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ICE Arrested 600 Plus in Mississippi; Tensions in Kashmir Escalated; Ignored Red Flags From El Paso Shooter Now Surface; U.N. Warns Worse Climate Change; Tribe Fought for their Land. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired August 9, 2019 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: -- uncertainty as hundreds of undocumented workers are rounded up in a record-setting immigration strip in the United States.

Soldiers patrol the streets of Indian-controlled Kashmir as India's prime minister reveals why his country changed decades of special status for the region. We'll have a live report from India and Pakistan.

And later, a battle to combat climate change, an indigenous tribe fight for the future of the Amazon rainforest.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. And this is CNN Newsroom.

And we begin with the polarizing immigration debate in the United States as agents arrived in force swooping down on food processing plants in Mississippi. They rounded up 680 workers on Wednesday, suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

One detainee says they were separated into three groups, those with deportation orders, those with criminal records, and a third group. The raids took place as those worker's children were attending their first day of school, unaware their moms and dads might not come home.

Authorities say more than half the people grabbed in the raids, 377, are still in custody. The ordeal has been especially difficult on the children who were separated from their parents.

CNN's Nick Valencia has more from Morton, Mississippi.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, can I just see my mother, please.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An emotional plea from one of the many children left behind after a massive ICE raid on undocumented workers on the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Government, please, put your heart, let my

parent be free and with everybody else, please. Don't leave the child weep, crying and everything.


VALENCIA: This 11-year-old, like so many others doesn't understand why her parents were taken away from her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal.


VALENCIA: Desiree Hughes works at one of the seven plants across the six Mississippi cities targeted by ICE.


DESIREE HUGHES, EMPLOYEE, MORTON PLANT: Very hard seeing many kids cry, scream for their loved ones because they're gone, they don't know when they'll see them again.


VALENCIA: Kids who would have had to fend for themselves if not for the compassion of locals like Jordan Barnes.


JORDAN BARNES, OWNER, CLEAR CREEK BOOT CAMP: We're going to have a bed available for them and we're going to get food for them just to get through the night. And if they need transport to school in the morning, we can arrange that as well.


VALENCIA: The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi called the raids the largest single state immigration enforcement operation in American history. More than 600 ICE agents were involved.


MIKE HURST, U.S. ATTORNEY: Now, while we are a nation of immigrants, more than that, we are first and foremost a nation of laws


VALENCIA: Responding to criticism that the arrest of hundreds of undocumented immigrants fell on the first day of school as well as just after a deadly mass shooting that targeted Latinos, an ICE official with direct knowledge of the raids defended the timing as coincidental but said he understood the poor optics.

The official who was on site for the raids telling CNN the emotion is a horrible thing. I saw kids coming up crying at the gates. Some detainees have been released with ankle monitors to reunite with their families.

Still, local activists Thursday expressing outrage about the massive operation in their community, a community they say, is only here to contribute.


NSOMBI LAMBRIGHT, MEMBER, NAACP MISSISSIPPI: We are ashamed about what our state is doing, but we're here to let everyone know around the world that we're going to fight back and we're going to make sure that these families are supported.


VALENCIA: Locals estimate that up to half of the 680 undocumented immigrants that were caught in these raids were parents. We did ask an ICE official to verify that number, and while they couldn't substantiate it, they did say that any of those that said that they were the sole guardian of children were released.

Those in the cases of two parents being taken into custody one parent would be released while the other was detained. But as you saw on that report, if not for the compassion of locals, many of these children would have been left to fend for themselves.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Morton, Mississippi.

ALLEN: Let's talk more about this with Elliot Williams, he is a former assistant director at ICE, the federal agency that enforces U.S. immigration laws. Mr. Williams, thanks so much for being with us.


ALLEN: First I want to get your reaction to what we have seen occur in Mississippi in this roundup of parents. It began on the first day of school. This would be any parent's worst fear, no one is there for their child when they're rounded up by authorities. What's your reaction?

WILLIAMS: It's poor timing and, again, ICE has a tremendous amount of discretion over when and how to conduct enforcement operations, and what they choose to do is pursue the strategy had they had for the last two plus years of letting fear drive and dictate their immigration enforcement strategy.

[03:05:08] Let's be clear, if they were building a criminal case, and we can talk about that a little bit, but what they said they were doing was building a criminal case against the employer, they did not need to arrest 600 plus people in order to do that. They could have audited their records or done it in a less of disruptive way.

ALLEN: Right. If the goal was to crack down on illegal employment, why not target the employers? WILLIAMS: Yes. And the way you do that is, you essentially just send

a letter to the employer saying, please turn over all of your employment documentation, what's in the United States called I-9 form, the verification forms, and then ICE could've looked those forms over and decided whether to bring a case. There's no reason to apprehend 600 individuals.

