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Ukraine: 60 Feared Dead After Russian Airstrike On School Shelter; First Lady Jill Biden Makes Surprise Visit To Ukraine; Senate Set To Vote On Abortion Rights On Wednesday. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 08, 2022 - 15:00   ET


TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: In fact, when you factor in the humidity, it feels like 110 in Laredo right now, 95 in Houston. That heat goes well into the Midwest temperature, 95, and St. Louis, maybe 90 in Chicago. It's going to be one long hot week.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: It sure is. All right --

SATER: Happy Mother's Day.

WHITFIELD: Oh, and thank you so much. Thank you, Tom Sater.


Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me on this Mother's Day. I'm Fredericka Whitfield, and we begin this hour with new horrific attacks in Ukraine as Russia's onslaught continues.

Ukrainian officials say at least 60 people are feared dead after a Russian airstrike hit a school in the Luhansk region. That school had been acting as a shelter for nearly a hundred people. This latest heinous attack comes on the same day Ukraine annually commemorates the lives lost during World War Two.

And in an address to his people, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offering sobering remarks.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This year, we say "never again" differently. We hear "never again" differently. It sounds painful, cruel, without an exclamation, but with a question mark. You say "you never" again, tell Ukraine about it.


WHITFIELD: And this other a major development today, First Lady Jill Biden making a surprise visit to Ukraine. She crossed into the country from Slovakia meeting with Ukraine's First Lady, Olena Zelenskyy.

This is the first time that the Ukrainian First Lady has been seen in public since the war began. CNN has reporters around the world covering all the latest developments. Let's go first to CNN's Kate Bennett who is traveling with the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden in Slovakia.

So Kate, this was a major moment. Tell us what happened.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is Day Three of Dr. Biden's four-day trip to Romania, Slovakia, and today a brief just about two hours that she spent in Ukraine in the town of Uzhhorod, which is about a 15-minute drive from the border with Slovakia.

Now, we had not heard that there was going to be an appearance by the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenskyy because as you said, she has been in hiding since the very first day of the Russian invasion in Ukraine back in February, but the two women have been corresponding.

Mrs. Zelenskyy said sent a letter in April to Dr. Biden we are told, expressing her concern over her country specifically, the mental health of its citizens as they face this ongoing war with Russia. Dr. Biden definitely wanted to reach out when this trip came together only about 10 days ago.

The government of Ukraine was alerted to the First Lady's plans as is protocol, and they were told that Mrs. Zelenskyy did want to meet with Dr. Biden if possible at this school, which is now temporary housing for displaced Ukrainians.

The two women met, they embraced. Dr. Biden brought a big bouquet of flowers. They had about a half an hour or so long, closed door bilateral where again, the discussion of mental health was brought up especially for children, for families, for the soldiers fighting this war, something Dr. Biden is familiar with because of course the pandemic has wreaked havoc with children in the United States and mental health is a concern of hers there.

But it was important for Dr. Biden to meet today on Mother's Day. This whole trip has really been about the resiliency, the fortitude, and the courage of these Ukrainian mothers as they have fled their homes and gone to countries like Romania, which still takes in about 7,000 refugees per day, and Slovakia which has also opened its doors to these young families.

And Dr. Biden has met many, many refugee mothers and their children on this trip, but her most important visit today, of course, was to Ukraine, First Lady in an active war zone as the country of Ukraine is something really quite rare. It hasn't happened since Laura Bush visited Afghanistan two times in 2005 and 2008.

President Biden I'm told called the First Lady soon after she got out of Ukraine in her motorcade and they spoke on the phone. He wanted to check in on her, make sure she was okay.

Earlier today he sent a corsage -- a wrist corsage for Mother's Day, something he has done every year for many, many years. I'm told the First Lady wore it all day. Again, a very important moment for her as she shows support for Ukraine in this very difficult time in that country -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you, Kate.

All right on now to CNN's Scott McLean in Lviv. Scott, let's talk about this horrific attack in that Luhansk region of Ukraine at a school where people were taking shelter.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. So this is a village called Bilohorivka. It is about seven miles west of the front lines in the eastern part of Ukraine and it is an area that has been facing heavy shelling over the last few weeks and the reason why is because that is an area of the country where the Russians are trying to push through the frontlines on the ground.


