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Trump Threatens to Close Border; Migrant Facilities At Breaking Point; O'Rourke Kicks Off 2020 Bid; Biden Kissing Allegations; Student Killed After Entering What She Thought Was An Uber; Rolling Stones Postpone Tour; Palestinians Mark Year Of Protests With Gaza Demonstration; Elton John Joins George Clooney In Boycott Of Brunei- Owned Hotels; Video Goes Viral Of Pope Dodging Ring Kisses. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 30, 2019 - 20:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us.

This weekend, what's happening on the U.S. Southern border is way beyond inconvenient. It's way beyond problematic. Customs' officials on the border now say they have reached a breaking point. Migrant processing centers in Texas are literally overflowing with people, like this on in El Paso. Entire families, including children, being corralled by a chain-link fence under a bridge.

Custom officials today are reporting that these migrant processing centers are well over 100 percent capacity. Edinburg, Texas, El Paso, they can't handle any more people. And look at the center there in McAllen, Texas, 358 percent over capacity. Border control officials in Brownsville, Texas are bracing for a mass release of migrants from the hugely overcrowded processing center there. Possibly thousands of people in the coming days will move on to other destinations from there. And I spoke to Brownsville's city manager just a short time ago.


NOEL BERNAL, CITY MANAGER, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS: Ultimately, our focus is we need to do what the city is able to do through our partners, through our nonprofits to provide support and to provide a positive experience on the humanitarian side. Because these are people that are seeking some type of relief in our country. Our role, however, is given them a positive experience and helping them transition through.


CNN's Martin Savage is in Brownsville, Texas right now. Martin, that city official I just spoke to said his job is to help people transition. But they're about to deal with thousands of people all at once, when they're used to helping just 50 people a day. I know you just spoke to the mayor. What is he saying?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was saying that right now, they can cope. However, if they get the thousands that have been talked about here, this system is really going to be strained. And what has been a problem for the federal government is now more and more becoming a problem for local governments, like Brownsville, Texas here along the border.

We're at the Good Neighbor Settlement. This is, normally, a faith- based organization that would be handling the homeless and the impoverished here in Brownsville. Instead, it's now handling the many, many migrants that have been coming across the border or that are being released en masse by the federal government, because they report the massive overcrowding in their facilities. So, they're brought here. The reason we're not inside is that the facility ask that we not show their faces. These people, they believe, have gone through enough.

But what they want to do is the people are dropped off here, literally on the curb. In many cases, they're coming either by big bus or they're coming by van. And they go inside. There, they get a meal. There, they get a shower. And there, they begin the process of figuring out what happens next.

Here's the mayor, Tony Martinez, telling us.


TONY MARTINEZ, MAYOR, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS: So far, we have been able to handle anything that's come our way. And I think we can, so long as we have, you know, adequate notice to know what's coming.

Right now, they're bringing them here. We're feeding them, sheltering them, clothing them, whatever they need at the time. Any health issues that they shouldn't have when they get here, but if they do and we have, you know -- we have asked some of our local doctors and friends in the medical profession to come give us an assistance. And that's what we're doing.


SAVIDGE: Here's the big picture here, Ana. And That is that this is taxing, financially, on this community. It's not a rich community to begin with. If they do get the thousands showing up here, what they hope is that they're not staying here. This is a wait point. They want to make sure that they're cared for temporarily. They call family in the states. They make bus or airplane reservations, and they move on.

What they do not want is thousands of people to remain in the community because that could cause chaos -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Martin Savidge in Brownsville, Texas for us this evening. Thank you.

Joining us now, former Democratic Illinois Congressman and long-time advocate for immigration reform, Luis Gutierrez. And also with us, CNN Correspondent Raphael Romo --


CABRERA: -- who has covered Latin America extensively. Thank you, both, for being here and spending time with us tonight. Congressman, here was the tweet from the president today. It would be so easy to fix our weak and very stupid Democrat-inspired immigration laws. In less than one hour and then a vote the problem would be solved. But the Dems don't care about the crime. They don't want any victory for Trump and the Republicans, even if good for USA.

Now, we also got this statement from Customs and Border Control. DHS is committed to addressing this humanitarian need, but the current situation is unsustainable for Border Patrol operations. This status quo is not an option. The legal framework must be addressed. The only remedy to this crisis is Congressional action.

Congressman, here's my question. These statements are, obviously, very similar, both are saying, Congress, do something. Does this read to you as a legitimate plea for help or the politicization of Border Patrol?

