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U.S. Immigration Crisis; Six Killed in Ethiopian Blast; 2018 World Cup. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired June 24, 2018 - 02:00   ET

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


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier here in Atlanta. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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VANIER: Confusion, chaos and protests surrounding President Trump's immigration policies and the treatment of families separated at the border.

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VANIER (voice-over): This was the scene outside a migrant detention center in McAllen, Texas. Protesters blocked a bus that was leaving the facility. Through the darkened windows, our reporters could see children inside that bus. At first, officials wouldn't say who was on the bus or where it was going.

In the end, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson said families were being transferred to the custody of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but it wasn't clear where.

Earlier in the day, a congressional delegation visited the same facility. They described what one called "a sea of humanity of little girls and boys and parents," and Border Patrol agents who were, quote, "concerned and confused."

For his part, President Trump was at a Republican Party gathering in Las Vegas, talking tough on immigration and attacking Democrats.

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TRUMP: We have to be very strong. I like the issue for election, too. Our issue is strong borders, no crime. Their issue is open borders, let MS-13 all over our country. That's what will happen if you listen to them.

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VANIER: Our Polo Sandoval was at that processing center in McAllen, Texas, when those protests happened and he filed this report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're about two miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border after these families or unaccompanied minors are apprehended or they turn themselves in. They're brought here to this facility. We showed you what it looks like inside, the pictures of some of those holding areas.

What took place today was some of these proimmigrant groups had gathered just outside, trying to get their message heard, trying to get their message to some of these people inside. That's when one of those transport buses pulled out, from where you see the white vehicle there. And that's when this protest spilled onto the streets.

Demonstrators blocking the path of this bus. I did speak to McAllen's police chief, who had to respond out here when things got a little tense. He did tell me that there were no arrests made. Yes, some people had to be asked to get off the road at least. That bus did end up going in the other direction.

We haven't seen any other transport buses make their way in or out here. Again, remember that the president signed this executive order this week, calling for these families to remain together, even in detention.

But the question, what about the mothers and fathers who are separated from their children in the moments and the weeks after zero tolerance was put in place here so that they can place charges?

We heard from those, about 26 legislators who traveled here from across the country, trying to see firsthand exactly what it looked like. They described the scenes inside as heartbreaking, seeing women and the children in these enclosures. Many have described them, many people, many critics have described them as cages.

Lawmakers describe those chain link fences that these people are kept in and they also are calling for immigration legislation. They feel that's the ultimate fix. And at the same time, they also spoke to some of the Border Patrol agents who are inside, trying to get a handle on all this.

These lawmakers saying they feel that the people who are handling these crowds are doing the best they can with the guidance they have. But still, there is a lot of confusion and a lot of chaos happening behind the scenes, according to these lawmakers.

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VANIER: Polo Sandoval reporting from McAllen, Texas, there.

We do have some new information just released by the U.S. government. The administration says more than 2,500 children were separated since the zero tolerance policy went into effect. At least 522 children have been reunited with their families. That means 2,053 children are still being held awaiting their return to their parents. The government says it knows the location of all children in custody

and is working to reunite them with their families. Here's the thing, though, those reunions will not happen quickly. They will only happen once the parents' legal proceedings are completed.

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VANIER: Julian Zelizer joins me now, he's a CNN political analyst, a historian and professor at Princeton University.

Julian, we are just months removed from the midterm elections of November.

Do you think the events of the past week all told help or hurt Donald Trump and the Republican Party for the midterms?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Clearly in certain parts of the electorate, they hurt Republicans and suburban districts and some more moderate areas.

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ZELIZER: The polls show that people are not happy with what happened over the last week.

That said, Trump supporters are still very positive about him and, in many Republican areas, there is overall support for the basic policy that he's trying to push forward on the border.

So I'm not convinced this will have as big an effect in a negative way on Republicans as some are expecting.

VANIER: The reason I ask you the question is because obviously, to some extent, Donald Trump had to back down this week because he reversed himself and signed an executive order stopping the separation of children from their parents.

However, he has doubled down at the end of the week, speaking to his supporters. Listen to this.

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TRUMP: I don't think being weak on the border, being pathetically weak on the border is a good issue. I may be wrong. I think I got elected largely because we're strong on the border. I really believe that.

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VANIER: So this speaks to what you're saying and he obviously has a point. Being strong on the border is one of the two or three core issues that defined his campaign and it delivered the White House for him.

Why wouldn't it deliver the midterms? ZELIZER: It's literally the very first thing that he said when he announced he was running for president and he's been very consistent on this. The only question is if the year-plus of President Trump and all the turmoil and all the chaos has left some Republicans less enthused about him and whether some won't turn out at the polls.

And on the other hand, does this stimulate more Democrats to come out to vote?

That's where it could be damaging. It's less about the Republicans and how does this affect Democrats.

VANIER: In his public rallies, Donald Trump has been saying that the expected and predicted blue wave for the midterms, which is the scenario in which Democrats take control of the House, is actually turning into a red wave.

