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AT THIS HOUR

DHS Watchdog Reveals "Egregious" Conditions Inside ICE Facilities; Rising Homelessness in Los Angeles, Crisis Is Getting Worse; Trump Speaks at D-Day Ceremony in Normandy, France; Biden Faces Backlash from 2020 Democrats for Abortion Stance. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 6, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:32:18] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: First on CNN, a government report laying out what it calls, quote, "egregious" conditions at multiple immigrant detention facilities. Describing just deplorable conditions that people in ICE custody were facing.

The inspection report has not yet been released, but CNN has been able to attain a copy of it.

Justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, is joining me with some of the details.

Jessica, some of the inspectors, what they found was so bad, officials at facilities were removed right on the spot.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHNEIDER: Yes, in New Jersey, in fact, a kitchen manager was fired on the spot because of some of the substandard food handling there.

And really across the board, the inspector general's report puts it bluntly, saying that at four ICE Detention facilities, two in particular, they found immediate risks and egregious violations when they inspected these in the latter half of 2018.

This investigation was prompted by calls to the inspector general's hotline and concerns from immigrants' rights groups.

The I.G. stressed in this report that these people held at these facilities are not prisoners and really their detention is not supposed to be punitive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Improperly packaged raw and leaking meat, overflowing toilets, and moldy shower stalls, and braided bed sheets referred to as nooses that have sometimes been used for attempted suicides.

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general says these are some of the immediate risks and egregious violations found at multiple ICE detention facilities in unannounced visits over six months late last year, the worst in New Jersey and California.

The inspector general's investigation began after a tip about terrible conditions on its hotline. The I.G. made unannounced visits to four facilities in California, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Colorado.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded to the violations and said in an amendment to the report, "That it has completed significant corrective actions to address identified issues."

ICE even attached pictures of improved bathroom and shower conditions at its California location.

But the conditions were dangerous and unsanitary for the nearly 5,000 detainees held in total at the four facilities. The I.G. stressing, "All ICE detainees are held in civil, not criminal custody, which is not supposed to be punitive."

Nevertheless, the inspector general found detainees at the New Jersey and Colorado facilities essentially trapped inside. Detainees were not allowed proper access to outdoor recreation and forced to make do with so-called recreation yard that had a partial covered roof or mesh cages on the glass enclosures.

The I.G. also found the food handling situation so bad at the New Jersey detention center that the kitchen manager was replaced during the inspection. They saw open packages of raw chicken leaking blood, slimily foul-smelling lunch meat, and moldy bread.

[11:35:09] But the problems could get worse given the record numbers of migrants now in government custody.

ICE's new acting director, Mark Morgan, said Monday that there are currently around 52,000 single adults in ICE custody. That's an all- time high and exceeds funding levels yet again.

And the numbers across immigration facilities are expected to grow as more and more migrants cross the border. Last month, more than 144,000 migrants were apprehended or encountered at the southern border. The highest monthly total in 13 years.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Now it's important to point out that these violations were found over a seven-month period. And ICE Has reported many of the fixes to the inspector general. But, Kate, the I.G. is still insisting on more documentation confirming all of these problems have been corrected -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: With the crisis still happening at the border, with more people coming to the facilities, this is only going to be potentially a worse and worse problem that requires Congress and the White House getting together to figure something out.

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. BOLDUAN: Putting more resources like immigration judges at the border to try to cycle these people through so they're not detained for so long.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much for bringing that report.

Coming up for us, remembering D-Day. President Trump pays tribute to the heroes who fought and so many losing their lives to change the course of history 75 years ago today.

Stay with us.

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[11:41:08] BOLDUAN: It's a problem that shouldn't be a problem when you're talking about a country as prosperous as the United States. And in at least one major American city, it's a problem that's only getting worse. So much so, that even local officials who battle it every day are shocked and asking why, if millions of dollars are being spent to combat homelessness, why is it only getting worse.

Stephanie Elam takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tents, sleeping bags, panhandling. From west L.A., to Hollywood, to downtown, homeless people can be found throughout Los Angeles.

Many Angelinos already suspected the housing crisis is getting worse, now there's data to prove it. New numbers from the city's annual homeless count estimate more than 36,000 people in the city are homeless. That's up 16 percent from last year. In all of L.A. County, the rise is 12 percent to nearly 59,000 people.

ERIC GARCETTI, (D), LOS ANGELES MAYOR: It's high rents, low wages. It's mental health. It's addiction. It's actually all of those transpiring together.

ELAM: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is under fire for the homelessness issue, a problem he says he owns.

GARCETTI: People do think there's a silver bullet to this. There isn't. But a dedicated campaign with funding that continues through and patience of the first two to three years get the machine working because you can't just shelter people randomly, that will produce a system that not only ends homelessness on our streets but builds a sustainable system.

ELAM: Despite getting more people into housing last year than ever before, the city and county haven't been able to keep up with the number of people falling into homelessness.

Nearly a quarter of those living on the streets said they became homeless for the first time last year.

In 2016, Los Angeles voters approved usage of $1.2 billion for permanent housing. Garcetti's goal is 10,000 permanent supportive housing units over the next 10 years.

(on camera): Has any of that $1.2 billion at all gone to the homeless problem yet?

GARCETTI: Oh, yes. We have already about $400 million of it funded. We will spend that $1.2 billion early. I mean, long before the 10- year span.

