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Michael Cohen Has Signaled To Friends That He May Be Ready To Cooperate With Investigators; Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren Arrived At An Immigration Facility In McAllen, Texas; U.S. Is Getting Ready To Receive Remains Of Troops From North Korea; Protests Taking Place In Southern Texas Earlier Today; Protesters Gather at the Border as Separated Kids Remain in Limbo; Interview with Representative Ted Lieu. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 24, 2018 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with a chaos unfolding and outrage building at the U.S.- Mexico border.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Where are the children now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Right now as more than 2,000 children in U.S. custody still wait to be reunited with their parents, protesters are gathering on the border in southern Texas. They are demanding families split up to be more immediately brought back together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people throughout the country, people of every different background, as you can see here, have come together to say that this is not who we should be in the United States of America or anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: History will judge and condemn those who are responsible for this atrocity and those who helped them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: After a week of confusion and heartbreaking images, now the Trump administration has released a general plan for bringing separated families together. But major pieces are still missing, including a clear timeline on just how long it would take and how it would get done.

All of this as President Trump dug in at a rally in Nevada yesterday. He declared immigration is a key issue heading into the midterm elections and said that could be bad news for Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Being weak on the border, which is therefore allowing tremendous crime to come into our country, they think that that's a good issue for them. I don't think being weak on the border, being pathetically weak on the border, I don't think that's a good issue.

I may be wrong, I think I got elected largely because we are strong on the border. I really believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Tornillo, Texas, where that protest is happening, but first let's start with our CNN White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez, at the White House.

So, Boris, some mixed messaging here. On the one hand the president reverses the separation of families policy, but then is intensifying his rhetoric.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Perhaps not surprising because as you noted and replayed that sound bite the president believes that strong rhetoric on immigration is part of what got him elected. He dug in his heels yesterday, essentially arguing that there are two ways to handle immigration. If you are too weak, you get taken advantage of and if you're strong on immigration, you get criticized for not having a heart.

The president made clear where he stood on that spectrum this morning on Twitter. Here's part of his tweets. He writes, quote, "We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and law and order. Most children come without parents. Our immigration policy laughed at all over the world is very unfair."

The president then goes on to argue that immigration should be merit- based, something he has made a case for before.

But I did want to point out two quick things, Fred, the characterization from President Trump. Just a few days ago he used the word "infest" to describe immigration, now he's calling immigrants invaders. Not people fleeing political turmoil, oppression, economic problems. But rather invaders. So we will likely see the president continue that strain.

And secondly, there really is no clear picture on how the president wants us Congress to handle immigration. There were a number of contradictory statements that the White House had to clean up on where the president stood on two bills that were being worked on for weeks by House Republicans. One of them got voted down, and then on Friday the president said that Republicans should just wait until after the midterms to handle immigration issues. Then today on Twitter, he called on Democrats to stop resisting and to

help fix the problem. So several mixed messages here from the president. We will likely hear more of this strong rhetoric as we get closer to the midterms. And we'll see exactly what these administration does when it comes the handling of these family separations in the weeks ahead -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

Right now I want to take you to South Texas there, so exactly what is Trump policy doing? How is it going to be cared out?

Our Dianne Gallagher is with us now in Tornillo. And there is also a very large gathering of people there.

Dianne, what are you seeing?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, that gathering of people just breaking up and a lot of them heading to their respective homes, some of people came from Alaska, there were people here from Canada, people from Florida who came to show solidarity with the kids who were in this Tornillo facility which is just over here right at the intake center. But, you know, they said that the biggest issue for them was this confusion.

[14:05:03] The fact that they don't know how these reunifications are going to happen. They want to address that first. They want the president to -- most of the signs were sort of mocking the coat that Melania Trump wore, a lot of them saying "I do care." Some of them comparing the situation here in the United States to concentration camps, to internment camps for the Japanese during World War II. And so there was a sense of, again, solidarity with the children here, but also a serious sense of anger.

And to be honest, more than anything they talked about voting. A lot of them spoke directly to the president and shared stories that they felt perhaps could convince them to go back on these policies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president and his administration, they use cruelty as a hobby, incompetence is their standard operating procedure, division is their tool, and we cannot leave it to chance. We need to verify that these children are being reunited with their parents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will hold this administration and their accomplices and those who are silent accountable. We will remember in November. We will show up and we will not forget one child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: And that really was the refrain that we heard over and over again, Fred. We will remember in November. We will remember who did not speak out about this, what is happening here now. So back here could potentially end up being the largest of what HHS calls these temporary shelters. As of yesterday when a group of congressmen toured the facility, there were about 300 here. Most of them are boys.

