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Trump Administration Says 500 Families Separated At The Border Have Been Reunited; President Trump's Executive Order Effect On Family Reunification Process; Flores Settlement Prohibiting The Detention Of Children For More Than 20 Days; President Trump Certainly Doubled Down On His Controversial Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy; Pittsburgh Police Are Looking For A Black Sedan That Drove Through A Crowd Of Protesters Last Night. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 23, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: -- from leaving a migrant detention center in Texas. That bus eventually did depart with those children on board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENISE BENAVIDEZ, PROTESTER: To see a bus full of children that I saw myself, this little girl, (INAUDIBLE), I was telling her, you're not alone, (INAUDIBLE) we are with you. People are speaking up for her and she put her little hand on the window and, you know, I saw a baby. Like a little toddler in there and I saw another baby. It was just very difficult to see. I'm a mother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Polo Sandoval is live on the scene in McAllen, Texas for us.
Polo, what is the tension level there now? Seems like things have cleared out but do we have any more information about where that bus went?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very different scene now, obviously, things got fairly tense about an hour or so ago as one of these buses that we know are often used to transport undocumented people to either hearings or to other detention or processing facilities. One of the buses was rolling out of the border patrol facility which is currently being guarded by local and federal authorities.
As it was driving out, a protest basically spilled on to the streets, members of LULAC and other pro-immigrant groups basically stood in front of the bus and I'm not sure if we have some of that video for you to play it out, but I want you to see for yourself exactly what went down here in McAllen, Texas, a mere two miles from the U.S.- Mexico border.
CABRERA: I was waiting for a sound bite there, Polo. I apologize for the pause. We are looking at images of those heated moments once again. But I
know you have also been following along with the members of Congress who have been in McAllen, Texas, today as well, because there have been a lot of visits to some of those facilities as they have been touring the detention centers.
Tell us a little bit more about those visits. Who is there and why are they so eager to see for themselves what's going on?
SANDOVAL: Absolutely, Ana.
As we see some of these pictures play out here, keep in mind that this was just a couple hours after a delegation about 26 lawmakers, Democrats from across the country, toured several border patrol facilities, including the one that you see here and saw firsthand what we have seen in pictures that have been given to us by federal authorities. Remember, our cameras have not been allowed quite yet, authorities saying or at least citing privacy issues so we have seen these handout images.
Now, those are the pictures. Those are the scenes that these representatives were able to see today as we heard from a Democratic lawmaker from California, the scenes inside are heartbreaking. You see children and parents being kept behind these chain link structures. At the same time, they also spoke to some of the officials who work here and some of the people who are tasked with taking care of over 2,000 children. Authorities saying that yes, they are clearly trying to do everything they can, even these lawmakers who visited these facilities said, look, they understand that the border patrol agents, customs officers and all these stakeholders are doing everything they possibly can but at the same time, the odds are against them. This is a logistical nightmare, processing these people and then trying to reunite them with their parents, so the ideal fix, according to the lawmakers who we heard from today, as they toured these facilities, is legislation. Now, what does that include? What does that mean? It really depends who you ask.
CABRERA: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you very much for your reporting. We appreciate it.
The Trump administration says 500 families separated at the border have been reunited but the status of thousands of other separated families remains unclear. One immigration lawyer representing families inside the detention center tells CNN the reunification process could take up to a month. In the meantime, health and human services says thousands of children that are in their custody, they still don't know exactly what they are going to do.
CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera spoke to one detained mother desperately trying to find her son.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The phone call came from inside the port Isabel detention center in South Texas. On the line is an undocumented immigrant who asked that we not identify her by name. She is from Honduras and was separated from her 9-year-old son 11 days ago after crossing the Rio Grande illegally.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LAVANDERA: I ask her how she is feeling. Not good at all, she says. It's a trauma we will never forget. All of the mothers who are here as well as the kids. The truth is, we never imagined this would happen. I asked her how she was separated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LAVANDERA: They betrayed us, she said. They told us they weren't going to separate us from them and we never imagined it was going to be for so long.