[20:05:00] GUTIERREZ: Yes. Well, I think it's much of the same. Donald Trump wants to build a wall. The fact that he wants to seal the border shouldn't surprise us. He began his campaign coming down those escalators, talking about Mexicans are murderers, rapists and just terrible people, hurting our nation. So, that's the way he began his campaign, so it shouldn't surprise us today.

And he blames Mexico. And, yet, Mexicans get immediately deported when caught at the border. Even children get immediately deported back to Mexico. These are people, asylum seekers. So, it's a very, very, very different situation. And America has laws on the books. But they've tried to restrain and restrain and not follow the law. They've tried to cut the passage of asylum seekers seeking asylum. And instead of processing them as the law requires, they've held them. And now, they've gotten to the crisis point.

And, second, let's remember, until we fix the lack of -- how would I say -- of humanity, of law and order and justice and fairness, the sense that you can live without being murdered without the drug cartels taking away your children and enslaving your daughters, then they will continue to flee and come to our borders.

So, why don't we address the problem where we really need to address it which is in Guatemala, which is in El Salvador, right?

CABRERA: OK. Well, on that note, let me --

GUTIERREZ: (INAUDIBLE) we're a great nation.

CABRERA: -- let me talk about what the president is planning to do in those countries. Because we learned today, according to the State Department, the U.S. plans to cut off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, countries where many of these migrants are from.


CABRERA: Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And we're not paying them anymore, because they haven't done a thing for us. They set up these caravans. In many cases, they put their worst people in the caravan. They're not going to put their best in. They get rid of their problems.


CABRERA: Raphael, there are a couple ways this could be read. On one hand, a lack of aid could make the situation more desperate, encourage more people to flee their countries and try to come to the U.S. On the other hand, one could argue there's more that these governments can be doing to improve the situation, to prevent migration to the U.S. Rafael, based on your reporting on the ground there, what do you think is the most likely outcome of cutting off aid?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a good point. And, Ana, I talked to city officials in both countries, in Guatemala and Honduras, and they tell me that enforcing immigration law is just not their priority. They are very focused on fighting criminal gangs, number one. They are focused on fighting drug cartels. And the reality is that they don't have the resources to enforce immigration laws.

And so, they say the aid that the U.S. sends us is to -- is used to equip our security forces. And so, if that money isn't there, the criminality situation in those countries, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, is going to get much worse. Which is going to mean that more people are going to feel the need to leave Central America and is going to have the totally opposite effect that President Trump is intending which is to keep people in their countries.

I've talked to parents who tell me, I would rather send my child on this very risky trip by land to the United States than keep him here and have him either recruited by a gang or killed by them. So, that's the option that they're looking at and that's why people are leaving central America, Ana.

CABRERA: Congressman, I understand you clearly disagree with the president on immigration. But this is an issue that he believes works for him, politically. And given the reality now we're seeing on the ground at the border, with the surge in migrants crossing the border, shelters above capacity. Doesn't that bolster his position?

GUTIERREZ: Yes. But here's what he does, Ana. So, let's look at Central America. Nobody's fleeing here from Belize or from Panama or from Costa Rica, not even really from Nicaragua. There's three countries they're coming from: Honduras, El Salvador -- and they're not really coming from Mexico. That's really not the issue, yet he keeps blaming the Mexican government.

Look --

CABRERA: Because they're coming through Mexico. GUTIERREZ: -- we are the richest, most powerful nation -- because

they're coming through Mexico. We are the richest, most powerful nation in the world and we should also be the nation with the biggest heart. And a nation that has a great tradition of receiving refugees. We should intervene, economically, in those Central American countries. Give them hope where there is hopelessness. And give them jobs where there is joblessness. And that way they can stay in the country that they love and that they want to prosper in, instead of blaming them for their problems.

CABRERA: I hear what you're saying. I hear what you're saying, Congressman.

GUTIERREZ: This is a hemisphere -- this is a hemisphere -- Ana, this is the hemispheric problem of the America.


GUTIERREZ: Let's act like Americans.

[20:10:00] CABRERA: Sure, I appreciate that. I just wonder, though, given what's happening at the border right now, it's -- does that need to be addressed? Does it need to -- does something need to be done in order to shore up what is becoming a humanitarian crisis, when you look at what officials --


CABRERA: -- are dealing with? There aren't physical structures --


CABRERA: -- aren't enough of these structures to allow the people --

GUTIERREZ: Yes. Here's what I -- here's what I did -- yes.

