Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Administration to Miss Deadline to Reunite Immigrant Families; Trump Threatens Turkey with Sanctions if Jailed Pastor Not Released; Paul Ryan Weighs in on Freedom Caucus' Attempt to Impeach Rosenstein. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:33] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. At this hour, major deadline is about to be missed by the Trump administration. A court gave the federal government until today to reunite migrant families separated at the border. Even U.S. officials admit more than 900 moms and dads won't see their children by the end of the day.

CNN's Rosa Flores is near the border in McAllen, Texas.

Rosa, what is the latest?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, that is the bottom line, that not every child that was separated will be reunited by deadline. The government says all eligible parents will be reunited. Those parents that are not eligible will not. There are different buckets here. You have parents who have criminal backgrounds, might have a DUI. Parents who have been released from federal custody, somewhere around the United States. Then there's deported parents, about 463 of them that we know of so far.

I talked to an organization that has six clients that are trying to find them, because they have been deported. One story in particular, a man and his son were separated late May. He was deported in early June. Now mom and dad are sitting in Honduras. The child is in HHS custody somewhere in the United States.


EFREN OLIVARES, DIRECTOR, RACIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE PROGRAM, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: They have talked to their son a couple of times. It's also -- those are very hard conversations, because the son is crying all the time. They get on the phone, why did you leave me? How come you won't come and get me? What's he going to understand about zero-tolerance policy?


FLORES: That is what advocates are very worried about. Immigration attorneys are very worried about this. In the coming weeks and months, that's what they are expecting to see, more parents pop up in Honduras, in El Salvador, in Guatemala, asking for their children. And their children somewhere in the United States in the custody of the U.S. government -- Ana?

CABRERA: Rosa Flores, we know you are continuing to follow every move. Thank you.

Families who were separated under the zero-tolerance policy, then reunited are talking about their experience. One mother, who was held in Texas while her son was sent to New York, says she wasn't sure they would see each other again.



UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETOR: "It was a hard experience for me," she says, "when they separated me from my son. They told me they would deport me and he was going to stay with the government."


UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETOR: "They wouldn't let me go to the bathroom sometimes. And when I wanted to eat, they wouldn't let me eat until they wanted."


CABRERA: Joining us now from south Texas is Ruby Powers. She's an immigration attorney who is working with some of the separated families.

Ruby, we know today is very busy for you. Thank you for taking the time with us.

How many families are you working through this with? What is their status?

RUBY POWERS, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: For the last six weeks or so, I've been working with about 20 different families. This is my second visit to the border and my firm's third visit total. I have two families that are my clients right now. One, I'm waiting to get reunited today. Her son should be flown in. I'm waiting for the call when his flight will land. Another one was reunited but sent to Karnes. We are working feverishly to get him released.

CABRERA: You have been in constant triage mode, I understand. Explain.

POWERS: Yes. I came down here four weeks ago, the same day as the injunction was announced. I have been following these families, finding out some have been released, some have been reunited and sent to family detention centers. I have been helping other volunteers who have been coming down. It's almost like a legal relay race, because we can't all be physically here in detention and dropping everything. But people have been. Private firms, non-profits have been here relentlessly trying to work together and try to save as many people as we can and get them on the outside. CABRERA: What happens then if there's this reunification? You

mentioned you are hoping to see one today. What happens to these families after they are reunited?

POWERS: Well, I mean, there's lots of different scenarios. But basically, a lot of them might be reunited and then left at -- to go to a shelter or maybe the bus stop and be left to their own devices to get -- not having a cell phone, not having money to buy a ticket. They don't have a lot of options. With my client, I was able to pick them up, get them situated with a phone, and start building up a new life, buying clothes. And we're waiting with a booster seat for her 7-year-old to show up hopefully today. Fingers crossed. But I really think that we need more wraparound services for these people. America, we're all standing up and helping in so many different ways, from medical care, psychological care, transportation. I am seeing the good in everyone's hearts by standing up to help out.

