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ICE Arrest Nearly 700 Undocumented Workers In Mississippi; Robbery Spree Leaves Four Dead And Two Injured In Southern California; Walmart Employees Stage Walkout To Protest Gun Sales. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up, new fears in immigrant communities following the massacre here in El Paso.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Just ahead, new fears in immigrant communities across this country. Major Homeland Security deportation operations. We're going to fill you in on this latest raid. Stay with us.


BERMAN: New fears in immigrant communities this morning after huge ICE raids in several Mississippi cities. Federal immigration authorities -- they arrested nearly 700 undocumented immigrants in one day. In one case, an 11-year-old girl was pleading with officers after her mother was taken into custody.

[07:35:07] CNN's Dianne Gallagher live in Morton, Mississippi where that encounter took place. Dianne, what can you tell us?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, that little girl wasn't the only one. These raids took place on the first day of school here in Morton, Mississippi and in the Jackson area, leaving several children without parents when they got home. Neighbors stepped in and took those kids in after what the U.S. attorney called the single-largest ICE raid in a state in the nation's history.

Six hundred eighty people were rounded up at workplaces -- these processing plants much like where I am here -- this is Koch Foods in Morton -- loaded onto buses and taken to a processing area that had been set up in an airplane hangar by the National -- in the National Guard unit area there.

Now, a senior immigration official tells CNN that they'd been using informants to determine what managers and owners knew they were hiring undocumented workers. When the U.S. attorney and ICE were asked about owners and managers who had been arrested, perhaps, because of this, they said this was an ongoing criminal investigation.

But this really rocked the community. I want you to listen to this little girl pleading with an ICE official to let her see her mother as they loaded her onto a bus.


MOTHER DETAINED BY ICE: (Speaking Spanish).

11-YEAR OLD CHILD (Crying): Please, can I just see my mother -- please.



GALLAGHER: And just -- really, here in the community there is a little bit of confusion because as far as most of these people know, these individuals were just working. These were raids of workplaces. These were not necessarily individuals who had criminal histories.

And there's just talk of this sort of tone-deaf nature, Erica.

This happened just before the president touched down in El Paso. He was supposed to be there to comfort people who were grieving because of a white supremacist who had posted a racist screed online, talking about a Hispanic invasion, and then killed 22 people in El Paso, most of them Latino.

So here in Mississippi, there is discussion about sort of what they called almost a victory lap that the U.S. attorney was taking, bragging about just how many people were detained.

Most of those people who had children, Erica, were released.

HILL: Yes.

GALLAGHER: We are told that they have been united -- some of them -- with their children, but there are still so many others. Again, almost 700 people who were detained yesterday.

HILL: Dianne Gallagher with the latest for us there from Morton, Mississippi. Dianne, thank you.

Police still searching for a motive after a random robbery and stabbing spree left four people dead and two others wounded in Orange County, California. There is a suspect in custody. The question, though, this morning, what triggered the attacks?

CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now live from Los Angeles. Paul, good morning.


Well, this suspect used two machete-type knives, according to police, after he went on this 2-hour reign of terror. Police say he went on this spree looking for cash. There were so many incidents.

The first knife attack in his very own apartment complex. Police say he burglarized two men earlier then returned to the complex and stabbed them to death.

He then also hit a check-cashing business. That person was not attacked.

In an insurance office, he stabbed a 54-year-old woman multiple times. She survived.

Then he goes to a gas station. He attacks a man there, stabs him in the back, and police say nearly slices off the man's nose.

Then he goes and kills someone at a Subway restaurant.

And he also stabbed and killed a security guard outside the 7-Eleven. What was scary for police is he cut out this man's gun from his holster -- the security guard.

But fortunately, he was arrested without incident by plain-clothed officers.


LT. CARL WHITNEY, GARDEN GROVE POLICE DEPARTMENT, GARDEN GROVE, CALIFORNIA: We have no motive at this point. We don't know. It's just pure hate this guy did this.

I have worked here in Garden Grove for 30 years. This is the first time I've ever seen something like this where we have a suspect kill four people in one day and attacked other people that just are innocent victims.

It's pure evil when this happens and you don't see this happen every day. This is one of those things you see one time in a career.


VERCAMMEN: And, Erica, the two people who were stabbed and survived are now in stable condition.

Back to you.

HILL: Oh, those details are just chilling.

All right, Paul Vercammen with the latest for us there. Paul, thank you.

Is the White House ignoring the threat posed by domestic terror? Exclusive CNN reporting, next.


[07:44:00] HILL: New exclusive reporting. CNN is learning White House officials beat back efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize domestic terror threats such as those by white supremacists.

A senior source close to the Trump administration telling Jake Tapper, quote, "The White House wanted to focus only on the Jihadist threat which, while serious, ignored the reality that racial supremacist violence was rising fast here at home. They had major ideological blinders on."

Joining me now is CNN counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd.

