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CNN NEWSROOM

Border Patrol Chase Ends in Deadly Texas Crash; U.S. Lawmakers Demand to be Allowed Inside Migrant Center; Interview with Senators Jeff Merkley and Chris Van Hollen; Roger Stone Met with Russian During Campaign; First lady Melania Trump Today Weighed In On The Immigration Debate; Candlelighters Brings New Light To Pediatric Cancer Patients.Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 17, 2018 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:19] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We begin with breaking news this hour on a horrific highway crash not far from the U.S.-Mexico border. The sheriff at Dimmit County, Texas, says U.S. Border Patrol was chasing a vehicle at about 100 miles per hour when that vehicle rolled and crashed. Now it was packed with people, police say, who were undocumented immigrants and that last update five of those people are dead.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in Brownsville, Texas, and CNN's Polo Sandoval is in northern New Jersey where a group of U.S. lawmakers nearly had to shove their way into an immigrant detention center a short time ago. But first I want to head to Nick in Texas.

Tell us about what you're hearing about what happened and what police are saying -- Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Just to set the scene for where we are right now in Brownsville, we're outside of the largest children immigrant detention facility -- child care facility, I should say, in the country. We're waiting for that group of Democratic lawmakers that have been touring the border all day long to make their next stop here.

But meanwhile, we are getting news of a tragic crash a few hours north of here involving a group -- a vehicle carrying at least 12 undocumented immigrants driven by their U.S. citizen smugglers. Now according to a sheriff's office there in Dimmit County, this vehicle pursuit started about noon local time involving Border Patrol and also one of his sheriff's deputies. That vehicle was giving chase about 100 miles per hour eventually going off the road catching some gravel and flipping killing at least five people inside.

The local sheriff's office used this incident as a chance to highlight the border and security saying this is just another event that happens every single day near and around the border. Some of you at home may be wondering what Border Patrol was doing involved in this situation. They have a large swath of jurisdiction, not just physical line of the border here where we are near Brownsville, a few miles from that U.S.- Mexico border crossing. But this chase involving this group of undocumented immigrants is

being highlighted by the local sheriff here as a reason of this ongoing immigration crisis and he's calling it just another day along the U.S.-Mexico border -- Ana.

CABRERA: Nick, have police been connecting this deadly crash today and the chase to the uptick in border-related chaos right now or is this totally unrelated?

VALENCIA: That would seem to be a logical segue here. He didn't explicitly say that, this local sheriff, when he was talking about this incident but he was saying it's incidents like this that put American lives every single day on the line. When undocumented immigrants being smuggled by their coyotes or U.S. citizen smugglers give chase like this. It puts a lot of danger on those on the road. Just another incident here highlighting the ongoing crisis along the U.S./-Mexico border -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. So let's head from the southern border now to New Jersey where Polo Sandoval is, where we saw a really bizarre scene play out today. Kind of surreal, as we saw a U.S. congressman pounding on a door at an immigrant detention center there in Elizabeth.

Polo, what did they want and what happened?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it all played out here, Ana. If it wasn't for that white Department of Homeland Security sign out front you hardly even guess that this building is home to about 250 undocumented people. Today that group of Democratic legislators traveled here to visit five of those men who are being detained at this facility. They had worked out separate arrangements with the attorneys of those men as they arrived here. They were met by this staff and refusing access initially. This is how it all played out as you describe it. A very bizarre scene.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman entitled to do --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you did wrong. Now you did wrong. You were doing fine up until now. Now you did wrong. What -- this is America. This isn't Moscow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: So how did all of this end? After about an hour 45 minutes, supervisors were called, the police department was called. Things certainly never getting out of hand but these lawmakers demanding to see these five men who were here to see. They finally made their way inside, met with these five men, three of them had been recently detained at the border separated from their children and then transferred here to New Jersey where they continue with their immigration proceedings. These lawmakers describing for us earlier today that emotional account

from these men on Father's Day, not being with their -- not being with their daughters but in the meantime I can tell you that these pictures are certainly not unusual. We have seen this before. We saw it two weeks ago in Brownsville, Texas, we saw it today in West Texas. Tomorrow we'll see it in California.

Democratic lawmakers headed to these facilities to try to see firsthand how some of these detainees are being treated and also calling for the stop of this kind of policy -- Ana.

