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Biden Eyes Executive Action For Migrant Surge Ahead Of Election; Trial To Decide If TX School District Can Limit Student's Hair Length; Moon Landing Attempt Just Moved up To 4:24 P.M. ET. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 11:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, President Biden is weighing taking executive action to stem the unprecedented migrant surge at the southern border. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has the latest on what is being considered. Priscilla.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: John, what I'm being told by sources is that White House officials are reviewing an authority that already exists in immigration law and gives the president the power to decide who is eligible to enter the United States. In this context, it would allow him to restrict migrant's ability to seek asylum if they crossed the border unlawfully. It's an extraordinary move if the White House were to take it because it resembles something that was done over the former administration under former President Donald Trump and would also earn fierce pushback from immigrant advocates and Democrats.

Now, an administration official tells me that there are multiple options that are being evaluated here. And that no final decision has been made. The White House also telling me in a statement, "No executive action, no matter how aggressive, can deliver the significant policy reforms and additional resources Congress can provide and that Republicans rejected. We continue to call on Speaker Johnson and House Republicans to pass the bipartisan deal to secure the border."

Of course, what the White House is referring to there is that Senate border bill that included some of the toughest border security measures in recent memory, including a power for the Homeland Security Secretary to shut down the border if it reached a certain trigger. Now, the president over the course of the negotiations had embraced that authority saying he would shut down the border if he could -- if he could. This possible executive action seems to be an extension of that, although we don't yet have all of the details.

But of course, John, this is -- comes at a notable moment. It's -- we're in the middle of the election year. The president is -- knows immigration is going to be front and center, and he is trying to seize on border security here flip the script on Republicans, and show that he is also willing to be tough on the U.S.-Mexico border. Of course, whether or not they move forward with this executive action, it's still very much in question.


BERMAN: All right. We will let you continue to report on that. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you very much. Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now to talk about this is John Sandweg. He's a former acting director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It's good to see you again, John.


BOLDUAN: Broadly speaking, blocking asylum claims of migrants on a practical level. What does that do at the border if that kicks in? I mean, what could this look like?

SANDWEG: Well, look, Kate. This would be a fundamental shift in how we approach border security and how the asylum system in the United States. Candidly, probably, if he's successful and if that survives the inevitable legal challenges, this would permanently reshape how we address border security at -- you know, at -- immediately at the border and asylum claims. But very quickly, as you and I've discussed before, the central bottleneck, and really the crux of this crisis is our inability to handle all of these claims and give people the hearing that they're entitled to under current law.

What the administration is looking at doing is saying, how do we bypass that requirement? If we give a hearing, the net result would be -- it would eliminate that bottleneck. At the same time, though, you know, individuals who probably -- some individuals who have a valid asylum claim who are fleeing persecution would be unable to present that claim in the United States.

BOLDUAN: And it's -- you're going right where I was going to take you because you and I have been talking for years about one of the bottlenecks here, which are immigration courts. And the --


BOLDUAN: That's where the big bottleneck occurs in this asylum claim process. Does this move do anything to fix that? What does this mean if this kicks in, you're still facing the problem of resources of people, and space?

SANDWEG: Yes. It's not going to solve all the problems, right? But the fundamental problem as you and I discussed this. When an individual gets into the United States, such two feet there, we have -- we've not had a problem apprehending those individuals. Vetting them.

The problem is they make an asylum claim. And by law -- by existing law, we cannot deport them from the United States until an immigration judge has determined that they do not present a valid claim. So, what the administration is trying to do is eliminate that requirement.

That's what the Senate bill would have done. That's what -- if something like this is enacted, that's what this executive action would do. Basically, said that individuals who crossed between the ports and unlawfully entered the United States are no longer eligible to present a claim.

Now, look. I think this is -- this is what Trump tried in 2018.