They did bring a group, we're told, by Congressman O'Rourke, of about seven girls to this facility in Tornillo behind me. But for the most part it's boys and roughly 30 of them are those who were separated by their parents under the administration's zero tolerance policy. A lot of them did come here unaccompanied. But those congressmen who toured this facility said that -- from that guided tour, and I've been on these tours, I'm going on one up Tornillo tomorrow. They are very controlled.

You see what they want you to see, but they said overall it looks the kids are being taken care of. That does not mean that they do not need to reunite the children, and that is what the people at this protest today demanded happen.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dianne Gallagher and Boris Sanchez, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

All right. So what exactly is the Trump administration's plan to reunite families? Here is what we know from the Department of Homeland Security. All of the children will continue to wait in custody. Reunifications will only happen after the parents' deportation proceedings are completed. And then they will either be reunited before deportation or if the parent is released from detention he or she will have to apply to serve as the child's sponsor and that process could take weeks.

The government also says it's working on building out a better database to keep track of information on parents and children. Still unclear: who will take responsibility for linking families together. Despite all the confusion, one senator said he's confident the Trump administration has a handle on these separated children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: We know where every single child is. This is an issue that's gone out there somewhat in some of the other media, it's not been responsible with this, with the assumption that the administration has lost track of that. So let me clarify a couple of things. These are career professionals that work with HHS and that work with DHS and Custom and Border Patrol and ICE. These are not political appointees, these are career folks. They know where every child is, to be able to connect him to their parent of their relative they came. Many of these children that came, we don't know if they're with a parent or not, and so trying to be able to make sure that we're connecting the dots on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's get reaction now to this new DHS plan to reunite separated families. With me now is Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. He is a member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Communities.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. So this new DHS plan that is -- at least portions of it being made public will keep children waiting in custody with reunification -- reunification, rather, only happening once the parents' deportation proceedings are completed. What's your reaction to that?

LIEU: It is not acceptable that right now there are still over 2,000 babies and kids who are ripped away by the Trump administration from their parents. That still have not been reunited. The American Pediatric Associate has said that this kind of trauma can affect the kids' brain development and affect them for the rest of their lives. We need to put these kids back with their parents as soon as possible.

WHITFIELD: And then of course according to this plan, once the parents have to, you know, be processed, we've heard reportedly there is a real shortage, you know, of attorneys being able to represent people, and that that process is very lengthy. What do you anticipate in terms of how long this wait would be for this process to be completed?

[14:10:03] LIEU: There is a lot of chaos that started because of this awful family separation policy. By the way, I agree with Republican Congress member Mike Coffman that Stephen Miller, the White House adviser who was the architect of this policy, should resign.

In terms of process, we're asking very basic questions that the Department of Homeland Security still cannot answer. So three weeks ago I asked Secretary Nielsen in line with other members of Congress, how do you make sure when you release these children that they're not being released to child molesters? How do you reunite these kids? How do you keep track of these kids?

They still haven't been able to answer any of those questions. And we still don't know how they know that babies are connected to their actual parents. None of these questions have been answered.

WHITFIELD: What does this mean to you when it says there are improvements that they're working on, modifications for their data base? How does that translate to you?

LIEU: It translates that maybe for new kids, they have these improvements but for the initial 2300 or so, what it tells me is they had no plan in place. They did not have these linkages that they needed, and they can't answer these very basic questions, which his quite horrifying. What it might mean is that some of these babies and kids may never be reunited with their parents because they don't who they are.

WHITFIELD: Now I want to ask you about what happened earlier in the week on the House floor Friday when you chose to play audio from the Pro Republica (sic) recording of the cries of young children and one little girl, you know, saying she is pleading for a phone call to her aunt. And then you were met with some resistance by the Republican in charge of the session.

Let's watch some of that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEU: What must that sound like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman will suspend.

LIEU: For what reason, Madam Speaker?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is in breach of decorum.

LIEU: Cite the rule, Madame Speaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rule 17 of the House.

LIEU: There's no rule that says I can't play sound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prohibits -- Rule 17 -- the gentleman will suspend.

LIEU: Why are you trying to prevent the American people from listening to what sounds like a detention facility?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rule 17 of the House prohibits the use of that device.

LIEU: These are babies and kids in a detention facility. Why do you not let American people hear what they are saying?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So she said prohibits the use of that device. Did you challenge that? Is that the case, that you were in violation by playing that audio? And secondly, what was your, you know, objective?