CABRERA: Polo Sandoval, there in New Jersey. Nick Valencia in Brownsville, Texas, for us. Thank you both.

[18:05:00] I want to take you to McAllen, Texas, now, where just a short time ago I spoke to two lawmakers who went inside government facilities there processing these children and their family members.

Here's my conversation with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Senator Merkley and I just visited one of the processing centers here in McAllen where they are putting a lot of the kids and separating them from their parents. We talked to one of the moms there who had been separated from her daughter. The mom and daughter had come from Guatemala. They asked for asylum but now the moms being prosecuted as a criminal and will be separated from her daughter.

This is a deliberate and inhumane policy and we're here to say to President Trump, end it, end it today.

CABRERA: Do you know the age range of the children being separated?

VAN HOLLEN: There's a very wide age range. I mean, I think if you -- they made a policy I think if you're under 5 they're not going to actually take you from your mom or dad. But we don't really know. This is a lot of chaos down here but through all the chaos, there are some things that we can see very clearly which is they are deliberately enforcing this new policy of separating moms and dads from their sons and daughters.

CABRERA: Senator Merkley, I know you guys were talking about the processing center where the parents are working their way now through the immigration system. I'm curious if you've had a chance to actually see the facilities where the children are being kept and I'm curious as to what you can tell us about those facilities.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: We are going to be able to see that facility in Brownsville later today. We have not seen it yet. We did of course see the children who were held inside here in wire mesh chain link cages that are -- they're about 30 by 30. A lot of young folks put into them. I must say, though, far fewer than when I was here two weeks ago. I

was told that buses full were taken away before we arrived. And this is one of my concerns that essentially when you have to give lengthy notice, you end up seeing a little bit of a show, rather than seeing what's really going on at these centers.

CABRERA: So there are a couple of things that I hope you can shed light on because one of the things that we know is happening is that they are prosecuting everybody who is crossing the border illegally leading to families being separated.

But do either of you know whether any of the families that are going through this are actually coming through the points of entry seeking asylum or all of them crossing the border elsewhere hence making it illegal?

MERKLEY: Yes, here's what's going on. It's a comprehensive strategy of preventing people from seeking asylum. So at the bridges, those who already have documents, passports and so forth are let in while those seeking asylum are kept in the no man's land between Mexico and the United States. Then we've talked to those who work with refugees, who've talked about people being in that no man's land for six, seven, eight.

There was a "Washington Post" report of nine days. We talked to a lawyer, a pro bono lawyer who had talked to families where there 10 and 12 days. So they're not being let in easily at the official border points where it's absolutely legal to assert asylum. So other families are going and saying, well, we can't just be in the heat.

I'm sitting here sweating a lot. Can you imagine being out here nine or 10 days waiting without a supply of food and water? And so they are going to cross the border and that's where the administration is saying oh, they broke the law crossing the border outside the border checkpoint. So now we'll all arrest them and treat them as criminal and take their kids away.

I have also heard, though, of a number of stories of people who did cross at the official checkpoints who have also been charged with a crime and separated from their children.

VAN HOLLEN: Yes --

MERKLEY: Yes. Go ahead.

VAN HOLLEN: You know, I asked Mr. Padilla, who was the officer in charge here at the processing facility. Whether any of the kids there had been separated from their parents after coming across a legal point of entry. And his response was he didn't know. He didn't know if that kind of separation was happening.

What we do know is that those who are waiting for a long time, as Senator Merkley said, to try and come across the official points of entry, they are backed up for days and days. They hire somebody to take them across the river and then bang, they can get them and separate them immediately from their moms and dads, the children -- the sons and daughters from their moms and dads.

CABRERA: As you know --

(CROSSTALK)

MERKLEY: We want to emphasize here.

CABRERA: Go ahead.

MERKLEY: I just want to emphasize that regardless of how well kids are cared for at a detention center, it is inflicting enormous trauma on the children and enormous angst on the parents to engage in family separation. I know there is no need at all, no justification of any kind for doing so as people await asylum hearings.

CABRERA: Let me ask you this --

(CROSSTALK)

VAN HOLLEN: I think the other thing worth emphasizing --

CABRERA: You mentioned that you believe children older than 5 years old are the ones who were being separated. But then we also are hearing reports of a mother who was breastfeeding when her child was taken from her.