MCLEAN: We know, we've seen this pattern over and over again, when the Russians can't get through on the ground, they tend to just bomb and shell everything in sight. And that is apparently, what seems to have happened here.

This village in particular, according to a local military official, the reason that people were sheltering in this school is because it was one of the only places left, one of the only good places left to actually take shelter.

And now, we're hearing via my colleagues who actually went to that area and were able to speak to some of these people in person, some of the stories of the people who survived, one man said that it was like almost like flicking a light switch. It just became dark all of a sudden, when those three floors -- storeys of the school just collapsed all at once. They couldn't figure out what exactly was going on.

Another man said that he was one of the first ones to actually make it out, and he only got out with the help of other villagers who came over to help try to pull people out of the rubble, and when you look at the pictures, it is remarkable that anyone survived at all.

And then another witness whose head was bandaged along with his nose as well said that a slab of concrete actually came down on him, and by the time he managed to get out of there, he felt like a drunk man. He was just completely lost, completely disoriented, and you can understand why given what he has been through.

Local officials did manage about two weeks ago to get some people out of that village, to evacuate about 50 people, including some children. The last word that we have in terms of survivors here is that 27 out of this potentially 90 people survived. That means that there could be around 60 who didn't.

There is still ongoing search and rescue. We are told people trying to comb through the debris, but given the level of damage, officials say that it is extremely unlikely that anyone else is still trapped under the rubble alive -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh, terribly sad. Thank you so much, Scott McLean. Arlette signs at the White House for us. Arlette, President Biden met

virtually with President Zelenskyy and G7 leaders today. What do we know about what was discussed?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the goal of this call was really twofold. One, it was for the U.S. and its allies to show solidarity and support with Ukraine, but also to once again stress that the U.S. is willing to impose additional sanctions against Russia as they are looking to hold Russia accountable for its war against Ukraine.

This call lasted a little over an hour. President Biden participated from his home in Wilmington, Delaware. And if you take a look closely at this photo, you can see that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was actually in the same room as Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Ukraine today during this call.

Now, the U.S. and its allies once again, committed to providing military and financial support to Ukraine. Of course, the U.S. just pledged $150 million in a new security assistance package for Ukraine.

The leader said that they would be sending over additional financial aid in the coming weeks, but also it gave the leaders a chance to once again talk about those sanctions that they've been imposing against Russia.

And today, the U.S. implemented a new sanctions package against Russia, which includes banning U.S. advertising on three Russian state media TV organizations. It also bans U.S. provided management and consulting services to companies in Russia. Additionally, there is exports controls on the industrial sectors and some new visa restrictions as well.

And in another show of solidarity today, the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and other diplomats returned to Kyiv for the first time since this war began. Those diplomatic officials had left the embassy in Kyiv in mid-February, just before Russia invaded the country. This trip by these diplomats does not necessarily represent a reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv there, but it is a step in that direction.

But the U.S. and its allies today trying to make especially clear that the U.S. stands in solidarity with Ukraine, especially as Russia tomorrow is expected to celebrate Victory Day, but the U.S. once again committing that military and economic assistance to Ukraine and stressing that they are willing to go further in their sanctions against Russia -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette Saenz, Scott McLean, and Kate Bennett, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Senate Democrats plan to bring the abortion fight to the Senate floor this week hoping to codify the Roe v. Wade. What lawmakers are saying about the possibility of reaching a consensus on that issue, right after this.


WHITFIELD: On this Mother's Day, a fight for women's rights heats up on Capitol Hill as fears that Roe v. Wade may soon be overturned.

G.O.P. Senator Susan Collins of Maine signaled she would be opposing the Democratic bill known as the Women's Health Protection Act to codify abortion rights that's heading for a Senate vote this week. Instead, she and fellow Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have introduced their own bill that would codify abortion rights, but allow states to keep some restrictions in place.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York weighed in today.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This is no longer an abstract exercise. This is the real deal and everyone's eyes are on them. So, we can always hope and we must have this vote.

Every Senator must show where he or she stands, and it is on something as important as this. We're not going to let anybody hide because America is on our side.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Eva McKend has been tracking the latest developments. She is joining me live from Washington -- Eva.


You know, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer knows the Women's Health Protection Act doesn't have the necessary votes required to advance legislation, but he is still moving full steam ahead. That's because public polling repeatedly shows a majority of Americans support the right to abortion in most cases.