Department of homeland security officials have vehemently denied that immigrants have been misled in any way.
JODY GOODWIN, ATTORNEY: There are things that you can do specifically to help out with the children.
LAVANDERA: From inside her south Texas law office, Jody Goodwin is trying to find 22 children. She represents 25 undocumented immigrants who have all been separated from their children for about two weeks.
Most of them don't even know where their kids are at this point?
[16:05:00] GOODWIN: None of them know where their kids are. I don't know where their kids are.
LAVANDERA: Goodwin says her clients have tried calling the numbers provided by the federal government to track where their children were sent but that hasn't worked. Only three of her clients have even spoken to their children.
GOODWIN: It's just not a system where you punch in a parent's name and it pops out the child's name. It just -- it just doesn't exist.
LAVANDERA: Highly frustrating for them.
GOODWIN: It's very frustrating. Very frustrating. And each time I see them, you know, they ask, you know, any news? Do you have any news?
LAVANDERA: While there have been a number of emotional reunions between separated families, there are still many families struggling to just connect over the phone. The department of homeland security says there is not a publicly accessible database to track the shelters where undocumented children are being kept. DHS says the adult detention centers have phones where the parents can call their children. The Honduran immigrant on the phone tells me she is in a wing of the detention center with 70 other mothers who are also trying to communicate with their children. I ask her what message she would like the world to hear.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LAVANDERA: She says, President Trump, for one second, put yourself in our place. The only thing we want is for them to give us our children back.
Government officials say the reason the children's database isn't widely accessible is because of security concerns but the fact of the matter is there are hundreds of undocumented immigrants who have been detained for weeks who still haven't been able to find out where their children are, much less talk to them.
I spoke with one Central American man who has been detained nearly three weeks. He told me his greatest concern is worrying about the anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion that his daughter must be experiencing because of this separation.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.
CABRERA: That is so heartbreaking to think about those parents and children trying to find each other.
Thank you, Ed.
The issue of immigrant family separations has opened up a Pandora's Box, really, of political and legal challenges. It's not clear what effect President Trump's executive order is can have on the family reunification process, and complicating the matter is the Flores settlement, a decades old policy prohibiting the detention of children for more than 20 days.
So let's talk about where things go from here. Joining us now, former President of the American immigration lawyers association, David Leopold.
David, thank you very much for being with us. First, I just want to get your general reaction to where we are at in this process since the President signed that executive order.
DAVID LEOPOLD, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Ana, we are at chaos and that's where we were and that's where we have been and I honestly -- and I feel that's where we're going. You mention the Flores settlement. And if you read the President's executive order, basically he maintains the two policies that led to this chaos that led to this separation. One is that zero tolerance policy where everybody who comes in other than a port of entry is prosecuted for a federal misdemeanor. And the other one is the indefinite detention of parents in immigration custody. And so what the executive order tries to do is trade family separation for the detention of children with their parents. The problem with that, Ana, is that's against the law. That's against the Flores agreement.
CABRERA: Right, because that says you can't hold children longer than 20 days. So if children were to be kept with their parents in detention, that would likely go beyond that.
But explain why it would go beyond 20 days. How long does the process usually play out for -- take to play out for these families, these parents who would be going through the immigration court system?
LEOPOLD: Well, first of all, they are putting them through the federal criminal system. They are putting them through misdemeanor process, which could take weeks, and then you go through the department of homeland security, department of justice, immigration process whereby they would apply for asylum. In those cases, look, those are complicated cases. We are talking about people who are far from home. They have fled horrific violence. They have fled domestic violence. They have fled gang violence perpetrate bid by the government or people the government can't control. It's going to take a long time to prove those cases. So it's going to take more than 20 days is where I'm going with this.
At that point, under Flores, these kids have to be released. And what the President said in his executive order, Ana, was to the department of justice, look, go back to the court in California, get Flores amended. And I read the brief that they filed yesterday to do that, and it's inadequate. It does not give requisite facts. And I read the brief that they filed yesterday to do that and it is inadequate. It does not give reckless at facts. It doesn't talk about, you know, either the law being changed or the facts changing. It just doesn't do the trick.
