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At This Hour

Thousands of Migrants Await Processing Under Texas Bridge; Police Say, Missing Woman's Fiance Withholding Critical Information; Cuba Begins Vaccinating Children as Young as Two. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 17, 2021 - 11:30   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: It's a relatively painless way to do it. Americans don't feel it. It appeases a group between -- in Washington. I generally think they often hurt the situation more than they help because the people that get hurt are ordinary people, when you block economic contact activity and aid.

So, if the Biden administration wants to go in and try to solve it, that might be a more effective one. But that said, it is a very tough problem. Maybe the best thing is to just do a few symbolic things and not get too involved.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Which is a very sad statement in a tough reality. Thanks, Fareed, it is very good to see you.

ZAKARIA: A pleasure.

BOLDUAN: You can catch Fareed's show, of course, this Sunday, every Sunday.

Up next, take a look at these pictures, thousands of migrants sheltered under a bridge in awful conditions. A new crisis at the U.S./Mexico border and the very latest in a report from Texas is next.

But first, our special Champions for Change Series is back next week. Me and some of my colleagues have the chance to share the stories of everyday people who may not make headlines but are still breaking barriers and making a difference and inspiring others to do the same. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join your favorite CNN anchors for a special week.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Immigrants enrich our country and they're proving it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sharing stories of change-makers. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is one of the most devastating and yet preventable issues of our day.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: He hopes the defenseless learn to defend themselves.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Theater teaches courage, confidence, trust.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: She saw a need and every day she sets out to fulfill that need.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: He is using scuba diving for better environment.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: She is a trail blazing black woman.

BOLDUAN: Preserving the ocean for our children.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Empowering women for financial independence.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: No one should drown because they don't know how to swim.

Very good, very good, very good.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Small steps can lead to a big impact.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We are hoping to help kids in school and beyond.

WHITFIELD: He is a champion.

CABRERA: She's a championship.

BLACKWELL: For change.

BROWN: Change.

KEILAR: Change.

GUPTA: Change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Champions for change, all next week on CNN.




BOLDUAN: Texas Governor Greg Abbott reversing course after facing backlash in closing several entry point along the Mexico border. He's now allowing them to stay open. He had wanted to close several after thousands of migrants, as you can see these really unbelievable pictures, thousands of migrants have gathered under an international bridge in Del Rio.

CNN's Rosa Flores filed this report from there moments ago.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, the situation here is heartbreaking. Texas State Troopers gave us an aerial tour yesterday of the international bridge where thousands of people are waiting to be processed by U.S. immigration authorities. And I can tell you that those images are shocking and heartbreaking. We see men, women, children by the thousands, according to officials, mostly Haitians.

And the mayor here said that it is probably going to take about two weeks for these individuals to be processed by immigration authorities. And you're seeing signs that these people are beginning to live there. A camp is going up. Tents are going up and people are starting to dry their clothes on fences.

Now all of this as Governor Greg Abbott announced yesterday that he was directing the Texas Department of Public Safety to shut six points of entry, blaming the Biden administration, and even said that it was the federal government who asked Texas to assist in the closure of these points of entry. DHS firing back yesterday, saying that that was not the case, that, in fact, that if the state of Texas were to close points of entry, that that would be against federal law.

I asked the mayor of this city about this announcement by Governor Greg Abbott and he said that, first of all, these migrants are not coming in through points of entry. I saw it with my own eyes. They're crossing the Rio Grande. And he also said this, Kate, how about the federal government and the state government come here, talk to the locals and fix the problem. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you so much. We'll stay on top of that.

Also developing at this hour, a federal judge has denied a request from the Justice Department to put a freeze on the Texas abortion ban ahead of a full hearing. This means that the state's abortion ban will remain in place for now. A hearing date has now been set for October 1st.

Joining me now for more on this is Pennsylvania's attorney general, Josh Shapiro. Attorney General, thank you for being here.

You signed on in support of the Justice Department's effort to stop this Texas law. What is your reaction to this judge's decision overnight?

JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think that has got more to do with scheduling than substance. And, obviously, we want this to be heard as soon as possible. October 1st is in a couple of weeks.

