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Congressional Candidate Katie Arrington Seriously Injured in Car Accident; 500 Families Reunited but Thousands Unaccounted For; Lawmakers Tour Immigration Facilities in Texas and Florida; Car Drives into Crowd Protesting Antwon Rose Killing; Trump Headed To Las Vegas For Swing State Rally; EPA Spends $8,500 On Coins To Honor 2017 Disaster Responders. Aired 11-12p ET
Aired June 23, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:59:50] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It's the 11:00 eastern hour. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
NEWSROOM starts right now.
And we're following breaking news this hour, Republican congressman -- congressional candidate rather, Katie Arrington of South Carolina is hospitalized with serious injuries after a fatal car accident last night.
You might remember that earlier this month Arrington beat incumbent Mark Sanford in the state primary.
We're told she was in the passenger seat when another car traveling in the wrong direction struck the car carrying her, Arrington and a friend. The driver of that other vehicle was killed in the crash.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Arrington's campaign says she suffered a fracture to her back and several broken ribs and will have to undergo major surgery.
Moments ago, President Trump tweeting this, "My thoughts and prayers are with Representative Katie Arrington of South Carolina, including all of those involved in last night's car accident and their families.
Sanford posted on his Twitter account just a short time ago, "Our thoughts and prayers this morning go to Katie Arrington, her family and those involved in last night's automobile accident."
Joining me right now by phone is Schuyler Kropf with the "Post Courier", a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina. So Schuyler -- what more can you tell us about this accident and how Katie Arrington is doing?
SCHUYLER KROPF, POLITICAL EDITOR, "POST AND COURIER" (via telephone): Well, it was last night about 9:00 and she and a friend were leaving the Charleston area, heading toward Hilton Head where she was supposed to get an award from a medical association this morning.
And it was a particularly dark stretch of the highway. It's Highway 17, which is the coastal road out of Charleston then to the southern part of the state. It's famous for traffic accidents. There's no lighting out there at all. It's very, very rural.
WHITFIELD: And so Schuyler, she and another passenger were in this vehicle. What can you tell us about the passenger in the vehicle with Arrington? And I think Arrington -- we're reporting was in the passenger seat, correct?
KROPF: She was a passenger and the friend was just a friend of hers from Louisiana who had come up to just visit. And so they were going down together.
You know, it was ahead of a kind of a busy weekend here. She had won her primary. We had governor's primary that's still going on and President Trump is supposed to be in Columbia on Monday. I'm sure she would have been there, barring this accident.
WHITFIELD: My goodness.
And then what can you tell us about that route? You know, it was at 9:00. This is very close to the coast -- it's along the Barrier Islands. And typically on a number of those streets there, they can be very dark. Sometimes they don't even have lights. What do you know about --
KROPF: Yes. Yes. There's no lighting. It's the rural area between Buford, South Carolina and metropolitan Charleston region in that area. So it's just famous for accidents. At one point it was one of the deadliest stretches of highways in the state.
WHITFIELD: And Schuyler -- is there any way of giving us an idea of how her family is doing? How even, you know, folks who have been working on her campaign, working so closely with her -- how are they doing? How did they receive the news?
KROPF: Well, a lot -- you know, everyone was there very early on this morning. She had surgery today and now she's looking at surgery either this evening or tomorrow, I've just been told by the campaign. So there are a number of people there.
And, you know, I talked to one of her campaign people and her cell phone is still in the vehicle. It was at the vehicle so they just -- they don't know what the amount of condolences that have been coming in. They've been coming in from around the state.
She's at the medical university now. And she's alert and she was talking afterwards. You know, she works out a lot. There's that kind of stuff daily. The doctors have credited her for good physical condition, for it not being worse than it was.
WHITFIELD: She's at the medical university hospital there -- right there in downtown Charleston.
What do we know about, if anything, the circumstances of this accident? Reportedly the other vehicle was on the wrong side of the road. Was this a changing lanes kind of situation, or passing someone? What do we know?
KROPF: Well, it's a four lane; two going in one direction, two going the other. So someone was clearly -- the other driver was not where he was supposed to be. And he was killed in the accident. I believe it was a he. The identity has not been disclosed just yet. So the other person was definitely not where they were supposed to be.
WHITFIELD: All right. Schuyler Kropf -- thank you so much. Of course, All of us are wishing the best for Katie Arrington and all those involved in this accident.