I do not believe this judge is going to amend the agreement and that puts us back to where we were because we still have the two policies in place that Donald Trump chosen policies, zero tolerance and indefinite detention, which are going to lead to the separation of children again. That's my worry.
[16:10:14] CABRERA: Well, that's an obvious concern of a lot of people. But let me read you something because you brought up the issue of asylum. A lot of these parents, as our understanding, are trying to get asylum here in the U.S. Here's what the President tweeted earlier this week. We should not let people come into our country based on the legal phrase they are being told to say as their password. The President appears to be referencing those seeking asylum here. Is that just an easy go-to for immigrants, to claim asylum?
LEOPOLD: Well, first of all, we are talking about the President of the United States. He has no business, no business whatsoever prejudging anybody's cases, especially an asylum case. That right there is a problem, and it has legal ramifications to it. But to answer your question directly, those are not easy cases, and people are not just told what to say. And if somebody comes in and says something that's scripted, you know, there's a credible fear interview. That's the first step. And the officers are trained to pick up on that.
So, the President doesn't know the law. He doesn't know what's going on. He's simply doing what he's told to be doing but Stephen Miller, his white nationalist senior adviser, Jeff Sessions, Kirstjen Nielsen, people are dead set to separate families, regardless of what the law says. And the President should be reminded, they all should be reminded, Ana, that the law, and I'll be technical here for a second, section 208 of the immigration law says you can apply for asylum in the United States whether you are here legally, whether you are not here legally, whether you arrived legally, whether you arrived between the ports of entry. It is absolutely legal what these people are doing. And to prosecute them for a federal criminal misdemeanor, that is a violation of law. That is a violation of our international obligations as a country, the United States.
CABRERA: David, there is some new data that just came out and it shows, according to the U. N., that the U.S. has the greatest percentage of asylum seekers compared to any other country in the world. Does that surprise you?
LEOPOLD: No, of course not. We are the beacon of liberty. We are the beacon of freedom. That's pretty much why our country was formed, you know. My father came here as a refugee. Many people, you know, their parents came here in that context, and seeking freedom because they love this country. So, no, it doesn't surprise me. This is the greatest country in the world. Of course people would come here. Seeking safety, because we have a democracy. We have fairness in our system.
Right now, we have a President that doesn't seem to respect the rule of law and an attorney general that doesn't seem to understand the rule of law and a secretary of homeland security who wants to separate children and just today -- I'm sorry, just yesterday, files a memorandum once again seeking to end DACA, the protection for dreamers. So, we have got a pattern and practice here, Ana, of this administration, this nativist administration, anti-immigrant, going after children, going after dreamers. You know, it's very --
CABRERA: I hear your criticism. I hear your criticism, but I think it's also fair to point out that the President did sign this executive order. I know you say that it has a lot of flaws in it, but the result of the executive order at this point is to bring families back together, to prevent families from being separated, and in fact, the border patrol says at least 500 children have been reunified with their families. I mean, isn't that a start? And should they want to try to figure out how to go about the reunification process which I know is not spelled out in that executive order. Given your experience, maybe you could offer them some advice about how they can do that.
LEOPOLD: Right. Well, I'm glad the President blinked in the face of worldwide horror at what he was doing but there's nothing in that executive order, Ana, that requires the reunification of these children. And I will tell you, the system that is being used, the system that they go to, the health and human services system, that system was designed for unaccompanied minors, kids who come here with no parents.
What happened here was they started separating kids with parents, so the system is completely overwhelmed. And as I understand it, just yesterday, the government admitted in a court proceeding in California that they have no plan, no plan to reunify these children with their parents.
This is chaos, and this is -- it shocks the conscience that they would do this without -- that they would separate these children without any intelligent, reliable, tested plan to reunify these mothers that we hear crying in the clips and the children that we hear crying in the clips together. This is -- this is just awful, and it has no place in this country.
[16:15:10] CABRERA: David Leopold, thank you for your time and your perspective.
Coming up, Trump rallying crowds in Las Vegas. We will take you there live next.