CABRERA: -- who are coming across the border to be in the U.S. and be safe when they cross the border.

GUTIERREZ: Yes. Here's what I think. I think that, number one, I hope that my party, the Democratic Party, stands up for its principles, right? And I would say to the mayor of my own city, Rahm Emanuel. Instead of hitting yourself on the chest every day about Jussie Smollett, invite them to come to Chicago. L.A., invite them to come. New York. There should be welcoming centers all across America for these refugees, for these asylum seekers to find a home in America. That's what I believe people should be doing right now and we should be organizing.

And the Democratic Party should stand for the principles upon which this nation was created, a nation that said, give me your poor, right? Give me your huddled masses. If these are not poor, huddled masses fleeing persecution, then we've never seen them. This is not unprecedented. Yes, the number may be unprecedented. But the situation. Look how we treated Cuban refugees and asylum seekers in the 1980s. By the 10s of thousands they came in boats. We brought them in. They're here. They're now part of the fabric of this nation.

Let's remember that there is really no difference, right, for asylum seekers, whether their life is at stake or they're being persecuted because of their politics. They should be accepted in the United States, if they have a claim. Because that is the law of our nation.

CABRERA: Right, it is the law they can seek asylum, although we do know, based on government statistics, 90 percent of the people who seek asylum don't actually get granted asylum.

Now, Raphael, President Trump is planning to do the exact opposite of what the Congressman is recommending. He's threatening to shut down the southern border entirely next week. And according to the Wilson Center, that's going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars each day in lost revenue from trade.

But listen to what the president said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With a deficit like we have with Mexico and have had for many years, closing the border will be a profit-making operation.


CABRERA: Raphael, do you know what he's talking about?

ROMO: Yes, what the president says is true, Ana, but it's misleading. So, there is a little bit more than $600 billion a dollar a year in trade between U.S. and Mexico. And the deficit, I was taking a look at the numbers by the U.S. trade representative. It is something like a little over $60 billion. So, it is true.

But you also have to consider the dynamics of trade between Mexico and the United States. A lot of cars that Americans are driving right now are assembled in Mexico with U.S. parts. So, if you close the border, what's going to happen to the car industry in the United States? And can you imagine the hike in prices that that can create?

Let's talk about fruits and vegetables. What would happen to the prices of, say, avocados, berries, limes that are imported from Mexico and that we in the United States take for granted? Can you imagine going to the supermarket and having to pay three times as much for these products?

And, finally, Ana, let's also talk about people. According to the U.S. State Department, there is about 1.5 million Americans living in Mexico right now. Sometimes we forget about that part of the equation. And are we just going to be able to shut down the border as if this was some sort of Banana Republic?

There's one other country that is shutting down their borders right now on this side of the world, Ana. You can guess what that country is. It's Venezuela. Are we going to follow in the steps of Venezuela? Is that what we, as the United States, are going to do? I just don't see the sense in the economics or when it comes to people, it just doesn't make sense, Ana.

CABRERA: You talk about the people --

GUTIERREZ: (INAUDIBLE) absolutely right, Ana.

CABRERA: -- coming across the border, including children who are coming across the children to school day in and day out. You want to add something, Congressman?

GUTIERREZ: Ana, 5 million American citizens depend on their job when they wake up every morning because of trade with Mexico. You shut down that border, 5 million Americans lose their jobs. We are interconnected, Ana. As Raphael said, --


GUTIERREZ: -- there's no longer a American car or a Mexican car. There's just cars that are built all over the world.

ROMO: Right.

GUTIERREZ: And, yes, things do get more expensive.

So, remember, the harm that will be caused to Americans, millions -- 5 million Americans, this is undisputed, would lose their job if you close down that border.

[20:15:07] President Trump doesn't think, right, of the consequences. He simply thinks about how can I get people to hate someone? How can I get people to despise someone? How can I get -- to blame someone so that I can rile up my political base. Instead of thinking of the incredible harm to the human being seeking asylum, number one, which is my first concern.

CABRERA: Congressman, what you're saying, though, is going to fuel the arguments that the president is arguing, that Democrats want open borders. That they don't want any kind of border security.


CABRERA: They want anybody to come and go from this country. That's what he argues. And what you're saying gives him fuel for that argument.