LIEU: I thought it was important to put in the congressional record the horror of these kids and what they're experiencing from the Donald Trump administration's family separation policy. And I just wanted the American people to hear the cries of anguish from these children that were ripped away from their parents. And there was not a breach of any House rule in terms of decorum, nothing says that I can't play the cries of children who were separated from their families. And by the way, why are we even talking about decorum when what we're seeing is a functionally equivalent of kidnapping. There is much more at stake than this decorum.

WHITFIELD: And is that largely your kind of concern when you were talking about, you know, there is a great concern that without some real good bookkeeping prior to this new promise of a database, that there are some children who will never be reconnected with their families, but somehow they're in the United States, they'll be dispersed. Some are already in foster families and it's your accusation and that of so many others who are calling this kidnapping? LIEU: Absolutely. I remember when our two kids were born. Both

times the hospital went to great lengths to make sure that they knew who the parents were, who their infants were. And there is no evidence here that the Trump administration went to those lengths that they actually connected who the babies are to who the parents are because if they did they would be telling us, as well as the news media, the procedures they put in place.

My great fear is they had no procedures, which means these little kids and these babies will really be lost from their parents because they don't know how to connect them.

WHITFIELD: And babies and those that are nonverbal unable to explain, express who their parents might be if the numbers or whatever data is taken doesn't correspond with reaching their parents?

LIEU: That is correct. And what the Department of Homeland Security has said is that a number of these parents may already have been deported, so now how do you reunite those parents with their babies or infants, especially if the little kids can't explain who their parents are.

WHITFIELD: Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much.

LIEU: Thank you.

[14:15:01] WHITFIELD: Still ahead, President Trump says the administration is doing a very good job. I'm quoting him now, "Very good job handling the situation at the border." He says, "Staying strong will be a winning political issue for Republicans."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think being weak on the border, being pathetically weak on the border, I don't think that's a good issue. I may be wrong. I think I got elected largely because we are strong on the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. President Trump isn't backing down from the immigration issue, and why should he? It's been one of his fiercest rallying cries since the start of his political career. But now he's sharpening his attacks, using the recent outcry against family separations at the border as a weapon against Democratic foes.

Here's the president this weekend providing his supporters with a clear and simple choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They want to use the issue, and I like the issue for election, too. Our issue is strong borders, no crime.

[14:20:05] Their issue is open borders, let MS-13 all over our country. That's what's going to happen if you listen to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Let's bring in CNN political commentator and former special assistant to George W. Bush, Scott Jennings, and commentator and former Ted Cruz communications Alice Stewart.

Good to see you both. All right, Scott you first.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Fred.

WHITFIELD: The president sounds like he is making immigration one of the primary focuses of the midterm elections. Is that a winning strategy? Will others latch on?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's certainly the president's signature issue. He's not wrong. He did win a primary and general election running on this issue.

I think ultimately the argument that Republicans have to make on is that the federal government should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We should be able to enforce the border. We should be able to stop the illegal crossing at non-ports of entry. We should be able to keep up with who is coming here. We don't want to let MS-13 to come here. So if you can make that argument in a positive way that you can trust Republicans to enforce borders and to sort of walk and chew gum at the same time when it relates to who we're letting am and who we aren't, I think that is a winning issue.

I think ultimately the Republican rhetoric on it needs to reflect some optimism, that we do have a plan to govern and that it connects it to the economy. The one thing about the Trump position on immigration here is that it is connected to the hot American economy. As long as we have more jobs and people which is true in a lot of states, folks are going to want to come here for the opportunity that is America.

WHITFIELD: Is that a correlation that is being made, immigration and economy, kind of working together there, Alice?

STEWART: It needs to be because if we're strong with our immigration policy, overall it helps our economy. And that's one of the big factors that we're hearing some pushback from various members of Congress is because we need a legal immigration system because in their state it significantly impacts their economy, specifically states that rely on agriculture. They need some of this labor that comes here. So that is a big factor.

Look, Republicans ran on many things but specifically repealing and replacing Obamacare and as well as immigration. And look, when we have the House, the Senate and the White House, there is no reason we can't get this done. We have a lot of great proposals on the table. In my view, the best option is doing away with visa lottery, ending chain migration, having a more merit-based system. Doing what many Americans want which his providing some type of protections for Dreamers that has been controversial in the past. But there is overwhelming support for protections for Dreamers. We

need to include that. And in return, let's put some money behind the wall that mostly the president wants and find some way to compromise on all of these, and let's fix this immigration system. We're the envy of the world, America is, and we need to make sure our immigration policies reflect that.