And frankly, you know, during the Obama administration, after about maybe April of 2009, the Obama administration stopped this type of enforcement action because it's just not that effective, if you're goal truly is cracking down on illegal employment.

ALLEN: Yes. So, it all comes down to what immigration officers can do legally, forces what they ought to do as effective policy. What would effective policy look like?

WILLIAMS: Yes. Well, again, you know, I hesitate to go after the Trump administration, but what they are doing is it's a policy and pattern generally of making people afraid to be in the United States. And when you go start knocking on the doors of chicken coop -- chicken processing plants --

ALLEN: Processing plants.

WILLIAMS: -- and rounding everybody up, that's not effective policy. What we need in the United States is a vast and broad rethinking of how we approach immigration, but this enforcement only approach driven by fear and demonizing immigrants, which seem to be, seem to have been President Trump's approach, is really working.

ALLEN: I want to talk about another case, as well. An Iraqi national who had lived in the U.S. since he was an infant, he died shortly after being deported to Iraq, as part of the Trump's administration's crackdown on illegal immigration. His name was Jimmy al-Daoud, he was 41. He died from complications of diabetes, his attorney said. He had a long criminal record according to the attorney due to severe mental issues.

He was deported in June to Iraq, where he had no family, no contacts, and he didn't speak the language. He'd been boarding in refugee camp in Greece. His family came here legally. Why would he be deported to a country where he had never lived?

WILLIAMS: Well, because he wasn't, you know, he was unlawfully present in the United States. And it's almost like one of those optical illusions where you either see the face or the vase. And I think what most people would see is an individual with severe mental illness who didn't know the country he's being removed to. What immigration enforcement in the United States saw was a criminal.

And they saw an individual who had a criminal background and if you look at the articles on this, they just weren't hearing the arguments that, a, he should have been removed to a place he didn't know and, b, that he was actually ill. It seems that he'd had, I guess, it was insulin issues but also some serious mental health concerns. Ando so, this wasn't -- this certainly wasn't much of a humanitarian

-- and they have the discretion to decide not to remove into the country. They could've just said that they were going to proceed with it and that happens all the time. They just chose to go ahead with it.

ALLEN: Well, certainly, both of these cases will continue to be discussed. We appreciate your insights, Elliot Williams, thanks so much for being with us.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

ALLEN: We are learning more about the massacre in El Paso, Texas. And the man allegedly behind it. CNN has exclusively new information about a warning given to police by the suspected gunman's mother.

CNN's Brian Todd reports.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As authorities piece together a profile of the allege shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, CNN is learning more about possible warning signs in the weeks leading up to the massacre.

Lawyers for the suspect's family tell CNN his mother contacted police weeks ago in his hometown of Allen, Texas because she was worried about his son owning an AK-style firearm.

The family attorneys say her warning was more innocuous in nature, concerned about her son owning the weapon because of his age, maturity level and inexperience with such a firearm, but not out of concern that he post a threat.


MIGUEL VEGA, FORMER EL PASO POLICE DETECTIVE: If the call came in here in El Paso my police officer will respond to the home and speak to the mother more in detail.


TODD: The suspect's family's lawyer say Allen police took the mother's call, but based on her description of her son's situation, she was told her son was legally allowed to possess the weapon. The mother did not give her name or her son's name, the lawyers say, they and say police didn't ask for any more information.

[03:09:58] Former El Paso police detective Miguel Vega says he doesn't want to pass judgment on how the Allen police responded, but he says, if he had taken the mother's call --


VEGA: Me, personally, I probably would've tried to inquire more information, names, addresses, a little bit more information to, you know, to warrant a further investigation, to further look into it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Allen police tells CNN they always ask if a person calling with

those concerns wants to give more information, wants to file a formal report, or wants them to investigate further. But they say, in this case, they're not certain what happened because the mother gave so little information.

One lawyer for the suspect's family tells CNN, quote, "this was not a volatile explosive, erratic behaving kid. It's not like alarm bells were going off."

There are currently 17 states in Washington, D.C., most of which lean Democrat that allow extreme risk protection orders, or red flag laws allowing authorities to confiscate firearms from those deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.

Those orders are generally prompted by warnings from relatives, and must be approved by a judge. Texas is not one of the states that have red flag laws, but it's also not clear the warning from Crusius' mother would have been urgent enough to require confiscation.

Experts say the best wat to help a loved one you're concerned about is to seek out help immediately.


DANIEL Z. LIEBERMAN, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: People can be worried, that if they called the authorities, it's going to have a negative influence on someone they care about a great deal.

You have to remember that the truth is exactly the opposite. Getting the help, getting the treatment that they need can have a dramatic effect for the better on their lives.