GUTIERREZ: Ana, Ana, Ana, from the very first proposal that I made with Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy and Jeff Flake in 2004, we had 700 pages. You can go back and look at t. The first 400 pages was enforcement, enforcement and enforcement. We believe in enforcement. We also believe that there are laws on the books that say that asylum seekers get to seek asylum in the United States of America.

Ana, let's go to Central America with a plan. We did it after World War II and rebuilt, rebuilt Europe. Let us all -- why is it that there was always money for the contras? Why was there money when there was civil war in El Salvador? Why was there money when there was unrest in Guatemala? Why did we spend hundreds of millions of dollars for bullets and to arm people and to cause destruction in those nations? Why don't we invest in jobs and in humanity in those countries? Because we certainly spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the cold war so they could kill each other.

CABRERA: Former Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Raphael Romo, thank you both for being with us.

As the border battle grows, presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke, is putting immigration at the heart of his campaign. We'll go live to Texas on his big rollout today.

And new tonight, two 2020 candidates calling on Joe Biden to answer two allegations he inappropriately kissed a Nevada politician in 2014. How Biden, who, by the way, isn't even a candidate yet, is responding. Your live in the CNN Newsroom.




BETO O'ROURKE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's nothing wrong with this country right now. We cannot make right with this country right now. And it's going to be the people of Texas. It's going to be the people of Houston, Texas who lead the way.


CABRERA: Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke a short time ago in Houston. It's one of three stops for the former Congressman today in his state-wide kickoff to his 2020 bid for the White House. And he's gaining traction, or at least trying to at least. You can see, though, undeclared candidate Joe Biden leading the pack in the national polls. But there is news on the Biden front as well this evening, and we'll get to that in just a moment.

First to Leyla Santiago in Austin. That's where O'Rourke is getting ready for a rally tonight. His third of the day near the state capital. Leyla, immigration a crucial part of O'Rourke's rollout, apparently?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Because he started this three-stop campaign 2020 launch in Texas in El Paso, in the shadow of the southern border. His hometown, his turf there, so obviously immigration playing a key role. That's something he's talked about for years and now a very big part of the issues that he is pushing as a presidential candidate.

Now, he's back in Texas after about two weeks ago, he put out a video on social media, announcing that he wanted to become the next U.S. president. He went to those key early voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. And he took some time to listen to voters and let voters know where he stood on some of the issues, saying that that would mold, sort of, his future policies.

Now, he's talking about those things, health care, education, criminal justice reform and, of course, to your point, Ana, immigration.


O'ROURKE: And if we truly believe that we are a country of migrants and asylum seekers and refugees, and they are the very premise of our strength, of our success, and, yes, our security, then let us free every single dreamer from any fear of deportation. Let's bring millions more out of the shadows and on to a path to contribute to their maximum potential to the success of this country.

Let's not only -- let's not only follow this country's asylum laws, but let's make sure that we never take another child from another mother at their most desperate and vulnerable moment.


SANTIAGO: And one -- and he's saying this just a day after he visited that international bridge now at the center of headlines between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso where hundreds of families -- or, excuse me, hundreds of migrants, families, children are now being held under that bridge. He certainly talked about that in El Paso. And not really, at that point, directly addressing the president's threat to shut down the border. But he has one more stop here in Austin. We'll see what he has to say. If it's similar or if he adds to the talking points he's hit thus far. He'll head to D.C., Iowa as well as New York after he wraps up here in Texas -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Leyla Santiago, we know you'll keep us posted. Thanks.

Now, to a controversy surrounding Joe Biden as he weighs his own presidential bid. Some of his fellow Democrats on the trail want answers from the former vice president, after a woman he was campaigning for in Nevada five years ago, Lucy Flores, you see her there on the right, wrote a magazine essay that Biden was out of line in kissing her on the back of her head while off stage for an event that she was at.

[20:25:15] Now, this photo from the same event shows Biden and Flores along with actress Avalon Warren (ph). And you can see them before the alleged encounter. Here's what some of the Democratic White House hopefuls are now saying about this.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I read the op-ed last night. I believe Lucy Flores. And Joe Biden needs to give an answer.

JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe Lucy Flores. I believe that the vice president put a statement out today. He's going to decide whether he's going to run or not. And then, the American people, if he does, will decide, you know, whether they support him or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Now, today, the Biden camp put out this statement, and I quote, "People know Joe Biden and they know his character, his integrity and his values. They know him to be someone who is empathetic, caring and who understands their problems and concerns. That's how he reacts to people and it's how people react to him. In fact, some of the people who know him best, people who have worked for him throughout his career are speaking up to say that he has always been a champion for women in his office."

CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson joins me now from Houston where Beto O'Rourke spoke this afternoon. What's your reaction, Nia, to the Biden allegation and how the 2020 candidates are now jumping on this, especially given Biden's not technically in the race?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: He's not in the race, as you said, but he's certainly leading all of the polls that you see from Democrats, essentially saying they feel like Biden would be a strong choice to run against Donald Trump. This Lucy Flores op- ed or letter, in some ways it wasn't surprising, right? This is something that people have kind of talked about Joe Biden. You see some of the interactions that he has with women, when the swearing in ceremonies, for instance, happened.

So, it wasn't surprising that something like this would get an airing. And, also, you've got the candidates, now, essentially, saying they want to hear from Vice President Joe Biden. We haven't heard from Vice President Joe Biden. There was a statement yesterday where they said that he essentially couldn't remember anything like this. And he just certainly didn't remember it this way. And then, the other statement that they put out today, again not from Vice President Joe Biden. We'll wait to hear from the other candidates. Do they believe Lucy Flores?

It is interesting, though. You have, in Vice President Joe Biden, someone who has been thinking about running for president. His aides say he's 95 percent of the way there. But they must have known that, in this era, the me too era, when the scrutiny of men is much more public and open than it has been in years past, they should have probably known that this was going to get an airing. So, we'll see where the campaign -- it's not a campaign. Where the possible campaign, where the possible candidate Vice President Joe Biden goes with this.

CABRERA: Well, we know he's already been addressing Anita Hill and some of the other issues that could potentially be soft spots for him.

You're in Houston, so let's talk about why you're there. I mentioned Beto O'Rourke spoke a little while ago, ahead of his final stop in Austin where we saw Leyla. Now, interesting to see where O'Rourke is campaigning today. Because he was in El Paso first, then Houston, again now in Austin. What kind of symbolism is he trying to establish, do you think?

HENDERSON: Well, the El Paso -- you know, the contrast, essentially, with Donald Trump in El Paso. It's a town that Beto O'Rourke says is made vibrant by immigrants. So, a little bit of his bio, obviously, there in connection to that town here. This is much more of an African-American area. We're here on the campus of Texas Southern University, it's an HBCU.

So, his argument is always the same. It's, essentially, that he feels like he would have a broad appeal, to not only the Obama coalition but also some Trump voters. He uses the campaign that he ran for Senate, where he came within three or so points of beating Ted Cruz. He said that is, essentially, what he can do for the country more broadly. Of course, he's saying that he could win the presidency and not come up just shy.

But, yes, we hear broad themes today on health care, on immigration, on education, on criminal justice. He's, in some ways, a hype man for Democratic Party values. A lot of the folks I spoke to in this crowd are looking for more policy. They're very familiar with Beto O'Rourke. Some of them were wearing Beto O'Rourke for Senate t-shirts because they were galvanized by his Senate campaign.

But they are, in some ways, looking for Beto O'Rourke 2.0. What actually is he saying he could do and why he is the person who could do it, in terms of policy? So, you know, this will be official kickoff. They're waiting to hear more from him. They're waiting to hear more from other candidates as well. He got a decent crowd, about 2,000 or so people out here.

[20:30:00] And he's on to Austin, at this point. This is his home state. He feels like he could win this. Not only in the Primaries, a lot of delegates up for grabs, but his argument is also that he could beat Donald Trump in this state and across the country.

CABRERA: Which would be a game changer, obviously, when it comes to the electoral map.

HENDERSON: Yes, it would be.

CABRERA: Nia, I want to turn and get one more topic in here real fast, the Republican Party versus Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman Democrat in Congress from New York. Take a look at the crowd when Donald Trump, Jr. appeared at a campaign style rally for his dad earlier this week.


ALL: AOC sucks! AOC sucks! AOC sucks! AOC sucks!


CABRERA: They are chanting her initials, you heard the word that followed. And today, Ocasio-Cortez responded by saying, this is a pattern among those on the right including the president and she added that the president doesn't have another woman, Hillary Clinton or whoever else to vilify any more.

Nia-Malika, why is she such a magnet for conservatives?