Plus another night of prognostication protests in Pittsburgh over the death of Antwon Rose who was shot and killed by a police officer. And now authorities are on the hunt for the driver of a car that drove through protesters last night. Details ahead.
[16:19:37] CABRERA: President Trump just wrapped up his speech at the Nevada Republican convention and he weighed in on the unfolding immigration crisis gripping this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But if we did that, everybody come, if we did that, you would have -- you're right -- the word is overrun. We will have millions and millions of people pouring through our country with all of the problems that would cause, with crime and schools and you would have millions -- all I have to do is say, yes, we want to take care of everybody, we want everybody to come. Do what you want to do, even if they saw weakness, if they see any weakness, they will come by the millions. We have to have strong borders. We're going to have the wall. We're going to have the wall. We've already started it. We've already started it. You know, we've started it in San Diego.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:20:29] CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joins us live from that event in Las Vegas.
Sarah, what else is the President saying?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the President Trump certainly doubled down on his controversial zero tolerance immigration policy, not showing any signs of striking a conciliatory tone amid the outrage that has swept the nation over the images of President Trump blaming previous administrations for creating the problem, blaming congressional inaction for leaving the immigration system as it is, and even praising the way the government has handled this crisis, seemingly tone deaf and potentially oblivious to the criticism of the conditions under which these families have been kept at the border. President Trump also touting his accomplishments toward
denuclearization in North Korea although we haven't seen any concrete steps taken since that summit, and praising his administration's moves on trade, touting the tariffs that he's recently imposed against allies and describing the U.S. as a piggy bank that our friends have abused, even in the context of NATO, so this was a very wide-ranging speech here in Las Vegas, even though ostensibly, the remarks were supposed to be in support of incumbent senator Dean Heller, one of the most vulnerable candidates running in November, Ana.
CABRERA: Of course because this is a state Hillary Clinton won, has a large Latino population. I also understand Corey Lewandowski is there, Sarah, of course, just day just days after his controversial remark.
WESTWOOD: That's correct, Corey Lewandowski traveled down here to Las Vegas on air force one, according to the White House press pool. We spotted him working the crowd. He was very popular, attendees at the Nevada state convention wanted to take pictures with him. He was something of a celebrity here in these circles. Of course this is a very friendly crowd for President Trump, like you mentioned. This comes just days after Lewandowski was heavily criticized for mocking the story of a disabled girl who was separated from her mother at the southern border, Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Sarah Westwood, we appreciate your reporting. President Trump, again, taking a shot at Senator John McCain at that same Nevada event. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Repeal and replace Obamacare. It was done until early in the morning a man walked in and he said, thumbs down, thumbs down. That was not good. And nobody knew he was going to do that. He campaigned on repeal and replace. He campaigned for years, repeal and replace, repeal and replace. Nobody talked to him. Nobody needed to. It was a done deal. And then he walked in, thumbs down. It's all right. Because we have essentially gutted it anyway, and we now have really good stuff coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Coming up, another night of protests in Pittsburgh over the death of Antwon Rose, who was shot and killed by a police officer and now authorities are on the hunt for a driver of a car that drove through protesters last night. Details ahead.
[16:28:07] CABRERA: Pittsburgh police are looking for a black sedan that drove through a crowd of protesters last night. No one was seriously hurt, fortunately. c. They are angry over the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.
And our Christi Paul breaks down what happened to that teen and the unrest his death has sparked in Pennsylvania. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protests in downtown Pittsburgh after the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose.
CROWD: The police did this.
PAUL: Four people were arrested Friday as demonstrators shut down a bridge and two highway entrances. In this video, a car drives through the crowd. Now 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 Rossfield opened fire, striking Antwon. Rose later died at the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no reason. He's just running. If we didn't have that video, we would be forced to believe the lies they are about to 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 Rossfield who had just been sworn in on the east Pittsburg police force a few hours before shooting has been placed on administrative leave.
[16:30:02] DEBORAH JONES, WITNESS: You shot that young boy for running. I said, is he alive? Yes, he is alive but he is bleeding. I just can't understand how anybody can shoot anybody for running.