All right. Still a lot of attention today on what is happening at the U.S. border with Mexico.
[11:05:01] The Department of Homeland Secretary now says 500 migrant families have been reunited. But thousands more remain separated following the White House's zero-tolerance policy which went into effect last month.
President Trump's executive order this week ended forced family separations at the border. But there's still no clear path to reunite families under that policy. Many democrats are still demanding answers.
Today more than two dozen lawmakers are getting a glimpse inside immigration facilities in two states, Texas and Florida.
We have team coverage from those sites. CNN correspondent Dianne Gallagher joining us liver from Homestead, Florida in a moment. But first let's join CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval in McAllen, Texas.
So Polo -- what kind of access do we believe these lawmakers are getting or will get?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred -- we've seen firsthand part of this delegation already making their way into a border patrol processing facility here along the U.S.-Mexico border located in the Road Runner Valley. That's basically the southernmost tip of Texas here.
Why are they coming here? This is one of the busy border patrol sectors here. They lead the way when it comes to apprehension numbers. What we expect them to do is tour the facility there, where these families are brought in, processed after they either turn themselves in or apprehended at the border only a few miles from where I'm standing.
They'll also be able to tour the facility that you see behind me which is essentially a detention facility where many of these individuals are housed until they get their day in court. Part of the zero tolerance policy that was implemented by the Trump administration about a month and a half ago now.
This is also the place that seems to be leading the way when it comes to prosecution of these illegal entry cases. We heard from a U.S. attorney yesterday in south Texas who says that they've already seen a significant increase, about a 266 percent increase in the numbers of cases that they're prosecuting -- these misdemeanor cases that they're prosecuting for illegal entry.
So what we expect in the coming hour or so -- these Democratic members, about 26 congressmen and women who have traveled here, should be bringing us up to speed on what they say, what they heard from immigration officials especially when it comes to reunification which we heard is a very complicated process, very lengthy process.
The head of ICE yesterday when these parents are eventually reunited with their children, they have to go through a process. Oftentimes that could mean fingerprinting, DNA testing to confirm that the parents that are being reunited with their children or at least the adults that are being reunited with children are, in fact, their parents -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval -- thank you so much.
Meanwhile Democratic Senator Bill Nelson and other lawmakers are getting ready to tour the immigration facility in south Florida. The tour comes just a few days after he says he was denied access.
CNN correspondent Dianne Gallagher actually got to go inside that facility. This is a detainment facility -- Dianne. And this is a facility that's next to an air reserve base.
What did you observe especially after describing for us last week what you saw in a detention center in McAllen, Texas? How does it square and compare there in Homestead?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Fred -- this is a very different facility. First of all this is a more long-term facility; HHS and the people who run it here like to refer to it as a temporary shelter. So it's not a processing center.
I can tell you, with the exception of this large fence that's surrounding the property, I didn't see any of those kennel-like cages that we saw in the centralized processing center in McAllen.
Now, what Senator Nelson is going to see in about an hour and a half may differ from what I saw in here today. These are very controlled, guided tours, similar to last week. But this one almost felt like I got a chance to interact even less than I did at that CPC.
When I went through here, Fred -- we took about an hour. But this is a massive campus. This is a vacant job core (ph) site. It kind of looks almost like a rundown community college -- complete with dorms, a dining hall and classroom areas.
We got a chance to look through all of that. I could not speak to anyone there unless they were authorized to speak with me and only workers could do that.
Now, I did see lots of children -- ages 13 to 17. People have been asking where are the girls? Well, there are about 400 teenage girls here. Boys outnumber girls two to one -- roughly 1,200 kids here. The great majority of them came across -- came across unaccompanied, by themselves across the border.
Now if you're seeing images, that's because the U.S. government gave us these images. Once again, they would not let us take our cameras, or phones or recording devices in there -- just pen and pad. They said that it was due to privacy concerns.
That's also why they said we couldn't talk to the children. So I couldn't ask how they were doing. But you probably can't hear it. I can. Look, they were outside playing. Right now they sound like they're outside playing soccer again.
It is a very rigorous schedule that they have for them. Schedules are posted on every single wall.
[11:09:57] They wake up at 6:30 in the morning. They do about six hours of school work that includes history and science; English as a second language. They have Art and PE classes, some leisure time that's bumped in there as well, and reading, and then lights are out at 10:00 p.m.