[18:10:03] Do you believe that to be true or is that a report that was -- a rumor that got out and is untrue?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, based on our conversations with the attorneys here and some of the other folks who have been helping people asking for asylum, there's no doubt that this is sort of a chaotic process. And I believe those reports are very credible. We also heard reports about moms and dads being told that their kids had to be taken to take a bath and then they never return.

So I think the bottom line here, Ana, is that this is a deliberate policy. This is a choice that President Trump made. There's no law despite what he says and how often he says it. There's no law that requires this inhumane policy and they should end it today.

CABRERA: He is blaming Democrats for what's happening there.

Senator Merkley, how do you respond?

MERKLEY: Yes. Well, the president has no credibility on this topic. There's no new law that caused this, there's no law that was passed by Democrats. It's administrative policy that they started considering according to the press reports when he first came into office. And then they started a pilot project last summer. They told the American people they weren't separating kids. They were. Then they said they were doing it to protect them from smugglers.

How is it possible that a parent with a child safe here in the United States is being protected from a smuggler by separating that person from the child? And then the president a couple of days ago said well, there's another value of this policy and that is it gives him leverage with legislation.

Let me just say, that to hurt children, to get leverage on legislation, is evil and completely unacceptable.

CABRERA: I'll leave it there, guys. I know you've got to go. Thank you so much for taking the time, for helping to shed light as to what's happening there on the ground.

MERKLEY: Ana, thank you.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: We'll be in touch with you. Thanks.

Senator Chris Van Hollen and Senator Jeff Merkley.

Coming up, a new report involving Roger Stone. A Russian national and an offer to hand over dirt on Hillary Clinton for $2 million.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:15] CABRERA: We now know about another meeting between a Trump associate and a Russian national during the 2016 election. This time it was former Trump adviser Roger Stone. He tells CNN that he met with a Russian national back in May of 2016. That Russian was offering dirt on Hillary Clinton in exchange for $2 million.

The meeting was apparently set up by Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo. And according to the "Washington Post" which first reported on this meeting, Stone and Caputo later texted each other. Caputo writing, quote, "How crazy is the Russian," to which Stone replied, "He wants big money for the info. Waste of time." Caputo, "The Russian way, anything at all interesting?" Stone, "No."

Well, before today Stone had claimed he never met with any Russians during the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Russia, I didn't talk to anybody who was identifiably Russian during the two-year run-up to this campaign. I'm not sure I did previously either. I very definitely can't think of anybody who might have been a Russian without my knowledge. No, I think it's a canard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Both Stone and Caputo also failed to tell congressional investigators about this meeting. It was only after Robert Mueller's team showed Caputo his text messages with Stone during an interview back in May that his memory was refreshed.

Well, here's what Caputo told CNN just hours after that interview with Mueller's investigators in which we now know he was shown these texts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: The Mueller team knew more about what I did in 2016 than I knew myself. And I think they know more about the Trump campaign than anyone that ever worked there. These guys have got every single e-mail, anything that's ever gone down and they are clearly focused on trying to identify some Russian collusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Today Caputo and Stone claimed that Russian national was actually an FBI informant. While the Russian claims he was an FBI informant years ago, he denies he was working with the FBI at the time of this meeting with Stone.

Let's discuss. Joining us, CNN legal analyst and former White House counsel for President Clinton, Jack Quinn, and CNN legal and political comment and former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.

So, Ken, I'll start with you. Why do we keep learning about new meetings with Russians that the Trump team failed to disclose because they seem to not recall an awful lot of things that involve Russians?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL AND POLITICAL COMMENT: Well, I will say that in a campaign at their level, and remember by May of 2016 they had the nomination locked up. So Trump was effectively the nominee. They get a ton of people coming in and telling them I've got the silver bullet for you to win this race, whether it's a policy or dirt on Hillary or what have you, this Russian had the interestingly American name of Henry something or the other, it's not like -- and as you saw in their text, nothing came of it.

I'm not going to defend either of them for not remembering this or remembering it and not revealing it, whichever was the case. But I will say that in that level of campaign, and remember the Trump campaign in particular was notably chaotic, it doesn't really surprise me that this didn't surface until Mueller found the electronic evidence of it. And --

CABRERA: But it just seems awfully ironic at the very least --

CUCCINELLI: I thought Caputo's comments about -- I thought Caputo's comments about Mueller knowing more about what he was doing than he did was very telling.