ELAM (voice-over): The mayor's critics, however, are skeptical and call for more innovation.

JILL STEWART, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COALITION TO PRESERVE L.A.: The mayor has this dramatic plan and he's not breaking away from it. It's taking forever. It's a huge waste of money and it's turning into a disaster for the homeless.

GARCETTI: I get that frustration because I, like anybody out there, wants this to be something we can snap our finger and in a year or two make it go away. It's been decades in the making.

ELAM: That frustration is also shared by L.A.'s homeless.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not zoo animals. We're human beings who happen to be living on the street.

ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Stephanie, thank you so much for that.

Coming up for us, presidential candidate, Joe Biden, under attack again from his Democratic rivals. This time, his stance on abortion. Will this become the defining issue now of the 2020 Democratic primary race? That is ahead.

But first, students usually learn to read in the first few years of school, of course, but for students who struggle with that, they can fall further and further behind. In this week's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD," we meet volunteers helping students master this essential life skill. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2017, only 22 percent of students from disadvantaged backgrounds were reading on great level. Reading Partners is an organization that provides one-on-one tutoring for children to help them build their reading skills from kindergarten to fifth grade. That's the critical moment in time for learning to read.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Lloyd stepped on every crack --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see him growing, I can see him doing much better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We partner with educators and bring volunteers who are trained to have one-on-one sessions with students, 45 minutes twice a week to help them to build their reading skills throughout the school year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, blend it all together. Good job! You did it.

(LAUGHTER)

[11:45:06] UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: He's helped me a lot. I just have to keep on reading, and if I mess up, he tells me to stop, and then I have to say it again. And then I say it right.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Volunteers are essential to our work.

Reading Partners recruit volunteers year-round.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do this to make a difference. If I can improve a child's life, to change their direction, improve their reading, that's so crucial as they continue on.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Thank you for helping me read.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're welcome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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[11:50:51] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For more than 107 veterans of the Second World War, who join us today, you are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That was President Trump speaking at this morning's ceremony in France, marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the day that changed the course of World War II, when U.S. and allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, and in doing so, changed the course of world history.

Ten-thousand allied soldiers were killed, wounded or missing in action in that invasion, the largest land and water invasion in history, with more than 13,000 aircraft, 5,000 ships involved.

Today, President Trump joined French President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders to salute the lives lost, the veterans among the living, and the freedom won that day.

CNN's Abby Phillip is live in Ireland with much more on this.

Abby, I was so moved by the ceremony this morning. People should take the time to watch it, as much of it took place while most were sleeping still.

The president appeared to take the moment very seriously, as if the weight, I don't know, history of that place had an impact on him, even if for just that moment.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kate. It would be almost impossible for that place to not move anyone to their very core. And I think President Trump really felt it, in fact, because he was standing among so many surviving veterans of that extraordinary battle.

And in his speech, he really called them the greatest Americans that we may ever know. And I think for President Trump, it was not lost on him perhaps that this might be one of the final ceremonies of this type.

Many of these veterans are in their 90s. They are coming to an age where there will not be many more of these very large-in-scope ceremonies, so President Trump's task there was to say thank you on behalf of the nation.

It also capped a week of these sorts of ceremonies, including one I was with him at in Portsmouth yesterday where he joined world leaders, including the queen, but the purpose was just to say thank you. And also to call on Americans to remember these people and remember their valor as well -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: A beautiful day for a beautiful ceremony.

Abby, thanks so much.

Coming up, the center of the 2020 primary universe moving south today. Democratic contenders are heading to Atlanta, making their pitch to African-American voters. Some are getting a few shots at the Democratic front-runner at the very same time.

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[11:58:01] BOLDUAN: Forget Iowa, forget New Hampshire, at least only just for today, because the focus of the 2020 Democratic primary fight is in Georgia right now where a handful of presidential candidates are making their pitch to African-American voters at the DNC-hosted African-American Leadership Summit.

Senator Cory Booker spoke a short time ago, not missing an opportunity in his remarks to take a hit at the Democratic front-runner, Joe Biden, on a topic that is becoming an issue, federal funding for abortions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): This has got to be a movement election because what I see, and particularly for African-American communities, is unacceptable. This assault on women's reproductive rights is an assault on women, but it's a particularly an assault on African- American women!

(CHEERING)

BOOKER: And the Hyde Amendment, to deny people through Medicare and Medicare abortion rights, that is an assault on African-American women, too!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Arlette Saenz is following this all from Atlanta.

Arlette, Joe Biden is still taking flak from all sides right now, especially for this issue, his support of the Hyde Amendment on using federal tax dollars for abortion services. Is this becoming a defining issue in the Democratic primary?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Kate, abortion is certainly an animating issue right now for Democrats. As you've seen, some states move to pass these laws that will restrict abortions in their states.

But right now, time will tell whether this is really going to affect Biden with Democratic primary voters.

We're going to be hearing from him today in Atlanta, the first real divide and fault line you see between Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party when it comes to abortion.

BOLDUAN: I want to get to the more general, they are all gathered in Atlanta for this summit and some are meeting with Stacey Abrams, who lost her bid for governor in Georgia but has really become a star in the party. Is she emerging as something of a king-maker? What are you hearing?

SAENZ: Well, Kate, you've seen a lot of Democratic candidates try to sit down with her. She's a very influential voice right now, especially when it comes to voting rights and voter suppression.

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