Every day they shower in the morning and at night they are given five days worth of clothes when they get there. And we did see them wearing some of that when we were there; girls in the pink and red shirts, boys in various shades of blue shirts.
But again, they can't leave. And the status of each one of these individual children I couldn't really confirm because of I wasn't allowed to talk to them.
They get that school work in. The dorms we went inside; it's 12 per dorm. It's sort of split into two with three bunk beds on either side and a sink on either side.
But, Fred -- this does look different. And the people here said that they are focused every single day on reunification. I felt like it was pretty simplified the way it was presented to us. They made it seem like it was no big deal -- tracking down these parents and finding them like, yes, we do it every day. Obviously that differs greatly (ph).
WHITFIELD: How do they do that? I mean are there photographs?
WHITFIELD: I mean how do they do that? Are there are photographs of, you know, --
GALLAGHER: They didn't tell us. Exactly -- they wouldn't tell us. They wouldn't go into it.
Now, I can tell you they do have case workers. Each kid has a case worker and they sent into the case worker room. There are about 12 to 15 women at computers. Most of them were actively on the phone when we got there. And they work to find sponsors.
But you have to remember that most of these kids who were in this facility allegedly came across by themselves. They were not separated from their parents at the border under Trump's zero-tolerance policy. About 70 of them in this facility fall in that -- basically in that department, they said.
So, you know, finding these parents, they wouldn't go into detail -- Fred. Basically all they said is, yes, it's not that hard which again differs from everything else that we have heard from anyone else trying to solve this problem.
WHITFIELD: So Bill Nelson earlier in the week had said that he tried to gain access there and said, you know, as a senator he gets oversight and he should be granted access. He said he was denied. He told, you know, our air -- on our air that he was told he would need two-weeks notice.
Today he is to be back. Is it your understanding that the doors will be opened to Senator Nelson and others or is this kind of a spontaneous, you know, moment likely to unfold today?
GALLAGHER: It's our understanding at this point, both from HHS and Senator Nelson's office that this is going to actually be a tour. He's going to get inside this time.
Marco Rubio, the other senator from Florida came in yesterday and toured the facility. So, it appears that for whatever reason, HHS is starting to allow lawmakers and you know, CBP -- they're all starting to allow these lawmakers into these facilities.
HHS says that it's because there's a protocol they have to go through. They have to fill out some forms to go in. They have to sort of alter the day and think about privacy of the children and the people who are being detained in these facilities.
Obviously the senators say that look, maybe we can help with this since we have oversight. Let us in right now. We don't understand.
Marco Rubio said he dealt with the same thing that I dealt with; that they would not let him talk to any of the children and they cited privacy concerns. So I don't know if Bill Nelson is going to get a chance to speak to anyone besides those who are approved and that's going to be HHS and the contractors who are working it. We'll wait to see after he is able to complete that tour.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dianne Gallagher -- thank you so much. Keep us posted. Appreciate that.
All right. Let's discuss now the continuing chaos at the border.
Joining me right David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator and assistant editor for the "Washington Post"; Ryan Lizza is a CNN political analyst and chief political correspondent for "Esquire"; and also with me Robyn Barnard, an immigration attorney for the nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, Human Rights First. Good to see all of you.
All right. David -- let me begin with you because it's been about three days now since the President signed his presidential order, you know, executive order reversing this policy of separating families at the border. But the confusion seems to only be intensifying. And reportedly in your paper, "The Washington Post", there are heated disagreements right there in the White House about all of this.
Any idea where the priorities might be? You know, matching up the kids with their parents, transporting people, placing kids in foster care, providing care. What?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, good morning -- Fred.
So right, we've reported this. Other outlets have reported that there is a lot of back and forth going on behind the scenes because there's a push and pull between at the highest level, the President wanting to appear tough on immigration and they continue to use this phrasing of a zero-tolerance policy but also understanding that after two weeks of intense focus from members of Congress, from the media and polling that shows earlier this week, CNN/SSRS polls show that 67 percent of Americans did not approve of the way the President was handling this particular issue.
[11:15:03] That it was unsustainable for the White House and the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to continue to follow the policy of interdicting then separating children from families and then turning the children over to HHS for this indefinite detention.