CABRERA: Yes. Well, what's really, really interesting, though, is according to the "Washington Post," by their count 11 members of the Trump campaign or Trump associates who did not disclose contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

[18:20:07] And we do know that Hope Hicks, who was speaking on behalf of the president at the time, or the candidate Trump at the time, she said there was zero contact with Russians.

Jack, do you think this is all just a coincidence that everybody forgot this? JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't. And it's really

concerning. I don't want to come to a conclusion about any single -- any one of these people individually, but look, this is -- I think what's clear here is that the people involved wanted to get ahead of the story, as with the Trump Tower meeting, they knew this was going to be coming out so they wanted to get it out themselves, but you know, look, I've been in a lot of campaigns, most of them by the way were not successful.

But whether successful or not, I don't ever recall a meeting in which I was offered a transaction that would cost $2 million for dirt on an opposition candidate. You don't forget that. That's pretty remarkable. If you do routinely forget that, I would sure love to find out how many such offers were made to the Trump campaign. That would be mighty interesting. It's not a forgettable thing. And it really does stretch credulity.

Now the other thing is that, you know, importantly if you have somebody coming who is clearly bringing to bear foreign connections, why don't you report that to law enforcement? I mean, that is a reportable activity.

Now it's not criminal not reporting it but it is unbelievably irresponsible not to report to the FBI or other law enforcement officials that a foreign agent has come to you and made an offer like that.

CABRERA: But to Ken's point, the text messages do seem to back up the assertion that nothing came of this meeting. Does that matter?

QUINN: Well, in and of itself it may not matter but remember how -- had the Trump Tower meeting didn't matter either until we found out more about it.

Let's not forget in that incident we had people who said well, yes, we met with a bunch of Russians but nothing came of it. They came in and they had nothing really very important to say. We later learned that in fact a completely false and phony press release was issued characterizing that as a meeting the subject of which was adoptions.

Here's what's important I suspect to the special counsel. People, however innocent they may say these things are, mischaracterize them purposefully, conceal them, act as if they have guilty minds. And so if they are wholly innocent here, then they have only themselves to blame. You know, not some nefarious setup that's going on where people are trying to entrap them. They have only themselves to blame for creating the guilty appearance that has raised the antenna of law enforcement and Robert Mueller in particular.

CABRERA: Well, hopefully Robert Mueller's team will get to the bottom of it.

QUINN: He will.

CABRERA: And if they're innocent --

QUINN: And that's --

CABRERA: -- then ultimately that will also be proven. But let me move on to pardons for a second because, Ken, we have Giuliani who keeps on saying President Trump is not going to pardon people caught up in the Mueller investigation. But why do you think he keeps talking about it?

CUCCINELLI: Well, he -- to put it in terms my kids made, he didn't start it. I mean, this started with discussion of Michael Flynn and so forth long before Giuliani ever came on board. And it's used as an attack on the president by implication and it's become its own subject of discussion. I don't think -- it's not like he's coming at this out of the blue. He's responding to discussion that's been taking place in the mainstream media, which the media largely initiated.

QUINN: I'm sorry, Ken, I have to stop you. I mean, the first person to raise this was John Dowd. John Dowd was the one who floated the idea of pardoning Paul Manafort. He was the one who started this whole conversation and it got -- that was -- that's how it was initiated and it took on a life of its own then and has been amped up significantly as you well know by the president's issuance of pardons.

And again, I'm not coming to any conclusions here. But to all of this, I say, it couldn't be clearer than what we need to do is let the special counsel do his job without either political or legal obstruction, including by the issuance of pardons.

CABRERA: Let me ask you real quick, Ken.

[18:25:02] Your point is well taken about Giuliani being asked about the pardoning issue, especially because the president has been issuing an awful lot of pardons lately. If you're Giuliani, what do you say? What is the appropriate response to that question?

CUCCINELLI: I think the appropriate response is to step back to the constitutional level and say look, the president has this pardoning power and presuming this is Giuliani's state of mind, I have no understanding of any intention on his part to use it as it relates to anybody in this case. Jack's correct, there have been -- and so are you, there have been a series of pardons issued lately but they're not related to Russia in any way of the investigation.

A lot of criminal justice reform which I also work on. We've seen a lot in that area but nothing in the Russia collusion investigation area.

CABRERA: Right.

