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Biden Administration Plans To Restore Trump's Plan Of Remain In Mexico Policy; Interview With Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, Disruption Of The Supply Chain Both Internationally And Domestically; Manchin Rejects Calls By Dems To Include Aggressive Climate Measures; Adele Releases First New Song In Six Years; Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: President Biden promised to enact a fair and humane immigration policy, but now he's facing criticism from immigration advocates over plans to revive a controversial Trump era border policy. It's informally known as the Remain in Mexico Policy, and it forces migrants to stay in Mexico until their immigration court date. Critics say that pushes many to live in dangerous areas under the threat of extortion and sexual assault and even kidnapping.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is with us now. So, the Biden administration ended this policy back in February. Why do they want to bring it back?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: The administration says they have to bring it back because of a court order requiring its revival. Recall that in August a federal judge in Texas said that the administration didn't take the appropriate steps to unwind the so-called Remain in Mexico Policy. So, while that case is ongoing, the administration has to work toward implementing that, and they said in a court filing overnight, they're prepared to do that next month contingent on Mexico agreeing to several terms.

Now, this is a policy that President Joe Biden himself has criticized. Take a listen to what he said in March.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rolling back the policies of separating children from their mothers. I make no apology for that. Rolling back the policies of Remain in Mexico, sitting on the edge of the Rio Grande in a muddy circumstance with not enough to eat. I make no apologies for that.


ALVAREZ: Those conditions that Biden described is exactly what advocacy groups are worried about, and we are now learning that immigrant advocacy groups and service providers blasted Biden officials in a call this morning over the news that this policy may return next month. Sources told me that the call was emotionally charged and frustrating.

One source telling me, quote, there's no trust. So clearly tensions boiling over here over the potential of a second Trump era border policy coming back under this administration -- Victor and Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you.

So, the global supply chain crisis is creating major concern about Christmas gifts, getting here on time, but it's also a nightmare for the country's most vulnerable, driving up the costs of almost everything, especially food. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joins us to talk about the back up.

CAMEROTA: Plus, Adele, for the first time in six long years, Adele is out with new music. You're going to hear it here, we'll play it for you, along with Victor's personal favorites, that he plans to surprise me with.

BLACKWELL: Yours as well. I might hear your list as well.

CAMEROTA: And vice versa.

BLACKWELL: I'm looking forward to this.


ADELE, SINGER: Go easy on me baby, I was still a child, didn't get the chance to feel the world around me --




BLACKWELL: If you've been to the grocery store lately, of course, you've noticed that food is more expensive. In the last year, the price of eggs has jumped more than 35 percent. A dozen eggs will now cost you about $1.84, last September it was $1.35. The price of bacon is up more than 28 percent in the past year from 5.62 per pound to more than $7. Brief prices also up, the price of a sirloin steak has jumped 25 percent since September of 2020.

A growing supply chain crisis is driving much of the price surge and limiting supplies. The bottle neck is also threatening to derail the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is with us now. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being on with me. Listen, I'm going to start with the general headline question that people who are paying these prices at the grocery store are asking. When is there some relief from these prices coming?

TOM VILSACK, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: Well, relief is coming. It is certainly a situation where there's strong demand both domestically and internationally, and there is obviously a significant disruption of the supply chain.


Lots of things taking place now. The port congestion, and imports have been part of the problem. That's going to be addressed by increasing hours on the ports, now a 24/7 operation in Los Angeles.

Work force issues also a challenge. That's why we're focusing on trying to get more truck drivers on the road so we can get product to market. Clearly, supply train disruptions by virtue of COVID, that's why we're encouraging people to be vaccinated.

And frankly, it's also a capacity, processing capacity. One of the reasons we are faced with beef and pork shortages is because we lack processing capacity, we need more competition in that space, and the Department of Agriculture just recently announced a program to expand processing capacity. I think you're going to begin to see efforts at the end of this year and the beginning of next year to address that long-term challenge that we face.

BLACKWELL: I want to talk about a few of those things and what the president announced yesterday, but on the relief coming, is it going to get worse as we get closer to the holiday season?

VILSACK: No, you know, I think that folks are going to continue to look for ways to celebrate the holidays. The good news is we're going to be able to celebrate the holidays together as family. That wasn't the case a year ago.