CABRERA: That was our Christi Paul. Thanks so much.
Let's go to Ryan Nobles in Pittsburgh this afternoon.
Ryan, what can you tell us about how community leaders are reacting there? What are they saying about this controversial police shooting?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, there's a lot of concern and that concern comes on a number of levels. First, there's a lot of people, community leaders, both elected and nonelected that are demanding for a full investigation into this shooting of Antwon Rose. But there's also a concern about how this is going to impact the community. Obviously, there's a level of tension now that was demonstrated through Christi's story that you just played that's going on for the past several days. And we expect more of those protests the pop up tonight. And in fact, one of the mayors of a nearby Aliquippa, Pennsylvania is actually telling protesters they can come to his city and protest so they can remain safe. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR DAVID WALKER (D), ALIQUIPPA, PENNSYLVANIA: OK, we need to understand and connect with this community on a level that's personal. Because if it's not personal, there is no connection. If there's no connection, then they are looked at as cattle or to shoot down in the street. That's what will happen.
The connection needs to be made. Love has to prevail. Hope, faith, and love, the greatest of these is love. If you don't love somebody, if you don't care about somebody, their life won't matter. This is one rock in the water. That kid touched lives. That's a dream deferred. That's promises un-kept. Understand what this thing is. This is life. We talking about life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And so today, things have been relatively calm. There was a Juneteenth celebration here in Pittsburgh. And that was largely a celebration of African-American culture, but there were definitely some echoes of their concern about the situation with Antwon Rose. Right now, a bit of a calm, but we are expecting more protests tonight -- Ana.
CABRERA: They have had three straight nights, as you point out, so more protests tonight. Any idea of what's next from the police perspective?
NOBLES: Yes, well, there's two things playing out here, Ana. There is the investigation into the shooting, and also exactly who is going to be in charge of that shooting -- or that shooting investigation, and that's what these protesters are really focused on. They have promised that they are going to continue to basically shut things down here in the Pittsburgh metro area until they get justice and in particular they are asking for the district attorney of Allegheny County to recuse himself from this investigation. They believe that he cannot look at this situation fairly. They also believe that the police officer involved in the shooting should be immediately arrested and charged in this incident.
Now, that district attorney's office has told us that he plans to remain on the case and he has no plans to step down right now and believes that he can investigate this situation fairly. We will have to see tonight, Ana, how those protesters respond to that. There are at least two or three different organizers that are talking about planning events tonight. We actually just saw a really big rainstorm come through here, so weather could impact some of that as rain showers are expected on and off throughout the day. But as I said before, the situation here remains tense so everybody is on edge.
CABRERA: All right, Ryan Nobles in Pittsburgh. Thank you, sir.
Our breaking news this hour, President Trump touting his immigration policy to a crowd of supporters in Las Vegas. This as congressional lawmakers describe sobbing children at detention centers near the U.S. border with Mexico.
And joining us now is Republican congressman Mike Coffman, who made a trip to west Texas to view what he calls Trump's terrible mistake.
Congressman Coffman, good to see you. Thank you for spending time with us. I know you just toured a facility there housing hundreds of detained boys, unaccompanied minors is my understanding there in Tornillo, Texas. What is your biggest takeaway from your visit today?
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: Well, they are now certainly some girls down there but how horrible this policy has been in terms of -- I get the zero tolerance, but the administration should have gone forward with the change in the law that would allow the separation of families before embarking on this policy. They have since, through executive order, are now reuniting these families or keeping them together, and then reuniting the ones that they have already separated. So just a really, really bad decision and with a tragic outcome.
CABRERA: Did you have a chance to talk with some of those teenagers or kids that you visited?
COFFMAN: Sure. I can speak enough Spanish and so I was able to interact with the children there. They are being well cared for in this particular facility. Most of them are teenagers, just about all of them are teenagers. There are now some girls in the facility, separated, but mostly unaccompanied minors. Some certainly from -- that were torn from their families and hopefully we're going to be reunited soon.