CUCCINELLI: I do think it would be better if his own team step back from that discussion, even when people bring it to them, that has not been their habit nor the president's himself.

CABRERA: Yes.

CUCCINELLI: But it would be a better way to handle the subject matter. QUINN: Yes, and --

CABRERA: Ken Cuccinelli and Jack Quinn, I got to end it there. Thank you, both.

QUINN: OK. All right. Thank you.

CABRERA: Always appreciate your expertise. Thank you for being here.

From a trade war with China to a mega media merger, CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans has everything you need to know before the Opening Bell on Wall Street.

Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Will trade fears rock Wall Street? On Friday China announced retaliation after the Trump administration announced tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. China accused the United States of launching a trade war.

The Dow opened under pleasure. Multinational stocks like Boeing and Caterpillar sold off. Watch media stocks this week after AT&T closed its purchase of Time Warner. Investors are now asking what big deals are next. Comcast put up a $65 billion cash offer for most of 21st Century FOX last week after Disney and FOX agreed to a deal for less money. Other possible targets for mergers, CBS, Viacom, Discovery and Lion's Gate.

Finally the Supreme Court could rule on an important case for the retail industry this week. Wayfair versus South Dakota will determine whether a state can force online retailers to collect sales tax. The ruling won't be a huge deal for big retailers like Amazon because they already do collect state sales tax but it will likely affect smaller online stores and businesses and companies like Etsy.

In New York I'm Christine Romans.

CABRERA: Christine, thank you.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM, First Lady Melania Trump weighing in on the immigration crisis taking place at America's borders. What she is saying about the practice of separating families under her husband's administration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:32:29] CABRERA: In a rare move, first lady Melania Trump today weighing in on the immigration debate. The first lady appearing to express disapproval of her husband's zero tolerance policy that led to children being ripped from their mother's arms at the U.S. border. Melania Trump an immigrant herself grew up in Slovenia moving to the U.S. in 1990s to pursue a modeling career.

Let's get right to Kate Bennett, CNN's White House reporter.

Kate, what are you hearing from your sources in the first lady's office?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the first lady's spokeswoman actually told me that first lady is not enjoying or not liking at all. In fact, she hates to see the images that we are seeing on screens and headlines about these children and families at the border.

I'm going to read you a statement from Stephanie Grisham. Who is the first lady's communications director.

Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws but also a country that governs with heart.

So in that sense, she does in a way echo her husband in saying both sides of the aisle, this is a partisan issue. Of course the President squarely puts the blame at Democrat's feet. Mrs. Trump says that this is an issue that both sides need to come together and work on but she doesn't deviate all that much.

But as usual with the first lady, there's a compassion to at least her language, the language her office is using that we don't necessarily always find in the President's tweets for example.

CABRERA: And Kate, we haven't seen the first lady in public for quite some time which makes the statement today a little more surprising.

BENNETT: That's right. And she doesn't really weigh in that much on these policy issues and sort of the headline grabbing issues. She certainly has made her platform and made it known she wants to help children with her Be Best platform. And that is something that she has done in certain ways visiting hospitals and schools, et cetera. But this border issue, this immigration issue, it is sort of rare to hear from her.

We haven't seen that much of her. Of course, she had a kidney procedure back in May. She has made a few public appearances since then but certainly weighing in on this topic, in the midst of it as saying that she hates to see something that she thinks the country should govern more with heart certainly something she felt positive about saying and something she wanted to get out there. She's not a big speaker -- public speaker, big speech maker. So certainly this feels like a topic that has touched her.

CABRERA: She has made children a big part of her platform, though, as well the Be Best, as you pointed out.

Kate Bennett at the White House, thank you.

Coming up, it's father's day, W. Kamau Bell is heading home to Alabama to spent time with his dad. So how has the south change since he left 30 years ago? A preview of tonight's "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:34:28] CABRERA: What did do you for your dad this father's day? Our W. Kamau Bell gave his dad on his series and went down to mobile Alabama to retrace his family heritage and unmask some myths about the Deep South. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now my career is doing OK by most measures but my dad's is way more impressive. He was the insurance commissioner for Alabama, which made him the highest ranking black person in Alabama. He was the first Alabaman to become the President of the national association of insurance commissioners. He has met with multiple Presidents, Clinton, Obama -- no.