WHITFIELD: So these images, and what people know and don't know about the separation of children and families has certainly struck a chord. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, you know, spoke about a shift within the Republican Party. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Unfortunately yes. When John Boehner said the other day this is the president's party, he was speaking the truth. The Mark Sanford loss clarified something if it wasn't clarified before, you can't as a Republican these days stand in -- you know, in opposition to some of the president's policies or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary. That's the reality and then we're seeing that play out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, Scott, is that the issue? You know, it is the party -- the Republican Party is the party of Trump. All aboard.

JENNINGS: Well, yes, 90 percent of Republicans out there, just the rank-and-file, everyday Republicans like Alice and me, we support the president's agenda, we support the direction he's moving the country. We think the country is in much better shape than it was during the Obama years.

I would take issue with what Flake about the Sanford loss. I don't think it had anything to do with Sanford's problem with the president's behavior. I think it had everything to do with the Sanford's voting record. There are only four Republicans in the House GOP conference who had voted less with Donald Trump's agenda than Mark Sanford. I think people can quibble over tactics, communications, rhetoric, et cetera, et cetera, but when push comes to shove, the president sets the agenda for the party and rank-and-file Republicans like the ones in their primary expect their Republican congressman to be on board.

Sanford had a terrible voting record, and I wasn't surprised at all that after his long history in South Carolina he got swept out of office.

WHITFIELD: And Alice, you know, Mark Sanford did admit even in is op- ed that, you know, being a critic of the president really cost him, you know, that primary. And then today Mitt Romney wrote in an op-ed talking about, you know, this is a defining moment for Republicans. And I'm going to quote now a portion. He says, I have and will continue to speak out when the president says or does something which is divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to Democratic institutions. [14:25:08] "I do not make this a daily commentary. I express contrary

views only when I believe it is a matter of substantial significance."

So, Alice, he -- you know, when he was running, he certainly wasn't a proponent of candidate Trump, and now as a candidate again to find his way to Capitol Hill, he's not necessarily aligning himself with the president. Might it cost him a potential victory, Alice?

STEWART: It could. That remains to be seen. I think Romney makes a very strong point is that a lot of us, many Republicans support the president on views and on policy but they don't necessarily, as Scott mentioned, the tone and tenor, we do not agree with. And I think it's very important.

A lot of folks that are running for reelection, running in the midterms, they're going to pick their battles. They're probably going to keep their powder dry when it comes to speaking too vocally against this president because many have learned the hard way that a president's tweet can get you off message and get you off course but getting through the midterm.

The key is the Republican Party is and has always been a party of limited government, fiscal responsibility, strong on immigration, strong on national security, and those in Washington and those around the country, that's been their policies before the president came here, as the president was here and long after. And I think rumors of the demise of the Republican Party are greatly exaggerated. The reality is President Trump is the leader of this party now and Republicans are continuing to fight for the policies that got them where we are now and we'll continue down the road.

WHITFIELD: And Scott, you worked with --

JENNINGS: And I would add that there's a difference --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: -- the Romney campaign when you were in Ohio. Well, you know, in Ohio you worked for his campaign.

JENNINGS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: So is this in step with the Mitt Romney that you know? That, you know, he is, you know, dancing to his own beat, so to speak.

JENNINGS: Well, look, I think Mitt Romney and Donald Trump are two different kinds of guys. They've lived two different kind of lifestyles and you're going to see Mitt Romney and Donald Trump I think frequently have disagreements about rhetoric and, you know, the way you conduct yourself. And that's fine because I think 50 percent of the time, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump are going to be on the same page when it comes to taxes, regulations, judges, national security, funding our military. All the things that are core values inside the Republican Party.

I think it is important that we remember, there is a real difference between rhetoric, style, communications tactics and core policy values. Donald Trump is doing -- and I suspect will continue to do -- a lot of core Republican stuff, even if it doesn't sound like what Mitt Romney might sound like when he's making public speeches. We can all have different styles. We may not agree with each other on personal issues, but at the end of the day, I see most Republicans out there largely unified on most of the policy that the president is pushing.

I also think Republicans are learning, politics is a team sport. When we stick together, we can get things done and that's why they're happy with the president and the congressional Republicans on the taxes and the judges and the things they've been able to accomplish since they got full control.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now.