But I would just tell you that this law really defies the Constitution by attacking women's rights, and it is really a threat to all Americans, not just women in Texas. They're trying to control women. And it encourages people to go out and sue their neighbors or even total strangers for health decisions that they have no business interfering with.

The Department of Justice is obviously on it. We are supporting that case.


And I think people need to know that this fight is expanding well beyond Texas. It is come here to Pennsylvania. But for the veto pen of our democratic governor, we'd be experiencing similar laws here in the commonwealth.

BOLDUAN: I was actually going to ask you that, Attorney General. What do you think is ultimately going to happen here, even after this hearing on the Texas laws, as you said is October 1st? Because where do you see the momentum is here? And what does it mean for Pennsylvania?

SHAPIRO: I think there is momentum building in state capitols that Republicans dominate to pass carbon copies of what happened in Texas. Certainly, lawmakers here in Pennsylvania support that. Again, but for the veto pen of our Democratic governor, it would be law here.

But I think what we're really on a collision course for is a case that the Supreme Court will be hearing in their next session and presumably ruling on at some point next summer, which is a direct attack on Roe v. Wade out of the state of Mississippi.

And so I think all of this is coming together at a critically important time. There are state lawmakers who are working overtime to control women's bodies. And right now, with the makeup of the United States Supreme Court, I think Roe is very much at risk. It is why the states matter, it's why governors matter to veto these bad bills and it's why my work as attorney general continue to protect a women's right to choose.

BOLDUAN: I want to turn to another effort underway in Pennsylvania. State Senate Republicans voted yesterday to try to force the state's top election officials to turn over millions of voters' personal information and voting histories, because they want to launch a review now on the 2020 election.

I was there in Pennsylvania on Election Day and then week after. You have and I have talked about it since. There have been two audits of the vote in the commonwealth, no massive fraud found. This move is politically motivated. Why are they doing this now?

SHAPIRO: Well, you know, of course, it is politically motivated and it's an extension of the big lie. And, of course, they checked with one person before launching this, and that is Donald Trump, to get his blessing to go forward with this taxpayer-funded sham.

It is important to note that this subpoena actually mostly is requesting documents that are already publicly available. But then a piece of it is the private personal information of millions of Pennsylvanians. We have laws on the books and our Supreme Court has the records -- BOLDUAN: So, Attorney General, they're asking for information they can already get?

SHAPIRO: Yes, which confirms that this is a charade. Now, they're also for private personal information, like Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, and we're not going to let them get away with that. We're going to litigate that and we're going to protect people's privacy.

But understand they're using taxpayer dollars to sort of do the charade and ask for stuff they already have and then to also demand the private personal information of Pennsylvania voters, and that is simply being done at the behest of Donald Trump and it is against the law here in Pennsylvania and we're going to stand up to it.

BOLDUAN: Just really quick, we're out of time. I've heard you say you're going to stop them from doing this. How do you do that?

SHAPIRO: Well, the laws are clear and we'll do our talking in court, where we've done it, as you know, over 40 times. Every time they've taken us on in court, they've lost, we've won. We're going to continue the will of the people and the sanctity of the privacy of our vote here.

BOLDUAN: Attorney General, thanks for your time.

SHAPIRO: Good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. And when people are released from prison, they face big challenges trying to earn a living wage. In the first year of freedom, 80 percent earn less than $15,000 annually.

This week's CNN Hero has beat those odds and now is trying to help others do the same.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After surviving prison, you come home thinking you're able to start over. You want to be part of society but there is just so many layers of discrimination, boxes you have to get through just to get an opportunity.

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At A Second You Foundation, we give formerly incarcerated men and women national certifications and job placements and boutique gyms in corporate health clubs throughout New York City.

You have got to be thinking outside of the box.

You can't give someone a mop and say, this is your future, take minimum wage and deal with it. When you provide people with livable wages, they're able to be productive members of society. And that is why we are a second you. We want to give you your second chance at life.


BOLDUAN: To hear more, go to




BOLDUAN: At this hour, the intense search continues for a missing woman who hasn't been seen in weeks after going on a cross country road trip with her fiance. Police body camera video shot last month that just released shows 22-year-old Gabby Petito and her fiance talking to officers after an alleged physical altercation between the couple.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've just been fighting this morning, some personal issues.