But before all of that, he was a struggling artist in the bay area. That's where I got that from. But his life started in a shack in Alabama 100 miles outside of Mobile. It has got a population of 312 and the shock (ph) is on land that my family still owns, right off of -- don't get too impressed -- Bell Road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:40:30] CABRERA: Kamau Bell joins me now from Oakland, California.

Kamau, Happy father's day first of all.

BELL: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: What was it like to have your father right there with you as you took a look back on your family's southern roots?

BELL: I mean for him he was kind of like finally put me on your show. So he was waiting for this moment. So Happy father's day dad.

But, you know, it's -- we have had conversations about it but the great thing about having the platform I have is that I was able to like sit down and have really direct conversations about things we hadn't talked about before, about why you choose to live in Mobile, Alabama. Because he could live anywhere on the planet he wants to live. He had lived in New York. HE has traveled all over the world but he loves Mobile.

CABRERA: And why was it? Why is it that he loves it there?

BELL: I think it means a lot to know how far he has come. Like we were at the shack that he was born in Brenberg (ph), Alabama which is unincorporated county, a place where his father and mom just moved to Mobile because it was a big city where there were jobs and they were just hoping to make a living. And so, my dad will come from this unincorporated county in Brenberg (ph) to be one of the leaders of Alabama -- as the insurance commissioner is a big deal. I think he likes being able to walk around town and literally see where he came from and how far he has come.

CABRERA: Your father was the highest ranking African-American in the state of Alabama. What inspires you most about him and his success? BELL: That he never -- I mean, you know, on the show we talk about

racism a lot. We talked about the polls of racism on people of color in this country. And my dad understands all of that but he just always believed that he could outrun it. And it doesn't mean -- he isn't affected by racism and doesn't mean that he doesn't believe in racism, it just means that he sort of had that idea that I'm going to have to work twice as hard to get what I want and he has achieved as well as anybody in the planet ever achieved in their life, especially coming from where he came from.

CABRERA: What a guy. Now, Americans tend to generalize the (INAUDIBLE) thinking it's all the same. What are some of the major differences you found across the region?

BELL: You know, I mean, I think, you know, yes, people who live outside of the south tend to call it the south and sometimes people in the south even lean into that too. But if you ire in Atlanta, where CNN is based, that's a major city that has all of the stuff and huge LGBT population and it has got a lot of black people. Then he can go to towns in Alabama that not as inclusive and that is open. And I think that people have to understand that like we have to stop -- those outside the south have to stop painting the south with one broad brush. And so, tonight on the show, we ate certainly doing that with a town most people haven't heard of, Mobile, Alabama.

CABRERA: I want to pivot because you have been down to the U.S./Mexico border this season as part of your show and you asked some poignant questions there. So now, as we witness these children being taken from their parents as part of this zero tolerance policy by the Trump administration, I want to ask you one of the questions you were asking others there, can America do better than this?

BELL: I mean, America has done better than this. I mean, our policies with the U.S./Mexico border as far as Mexico side have never been great. But we have to understand, even if you illegally cross the border that's a civil violation, it's not some sort of law breaking thing where you have to go to jail.

The Trump administration and Jeff Sessions who is from Alabama, is actually doing this because they want to do it. It is not because that's what's on the books. Crossing the border is a civil violation like Jaywalking. And you are not supposed to be separated from your family because you jaywalked across the street.

CABRERA: W. Kamau Bell, thank you very much for joining us. Again, Happy Father's day, especially since you have a new baby at home. I hope you get a little sleep as part of your Father's day.

BELL: Not at all. A lot of makeup on. I'm very tired. Got to make up for it.

CABRERA: And you wear it well.

Brand-new "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" airs tonight at 10:00 eastern right here on CNN. Coming up, champions for change. I want to introduce you to an

organization truly doing God's work, turning crappy into happy for families battling pediatric cancer. This is personal for me and my family. I will share why when we come back.

You are live with the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:48:57] CABRERA: Today we start telling the stories of extraordinary people and organizations that are making a difference. This special series called Champions for Change gives us an opportunity to highlight some issues that are important to us. For me that is pediatric cancer. I have a very personal connection. My brother, my youngest sibling was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was just 10 years old. As a sister, I remember feeling so helpless and powerless. Those feelings led me to an organization that is tirelessly bringing light, comfort and joy to other families facing the same fight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel sad because I feel sometimes like his childhood was robbed.

CABRERA: Mikey, how old are you?