HENDERSON: Well, she's incredibly charismatic. She is in some ways a symbol of where the country is going in terms of demographic. Here, she is a young Latina woman who upset a Democrat in New York and she's incredibly eloquent in terms of talking about Democratic Party values. And I think she's probably right. This idea that she's the new boogie woman, the old boogie woman, obviously, was Hillary Rodham Clinton. We remember those chants of "lock her up, lock her up." They've moved on from that and found a new boogie woman in AOC.

But listen, I mean, she's somebody who's got a real following on the left and probably has a real future in the party even as the people in the Democratic Party who are a little nervous about the kind of platform she has but I expect you'll hear more of that at those Trump rallies.

CABRERA: All right. Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you. Good to see you, my friend.

HENDERSON: Coming up, we're learning new information about the murder of a University of South Carolina student killed after entering what she thought was an Uber. A suspect now in custody. We're have the details just head.

Plus, the Rolling Stones postponing their North American tour over the health of Mick Jagger. What we're hearing from the band tonight.


[20:35:53] CABRERA: Just in to CNN, the most heartbreaking news for the family of a missing college student in South Carolina. The body of a young woman found by hunters on Friday has been positively identified as Samantha Josephson. 21 years old, a student at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She was last seen in the wee hours of Friday morning getting into a car near the college campus. Her fellow students are in shock today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was just a very bubbly person. She was very happy and she was excited because she was going to law school in the fall, but she was just a very happy bubbly person. Very sad and it's very scary because it can happen to anyone and you definitely need to make sure you stay with your friends.


CABRERA: Police in South Carolina do have a suspect in custody. His car matched the one Samantha Josephson was seen in. He's been arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping. Get this, police believe the victim mistakenly got into the wrong car thinking it was her Uber ride.

Overseas tonight, Israel defense forces say five rockets have been launched from Gaza within just the last few hours. So far, no reports of injuries of damages.

Now, earlier the Palestinian ministry of health reported three teens were shot and killed by Israeli forces. This reportedly happened during the mass demonstrations on the border marking the first anniversary of the great march of return protest campaign.

CNN correspondent Michael Holmes spent the day on the Israeli-Gaza border in the midst of those protests.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hamas had called for today's protest to be peaceful for the first time deploying hundreds of marshals to keep protesters back from the border fence and possible death.

HOLMES (on-camera): The men from Hamas crowd control trying to keep protesters back. They've had some success, but the longer it goes on, the harder it's going to be.

HOLMES (voice-over): In the end, it didn't work, hundreds broke through, tires were set ablaze and rocks thrown towards Israeli troops on the other side. Tear gas, lots of it came from the Israeli side and there were some live fire as well. Israel says it only uses such measures when an eminent threat is perceived.

The Palestinian ministry of health says a year of weekly protests like this has seen nearly 270 Palestinians killed and thousands wounded as they protest the loss of Palestinian homes in the Arab-Israeli war of the 1940s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We're here to get our land back, our homes. I'm participating to get it back.

HOLMES (on-camera): These protesters are a test for Hamas turned out a crowd big enough that show support for the cause, but at the same time, exercise enough control over that crowd to minimize violence and casualties.

HOLMES (voice-over): Hamas also looking for Israeli restraint. And so how this day ended would likely impact the success or otherwise of Egyptian mediated talks between Hamas and Israel. Too high a death toll from Israeli fire and Hamas said it would retaliate. And for Israel's path, excessive violence would show a lack of Hamas' will or ability to tamp down the violence.

[20:40:02] And it appeared to work, at least to a degree, casualty numbers far less than in previous demonstrations even though at the end of the day, Palestinian medical authority said there had been hundreds of injuries, many from bullets, but most from tear gas.

Here, a boy overcome by gas, he quickly recovered. Those truce talks now continue. Hamas wanting Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza in a number of areas, Israel wanting quiet from the Gaza strip, an end to rocket fire into Israel and protests like these along the border.

The days ahead will determine which direction this ongoing conflict goes.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Gaza.


CABRERA: Coming up, George Clooney getting some major A-list support tonight as he pushes for an international boycott on the controversial Sultan of Brunei.

As we go to break, just a quick programming note. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night. It is the fourth part CNN Original Series, "Tricky Dick" on Richard Nixon's rise, fall, incredible comeback and political destruction. That's at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.


[20:45:14] CABRERA: New tonight, the Rolling Stones are putting their upcoming North American tour on hold. A statement from the band says leader singer, Mick Jagger, needs medical treatment and can't tour. Doctor's orders. No word on what's ailing the 75-year-old.