But as a lot of people have reported the President's executive order on Wednesday did give them sort of a fever break in terms of saying, ok, we're addressing this. We're changing course. It didn't solve that problem because a lot of this, going back to the Bush administration, the Obama administration before that, is supposed to be handled according to the Flores versus Reno 1997 court case.
So the administration has some discretion but they are bound by that case and they are bound by existing law. And as we know there is a log jam in Congress as to how to address this because Republicans and Democrats simply don't agree on the way to go forward.
WHITFIELD: Right. In the previous administrations their discretion was not to separate the families by volume like you're seeing right now. Only, you know, they remind us, in extenuating circumstances.
So, Ryan -- you know, this border confusion, you know, this chaos -- all of it seems to kind of mirror what happened just about a year ago in January of, you know, 2017 when you had this so-called Muslim ban. You know, these seven countries where people were not allowed in and then people were in the air, you know, in transit in some cases. And then folks didn't know, those who were working at the airport really weren't sure how to handle things. So how reminiscent is this kind of lack of forethought or planning, executing a policy or plan but then not letting everybody know how to carry it out?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. That's the right analogy. That's exactly what I thought of when looking at this executive order this week.
You know, in that case it was a new administration trying to -- in the words of political adviser Steve Bannon -- shock and awe the system with as many Trump campaign promises in the early days of the administration. And I supposed you could partially -- you could partially say well, they didn't know what they were doing so that might explain the chaos of that decision.
WHITFIELD: They can't say that now -- a year later.
LIZZA: Obviously, there's no excuse now. And I mean look, it's been reported in a lot of detail this week. We saw what happened. The President, who is not very detail-oriented when it comes to policy often doesn't understand the difference between legislation that Congress enacts and executive authority that he has, was worried about the political fallout from the images of these children.
And as the "Washington Post" and "New York Times" reported over the last couple of days, he ordered up in the morning an executive order that he wanted to sign by the afternoon. And one of the details in one of these reports is his understanding of this issue was so clouded that he said he wanted to sign legislation that afternoon.
LIZZA: And obviously Congress wasn't going to pass legislation for him by the afternoon.
WHITFIELD: Right. And his own people within the White House kind of corrected him -- well, it doesn't work like that, you know. So now let's kind of truncate it and he was satisfied with just this one, you know, ceasing of separating families.
But there's still the larger problem which is you've got all of these children, you know, dispersed in different places. You've got parents dispersed in different places who are still facing potential prosecution, Ryan -- but then you've got this problem of what to do with -- who is caring for.
And these images are incomplete, you know, with the government saying we're only going to give you selected images but it doesn't answer a lot of questions. It's a big problem.
LIZZA: Big problem. And when you go from a 180 of having this as your policy and having all the people in the federal government try and implement it and then overnight say, ok, that's not the policy, but with no guidance to DHS or any of the other agencies about how to quickly shift you create obviously even more chaos. If the Trump executive order on Wednesday is truly what the White House wants to be the new policy, then you would have the federal government turning quickly and implementing but there seems to have been no thought into how to implement it.
WHITFIELD: And so -- you know, Robyn, everyone agrees it's a big problem but it's more than that. We're talking about the welfare right now and in the future of a number of children.
You're a lawyer representing several immigrant parents detained and separated from their kids. You've seen a lot of the detention facilities. What have been your observations? You know, what have been, I guess, the real stresses that some of these kids and parents are enduring? And what do you see happening in the short term?
ROBYN BARNARD, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: Yes. So, many of these parents have no way to contact their children.
[11:19:58] So I met a mother who hadn't spoken to her two sons in over three weeks. She was just -- that's all she could focus on when we met in the detention center where she's being detained.
And the executive order importantly moved from a policy of family separation to a policy of indefinite family incarceration. And I've worked in all of these family detention centers across the country and they're still baby jails.
They are no different to what these kids are experiencing in the juvenile facilities that they're being detained in separately. And jails are no places for children especially not families and children that are fleeing and coming here to seek protection.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. Robyn Barnard, Ryan Lizza, David Swerdlick. You know, the images that we have seen are disturbing. And then even hearing the descriptions of imagery just like that -- even more unsettling.
All right. Thanks to all of you -- appreciate it.
All right. Still ahead -- another night of protests in Pittsburgh over the death of Antwon Rose, who was shot and killed by a police officer outside of the city. Today, the hunt is on for the driver of a car who drove through that crowd last night. Details -- next.