BLACKWELL: I'm talking about the prices, Mr. Secretary. Families will find a way to get together, but the prices, will these disparities from what they cost a year ago to what they cost now, will that continue to grow?

VILSACK: I think you're going to see a moderation of those price increases over time. You're going to see sort of a stabilizing of where we are. As we increase capacity, as we address these bottlenecks with the steps that the administration is taking, so I think people can expect to see moderation of these prices in the very near term.

BLACKWELL: So, you talked about some of the things that this administration is doing. The president calls this a 90-day sprint. One of several things he's doing is ordering that these ports are operational 24/7 now to get the containers off the ships, on to trucks. We'll talk about trucks in a minute.

But one of the heads of one of the trade organizations says that this is the low hanging fruit, the obvious next step. Is the administration doing enough? Can it be doing more?

VILSACK: Well, I think the administration has a short-term and a long- term strategy. The short-term strategy is the 24/7 port opportunity, trying to get more truck drivers on the road by streamlining the CDL process. But I think there's also a long-term strategy -- and I mentioned that

earlier -- the ability of the Department of Agriculture to invest in expanded processing capacity is going to significantly increase and send a strong message to the market to be able to produce more, we'll be able to process more, which means that we'll be able to increase the supply and meet this growing demand.

So, I think there's both a short-term and a long-term strategy that's at play here.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned the truckers, thousands of truckers are needed, tens of thousands because of the disparity there, and you mentioned streamlining the CDL process.

We know that for some children, the only reliable meal that they have they get at school, and we now see that also the supply chain is making it harder for schools to get what they need in Florida.

Some schools can't get chicken, beef, bread from their distributors. Buffalo here in New York can't find fresh vegetables, even the utensils. What do the next three, four months look like for schools as they're trying to provide a reliable meal but they can't get the food, the utilities from -- the utensils, I should say -- from their distributors?

VILSACK: Well, fortunately the Department of Agriculture has provided a series of waivers, and technical assistance in enabling school districts as well with additional reimbursement and resources to be able to address some of these concerns. I talked with a number of school nutrition officials today and it's an amazing job that they're doing. They are adjusting. They're making changes there on the fly. They're changing menus. They're basically stockpiling items that are available today so that they can take care of the menus for months in advance.

It's an amazing job that they're doing, and we all should be appreciative of the steps that they're taking. So, I don't have any doubt in my mind that school officials are going to figure out a way to get through this very difficult process. Just in the same way that they pivoted when we saw the onset of the pandemic when they had to go to a virtual situation. So clearly not an easy time for them, but they are meeting the challenge.

BLACKWELL: One more on the legislation that's being negotiated among Democrats, and your commitment, I know, to impacting the legislation on climate change and fighting what we're seeing across our country.

Joe Manchin, we know, has said that he's not on board with some of the more aggressive climate change plans including slashing greenhouse gases in half by 2030.


Should Democrats consider softening some of those climate change elements of the bill to get his support, to get this vote for the greater good of passing the legislation? VILSACK: Well, I'm happy to talk to Senator Manchin about the tremendous opportunities that are in agriculture. To actually be very aggressive about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I did some work for the dairy industry before I got this job, and I can tell you they are very focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions ultimately to zero emissions and feel they can get there in a relatively short period of time.

There's amazing work that can be done with carbon sequestration, with climate smart agricultural practices and technologies that can have pretty quick gains, and I think sometimes perhaps we need to do a better job of making sure our Senators and our Representatives are fully aware of the opportunities that do exist so they might feel more comfortable in moving forward.

BLACKWELL: So, you believe this is a case of them not understanding what is being proposed or just simply, he's a Senator from West Virginia, a lot of energy elements there, obviously in his state. You think he doesn't understand it or he's just against it?

VILSACK: Well, I think that it wouldn't be surprising to me, as with many people in the United States, don't fully appreciate and understand the tremendous capacity of agriculture to address climate change.

I find even talking to farmers and ranchers, sometimes even they themselves are surprised at the extent at which they can be part of the solution, so it wouldn't surprise me if every Senator needs additional information from us on the important role that agriculture can play.

And I sincerely hope that people understand and appreciate that there is a genuine desire in the part of the agriculture to embrace this challenge. They see the opportunity side of it. We think there's a job creation side to this, and I'm more than happy to talk to Senator Manchin or any other Senator about it.