Jagger apologized to his fans on Twitter saying, "I'm so sorry to all our fans in America and Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I'm devastated for having to postpone the tour, but I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can. Once again, huge apologies to everyone."

We're also getting reaction from Jagger's bandmates. Guitarist Keith Richards tweeting, "A big disappointment for everyone but things need to be taken care of and we will see you soon, Mick. We are always there for you."

And Ronnie Wood tweeted, "We'll miss you over the next few weeks, but we're looking forward to seeing you all again very soon. Here's to Mick."

Also new tonight, Elton John is throwing his support behind George Clooney. And now, both men are urging people to boycott all luxury hotels owned by the controversial Sultan of Brunei. That boycott is in response to the nation passing Sharia Law allowing gay people to be stoned to death.

And in a statement Elton John says this, quote, "Discrimination on the basis of sexuality is plain wrong and has no place in any society. That's why I commend my friend, George Clooney, for taking a stand and calling out the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry now being enshrined in law in a nation of Brunei. A place where gay people are brutalized or worse. I believe that love is love and being able to love as we choose is a basic human right. Wherever we go, my husband David and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as do each and everyone one of the millions of LGBTQ people around the world."

CNN's Jean Casarez picks up our coverage.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the new penal code for Brunei was introduced in 2014, but it is this Wednesday that one of the criminal laws goes into effect. It is a law that calls for the death penalty and it is that anyone who engages in any type of homosexual activity and/or separate and distinct adultery, will face the death penalty, stoned to death.

Well, George Clooney has spoken out and he says in an op-ed to deadline that there may be nothing that can be done at all in regard to what Brunei is doing, but people around the world need to boycott the hotels that are owned by the Sultan of Brunei, his investment company and that includes in the United States the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air.

Clooney says, quote, "On this particular April 3rd, the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone."

Now, the Sultan of Brunei gave a response to the criminal law in general saying, "The Sharia Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring act that's are against the teachings of Islam, it also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate right of all individuals, society, or nationality of any face and race."

Now, the U.S. State Department has said that they strongly oppose human rights violations and abuses against LGBTI people in Brunei. They also believe that it could violate some international human rights obligations. Ana?

CASAREZ: All right. Jean Casarez, thanks for that report.

A federal judge says no to President Trump and his action that would have allowed drilling for oil in arctic waters off Alaska. The president threw out a ban on arctic drilling almost two years ago. But now, a U.S. district court judge has ruled that the president's executive order is, quote, "unlawful and invalid."

So that means a drilling ban in much of the ocean off Alaska will remain in effect. Conservationists call this a victory. No response yet from the White House, but an appeal is likely.

Coming up, is it a germ concern? Jeanne moos on Pope Francis dodging people trying to kiss his ring.


[20:50:00] CABRERA: For Catholics, kissing the pope's ring is a sign of respect, but Pope Francis is having none of it. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to kissing the pope's ring, he doesn't seem to like the ring of it. Watch Pope Francis yank his hand away time after time after Catholics lined up at a shrine in Italy to pay their respects. One guy looked like he ended up kissing his own hand. It was as if his devoted fans had cooties.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: It looks like a weird video game where you have to try and kiss the pope.

MOOS (on-camera): But it's not as if the pope tells everyone to kiss off when they go for his ring.

MOOS (voice-over): He usually goes along with it, most memorably when this circus performer did it last year. Ring kissing does tend to slow down the line. This man puckered up and then got hustled away.

On the day in question, Pope Francis allowed folks to dive bomb him for 10 minutes before he started playing hard to get.

[20:55:05] Supporters say it's the pope being humble, preferring to wash people's feet rather than have them kiss his ring. Most hand kisses don't involve a ring, be it the queen or Melania Trump or Kellyanne Conway.

One guy who doesn't refuse it is Don Corleone, and you better not refuse him.


MOOS: Someone tweeted that Pope Francis looks like he's batting off flies. Still, he did stop for hugs, a papal treat.

JIMMY KIMMEL, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: It's also good if you add an ice cream cone.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: A Vatican spokesman tells reporters fear of germs is why the pope was dodging kisses. Quote, "He wants to avoid the risk of contagion for the people, not for him."

That does it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera, thanks for being here. Up next it's the CNN Original Series, "The Seventies." Have a great night.