[16:35:14] CABRERA: Do you know if any children who were taken to that facility have already been reunited?
COFFMAN: There's -- there were about -- only 26 who have been torn from their families under the new policy. Three have been returned to their families already and 23 are pending.
CABRERA: And you mentioned you saw girls in that facility too. Do you know how that came to be? Because initially, when they first erected that facility, temporary facility, more of a tent facility of sorts, that was just boys was our understanding, who were taken there. So it sounds like they are actually adding to the numbers there if you are now seeing girls there as well.
COFFMAN: They are adding to the girls. So there were a group of girls there, mostly from -- all from Central America. Had the opportunity to talk to them as well in Spanish. They are relatively recent arrivals to the country but they crossed the border as unaccompanied minors and these girls certainly that I talked to were not the ones that were taken from their families. Involuntarily. And so -- but they were segregated and they were being well cared for.
CABRERA: And that is an important distinction, because the issue that has fueled such outcry has been the separation of families at the border, children who are crossing the border with a parent and then being taken away from that parent. But as you point out, there's still the issue of unaccompanied minors who are coming, being sent to America by their family members and are coming either by themselves or with somebody who is sort of being their guide that is not related to them.
Congressman, let me turn to some of the politics of all of this, because you had made some news in the last couple of days, calling for White House adviser Stephen Miller to be fired.
Let's play what you said to CNN's Manu Raju.
COFFMAN: I believe Stephen Miller advised him on the border, on this recent problem, in terms of tearing families apart, that lack of understanding of the significance of how that played out. It has Stephen Miller's fingerprints on it, and so, you know, I think that the President needs a different adviser.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, it sounds like you are calling for some accountability, but what difference do you think it would really make if Stephen Miller were to leave?
COFFMAN: Well, first of all, I think the President got some miserable advice on undergoing a program where certainly he could have expeditiously got statutory authority to keep families together. They chose to move ahead with this program of zero tolerance without getting that authority, so they were forced, under the law, to separate families -- separate children from their parents. Horrible decision. And so I think the President needs to hold -- Stephen Miller is his chief adviser when it comes to immigration reform. And so I think, in my view, Stephen Miller needs to go.
CABRERA: But then again --
COFFMAN: The President needs to hold someone accountable for this.
CABRERA: Right. But then you also have Kirstjen Nielsen. You also have attorney general Jeff Sessions who have been involved in implementing this policy, who have been part of creating the situation there along the border. Do they need to go too?
COFFMAN: Well, I think the President needs to -- only the President can make that consideration. And I think what I would like to see from the President, an acknowledgment that this policy was a terrible mistake, not just that it was a bad visual image but that it was a fundamental mistake to tear families apart and I think he ought to hold somebody in this administration accountable for advising him to move in this direction.
CABRERA: Do you know what the plan is now for reuniting these families?
COFFMAN: So, there is a plan in place. There is a fairly, as described to me, now, I'm going to follow up on this, to make sure that what they are telling me happens, but they have certainly a robust system in terms of tracking these children and tracking the parents as well as an understanding of who might -- a relative that might sponsor them in the United States, and so obviously I'm going to be watching this very closely to see how expeditiously, how quickly we can reunite these family members.
CABRERA: So you said they -- who's "they" who described their plan to you? Was it HHS officials? DHS officials? Border patrol? Who is coming up with the plan and what details can you share with us?
COFFMAN: Well, I think that's probably -- you know, one of the confusing things about this whole process is that there are -- there is an alphabet soup of federal agencies that have one aspect of this or another. Border patrol certainly at the border, then you have DHS, department of homeland security, has a role in this. Department of human services has a role in this. ICE has a role in this.
So it is -- you know, it is going to be -- and so one of the problems that we had in coming down for this visit is I never had all the players in the room at once. So I was counting on the assertion of one saying this is what we believe that the other one will do. And so it's going to take some really aggressive follow-up by the Congress of the United States, certainly I will be involved in that, to make sure that they follow through with what they said because I think that was -- because it was confusing, and it is -- there, again, is an alphabet soup of federal agencies that have -- no one federal agency has total responsibility for reuniting these families, and that's problematic.