[11:21:12] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
Right now, police in Pittsburgh are looking for a black sedan that drove through a group of protesters overnight. Protesters shut down several streets for a third night after an unarmed teen was shot and killed by a police officer in the borough of east Pittsburgh.
Antwon Rose was shot by the officer three times as he was running from a car that had been pulled over. It was the officer's very first day on the job there. Here is CNN's Christi Paul.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Protests in downtown Pittsburgh after the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose. Four people were arrested Friday as demonstrators shut down a bridge and two highway entrances.
In this video, a car drives through the crowd. It was then hit and surrounded by some of the protesters as it passed by. Police say there were no injuries and they're looking for that vehicle. In another incident, tense moments as a tow truck driver confronted the crowd.
Video posted on Facebook shows Tuesday's fatal encounter. Police say 17-year-old Antwon Rose had been a passenger in a car that was stopped by police because it matched the description of a car that was involved in an earlier shooting.
Police say the officer ordered the driver out of the car and on to the ground. Antwon and another passenger ran from the vehicle and East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld opened fire, striking Antwon. Rose later died at the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no reason. He was just running. And we didn't have that video, we would be forced to believe the lies that they tell.
PAUL: Police say Antwon was unarmed but did have an empty gun magazine in his pocket and authorities say they recovered two semiautomatic weapons from the floor of the vehicle.
Officer Rosfeld who had just been sworn on the East Pittsburgh police force a few hours before the shooting has been placed on administrative leave.
DEBORAH JONES, WITNESS: You shot that young boy for running and he's alive. Yes, he's alive but he's bleeding. I just can't understand how anybody can just shoot anybody for running.
WHITFIELD: That report by Christi Paul.
Still ahead -- President Trump heading to Las Vegas for a rally but this is not -- this is a state, rather, that he lost in 2016 and it's also a place where the immigration issue is front and center. We'll go to the White House for the latest -- next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The president is coming under fire today from a prominent Republican congressman, South Carolina's Mark Sanford lost his primary. In an op-ed in the "Washington Post," he says he lost because he wasn't Trump enough.
I am reading a portion from his op-ed, "We should all be alarmed when dissenting voices are squashed. President Trump is not the first executive to want compliance from a legislative body, but he has taken it to a new level. This is more than a problem. It's a challenge to one of the most basic of American tenets that we can agree to disagree," end quote. That from the op-ed.
Meantime, the president is heading to Las Vegas today for a rally and fundraiser for Republican Senator Dean Heller. Nevada is a key swing state and also a state that Trump lost in 2016.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is live for us from the White House. So, Heller's Nevada seat is considered to be the endangered list for Republicans already and this is a state where immigration is front and center.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Yes. That seat held by Dean Heller is one target that Democrats are zeroing in on. You noted Nevada is a state that Hillary Clinton won by two points. It's not just Heller's seat, but also two House seats that are in play for Republicans.
Perhaps not surprising that the president is heading there today, but it is notable because of the timing, the president going to a state that has immigration at the forefront of its issues, at a time when his administration has been under fire for its own immigration policy.
Nevada has changed in the last several election cycles. It has a population that is more than a quarter of Latino. It has a sizeable population of service workers and at the base of that essentially are these labor groups that Democrats historically have been able to tap into and mobilize.
So, there is going to be a close fight for those seats, heading into November, especially key as President Trump, as you saw in that tweet yesterday called on his supporters to help boost the red wave into Congress during the midterm elections.
Specifically, that tweet was based on the issue of immigration, sort of it will be interesting to see if the president today during a fundraiser for Dean Heller or during his speech to the Nevada Republican Convention makes any mention of immigration.
Yesterday, he took to the stage with some family members who had lost loved ones to undocumented immigrants and he tried to make a comparison between their pain and the separations carried out by the policies of this administration. We'll see if he carries on that line or if he tries to try to shift the subject in a different direction -- Fred.
[11:35:07] WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you so much.
All right. Still ahead, questions about why the EPA is spending thousands of dollars on coins celebrating the agency's response to 2017 disasters including Hurricanes Maria and Harvey. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: The Environmental Protection Agency raising eyebrows again after spending thousands of thousands of dollars for commemorative coins to congratulate the agency's response to natural disasters in 2017. Here is CNN's Sara Ganim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has learned this, here's what commemorative coins commissioned by the EPA will look like, congratulating employees on their response to the 2017 hurricane, including Maria and Harvey.