SANDWEG: I expect Biden to kind of tailor this in a way that will be a little more humane. I don't think it'll be a hundred percent of the people across. It sounds to me, like they're looking at putting, you know, 5000 a day or 5000 in a week. Some limitation on it.

But the bottom line is this is exactly what President Trump tried. But wasn't ultimately enjoined by the courts from doing in 2018.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Look. In-kind of the moment where we find our -- the country finds itself in, in this politically, tightening border security has long been an issue that Republicans -- put Republican politicians have pushed and run on. And now very clearly, this is a very good example of how Democrats are doing the same.

What do you think of this political moment as it relates to the ongoing challenges of border security and immigration policy?

SANDWEG: You know, Kate, listen. I mean, even back in the days when -- you know, when I was at DHS, and we had 400,000 apprehensions in a year, you know, Republicans would say the border was wildly out of control, and there was no border security. Know, in December alone, we had 300,000 individuals apprehended at the border. So, we're in a completely different environment.

Look. At the end of the day, this is a political football. And from someone who was focused more on the operation and policy side, that politics has always undermined the effectiveness, and really does a disservice to the men and women at the border patrol in a dice who have very difficult jobs but can't get the tools they need because of the political paralysis, right, that happens in Congress. You said it at the outset, even if the administration is able to implement this change, there are still massive resource constraints.

Just last week, a leaked out that ICE was looking at cutting thousands of you know potentially -- you know, from individuals free from detention. They're looking at pulling resources from other critical national security and public safety operations you know by the department. Put it to shift them over to border security.

This is not going to solve our problems. Congress does need to act. But again, the politicization of border security and immigration has just kind of always undermined our ability to have effective border security.

BOLDUAN: It's a real policy issue. Policy needs to be put in place in order to figure out what to do and how to protect the border and what to do about immigration. And it is so wrapped up in politics, has been for decades, but it's kind of on steroids -- SANDWEG: Yes.

BOLDUAN: In this moment. John, it's good to see you. Thank you for coming in. John.

SANDWEG: My pleasure.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, a trial underway after a black student was suspended for months for refusing to cut his hair. And mark your calendar. It's February 22, 2024. Could be the date of the first American moon landing in 50 years?



BERMAN: This morning, a trial in Texas is now underway to decide whether a school district there can restrict the length of a black high school student's natural hair. Darryl George wears his hair and locs. He has been suspended for months because he will not cut his hair to comply with the school's dress code a code his family says is discriminatory. This morning before the trial got underway, he described what he has gone through.


DARRYL GEORGE, STUDENT SUSPENDED OVER HIS HAIRSTYLE: It feels--- it feels lonely. Like, very lonely. Like, you know, when you don't want to stay, when you're the only one stuck in a room, for a whole semester -- a whole year that is just like -- it makes you feel -- it makes you feel some type of way.

Because you can be a child like everybody else, you know. You see everybody else walking around talking, laughing. You can't do that. It puts pressure on your shoulders.



BERMAN: CNN's Rosa Flores is outside the courthouse in Texas. Rosa, were do things stand?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the arguments continue. Both sides are presenting their arguments. And, John, the school district, of course, is arguing that their policy is in compliance with a CROWN Act, the law here in the state of Texas that prohibits discrimination on the basis of hairstyle. And so, the George's attorney is arguing, of course, that the policy is not in compliance with the CROWN Act.

But let me get you up to speed about what all of this is about and why these two parties are in the courthouse that you see behind me because this legal battle started months ago between Barbers Hill Independent School District and Darryl George. Now, George is the 18-year-old that has a locs hairstyle, and he has been suspended for months because of his locs hairstyle. Now, here's what the school policy says. It's strict, but it does allow for a locs hairstyle, but it restricts the length of the hairstyle for boys. It specifically states, "boy's hair will not extend below the eyebrows, below the ear lobes, or below the top of a T-shirt collar."