What are the numbers, what's the data actually telling us?

ZELIZER: The numbers are it still leans toward the Democrats, all midterms lead toward the opposition party gaining seats and so far the numbers have been pretty good for Democrats.

That said, he is not incorrect, that in the past month or so, you've seen a narrowing of the gap between the two parties. You've seen President Trump's support within the GOP, regardless of what he does, pretty much stay where it is.

And so it's unclear that this will be a wave election to increase the size of the minority. But I don't think it's clear this will be a wave (INAUDIBLE) at all.

VANIER: One last thing real quick, in the final analysis, why do you think Donald Trump changed his mind, reversed himself on the family separation policy, because he's done other controversial things before. He's been criticized no end and usually he's just doubled down and not changed his mind. Here he actually reversed himself.

ZELIZER: I think he got his message across to his supporters. I think in some ways, all he wanted was the short term. He acted tough, he sounded tough, he showed that he's willing to do something pretty draconian to move forward on this issue.

And then he backs down without really changing the policy. So in some ways, even though it looks like a defeat, you can see it from another perspective, that he achieved exactly what he wanted and now can move forward. So my guess is there is a little bit of that in explaining what happened this week.

VANIER: That's really interesting. Even though he backtracks, there is a way to see this, where it's actually a win-win for him. Julian Zelizer, thank you very much for joining us on the show.

ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: Two African leaders escaped injury on Saturday in a pair of explosions thousands of kilometers apart.

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VANIER (voice-over): The government of Zimbabwe says the blast at a campaign rally was an assassination attempt on the president. Several people were wounded, including the country's two vice presidents.

And an explosion ripped through the Ethiopian capital just as the new prime minister finished speaking to supporters. He was not hurt but one person was killed. Authorities say six suspects have been arrested.

We get more on both events from CNN's Farai Sevenzo.

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FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two blasts in two countries thousands of miles apart threatened the lives of two African leaders on Saturday.

In Ethiopia, the prime minister Abiy Ahmed had just finished speaking at a rally when an explosion went off.

And in Zimbabwe's Bulawayo (ph) city, President Emmerson Mnangagwa had just finished his rally when an explosion went off there. It's too early to say, the Ethiopians are telling us, whether this was an assassination attempt.

But the Zimbabwean authorities are saying this was an assassination attempt on the life of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Remember back in November 2017, Mr. Mnangagwa, when he was fired by --

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SEVENZO: -- when he was fired by Robert Mugabe, claimed there had been several attempts on his life. He said that this is normal for him in reaction to this blast in Bulawayo, that his life is constantly under threat.

But as to who would have done this at such a juncture in time, when the country is heading toward an election on July the 30th, is a mystery no one can quite unpick at the moment.

In Ethiopia, the problems are much more severe because Mr. Ahmed has been seen as a champion of reformism in that country. He took away the state of emergency that had been gripping it for the last two years. He's unblocked blogs and news sites on the Ethiopians' Internet services which had been banned by the previous government.

And he's also the very first leader from the Roma people of Ethiopia. So there's much speculation and a great deal of conspiracy theories about who would have wanted to take his life.

Now to Zimbabwe, what does this mean for this election? Is the government trying to whip up their supporters into a frenzy of loyalty before the election?

And then who could possibly have tried to take Mr. Mnangagwa's life?

These questions remain unanswered -- Farai Sevenzo, Nairobi.

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VANIER: Polls are now open for Turkey's landmark elections. We're taking a live look. For the first time, Turks will be voting for both a president and a new parliament. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called this highly anticipated snap election.

His main opponent is Muharram Ince of the center left Republican People's Party. But if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff. Once again, a live look there at a polling station in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where it is currently just past 9:00 in the morning.

Saudi women can do something today they could never do before now without fear of prosecution and jail. They can drive legally. Sunday, the kingdom lifted its ban on women drivers. It's part of reforms pushed by Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.

But even though Saudi women can now get behind the wheel, several Saudi activists who championed the change remain detained as part of a crackdown on women's rights groups.

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VANIER: We are not even finished with week two of the World Cup in Russia but, by Saturday, reigning champions Germany were already facing elimination. They took on Sweden in this must-win match and things did not start out well for Die Mannschaft, Sweden going up 1-0 with this goal in the 32nd minute.

The Germans were down but they were not out. Look at this. It's in. They responded with two goals to overtake Sweden 2-1. The winning shot, this free kick in stoppage time.

In other Saturday action, Mexico kept up its surprise winning streak, El Tricolor got a 2-1 win versus South Korea. The Mexicans now lead group F with 6 points.

And finally tournament favorite Belgium played Tunisia in Moscow. They're called the Red Devils but the Belgians here were kitted out yellow. They also laid waste to Tunisia, destroying the Carthage Eagles with a score of 5-2.

That was Saturday's action. We have another day of exciting football set for Sunday. England is taking on Panama. Japan will play Senegal and Poland faces off against Colombia.

All right. That's it for us for now. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is next and we've got the headlines again in 15 minutes.