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U.S., Mexico Set to Negotiate Updated Security Deal; FDA Meets Oct. 26 to Discuss Authorizing Pfizer Vaccine For Kids 5-11; Journalists Maria Ressa, Dmitry Muratov Win Nobel Peace Prize. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 08, 2021 - 10:30   ET


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: View migration as a U.S. problem, and yet it's Mexican security forces that are often tasked with trying to control those migrant flows.


And then also, crucially, recently, an arrest last year of a former Mexican defense secretary in a DEA-led operation that the U.S. didn't tell their Mexican counterparts about beforehand, that made the Mexican government livid. And as a result, according to CNN reporting, they have really curtailed the DEA's ability to operate here in Mexico.

So, as they go through today, as they try and update or maybe even replace the Merida initiative with this new comprehensive security agreement, there's going to be a lot of issues that have to be worked out between these two sides before they can move that ball across the goal line.

ERICA HILL, CNN NEWSROOM: Matt rivers, I appreciate the reporting, thank you. Joining us now to talk about all of this, Ambassador Antonio Garza, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Counsel at the global law firm White & Case in Mexico City. Mr. Ambassador, good to have you with us.

I think as we listen to what we just heard from Matt too in terms of his reporting, the reaction on the Mexican side, feeling that it's very one-sided, specifically, as you're looking at what's happening at the border, that they are feeling that it's on them to stop this surge, we're hearing a little bit of a different tale obviously from U.S. officials. Where in your estimation do things stand this morning? Is Mexico doing enough?

ANTONIO GARZA, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO: Well, I think what you're seeing this morning is something very positive, and this is as much a process as anything else. Yes, I think Matt is right. There's been serious deterioration in the tone and the cooperation on security between the United States and Mexico. And there's a certain amount of finger-pointing and much of it justified in terms of the numbers of guns going south and drugs coming north. So, I think it's important that they meet today. And I don't expect any big deliverables, but you are going to build the kind of trust that you need to have a truly effective relationship. You have to start with the basics, a sense of shared responsibility and interests that are somewhat aligned. And I think today you're seeing the start of that.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Ambassador Garza, as you know, this is portrayed as a Biden administration problem by some, that, basically, his administration is inviting all these migrants to the border. The fact is I went down to the border with my producer and our team. The CBP is patrolling the border as aggressively as they were in recent years.

By the way, the Biden administration, as you know, has kept some Trump-era policies, including Title 42, which allows them to expel people based on the COVID threat. So, what do you see as the issue here? What is the Biden administration not doing enough of or not trying to stem the flow?

GARZA: Well, Jim, I hate to admit that I have been around the border and on the border first as a local official back in the late '80s and then throughout the '90s and 2000s. This is part of a continuing challenge. We have faced crises over the years, and I think largely because of our inability to reform our immigration system and review the asylum procedures.

Yes, in fact, President Biden has kept in place many of the more controversial initiatives of the previous administration, in particular, Title 42. But in a sense is, I think, what we have seen rather than take on the difficult issue of immigration reform and reviewing the asylum procedures, we have tried to outsource somewhat our immigration enforcement, whether it be through migrant protection protocols or Title 42, which essentially sets aside the current immigration laws and overrides them with this deporting based on this health provision.

So, it's not anything new. The numbers are concerning, but it's not something that we haven't seen over the course of a handful of administrations in the United States.

HILL: Well, listen, we know the surge isn't going away, whether it be political issues, economic issues, climate issues. Do you have any faith that this is going to get any part of it will get resolved under this administration, or even addressed in terms of legislation, for example?

GARZA: Well, yes, I'm not terribly encouraged in terms of seeing a comprehensive immigration reform. I think there are some things that can be done. The DACA, some of the worker adjustment initiatives, I think, have some possibilities.

But one of the things that I'm most encouraged by today's meetings is that they are establishing a framework for going forward. I understand that there will be some timelines put in place that they will have some plan by December, and by the first part of 2022, perhaps a three- year initiative so that we'll have ongoing meetings around the security issues, something that has been sorely lacking over the last year or so.


SCIUTTO: We'll be watching closely. Ambassador Antonio Garza, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

GARZA: Thank you, Jim.