[16:41:07] CABRERA: So, just to be clear, is it your understanding that there is still not a coordinated plan across all agencies for reuniting the families?
COFFMAN: No, certainly, they made the case that there was coordination. I just have to, obviously, make sure. It's early in the process to make sure that that coordination is taking place. And that these families are reunited.
CABRERA: All right, Congressman Mike Coffman, we appreciate the update. Thank you.
Coming up, we are along Mexico's border with Guatemala where some Central American families are debating if facing President Trump's zero tolerance policy is the lesser of two evils.
[16:46:20] CABRERA: In a migrant camp near Mexico's border with Guatemala, an 8-year-old girl clings to her mother. Both parent and child listen to stories from the U.S. of children being torn from their mothers.
The stories spread fear, but as CNN's Leyla Santiago reports, the families are weighing which is worse, the risk of being separated or possible death if they return home.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a local shelter in (INAUDIBLE), Mexico just north of the border with Guatemala, the news of families being torn apart at the U.S. border is spreading fear.
24-year-old Margery Flores left Honduras the day after gang members threatened to kill her and her children firing gunshot at her home. Staying in Mexico, she says, isn't far enough to escape the gang's reach.
But the idea of being separated from her three children, whose faces she does not want shown to protect them, has put her plans on hold. Even here, she's heard the recording of the haunting sounds of children sobbing.
She is crying because she said she had to leave her mother and her brothers. She feels alone. She feels alone with her three kids. Ana Hernandez is staying in the same shelter with her 8-year-old daughter. She's talked to her about the possibility they may get separated. So she finds this all so confusing, what order has been signed, what the policy is, but what she knows for sure is that she can't keep going north if she's going to be separated from her child. But she's also mentioned she also can't go back to Honduras because she fears being killed there.
Despite the unfolding story up north, some migrants are still determined to press on. This group of seven adults, two children say they haven't heard much about the ongoing immigration debate in the U.S. but that's where they plan to go.
As they are rushed along, (INAUDIBLE) explain it's too dangerous to live in a place where basic human rights are not guaranteed. They can't go back, he says, even if it means family separation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is the President. He can decide, but we just want a good -- a place where we can be safe.
SANTIAGO: (INAUDIBLE) is on his first attempt at reaching the United States, partly in search of a job. But mostly for safety. He's escaping the violence in his native Honduras that has left his body scarred, the assaults from gang members. Even so, he feared what could happen to his wife and his 4-year-old daughter if they joined him on his trek to the United States.
He is saying that he has heard and he understands that things are changing on the U.S.-Mexico border but he plans to continue his journey north and he says they're not all gang members.
CABRERA: That was Leyla Santiago.
Coming up, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant because she works for the President. That story ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:53:50] CABRERA: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant all because she works for President Trump. Here's what Sanders tweeted. Last night, I was told by the owner of red hen in Lexington, Virginia, to leave because I work for the President and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. CNN reached out to the owner of the red hen restaurant for comment. So far, no response. You may recall earlier this week, protesters also booed homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as she dined at a Mexican restaurant in the D.C. area.
"The Late Late show" host James Corden got to rock and roll with music Paul McCartney. This was all part of a carpool ca karaoke skit.
JAMES CORDEN, HOST, THE LATE LATE SHOW: I had a dream in the '60s where my mom, who had died. She came to me in the dream and was reassuring me, saying, it's going to be OK, just let it be. I went -- I felt so sort of great and, like, you know, boy, it's going to be great, you know? She gave me the positive word so I woke up and I went, what was that? What'd she say? Let it be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:55:11] CABRERA: Inspiration from a dream. Who knew? Well, this segment, it was a fun one. It also included McCartney and Corden rocking out behind the wheel to "drive my car" and here they got out of the car and jammed out to "when I'm 64" with McCartney at the piano there, Corden joining in on the vocals.
Coming up, the President in Nevada today firing up Republicans as government officials try to figure out what the President's walk back on his immigration policy means. And most importantly, what is the plan to reunite the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents at the border?