new speaker and the president.

I had spoken to them on the phone but I thought it was very important for both secretaries to go firsthand to be there with leadership, to say we're supporting them. It's very important for these two senior officials to sit down with these new folks and say you have our support, and we want you to succeed.

And they brought back, you know, interesting impressions from the three new leaders, that they are optimistic people, that they are full of energy and they are very eager to succeed and that's really important for the American people to know that we've got partners in this effort who are dedicated to a unified Iraq, and dedicated to putting a government together that is one that will represent all the Iraqi people.

This new government is going to represent a new start for the Iraqi people. It's a government that understand they have got serious challenges ahead of them. And the three leaders spoke to Secretary Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld about their need to deploy the growing strength of the Iraqi security forces in such a way as to defeat the terrorists and the insurgents. And we will continue to support them in that effort.

They talked about the need to establish control over the militias and other unauthorized armed groups and enforce the rule of law. And we will support them in these efforts to achieve that important objective.

They talked about the need to rebuild infrastructure and strengthen their economy, and we agree with that assessment.

And, finally, they talked about the need to make sure that all Iraqis share in the benefits of this new democracy.

The new Iraqi government represents a strategic opportunity for America and the whole world, for that matter. This nation of ours and our coalition partners are going to work with new leadership to strengthen our mutual efforts to achieve success, a victory in this war on terror. This is -- we believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens, and it's a new chapter in our partnership.

The secretaries began building this new partnership during their trip. In other words, the Iraqi leaders saw that we are committed to helping them succeed. They need to know that we stand with them and the Iraqi people need to know that we stand with them, that we understand the strategic importance of a free Iraq in the Middle East, and that we understand the need to deny safe haven.


And havoc inside of Iraq. There's going to be more tough days ahead. These secretaries know that. They are realistic people. They have brought an assessment of what they saw on the ground, and some of it is positive and obviously there's some difficult days ahead because there's still terrorists there who are willing to take innocent life in order to stop the progress of democracy.

But this government is more determined than ever to succeed and we believe we've got partners to help the Iraqi people realize their dreams.

Last December, the Iraqi people voted to have a free government. I know it seems like a long time ago for the American people, but what we have begun to see now is the emergence of a unity government to represent the wishes of the Iraqi people. Last December, millions of people defied the terrorists and killers and said we want to be free. We want a unity government.

And now what has happened is the -- after compromise and politics, the Iraqis have come together to form that government and our secretaries went over there to tell them that we look forward to working with them as partners in peace.

So I want to thank you all for going. I appreciate your dedication to the cause of peace. Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: The president of the United States on White House grounds with the secretary of state, secretary of defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After a briefing in the Oval Office subsequent to the two secretaries' visit to Iraq, and we are out of time.

S. O'BRIEN: We are. Let's send it right to Daryn Kagan. She's at the CNN Center and going to take you through the next couple of hours on "CNN LIVE TODAY."

Hey, Daryn, good morning.


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