HILL: The U.S. is seeing fewer COVID infections. Also good news, hospitalizations are down. And once the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for younger children, we're told that number could continue to decline. We'll have more on that timeline, just ahead.



HILL: COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 could be available as soon as next month. But there's a lingering question about just how many parents initially will take their kids to get those shots.

SCIUTTO: Exactly, because a lot have chosen not to get them for older children. In recent weeks, booster shots have actually outpaced the rate of new vaccinations cross the country, in several states, less than a third of children eligible to get the vaccine have done so.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. Yes, the vaccine hesitancy for teenagers even greater than among adults, I wonder with even younger children, is that going to be a bigger problem and what does that mean for mandates?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it really will be interesting to see what happens with this 5 to 11-year-old group if Pfizer indeed does get an EUA, emergency use authorization, later this month for their COVID-19 vaccine.

Let's take a look at how it's been going for 12 to 17-year-olds. This group got emergency use authorization back in the spring, back in May. And so you would think that people would really want to protect their children. But look at this map. You have got all of these states, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, all throughout parts of the south, North Dakota, Wyoming as well, where less than a third of children that age have been vaccinated. That is not great. It doesn't say great things for what will happen for ages 5 to 11.

Now, the Kaiser Family Foundation has asked people the question when they do their monthly polls, will you vaccinate your children 5 to 11, if you have children that age? So in September, these were the results. About a third said yes right away. About a third said, oh, I'm going to wait and see. A quarter said, definitely not, and then a very small number said only if required.

So, again, that's not a fabulous place to start with one out of four saying, definitely not. But I guess it's a place to start. And then that's where the mandates might come in. Jim? HILL: In terms of those mandates, I feel like now we're really starting to now that that EUA submission is officially in is where it's starting to be floated, as to whether or not a coronavirus vaccine could be added to the list of vaccines that are currently required for kids each year at school. What is the sense from maybe officials that you're speaking with as to how that would go and if it's an EUA that would do that or perhaps they would await full FDA approval?

COHEN: I think what I'm hearing is that this could really be a state by state thing and that it really would be sort of something to do later when there's full FDA approval. School children are required to get all sorts of vaccines, but those vaccines have approval, not authorization.

Now, again, there is this tradition of requiring that children get vaccines before they go to school. Let's take a listen to something that the surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, had had to say about this.


VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I think part of the reason you're going to see more states likely move in that direction post- authorization is because we all want our kids to go back to school, to be able to stay in school and to be safe. And many people out there think that COVID is not a big deal for kids, we shouldn't really worry about it.

But I will tell you, we have lost hundreds of children to COVID. Thousands have been hospitalized. And we could prevent a lot of this with a safe and effective vaccine.


COHEN: Again, most likely that states would wait until a full FDA approval to require a COVID-19 vaccination for schools. Jim, Erica?

SCIUTTO: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much, as always.

Coming up next, the Senate did manage to broker a bipartisan debt ceiling deal, but now the Democrats have to go it alone, get on the same page, in fact, within their own party if they want to pass President Biden's larger agenda. So, what programs could fit in a $2 trillion budget bill over ten years? We're going to break down the math.



SCIUTTO: Now that Congress has averted a debt ceiling crisis for now at least, Democrats can, must turn their attention back to trying to reach a deal on their budget proposals. President Biden, you may remember, has set a target of between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion for his overall economic package. So, how do Democrats get to that number from their original $3.5 trillion price tag? Here are the facts. So, there are three main ways to cut the top-line figure. One way to do that is to remove items from the wish list. Second would be delay the start or end date of the programs, because, remember, this is it spending over ten years. You could also narrow the eligibility or the generosity of those programs.

So let's take a look at the estimated cost for some of the main priorities here and see how they add up. About $200 billion for universal pre-K, that's a very popular part of this, a little over $100 for free community college, child care, paid family and medical leave, climate-related tax breaks, a couple of hundred billion dollars each. Soon, you're going to start talking about real money.

Let's look at what else is in that list as priorities. More than half a trillion dollars just to extend the child tax credit, $200 billion to make ACA, that's Obamacare, subsidies permanent, $357 billion for new Medicare benefits for seniors. That's a lot of money.