Scott Jennings, Alice Stewart, thanks so much. Good to see you both.

JENNINGS: Thanks.

STEWART: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: After months of review, of majority of documents seized from the office of Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen expected to be turned over to prosecutors tomorrow. We'll discuss what the special counsel may have found and if Cohen could be cooperating.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:33:06] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

Tomorrow is a potentially significant day for President Trump's long- time personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Most of the documents seized in that FBI raid of his home and office back in April are expected to be handed over to prosecutors as soon as tomorrow. And the raids were part of an investigation into his business dealings which originally stemmed out of Robert Mueller's Russia probe. CNN has learned Cohen has signaled to friends that he may be ready to cooperate with investigators.

I want to bring in Michael Zeldin. H i's former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the department of justice and a CNN legal analyst. Good to see you.

All right, so Reuters is reporting that only 161 of the nearly 300,000 documents reviewed have been determined to be protected by attorney- client privilege. What does that mean to you? Is that a particularly low number?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is a low number except to the extent that Michael Cohen, really, as we understand his relationship with President Trump and his other clients, functioned as a businessman way more than he did as a lawyer. And so the communications that he had with his clients and with the President seemed to be more business dealings than legal advice. And so that reflects the nature of those relationships, and so the low number of attorney-client privilege-protected documents isn't surprising.

WHITFIELD: So there might be another deadline or an extension to hand over all the documents.

ZELDIN: Yes. It seems as though the judge has given them to the 27th of June to make final designations about whether anything is protected or not protected. Barbara Jones, the special master, has completed her view largely. Clients, now Cohen and others, will get a chance to make their final designation. And then once that's all done, Judge Woods would continue to give material over to the taint team, the lawyers who can begin to look through this material and make determinations about whether or not Michael Cohen has violated any laws.

[14:35:10] WHITFIELD: Michael Zeldin, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And this just in to CNN, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren arriving at an immigration facility in McAllen, Texas just moments ago. You see there as she is walking in.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is also there. So Polo, what can you tell us about access, about what was said, observations, et cetera?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure exactly what you see right now. But of course, as we have seen during the previous lawmakers visits, these lawmakers mainly Democrats who have come to this particular location here to see firsthand what the conditions are like inside and even trying to speak to some of these people and children that are being kept in here.

We understand that Senator Warren has been spending here about 45 minutes now. Part of her visit to the Rio Grande which is one of the considered to be one of the busiest border patrol sectors when it comes to apprehensions. This was also the scene of apparently dramatic protests yesterday as demonstrators block away -- trying to blockade bus that were essentially leaving the facility here.

Obviously, a different scene today now that the senator is inside right now. We are waiting for her to essentially make her way out of that facility to try to talk to her and see what her reaction is to the situation inside.

WHITFIELD: And so, Polo, when she does come out, will there be access where you can try to see if she's willing to share her point of view?

SANDOVAL: That's certainly something we will be efforting here. We have tried to get cameras inside ourselves for the last several weeks. The government saying because of privacy reasons that's not a possibility. They have allowed our reporters inside to see it firsthand. And they have also handed out some of these pictures. The government has handed out some of these pictures showing this chilling fencing and the people staying behind those structures there. So it will be interesting to hear from the senator from Massachusetts exactly what it is like in there. What her take away is.

And a reminder, she is just the latest Democratic lawmaker to make this trip. Democrats have been speaking out against the President' zero tolerance policy promising not just protest but also regular visits to facilities like the one that we find ourselves at this point.

WHITFIELD: Right. Just yesterday alone 25 lawmakers who made their way to take a look at that facility there in McAllen Texas. Thank you so much, Polo Sandoval.

All right. Despite the risk of separation, migrants are still willing to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. from Central America. A look at what they are running from and why, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:42:20] WHITFIELD: It's a dangerous journey with no clear resolution, yet thousands of people risk everything they have across unforgiving terrain hoping for a chance to live in the United States. So why are so many making that dangerous gamble?

CNN's Senior Latin America affairs editor Rafael Romo traveled to Mexico and Central America to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICA AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): We found them just below a bridge connecting Mexico and Guatemala where we first witness these scenes in 2015. It was clear that the border was wide open for migrants and anything you want to smuggle. Little has changed.

This is how Central American migrants cross the border. As you can see, we are in a makeshift boat. This is the (INAUDIBLE) River in which serves as a borderline between Guatemala and Mexico.

Something that caught my attention is that you can't really see any migration authorities or the military or police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guatemala --.