[11:35:36] CABRERA: I want to ask you about the circumstances surrounding the hundreds of families that aren't going to be reunited. We have learned parents have criminal records or declined to be reunified. There are more than 460 parents believed to no longer be in the country. Another 260 or so require further investigation. What do you make of some of the numbers?

POWERS: Well, it seems quite high considering we were talking around a 3,000 number. It's almost -- a lot of them are not going to be reunited any time soon. Some of them, who the parent might not have qualified, they could be put with a sponsor through the regular process. The ones that have been -- parents have been deported, I'm hoping we will find out soon whether or not there will be some type of parole process that they come back to the United States and be reunited. We definitely need to be finding out where those children are and getting them connected as soon as possible.

CABRERA: It sounds like the government doesn't know where some of the parents are. How is that possible?

POWERS: I don't know. They didn't know where the children were until they had to know where they were with the executive order and the injunction. I think that if they put their minds to it, they could find out where they are. But they weren't making a point to track them in the first place. It's going to take a lot of sleuthing around to try to figure out where they have been put and where they are. It's going to be difficult. Some people don't have e-mails, phone numbers. They are in remote parts of countries. Some are not even literate. This is going to be a challenge.

CABRERA: What happens next? If today is the deadline, this is what the government has been working towards, because it had to be based on judge's orders, once this comes and goes, where does this story go?

POWERS: The story doesn't end. The people are still trying to be reunited. They're still traumatized. They're still pulling up from their boot straps and trying to get together and resemble some type of a life. I have clients that are detained fearing that they might be deported any minute, waiting on this litigation, whether they're waiting for stays of removal or requesting new interviews. The saga continues. I hope people realize that this is not the end of it today. They didn't meet the deadline. Even if they had, which they didn't, these people still need help and are traumatized. I think that we will find out soon what the consequences are going to be from not meeting the deadline. It's going to take a lot of work to put things whole, if it's even possible.

CABRERA: Ruby Powers, thank you. Please do keep us updated on the work that you are doing with the families --

POWERS: Thank you.

CABRERA: -- that you're representing.

We have breaking news we have to get in here. President Trump threatening to hit Turkey now with sanctions unless it releases an American pastor. We'll have details on that right after a quick break.


[11:43:03] CABRERA: Just minutes ago, President Trump lashed out at the Turkish government threatening sanctions unless it releases an American pastor. He tweeted this, "The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long-time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and a wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately."

This week, a Turkish court ruled that Brunson be released from prison and be put on house arrest because of health problems. He has been accused of supporting a government coup attempt in 2015..

I want to bring in Joe Johns with more details from the White House -- Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot more to this story. The president has tweeted before that he would like to see the release of this pastor. It's important to note, I think, Ana, that the president of Turkey and President Trump, according to Kaitlan Collins, of CNN's reporting, have discussed, number one, what to do about this case. It's clear the president, also the vice president, have been applying pressure in an attempt, if you will, to get Andrew Brunson released.

The background on this story, I think, is also very important. President Erdogan, of Turkey, has suggested that the United States essentially do a swap of the pastor, Andrew Brunson, for a man who is in Pennsylvania by the name of Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is an exiled cleric from Turkey, and essentially left that country in exile in relation to a failed coup attempt in 2016 that the government now very much wants him back. Erdogan has suggested a swap. It's not clear what the government is doing.

But what is clear today here in Washington, D.C., is that the president, the administration are now applying additional pressure on the government of Turkey to get Andrew Brunson back to the United States. He is a Presbyterian minister from North Carolina. He was in the country some two years ago during that failed coup attempt, was detained for two years. And only very recently, according to reports, released and put on house arrest. His fate remains uncertain.

Ana, back to you.

[11:45:36] CABRERA: All right, Joe, we will continue to follow that story.

We have more breaking news. We have Paul Ryan reacting to the move by a couple of House Freedom Caucus members to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. We will hear from Paul Ryan on the other side of a quick break.