BLACKWELL: Secretary Vilsack, thank you.

VILSACK: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: She's back. Adele has just released her first single in six years, Victor.

BLACKWELL: You're so excited.

CAMEROTA: Let's listen for a second.


ADELE: I was still a child didn't get the chance to feel ...



BLACKWELL: All right, here's Adele's new single "Easy On Me."


ADELE: Go easy on me, baby I was still a child Didn't get the chance to Feel the world around me ...

CAMEROTA: What do you think?

BLACKWELL: I think all day people are going to go -- that's all you're going to hear.

CAMEROTA: That was beautiful.

BLACKWELL: You know, I can hit that note.

CAMEROTA: You really can hit that note.

BLACKWELL: OK. Don't test me.

And so, it's from her upcoming album "30." It's coming up next month, the video alone has already more than 34 million views.

CAMEROTA: OK, so we picked our favorite Adele songs from over the years. Victor, you go first.

BLACKWELL: OK, so from three to one here. Third here, "Rolling in The Deep." Classic, love it. I would you know put "Chasing Payments" on there at that time but I only got to choose three.

"Make You Feel My Love" is number two.


BLACKWELL: And number one, "All I Ask."

Listen, OK.


ADELE: ... there is no tomorrow ...


CAMEROTA: That is beautiful.

BLACKWELL: I have been in stores and this has come on and I've had to sit myself somewhere just to keep it together. Oh. My God.

CAMEROTA: That is Adele's superpower.

BLACKWELL: Oh, I love it, OK, so -- CAMEROTA: I like the zippier ones. OK, so number three, I like "Water Under the Bridge." Number two, "Send My Love" and then my number one is not her video, it's "SNL's" take on "Hello." Watch this.


SNL TAKE ON ADELE: Hello, how are you? It's so typical of me to talk about myself ...


CAMEROTA: OK, this is what they recommend you do if politics comes up on Thanksgiving. You just put on Adele and it solves everything.

BLACKWELL: Wait, what was your number two?

CAMEROTA: "Send My Love" to your new lover.

BLACKWELL: Oh, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: What's wrong? What's the problem?

BLACKWELL: The ballads really where are it's at --

CAMEROTA: No, I like the peppier ones.

BLACKWELL: All right.

CAMEROTA: OK, but you can tell us what you like on Instagram.

BLACKWELL: Yes, all right.

Coming up -- millions more Americans could get the OK to -- what a transition -- get the COVID-19 vaccine booster. What you need to know if you received Johnson & Johnson's shot. Next.

CAMEROTA: Flawlessly delivered, Victor.

BLACKWELL: I do my best. I do my best.

CAMEROTA: Flawless.



CAMEROTA: When the COVID pandemic struck the island of Bali, tourism dried up. And that meant that thousands of people lost their jobs and many were going hungry.

BLACKWELL: Well, this week's CNN Hero found a way to help his community by implementing a simple plan, empowering people to trade in collected plastic trash for rice. Meet Made Janur Yasa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MADE JANUR YASA, CNN HERO, BALI: I kept going with this mission because people empower. Because people get excited. Because of the community that respond into this initiative.

I see the smile in their face. I see the cleaner environments. And also, I see they can provide for their family. This initiative is so simple, and we can do this in every community. We clean the environments. We feed the people, and they're proud doing this.

My goal is to really spread this movement. I want to inspire people that everything is possible. There is no small dream. If you believe, and you do it with the community and you will succeed.


BLACKWELL: The program has expanded to more than 200 villages and collected nearly 500 tons of plastic for recycling. For the full story and to see him in action go to

CAMEROTA: OK, back to Adele.


CAMEROTA: Do you know she just broke the record for Spotify's most streamed song in a single day. And you were telling me how many million views on YouTube?

BLACKWELL: 34 million on YouTube on just her official Vevo account.

CAMEROTA: Can you imagine 34 million people clamoring for a product you're about to put out like with bated breath waiting for you to put out a song like that.

BLACKWELL: Well, we've been waiting for six years. So of course, you know once you put the teaser out. We're waiting for it to come out.

But you need to hear "All I Ask."

CAMEROTA: OK, I'm going to. I mean you sold it.