How does that all add up? You total that, that already gets you above the $2 trillion it figure, of course, just under President Biden's top line as a compromise figure at this point. But, to be clear, this is a hypothetical. We don't have any insider knowledge right now of what those negotiators are talking about putting in there either program- wise or length of those programs.

So let's look ahead, if Democrats still want to make room for those, they have a couple more options that could be a little less generous. So, here is one of them. Look at the child tax credit. Instead of making it $3,600 per child, scale it back to $1,800. People get it if they are under a certain income level. That's another way you could save money here by lowering or raising the income level required to get that tax credit.

One other option is to change the start or end date of those programs because, remember, this is money over ten years. You could push back, for instance, on Medicare benefits for seniors. Don't start them until October 2022. Don't start the hearing services until 2023. Don't start the dental benefits until 2028. You take years off, that takes dollars off, many hundreds of billions of dollars off, which could bring down the top-line figure.

Other ways you can do this is looking at the end dates of them, pay for the programs for five years instead of ten. That's something that's been lost in this debate, of course, right, is that the figure is not for spending this year, it's over ten years. You could play a little funky math there by saying, well, we're going to do those program, but just for half the time and maybe you dare a future Congress down the line to take those benefits away. As you know, Erica, once people have them, it's very hard for Congress to take them away from them.

HILL: That is true. Bottom line, they have a lot of work ahead, Jim. The breakdown is super important. Up next, the Nobel Peace Prize honors two journalists for standing up for press freedom. One of them spent two decades of her career here at CNN.



SCIUTTO: New this morning, two journalists have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to safeguard freedom of speech.

HILL: Maria Ressa, who many of you remember, she was a CNN colleague of ours for decades, she founded a media company that's been critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's regime, she's provided critical reporting, and Dmitry Muratov, who heads an independent news outlet in Russia, where six reporters have been killed over the last 20 years for their work.

Joining us now is CNN International Correspondent Will Ripley. Will, these journalists have risked their freedom, as we know, and their lives to report the truth. This is a huge deal.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's at a much- needed time considering how tough it has been for journalism in recent years, with the plague of fake news and disinformation that people trust more than actual reputable news organization.

And so the reporting in Maria Ressa's The Rappler provided this window into what was happening in the Philippines. I was there before President Trump was inaugurated. We spent five weeks. We saw bodies on the streets every single night, these extrajudicial killings, thousands of street-level drug dealers and drug addicts being gunned down without a trial.

We did a bunch of stories. But once President Trump was inaugurated, that went on the backburner and all eyes were on Washington. So, while the rest of the world had really turned away and a lot of media outlets inside the Philippines weren't paying as close of attention because there was pressure from the Duterete administration, which had like 80 percent approval at that time, The Rappler was one of the only ones out there telling people what was happening.

And because of their work, there's now a historical record and that is why Maria Ressa had 11 different criminal cases that she was been facing. She's been in and out of jail so many times, the legal cost, the difficulties, the attempts to shutdown her newsroom. And yet in the end, here she is. Yes, she had a lot of struggles against the regime of Duterte in the Philippines, but now she's on a global stage and she goes down in history.

SCIUTTO: Duterte administration, as you know, did everything it could to attempt to shut her down. What goes forward? I mean, does the operation keep going in the Philippines?

RIPLEY: Well, they are doing the best they can. And they have continued to fight and they have pretty good lawyers. But you're going up against -- and now, Duterte is kind of on the way out and his daughter might run for president, or somebody within his administration. But, yes, they are up against a very tough legal fight in the Philippines. But she's a Nobel Prize winner. She's going to go down in history as winning the war, even though she's lost some battles at home, she won the war.

HILL: That is really remarkable. Will, good to see you this morning. Thank you. And congratulations to both of them. Maria is a phenomenal force of nature.

SCIUTTO: Well, part of it, right, is that the risk they assumed, both in the Philippines and Russia, to challenge the government. As we noted, the Russian journalists' organization, six reporters have been killed by that government as they have carried out this effort.

HILL: Yes, absolutely. Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. We made it to Friday. Imagine that.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right now starts right now.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Here is what we are watching at this hour. Another miss, the jobs.