ROMO: Former top Guatemalan official told us their priority was not detaining migrants but finding drug traffickers. There are more than 400 border crossing points where authorities have little or no control.

We are flying over the Guatemalan highlands. We are on our way to the province of Perlin. Perlin is an area known by people in the region as a migrant transit point not only for people in Guatemala but also El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Why are entire families fleeing Central America? We traveled to a city in Honduras that has one of the highest murder rates in the world. This is the (INAUDIBLE) neighborhood here in the city of San Pedro

Sula. Authorities say that many people have chosen to leave because they were fleeing violence. Operations like this one by the military police are seeking to restore confidence in authorities so that people can return to their neighborhood.

But those who leave have no intention of returning. At the end of the day, they told us they only have two options, facing the gun toddy rootless member of the criminal gang known as MS-13 who will kill your son and your family if he doesn't join in of risking their lives to give in, or crossing the border illegally.

The prospect of a life in America, albeit remote and even if they are temporarily separated from their children, will always be preferable to imminent death at home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: So as treacherous as that route is, Rafael Romo is here with us now.

You are sharing that those are still paths that people are taking, great risk because they still believe that the risk of staying is far more dangerous than the risk of taking the route, the risk of being detained, even, in the U.S.?

[14:45:11] ROMO: At the end of the day, it's a matter of life and death.

I spoke with people in Honduras, a mother, for example, who told me, I had to let my 17-year-old son go because the gang on the other side of the street was threatening him with death if he didn't join the gang. And so you hear from parents having to make those difficult choices. I'm a father myself, and I can't imagine having to face that choice.

So people are desperate, they're afraid, they're hungry, and they want to -- if it works, they have the prospect of an incredibly much better life in the United States. But you have to remember the trip from Central America to the United States is very risky. A lot of people die on their way here.

WHITFIELD: My God, it is treacherous. But thank you so much for bringing us that point of view and that journey. Rafael Romo, appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, the Trump administration releasing a new plan to reunite families separated at the border. But there are still serious questions about how they will carry that out.

Plus, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un reportedly taking down anti- American propaganda? We will tell you what's going up in its place, next.

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[14:50:50] WHITFIELD: The U.S. is getting ready to receive remains of troops from North Korea. About 100 wooden transport cases are being sent to the DMZ in preparation for the exchange. Most of the remains are believed to be U.S. service members who died in the Korean War.

CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott joining me now from Washington.

So Elise, President Trump has been talking about the return of these remains. Is this pat an agreement President Trump made with Kim Jong- un at that Singapore summit?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Since the summit, North Korea has agreed to repatriate these remains. We have to be clear, we are not sure how many of these 200 or so sets of remains are U.S. soldiers or U.S. servicemen. They could be from other countries. I don't really think North Korea knows. They are believed, a lot of them, to be U.S. servicemen.

So they will be handed over to the u United Nations officially on (INAUDIBLE) on the DMZ between North Korea and South Korea and handed over to the U.S. this is one of the first tangible signs of you know, productive signs, from that summit between Kim Jong-un President Trump.

I might add there, Fred, there were also some reports that after years of anti-U.S. propaganda in North Korea, some tour guides are reporting in the media that North Korea is taking away some of these signs of anti-U.S. propaganda. For instance, gift shops that used to have anti-U.S. slogans now have been replaced with the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and also South Korean President Moon talking more about north-south unification. And also some of those posters around the country have been taken off.

So we haven't seen those remains yet. We haven't seen really tangible signs of productive signs since the summit, but we are waiting to see. And also I think the U.S. has to get this process together between the U.S. and North Korea. What is the North Korean actually willing to do for denuclearization? We really haven't had any signs of that yet, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elise Labott in Washington. Thanks so much.

So is the President's travel ban legal? The Supreme Court is poised to answer that question this week. The impact of that possible ruling straight ahead.

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WHITFIELD: Al right. Hello again, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with the chaos unfolding and the outrage building at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Free the children now! Free the children now! Free the children now!

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WHITFIELD: Right now more than 2,000 children in U.S. custody still wait to be reunited with their parents. Protests taking place in southern Texas earlier today, demanding families split up be more immediately brought back together.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: History will judge and condemn those who are responsible for this atrocity and those who helped them!

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WHITFIELD: And after a week of confusion and heartbreaking images, the Trump administration releasing a general plan for bringing separated families together. But major pieces are still missing. A clear timeline on just how long it would take and how it would get done. All of this after President Trump dug in at a rally in Nevada.