MCKEND: Schumer and other Senate Democrats appear to want to continue to make this the issue because it puts Republicans in direct opposition to the will of most people in this country.

Again, this legislation, not expected to advance this week in Washington. Many people would call this a show vote or a messaging tactic, but when you speak to people on the streets, protesting outside of the Supreme Court, as I have, people who vote for Democrats, they want to see Schumer and other Democrats in Washington put up a fight.

You have people like California Governor Gavin Newsom asking "Where is my party?" Well, Schumer in essence, is speaking to that frustration by holding this last ditch effort this week -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Eva McKend, thank you so much in Washington. All right, still a lot of questions about where abortion rights go

from here in what the Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion could mean for other landmark decisions.

Joining me right now to talk about it Civil Rights activist and Democrat running for Ohio's State House 89th District, James Obergefell.

And if that name sounds familiar, it's because he was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that guaranteed the right for same sex couples, the Right to Marry.

James, good to see you again. Glad you could be back with us.

JAMES OBERGEFELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thanks Fredricka. Thanks for having me on, and please call me Jim.

WHITFIELD: Oh, okay. I will do that. All right, well, you know, this conversation is, you know, preceded by even comments from a number of people, including the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said earlier in the week on CBS, saying, you know, "You have no idea --" I'm quoting her now, "You have no idea who they will come after next," meaning if it is changing or attacking women's rights as it pertains to the legalized right to choose.

She says there are openings for other things, and we've heard from a number of people who say potentially, next could be same sex marriages.

Your case was a landmark decision. Is that how you look at this potential opinion, the draft opinion, which could potentially become the final opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade?

OBERGEFELL: Absolutely. You know, that decision, the legal arguments that it uses to justify, taking away a woman's right to control her own body, can easily be taken and used against the LGBTQ+ community, you know, to say that this is a states' rights issue. Well, that was one of the arguments during the fight for marriage equality.

It was also the same argument used during the fight for interracial marriage. Now, to say that fundamental rights have to be firmly rooted in our nation's history and traditions. That's a clear message to people who are opposed to marriage equality to LGBTQ+ equality in general, to come after us, because marriage equality has been affirmed for less than seven years.

So they're going to say, a right that women have enjoyed for almost 50 years is not deeply rooted in our in our nation's history. Marriage equality is certainly at risk, and I also believe interracial marriage is at risk, because that's only been a fundamental right for six more years than the right to an abortion.

WHITFIELD: Yes, just barely 60 years. In fact, this was the soundbite. These are the remarks coming from the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on that issue.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any American who says look, I'm not a woman, this doesn't affect me. I'm not Black. That doesn't affect me. I'm not gay, that doesn't affect me.

Once you allow this kind of extreme power to take hold, you have no idea who they will come forward next.


WHITFIELD: And so her point and that of many others is saying this is now or should be a ballot box issue come November. Here you are running for office, Ohio, like many other states is acting quickly. You know, given this possible Supreme Court decision, a bill currently in the State House would ban all abortions except in cases where the mother is in danger.

So, do you believe in a woman's right to choose, given that you are running for office?

OBERGEFELL: Absolutely. The only person who should make that decision is the person who is pregnant in conjunction with discussions with their medical team. The government has no place in that discussion, just like with my marriage, the government has no place saying that my marriage should not exist.

We have the fundamental right to marriage according to Loving versus Virginia, and the government should not take that away. This Supreme Court should not take that away.

Are we part of We, the People or are we not? You know, we are supposed to be a nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.


OBERGEFELL: This decision sets the stage for so many of the rights we have relied on, so many of the rights we enjoy to be taken away. And simply put, are we part of We the People, or are we not?

WHITFIELD: And then big picture, what do you think is behind what seems to be gaining movement, this gaining momentum, if not to overturn Roe v. Wade, but potentially, as many critics see this, as a potential opening of other measures that would be reversed or overturned just like what we're talking about? What's behind all of this?

OBERGEFELL: You know, for me -- Fredricka, for me, when I look at this, I really come down to this push for religious freedom or religious rights, which I believe are wrong, given what our Constitution says.