TODD: Meanwhile, we're getting some new information from a source familiar with the suspect's family, some background on his life leading up to the attack. The source telling us that the suspect was confused about the path his life was taking, he was considering going back to college, possibly joining the military, possibly getting a full-time job.

The source giving CNN a very chilling quote, "just when did the wheels start to come off, we don't know?

Brian Todd, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

ALLEN: New details about President Trump's visit to El Paso seem to suggest it was less about comforting survivors and more about publicity.

A source tells CNN none of the patients still being treated at University Medical Center wanted to meet with the president, so the hospital brought back two survivors who had already been discharged including a two-month-old who lost both his parents. And then, there's this campaign-style video shared by the president on

Twitter. It shows him smiling, shaking hands and posing with hospital staff. Another cell phone video captured the president bragging about the size of his crowd at his El Paso rally back in February.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I was here three months ago, we made a speech and we had a -- what was the name of the arena? That place was packed, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: El Paso County Coliseum.

TRUMP: Right. Right. The judges are respected.

What was the name?



D. TRUMP: Good. Come here, man. That was some crowd.

M. TRUMP: Thank you for what you've done. Thank you.

D. TRUMP: Then we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy6 Beto. Beto had like, 400 people. They said his crowd was wonderful.


ALLEN: Mr. Trump has named his pick to be the nation's next spy chief, Joseph Maguire has been leading the National Counterterrorism Center. But come August 15th he will become the acting director of national intelligence.

That announcement came just a few hours after Deputy DNI Sue Gordon resigned. The president has been at odds with the intelligence community repeatedly on election interference, North Korea, and Iran.

Fears are rising in the volatile Kashmir region over a potential new confrontation. Pakistan's response to India's controversial move in Kashmir. We'll have that in the live report ahead.

Plus, a huge storm is making its way to China and the country is bracing for impact. We'll tell you when it's expected to hit.

You're watching CNN Newsroom.


ALLEN: Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region. Pakistan's military warned of a strong response if India takes military action in the area. This comes after New Delhi decided to strip Indian- controlled Kashmir of its autonomous status.

CNN producer Sophia Saifi is following the story from Islamabad, Pakistan for us. But first let's go, to CNN's New Delhi bureau chief Nikhil Kumar. What prompted this decision, Nikhil, by the Indian prime minister?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN'S BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Natalie, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, his political party, the BJP, which belongs to the right end of the political spectrum over here they had never made any secret of the fact that they thought that the special status that they took away on Monday, covering the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir which includes Indian-controlled Kashmir. That they thought that it was a problem.

They've been saying for decades in fact that this had to go away, they thought that it created a disparity in the way that it was governed. They thought that it held a state back, and so they went ahead and stripped it. Why now? Well, they've just won a massive majority in general election that concluded earlier this year.

People have also been pointing out in this speculation that this could also have been spurred by those comments that we saw a few weeks ago of President Trump offering to mediate in this dispute between India and Pakistan, something that India has said again and again is a bilateral issue.

So, they moved ahead, and now all the focus is on the reaction within Indian-controlled Kashmir. We still haven't had a full picture of people -- of what people there think.

On Thursday night, Prime Minister Modi made an address to the nation in which he insisted that, look, this is good for the state, it will help it develop, it will help out root out terrorism and it will be good for ordinary Kashmiris. But we still haven't had a full picture of what ordinary Kashmiris actually think about this, we don't have a full handle of exactly what the reaction will be. Will it be violence?

And the big risk, of course, is that if it is violent, if we do see protests, if we see even one person killed then this could spiral into something much bigger, which could go beyond just India. It could bring in, as you mentioned, Pakistan and lead to a confrontation between these two nuclear powers. Natalie?

ALLEN: Nikhil, thank you. Let's go to Sophia now in Pakistan. Sophia, India and Pakistan have fought wars over Kashmir. What has been the response from Pakistan?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Natalie, the initial response was one of diplomacy, that is continuing. The Pakistani foreign minister has said that diplomacy is the first line of defense. But they have been behaving this argument that if, according to them, India stages a false flag attack, then Pakistan will be forced to respond with force.

Now, however, like Nikhil said, we haven't seen anything really come out of Kashmir, it's all dependent on what's happening in Indian- administrative Kashmir. We did have some very strong words from the Pakistani military which had been quite reticent to speak out ever since this decision was announced by the Indian government.

There is fear here amongst the Pakistani public, there's been a lot of fake news that's been spreading about closed airspace, about different people being released from prison. However, there is that sense of uncertainty that anything could happen. It's a very volatile situation.