Now, last September, the school district went to the court and asked the court to make a judgment. Ask the judge to rule on if their policy was in compliance with the CROWN Act. Again, this is the law that protects hair -- hairstyles here in the state of Texas. It doesn't allow schools to discriminate based on the hairstyle that student is wearing.

Now, George, as you heard him moments ago saying that this is much more -- that his hair is much more than just the length or just the style. He was talking about his roots and his ancestry. That's why he wears his hair the way he does.

Now, the school superintendent took up a full ad in the Houston Chronicle. And that says in part "The problem with relaxing standards without any regard to academic implication is the precedent it creates. Our military academies at West Point, Annapolis, and Colorado Springs maintain a rigorous expectation of dress. They realize being an American requires conformity with the positive benefit of unity and being a part of something bigger than yourself."

And, John, it was that phrase, being an American requires conformity, that has triggered a lot of people in this country and a lot of support for this case, John.

BERMAN: And just to be clear, this high school is not a military academy, is it?

FLORES: It is definitely not a military academy. It is a public school. And that's part of the argument that is being made inside the courtroom right now --


FLORES: That this is a public school. And this is a student who's just trying to learn, John.

BERMAN: All right. Rosa Flores, at this trial, keep us posted. Thank you. Kate.

BOLDUAN: So, today, we are landing on the moon. And by we, I mean the first commercial vehicle to land on the lunar surface. Why the NASA administrator says the touchdown today could be a big preview of things to come? But first, here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with today's "CHASING LIFE."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's "CHASING LIFE" podcast. GUPTA (voiceover): These days, it feels like multitasking is a mandatory way of modern life. We're in the middle of one thing and then, ding, a text and you pivot to another thing. But here's the truth. We're not as good at multitasking as we think we are.

In fact, multitasking is actually a misnomer. Most brains aren't actually structured to simultaneously do two things that require active attention at once. So, when you multitask, your brain is actually switching focus back and forth between each task.

And studies show that often leads to mistakes. Completely focusing on a single task at a time can improve performance, improve memory, all while also reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, and impulsiveness.

GUPTA: I personally find joy in focusing on one thing at a time. So, join me and challenge yourself to single tasks. Just because you can do multiple things at once doesn't mean you should.

GUPTA (voiceover): You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.




BOLDUAN: Do you feel the electricity in the air? You should because it's exciting right now. It's all about to go down on the moon, the first U.S. lunar landing in more than 50 years. And we just learned it is going to happen earlier than previously thought.

CNN's Kristin Fisher is tracking this for us. Kristin, did they get their math wrong? What happened? Why --

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know exactly, Kate. They say that the flight controllers performed a corrective maneuver and that moved the landing time up about an hour or so. It's now going to land at about 4:24 Eastern Time so in just a few hours.


And you know, Kate, if successful, there are so many firsts associated with this mission. If successful, the first time an American-made spacecraft has landed on the surface of the moon, a soft landing since the end of the Apollo Program in 1972. If successful, it would also be the first time that a private company, Intuitive Machines, has ever pulled off a feat like that.

I mean, up until this point, it is the stuff of things that you know, only countries have been able to do. And only a few countries, the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, India, and just recently, Japan. And then the other big first, Kate, this would be the first time that any spacecraft has landed on the south pole of the moon. A critical spot, Kate, because that is where they believe ice and water are. Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's good trivia.

BERMAN: Yes, it is intriguing. A lot going on here. But I'm with you on this, which is I think it takes a certain degree of precision to land stuff on the moon.

BOLDUAN: I will --

BERMAN: If they can't even get the timing right --

BOLDUAN: I would -- I may not --

BERMAN: Maybe, it doesn't go well.

BOLDUAN: I am not judging Intuitive Machines or NASA on this.

BERMAN: Right.

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry, I was just being kind of funny.

BERMAN: And we should note. We're going to cover this live. It's going to be really interesting to see. I know you, Kristin, you're all over it.

Thanks so much for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Kristin.

BERMAN: Thank you all for joining us. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.