He wouldn't let me in the car before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why wouldn't he let you in the car?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He told me I needed to calm down, but I'm perfectly calm.

I have OCD and sometimes I get really frustrated.


BOLDUAN: Authorities want to talk to Gabby's fiance, understandably, Brian Laundrie, but, so far, he's not cooperating. Laundrie's sister, however, just spoke out.


CASSIE LAUNDRIE, SISTER OF MAN WHOSE FIANCE IS MISSING: I haven't been able to talk to him. I wish I could talk to him. I've cooperated every way that I can. I wish that I had information or I would give more. This is all I have. I gave it to the police.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Athena Jones has the very latest on this story. Athena, what are you learning?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've heard now from Cassie Laundrie, who says she's cooperated with the police. She also went onto talk about how close Brian Laundrie's family was with Gabby. Here's more of what she had to say on ABC. Take a listen.


LAUNDRIE: Me and my family want Gabby to be found safe. She's like a sister, and my children love her. And all I want is for her to come home safe and sound and this to be just a big misunderstanding.


JONES: And so you hear her saying she hopes this is a big misunderstanding.

What's interesting is, not long ago, the spokesperson for the North Port Florida police department, that is where Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie lived together, with Brian Laundrie's family, and that is where Brian Laundrie returned on September 1st in Gabby Petito's white Ford van without Petito. In fact, that person, that spokesperson came on and said that he has no awareness of Brian Laundrie's sister having cooperated with police or been in touch with police.

But that's really the bottom line here. It's what we're hearing from all of Gabby's family members who have spoken, Joseph Petito, her father, her stepfather as well, James Schmidt (ph). They are calling on, really begging the Laundrie family to be more forthcoming, calling Brian Laundrie's silence reprehensible. They say that Brian and possibly his family know where he last saw her, where he last left her.

And in a letter that was read out yesterday by an attorney representing Gabby's parents, they called on the Laundrie family saying, if you have any decency left, please tell us where Gabby is located.

So, bottom line here, of course, is that Brian Laundrie does have a Fifth Amendment constitutional right not to speak to the police about this, and he is on advice of attorneys not doing so. But this has left the family of Gabby Petito, of course, very, very frustrated and upset.

BOLDUAN: Athena Jones, thank you so much.

Let's turn to this. As the U.S. debates booster shots today for adults, Cuba is now the first country in the world to be vaccinating children as young as two. You can see from these graphics, cases there continue to rise this summer.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more from Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): First comes the jab and then the tears. In this one clinic in Havana, the day we visited, over 230 children between ages of two and five were vaccinated, hospital administrators tell us. Several countries around the world have begun to vaccinate children, but Cuba is believed to be the first to vaccinate toddlers on a large scale. Even though COVID vaccinations aren't mandatory here, Laura tells me she didn't hesitate to bring her four-year-old daughter, Anisul (ph), to get the shot.

I am relieved, she says, because a lot of people are still getting sick. And with the vaccine, we are more protected. Rather than rely on importing vaccines from abroad, Cuba has produced its own homegrown anti-COVID drugs.

The island's government says studies show they are safe even in children, and have begun sending data to the World Health Organization for its approval. With the delta variant, cases in children are soaring in Cuba. And just since August ten children have died, according to government statistics, something doctors tell us they didn't expect would happen.

It's more gratifying to vaccinate a child, she says. You put the vaccine and know they're going to be immunized and won't have serious complications or even die from COVID.


The pandemic has hit Cuba hard with food and medicine shortages and in-person schooling canceled indefinitely.

Cuban officials had said that they would reopen schools in early September. But with the surge of new cases and deaths, those plans are on hold.

Now, officials say that before they can safely reopen schools, they have to complete an island-wide vaccination campaign that includes children.

Anit Meisel and her daughter, Paula, right before the three-year-old gets her vaccine. I'm very happy, she says, more than when I got vaccinated. Vaccinating her is the biggest comfort yet.

Cuba's vaccines require three doses. So there are more jabs to come for the kids. But parents say if it means that life can begin to return to normal for their children, then all the tears will have been worth it.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


BOLDUAN: Patrick, thank you so much for that. And thank you all so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. Inside Politics with John King begins after this break.