MIKEY RICHERT, BRAIN CANCER PATIENT: I am 13.

CABRERA: So you are a teenager already?

RICHERT: Yes.

CABRERA: Mikey Richert has spent a quarter of his childhood fighting brain cancer.

RICHERT: This side won't grow because radiation --

[18:50:00] CABRERA: I like your Mohawk. That was good.

AILEEN RICHERT, MIKEY'S MOTHER: When Mikey was almost finished his secretary fight of blastoma, my husband was diagnosed with stage four lung and bone cancer. To have that person get sick in front of you and watch him deteriorate as your son sort to get better, it was really, really tough.

CABRERA: Nine months after his diagnosis, Michael Sr. died.

A. RICHERT: At that point you feel like you can't breathe. But you still try your bet to take care of everyone and keep your little kids going.

CABRERA: Seeing Mikey immediately took me back to Colorado and it made me think of John, my brother. He was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was just 10 years old. Medulla blastoma, the same kind of cancer as Mikey. JOHN CABRERA, ANA'S BROTHER: The doctors said that they didn't have a

cure for brain cancer at that time, so I was taken back by that, and I was like oh, my, it looks kind of bleak for me.

CABRERA: I remember feeling as a sibling very helpless. What were you thinking about in this picture?

J. CABRERA: I don't know. I -- I was just happy that you were here.

CABRERA: I wanted to be able to do something for him as he was struggling and suffering, and yet there was very little I could do, and I think that that's what really led me to candle lighters.

BARBARA ZOBIAN, FOUNDER, CANDLELIGHTERS NYC: The day that they found out their child had cancer is the darkest day of their life. Candlelighters helps bring them into the light.

You look so pretty. Hi. Where's the other one? Get over here. I need a double hug.

We need that personal touch that we are their best friends.

Hi, John.

And they are ours, too. We become family.

CABRERA: Candlelighters is really a unique organization. It meets the family where they need it most, and it may be a simple comfort or it might be a big wish.

ZOBIAN: If we can just make a tiny bit of difference. That's enough.

CABRERA: What did you see that candle lighters could offer that wasn't there.

ZOBIAN: There still isn't nothing like candle lighters New York City. We are a family.

These families come from all over and sit on my couch. They play with my dog. They lie down on the bed if they are tired.

CABRERA: Do you want to open it yourself, or can I help open that for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can open it.

CABRERA: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.

CABRERA: Put your head up for one second so we can get the collar working. Oh, yes.

ZOBIAN: I'm very, very, happy.

CABRERA: What does it feel like to be able to help families in that way?

ZOBIAN: Feels like a fairy godmother.

We are able to make little wishes come true every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are officially making them police officers in Central Park briefly. Please welcome Beckham Peterson.

(APPLAUSE)

ZOBIAN: New York City is so rich. We share with them. And we want all of New York City to feel the good feelings that we feel.

CABRERA: That's a very cool picture. Is that you at the Knicks game?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CABRERA: For Mikey and his siblings, it was an unbelievable night courtside at a Knicks basketball game.

M. RICHERT: Everybody was smiling.

CABRERA: For his mom simply an hour of pampering.

A. RICHERT: It was such a nice treat to have a glass of champagne and get my hair wash and get it done for me. What has done for me what Barbara to me that day, that was just so nice to breathe again.

CABRERA: Barbara is a champion for these kids with cancer. Barbara is a champion for their families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you more than anything in the whole wide world.

ZOBIAN: I could spend all of my life just crying, but I would be under a blanket and not helping anyone.

CABRERA: So instead you are making something with that.

ZOBIAN: I'm turning crappy into happy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Now Mikey, he continues his battle. After fighting through leukemia. Earlier this year, he is slowly recuperating from a bone marrow transplant that he received in March. And I had a chance to visit him in the hospital recently. He is so strong, so brave. And Candlelighters continues to support him and his mom and his whole family during the difficult recovery.

I also saw Beckham recently or maybe I should say Officer Peterson. He just celebrated his 8th birthday. He is from Utah. He has been in New York for several weeks. He also is going through ongoing treatment.

And that's the thing. So many of these families, they come from all around the country. Remember what it's like going through this, away from family, away from home. That's why Candlelighters is there.

We will continue to share these inspirational stories all week and be sure to watch for the "Champions for Change" one-hour special this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN. We will be right back.