We are seeing protests in Pakistan administrative Kashmir where you've got we saw thousands of protesters take to the streets, thousands of Kashmiris on the side of the border who do have family on the Indian side who are already waiting to hear back from what's going on with their loved ones on the Indian side.

Again, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of diplomatic offensive is taking place. We've got the Pakistani foreign minister he flew out to Beijing for an urgent visit to discuss this. He's called China the iron brothers of Pakistan.

[03:20:01] And it's also just something that's going to continue to develop, something that continues to be need to be monitored and we just have to wait and see what happens in the days to come. Natalie?

ALLEN: We'll certainly be following it closely. Sophia for us there in Pakistan, Nikhil Kumar in New Delhi. Thank you both so much.

Hong Kong is bracing for the 10th straight weekend of pro-democracy protests and it's already started with this. This is the airport. This is a three-day demonstration happening right now at the city's international airport. One of the world's busiest.

Authorities say only departing passengers with travel documents will be allowed into the terminal to minimize the potential for disruption. Another story we'll be keeping a close eye on.

The U.S., the U.K. and Japan are among the countries issuing travel warnings for Hong Kong because of the massive protests sweeping the city.

A chaotic scene on a Japanese island chain where a typhoon pummeled the area with intense rain, wind -- excuse me, and heavy rain, at one point, it strengthened into a super typhoon but has since died down a bit.

Still, the storm poses a big threat to Eastern China, where it is expected to make landfall in the coming hours. We'll keep an eye on that one.

The time is running out to fix the planet from the climate crisis and the U.N. is issuing yet another dire warning. We'll tell you about it next.


ALLEN: Our earth is on track for catastrophic global warming. And a new U.N. report warns that to avoid the worse effects humans need to stop abusing the land. Researchers say we've already damage too much as it is.


VALERIE MASSON-DELMOTTE, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, FRENCH ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES AND ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION: We, humans affect more than 70 percent of earth free land. A quarter of this land is degraded. The way we produce food and what we eat contribute to the loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity.

Today, 500 million people live in areas that experience desertification. People living in already degraded or desertified areas are increasingly negatively affected by climate change.


ALLEN: The report stresses dramatic changes into how we grow and consume food because agriculture and food production are major drivers of global warming. Climate change is undermining food security and access and early warning systems are critically needed to preserve crop yields.

The climate crisis is also increasing rainfall intensity and flooding, as well as drought frequency and severity. Land is being degraded by heat stress, wind, rising sea levels and waves.

In Ecuador, the Amazon rainforest is being protected from degradation after an indigenous tribe took on the government and its plan to expand oil drilling there.

CNN's Becky Anderson has our report.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: It's called the lungs of the earth, the Amazon is world's largest rainforest and one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet.

[03:24:59] Its six million square kilometers of forest are a key buffer against increasing levels of carbon in our atmosphere. But this precious natural resource has long been under threat. Now, one tribe is fighting back.


NEMONTE NENQUIMO, LEADER, WAORANI TRIBE (through translator): We came here for a right to live, we haven't come here to negotiate with the government. We came here to get the government to respect our jungle, our land. It's our home.


ANDERSON: Nemonte Nenquimo is a leader of the Waorani, one of a number of indigenous tribes that still called the rainforest home. The Ecuadorian government has sought to expand oil production in the region to boost the nailing economy, a move that threatens the tribal way of life.

In response, Waorani people have taken to the streets and courts of Ecuador to prevent the government selling their ancestral lands to oil companies. With the help of an NGO called Amazon Frontlines, the tribe won a landmark case in April, which campaigners say protects half a million acres of rainforest.

That ruling was upheld against an appeal by the ministries on environment and energy, a second victory for Nemonte and her tribe.


NENQUIMO (through translator): We have won the victory and this means that our children and future generations are going to live healthy, free, and happy.


ANDERSON: Their story is a rare glimmer of hope in the fight to save the Amazon, and pre-pave the way for other tribes to take similar action. Ecuadorian officials were not available for comment. In July, they said in a statement.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is important to highlight that this ruling does not affect in any way, the oil production in our country. We confirm our commitment to develop our natural resources with the highest social and environmental standards respecting the communities' rights in the key project areas.


NENQUIMO (through translator): The only message I can give to the other countries is to have a soul. To defend our jungle for future generations because we are not children and it's our children who benefit.


ANDERSON: While the Waorani lands are protected for now, other parts of the Amazon are in increasing risk. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has undone decades of rainforest protections causing deforestation in Brazil to accelerate in June to over one and a half football fields every minute, and leading researchers to fear that Amazon is at a dangerous tipping point.

Unless drastic action is taken, Nemonte and tribes like hers maybe the last one standing in defense of this priceless natural resource.

Becky Anderson, CNN, London.

ALLEN: And that's CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen. African Voices is next.