CABRERA: Nearly one in four rural children in the U.S. grows up in poverty, according to a recent report by Save the Children. That statistic hits close to home for Jennifer Garner.

CNN's Brooke Baldwin explains how the actress hopes to make a difference in today's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD."


JENNIFER GARNER, ACTRESS: I grew up as I have often told people one generation and one holler removed from poverty.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than a decade, Jennifer Garner has stood up for America's poorest kids as a Save the Children ambassador.

GARNER: The playing field for kids in America is not equal.

MARK SHRIVER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SAVE THE CHILDREN: We've been working in primarily rural America for the last 75, 85 years focusing on education, making sure kids are entering kindergarten ready to learn. We have a home visiting program working with the parents in the home to make sure they're stimulating their kids socially, emotionally.

BALDWIN: Save the Children also offers a two-week intensive program for students heading to kindergarten, like Alaina (ph), who has autism.

HEATHER FINCHER, PARENT: Some of the stuff that she's learned over the past year has really blown my mind. I wish you could have met her at the beginning of last year.

SHRIVER: We run in school, after school, and summer literacy programs that have a physical activity and nutrition component as well.

BALDWIN: Jessica Babb's son, Levi, entered the program four years ago.

JESSICA BABB, PARENT: He just took off from the moment he sat at the desk. He has a desire for reading that I love and admire about him.

[11:50:03] GARNER: We talk about how kids are the future. We're not doing anything about it. We have to be aggressively out there helping them.



CABRERA: Just moments ago, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan weighed in on the calls and this new resolution that's been introduced to impeach A.G. -- the deputy attorney general, that is, Rod Rosenstein. Let's listen.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Do I support impeachment of Rod Rosenstein? No, I do not. I do not for a number of reasons. First, it takes -- I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or with this term, number one. Number two, I don't think that this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, a really high standard. Number three, we, since I got involved, have been getting a lot of compliance from DOJ on the document request. We do not have full compliance, and we have to get full compliance. We've been making tremendous progress to that point.


CABRERA: Joining us now, CNN's senior political analyst, Mark Preston, and Nia Malika Henderson, CNN's senior political reporter.

Let me get your reaction, first, Mark, to Paul Ryan defending the DOJ here.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, not surprising because Paul Ryan realizes that while talk of impeachment really helps with the Republican base and the Trump supporters, it's not going to help with his very endangered incumbents who are running across the country, specifically in these swing district where is they perhaps only won by a few points or Hillary Clinton had won when she ran in 2016.

CABRERA: And yet, Nia Malika, he has been careful in the past to really stick up for his people. We've seen him back Devin Nunes, for example, in the Republican memo when it came to that FISA warrant application for Carter Page.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I think that's right. And this goes to the difficulty of Paul Ryan's job and why he doesn't want that job anymore and why at some point there will be a fight for who's going to be the next speaker or who's going to be the next minority leader there. We'll see what happens.

You saw him there basically say, since he's gotten involved, there's some compliance on the DOJ in terms of producing these documents. Whether or not there ever will be full compliance in terms of what these folks want, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, and the nine or so others that are filing these articles of impeachment, we'll see. But my goodness, I think Paul Ryan is counting down the days until he is out of town.

CABRERA: And, Mark, speaking of who's going to be the person to replace Paul Ryan, Jim Jordan confirming to our Sunlen Serfaty that he is going to run for that position.

[11:55:00] PRESTON: Yes, he's going to run for that position. He's also embroiled in this investigation up at Ohio State University about whether he knew or did not know about allegations of sexual impropriety, misconduct, and abuse. But really, what we're going into the fall -- folks here watching, think things are bad right now. Wait until after the elections when you have these leadership elections, not only for Republicans, but also Democrats. Nancy Pelosi is going to have a fight on her hands as well, depending on how big the margin of victory, if Democrats win in November.

CABRERA: Mark and Nia Malika, thank you, both.

Moments ago, President Trump landing in Iowa as he attempts to defend his trade policies that are hurting American farmers.