Phil, just off the top, what is your take on this?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL, CIA: Well, you remember the election campaign when the president -- and remember, it wasn't that long ago when we spent a lot of time talking about ISIS. The president was talking about how he would eliminate ISIS.

A good talking point for a president partly because if you contrast it to the white supremacy problem in the United States, ISIS is people overseas. It's the other people that we don't want in this country, so he could link that to some of his immigration commentary.

[07:45:00] In the face of that, when you have a new team come in office that may not be that familiar with how to understand intelligence and terrorism reporting, you have officials in government come at you and say ISIS is fine, but the people we need to spend more resources on not only aren't ISIS, they're white people in this country.

Boy, that's a tough pill to swallow if you're new to the White House and you just got elected, saying you're going to beat the guys overseas when people say you've got to spend money -- more money on the people here.

HILL: So you're saying it's that simple?

MUDD: It's not that simple and that's why political engagement is really complicated.

Let me give you a specific example. You remember what we happened -- what happened in Charlottesville not that long ago. Those people -- some of those people before that went violent, like it or not, are exercising a free speech right in the United States. Whether they're neo-Nazis or not, they're allowed to demonstrate in this country.

We need politicians to stand in front of cameras and say two things.

One, we are going to investigate those kinds of people. You know the firestorm that will result from that when others say that's a free speech right they're exercising.

HILL: Yes.

MUDD: The second thing, beyond the political cover that the law enforcement people need, is to say we're also going to shift resources from the ISIS fight to chase some of these people. This is tough and the law enforcement and intel guys, they need the politicians.

HILL: So they need the politicians here because they need -- as you point out, they need to be able to shift those resources.

I do want to point out that in response -- MUDD: Yes.

HILL: -- a senior administration official telling CNN the following.

"The administration's national strategy for counterterrorism was the first to ever include domestic terrorism. The issue continues to be a priority for this administration.

And the National Security Council has launched an interagency process focused on combating domestic terrorism in support of the president's counterterrorism strategy."

We hear that but I will say, as you also read in here, it's very clear that part of the issue is this is not something that people wanted to run up the chain to the boss.

MUDD: That's correct, and if you look at the president's language and contrast it to the FBI director, it's not clear that the messaging from the top is the same as the messaging from the workforce that has to confront the problem.

And by the way, let's be clear here. Documents are fine. There are two things I want to see. One is people and two is money.

If you're going to put a document down and claim that that document says you're shifting strategy, I want to see how the White House, in budget documents to the Congress, has put in more money and more people to fight this problem.

If you're running an agency, strategy's nice. I want money and I want people. And finally, I want the White House to be telling the Congress this is important to us. Give us the money.

HILL: There's also this point, too, in Jake's reporting. A current -- a current senior administration official saying that there is a surge, right, and "DHS is surging resources here to deal with domestic terrorism, but they are behind the curve."

That is a tough thing to hear in the wake of what we just saw in El Paso, especially when this was a community -- a Latino community that was specifically targeted. And we are talking about white supremacy and domestic terror right there.

MUDD: And behind the curtain -- let me explain what that means.

If you're running a federal agency trying to understand this problem in 50 states, it's not just determining whether one young person in Texas has a weapon. It's making sure you have the intelligence base to understand white supremacist organizations in 50 states, making sure you build the expertise up over years so you have analysts and agents who can figure this out over time, and run informant networks.

And the toughest part of this -- and we are not even close to getting here -- making sure you have laws that tell people if you're going to do a wiretap or read the e-mails of someone who's a white supremacist, you might have the same authorities that you have if you're fighting ISIS.

We do not do that now. There's not been a word out of the -- about that out of the White House. Nobody's going to want to touch that one. We need laws that allow us to go after these people.

HILL: Phil Mudd, always good to have your perspective. Thank you.

MUDD: Thank you.

HILL: John.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much, Erica.

The shooting in this Walmart behind me is, once again, igniting the national debate over gun safety and gun sales.

Coming up, we're going to speak to one Walmart employee who staged -- tried to stage a very big strike to send a message to the giant retailer.


[07:53:19] BERMAN: In the wake of the mass shootings here in El Paso and also Dayton, the retail giant Walmart is facing pressure many, including some of its own employees, to stop selling guns.

One employee staged a walkout and is circulating a petition to pressure Walmart to change its policies.

Joining me now is Thomas Marshall. He works in Walmart's e-commerce division in California's Bay Area. Thomas, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

What are you asking, exactly, of Walmart?

THOMAS MARSHALL, WALMART EMPLOYEE: Well, thank you so much for having me and thank you for putting light on this very important issue.

What we're asking, really, is our main reach is that we would like Walmart to stop the sale of all firearms and ammunition. In addition to that, we'd like them to have WALPAC, Walmart's PAC, to stop donating to NRA and A-plus politicians, as well as to ban the concealed and open carry weapons on company property and in stores.

BERMAN: So more than 42,000 people signed your petition. Have you heard anything back from Walmart yet?