Congratulations in celebration for a response to deadly disasters. Thousands are estimated to have died in Puerto Rico and Texas and the response, according to environmental and advocacy groups was far from excellent.
ERIK OLSON, SENIOR DIRECTOR, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: EPA's response to the drinking water disaster has been an unmitigated failure. I think people are outraged when they hear that people within the federal government are being congratulated on what a wonderful job was done when thousands of people have died.
GANIM: And yet EPA staff ordered tangible tokens to include the phrase "response excellence" and "protecting human health and the environment all across America." That's all according to the government contract obtained by the group, American Bridge, a progressive super PAC.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to drink this water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to drink it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GANIM: In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, desperate Puerto Ricans filled up buckets with contaminated water from an EPA super fund site to drink and bathe. Though the agency sent teams to test the water, the site wasn't properly locked down by the EPA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're concerned because it's not absolutely clean, you know, pure water.
GANIM: Watchdog groups also point to widespread contamination and a boil water advisory issued for nearly the entire island all because, they say, the EPA wasn't able to have clean water in place.
And in Texas, after Hurricane Harvey, the EPA claimed a damaged super fund site was safe when, in fact, it was leaking waste. The agency later reversed itself. In a statement about the coins the EPA tells CNN this is not news and says the federal government challenge coins are awarded to various individuals.
While these so-called challenge coins are historically used by the military, they have recently become more popular, including for this month's Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.
But in this case, the Trump administration's overall response to the storms, particularly Hurricane Maria, has been widely criticized as a failure.
OLSON: Some people have been insulted by this, to imagine that we're giving out coins in order to commemorate how wonderful the response was, is completely tone deaf.
GANIM: The EPA spent about $8,500 on these coins. Big picture, not a ton of money but considering that Puerto Rico still has a lot of places without safe drinking water and considering that we are now in another hurricane season, unclear, if they are any more prepared than last year at this very same time. Folks who I spoke with say it seems like this is money that could have been invested in the EPA elsewhere. Sara Ganim, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: And all this week on CNN, we've been profiling "Champions for Change." I'll bring you one story that is important to me, using equine therapy to help people with mental and physical challenges.
WHITFIELD: All right. From one inspiration to another, all this week, we've been telling the stories of extraordinary people and organizations that are making a difference. We are calling them "Champions For Change."
Anderson Cooper traveled to Haiti to reunite with Dr. Jane Aronson, the founder of Worldwide Orphans. They first met in 2010 after the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. Dr. Aronson's group works with orphans all around the world to try to improve their lives through education, care and play.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): There are some 75,000 children living in orphanages in Haiti. Around the world, there are more than 140 million. The vast majority of these kids will never be adopted. So how can we help improve their lives?
That's the question Dr. Jane Aronson has dedicated her life to answering. She runs a foundation called Worldwide Orphans or WWO, which works in Haiti, the United States and four other countries, to develop ways to help these kids learn and love and laugh. WWO funds programs in local schools and orphanages to help promote play as a tool of learning. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about using music as a way to learn and be playful.
COOPER: And they train teachers to be active participants in the class. That's the school principal on the drums.
(on camera): So, these are all kids who live in the area?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely. Hey, gang.
COOPER: Wow, they're so little.
(voice-over): Music and play isn't just about having fun, it's actually about helping kids grow.
(voice-over): Why have a toy library?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the idea that toys and play actually enhances learning. A very simple idea that's been studied over the last probably 100 years.
COOPER: Play actually has an impact on the brain of children?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It changes the physiology of the brain.
COOPER (voice-over): At the WWO programs in Haiti, it's not just orphans, all disadvantaged kids are welcomed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When was the last time you played?
COOPER: This is 3-year-old Javenska. Her father abandoned her. Her mother now works as a volunteer with WWO. She's not enrolled in preschool. This toy library is where she learns. When we first meet her, she's quiet. Put that on top? Wow. But after using the blocks to play, she becomes animated and engaged. Oh, no!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you have a little attachment going on.
COOPER (on camera): She's very sweet, yes. I like your hair.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See, this is what you have going on right now. You were successful in communicating with her and getting her attention and then she got close to you.