MARSHALL: Not yet, and we're really waiting on that response. We understand -- all of us were very hit hard by this tragedy. It hit home for a lot of us. And so, we understand that this takes time but we're really hoping that we get a response and that that response is in the right direction.

Walmart has proven that they are willing to take steps in the right direction. Last year, they raised the minimum age to buy firearms from 18 to 21. In 2015, following Sandy Hook, they even banned assault-style weapons.

So we really believe that showing this -- that this is something that employees want and that the public wants, as well, Walmart will hopefully be persuaded into making this right decision.

[07:55:05] BERMAN: Well, it's interesting you bring that up because also, Walmart is donating $400,000, at this point, in the wake of these tragedies. And, Walmart has tweaked its policy in the past.

And let me read you -- and if, guys, you can move up a little bit -- the Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon -- he did put out this statement after the shootings.

It said, "We will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven" -- that's another shooting that happened at a Walmart -- "as well as those --


BERMAN: -- that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence. We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses."

You just noted they'd --

MARSHALL: You sure?

BERMAN: -- made changes in the past.


BERMAN: Do you feel they're being thoughtful and deliberate now?

MARSHALL: I truly hope so. I very much enjoy working for this company.

It's a company that has always valued the input of associates since its founding. And so, I truly hope that that response, when it comes, is taking into consideration our point of view as well.

BERMAN: You said you truly enjoy working at this company -- at Walmart. Are you concerned --


BERMAN: -- at all about your employment? Are you concerned at all about your --


BERMAN: -- employment status with Walmart given that you've spoken out?

MARSHALL: Of course. I have already been -- you know, faced repercussions from this. Immediately, on Tuesday, once we really started going public with

this, my access was completely revoked from all company systems, from -- my laptop was pretty much made useless. So I was fired without really -- I was -- you know, was not able to do the job without being fired, technically.

But as soon as that hit the press -- we very much tried to get that out in the public -- they immediately recanted on that and then came up with a reason why they would have done that, and then granted my access back again.

So, sadly, a lot of employees are very afraid of retaliation and damaging the reputation within the company, not able to get promotions. So a lot of people have expressed that they agree with us, they feel the same way, but they've all been coming to me in private saying that they don't feel like they are able to come out in public to support this because they are really afraid of retaliation from Walmart.

BERMAN: Oh, yes. But just to be clear, you have a job as of this morning.

MARSHALL: Yes -- yes, I do. Yes, because legally, I --

BERMAN: And your computer access has been fully restored?

MARSHALL: Yes, because legally, I have not done anything wrong and it would have been against the First Amendment for them to --


MARSHALL: -- punish me for speaking out, especially for organizing at work. You know, as Americans, we are very much protected to organize and protest at work.

BERMAN: And, again, Walmart did not sell the weapons involved in these shootings. In fact, as you noted, they don't sell assault-style --

MARSHALL: Oh, of course.

BERMAN: -- weapons anymore.

So what change --

MARSHALL: In -- oh, sorry, but --

BERMAN: -- would it make to maybe prevent these mass shootings?

MARSHALL: Most definitely.

Well, there have been a lot of studies, especially the one that recently came out from "The New York Times," that state the amount of guns is directly correlated to the amount of mass shootings.

And so we really hope that Walmart, with the immense economic power it has in this country, will be able to set a precedent for either if they stop selling guns or if they simply enact much stronger regulations on background checks.

Say, if Walmart told its vendors of weapons to implement biometric devices in all guns, that would become an industry standard because of how powerful Walmart is.


MARSHALL: So we really hope that Doug McMillon --

BERMAN: All right, Thomas Marshall --

MARSHALL: Oh, thank you.

Yes, we really hope that Doug McMillon will --

BERMAN: I was going to say -- yes, Doug McMillon, as we said --

MARSHALL: Yes -- will listen to us and use his immense --

BERMAN: Go finish.

MARSHALL: -- power in this country to be able to really enact gun legislation that the government hasn't been able to have an influence on as of now.

BERMAN: Thomas Marshall, thank you for being with us and bearing with the delay.

MARSHALL: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: We appreciate your input this morning.

MARSHALL: Yes, thank you so much.

BERMAN: And thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you -- for you, "CNN NEWSROOM WITH MAX FOSTER" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, we have exclusive CNN reporting on the gunman behind the shooting here in El Paso and also, the White House pushback on efforts to put a greater emphasis on domestic terror.

"NEW DAY" continues right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're very dishonest people.

MAYOR NAN WHALEY (D), DAYTON, OHIO: The victims were grateful that the president came to Dayton.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): I'm very concerned about a president that plays the race in his rhetoric and is racist. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He cannot allow one minute of one day to go by without it being about him. He's not the consoler in chief, he's the victim in chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no 'one size fits all' response but we are going to try to come up with some consensus position.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): This is not a Democratic or Republican thing. This is every goodhearted American who is ready to say enough is enough.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, August eighth. It's 8:00 in the East, 6:00 a.m. here in El Paso, Texas.

John Berman here. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me from Washington.