COOPER: I've heard you say that if a child has at least one adult who loves them, they can be healthy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely. Healthy emotionally and physically. Because then the adult serves as their secure attachment figure that provides them with good nourishment and education and the support they need when they face challenges.
COOPER (voice-over): Dr. Aronson first got involved in Haiti after the earthquake. We were here eight years ago in a hospital when a 5- year-old boy was rushed in. He'd been trapped underneath the rubble of his home for more than seven days. (on camera): What's he saying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to drink some juice.
COOPER: Amazingly, he survived. Ten members of his family, including his parents, did not. In the years since, Dr. Aronson has stepped in to help care for him and his two brothers. She brought us to meet him now. He's 13 and lives with his brothers and extended family in Port- Au-Prince.
(on camera): Initially, after the earthquake, he was kind of quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was almost like in a state of stiffness and paralysis both emotionally and physically.
COOPER: You're talking about for months?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For years.
COOPER: For years?
(voice-over): Thanks to WWO, Monley is in school and is thriving. He wants to one day become a doctor or a soccer player. In Haiti, soccer is a big part of WWO's learning program.
[11:55:13] Monley joined us at the field as well. Watching him laugh and play like any other 13-year-old boy is remarkable, considering what he's been through. He's an example of the good work that Dr. Jane Aronson and WWO are doing on the ground in Haiti and elsewhere around the world.
And with more funding, there's no telling what they can do to help this generation of kids grow up to be happy and healthy.
WHITFIELD: And you can see more inspirational stories during the "Champions for Change" one-hour special tonight, 8:00 Eastern.
Right now, we want to take you to McAllen, Texas, the southern border and you can see Representative Jackie Spier speaking. A number of lawmakers have had an opportunity to tour the facility there. Let's listen in.
REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: -- there were small children, many of them under the age of 5, who were segregated from their parents and were crying, and one actually had been separated from her mom for over a day, even though her mom was just in the cell right next to her.
And they were sleeping on concrete with mylar foil and that is a situation in which they were required to be in for two days possibly, and then transferred here, where there's more than 800 of them, and they're segregated based on their status, whether they're unaccompanied minors, whether they're children with families. Here, they actually have a mat on which to sleep, but it is, for all intents and purposes, a prison. They're cages. And I think all of us will have a different perspective certainly. But this is not the way we treat people who are seeking asylum in this country.
And that's my biggest concern. People who are seeking asylum should be given the rights of all those who are asylum seekers. It's the law of this country based on the convention from 1967 in which the United State was a party to and ratified.
And under those circumstances, they have a right to a hearing and a right to have the determination as to whether or not they have credible fear to return to their country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible). After seeing what you've seen, are you saying that they're wrong?
SPEIER: No, yes, I am saying they're wrong. They are in cells. They're in cells and in cages.
I'd like for each of our members to identify themselves and if they would like -- there's 25 of us so I think what I'll do is have them each identify themselves and then if you have questions, various members can come forward and answer them. All right. Mike, do you want to start?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, Massachusetts. I want to echo everything Jackie said. I want to be real clear. The reason I'm here is because Donald Trump changed policies to treat families in an inhumane way. That's why I'm here. I'm here to draw a big bold line under that.
The president claimed for a week he couldn't do anything without Congressional action and then somehow miraculously he did just that. He can take care of this problem immediately. He created it. He can take care of it. He should come to Congress to talk to us about ways to change the immigration laws, so we don't have to go through this again.
REPRESENTATIVE BRENDA LAWRENCE (D), MICHIGAN: I'm Brenda Lawrence from Detroit, Michigan. I came here to look, to see the people who -- the human beings who are coming to this country for asylum. I did not see the criminal. The criminals that these human beings are being portrayed as. I would say clearly the president's executive order had an immediate impact on families. And this president should be ashamed.
REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm Congresswoman Barbara Lee from the 13th Congressional District of California. This process, first of all, is such a dehumanizing process. It's shocking to me. It's outrageous. And I'm so concerned that these individua individuals, one, still do not have any legal representation as they go through the process.
Two, still don't have any counseling or mental health care and these people -- these children especially are traumatized. And so, this is part of this Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy which, to me, is barbaric.
REPRESENTATIVE JOE COURTNEY (D), CONNECTICUT: Joe Courtney from the state of Connecticut. Last April, Jeff Sessions and President Trump created a legal black hole for minors coming into this country and radically changed the way that they were being processed.