Our Constitution says you have the freedom of religion. It doesn't say you have the freedom to use your religion or your particular interpretation of your particular religion, to use as a weapon to attack others to deny them their rights. Much of the opposition to a woman's right to control her body is based in religion, saying life begins at conception, and we have the right to control that.

Well, not all religions believe that. Not all religious people, not all believers believe that ,and yet, that's pushing this right to take away a woman's right away. And that same misguided interpretation of religious freedom is what's behind the opposition to marriage equality. Nope. I still see billboards, marriages between one man and one woman. Well, according to your religion, yes, but other religions disagree with you.

And to say that my religion or my interpretation deserves preference in the interpretation of our law or in the law, that is the complete antithesis of the right to religion, the freedom of religion, and to me, that is where a lot of this has gotten its start, is in this demand for preference for one person's religion over others in the public realm, and when it comes to Civil Rights.

WHITFIELD: Jim -- James Obergefell, thank you so much for being with us. Really appreciate you.

OBERGEFELL: Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right, a grave warning from the White House. The U.S. could see 100 million new COVID-19 infections this fall and winter, and the White House COVID chief says the time to get ready is now.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We're looking at a range of models, both internal and external models, and what they're predicting is that if we don't get ahead of this thing, we're going to have a lot of waning immunity, this virus continues to evolve and we may see a pretty sizable wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths this fall and winter.

We're going to need Congress' help and that is one of the key messages here is we need the resources to fight that battle, so we don't have that kind of a fall or winter.


WHITFIELD: I want to bring in Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne. She is an emergency physician at the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, and Happy Anniversary -- Happy Mother's Day -- what am I talking about? Happy Mother's Day, but I feel like it's an anniversary because we've known each other now on the air for about three years.

We've gotten through this pandemic together. You've been a regular with us, and in this time, what a journey, you have been pregnant. You also had COVID and you now have two beautiful children and one of your kids that we're seeing right there about two years old now, Aida (ph), who is three and a Lida (ph) who will turn to and just a few weeks.

So the big question for you on this Mother's Day and kind of anniversary, at least for us, how are you doing?

DR. ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CAPITAL REGION MEDICAL CENTER: Well, it's so great to be with you again, Fred. I do you feel like this is becoming a routine for us, and even though I don't always like coming on to talk about the coronavirus and all the issues we're having with that I always enjoy seeing a fellow mother and professional working mother on Mother's Day. So, I'm doing great.

Health-wise, I'm doing great. I have two healthy kids. I just had a wonderful brunch with my family. So all in all, I cannot complain and we're doing wonderful.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's wonderful. So then I wonder what kind of, you know, advice you are you importing on other moms? You know, we are still in the middle of, you know, kind of a pandemic, right? I mean, what are you, you know, trying to advise moms on how to continue holding it down the way they have been? Because it's been a tough three years.

CLAYBORNE: Absolutely. And I understand that many people, especially those of us who are working in healthcare are very fatigued and have a lot of COVID burnout, but one of the key messages that I really implore people to keep in the forefront of their mind is that we are still in a pandemic and COVID is not over.

In fact, as you just heard from the White House projections, we're expecting nearly a hundred million people to be potentially infected this fall and winter. And so what I want other mothers to pay attention to is I know all of us want to do the very best we can for our children, and one of those things that you can do now is make sure that you are prepared and that primarily would mean making sure that you're protecting yourself so you can take care of your babies so you should be vaccinated and then vaccinating your children, those that are eligible and paying attention when vaccines will potentially become available for our younger babies, which I've been eagerly awaiting for some time.


WHITFIELD: Yes. And in fact, on that issue of, you know, the vaccine that is yet to come for kids under five, you know, we saw that there was a recent survey that said, only 18 percent of parents would be willing to vaccinate their kids under five right away.

So do you feel like you have to campaign hard to convince them otherwise? Or are you just allowing them to feel like, you know, when you feel it's comfortable, then you do it. What do you say?

CLAYBORNE: Yes, you know, I am very sensitive to parents' concerns about wanting to do what's best for their children. And I know, there's been a lot of confusion, questions and concerns, particularly with our young kids being vaccinated with what we consider to be a newer vaccine.

But I want to, again, remind people that the entire world is looking at the data for this COVID vaccine and with huge amounts of scrutiny, the government is taking, I think, huge efforts to make sure that we are only approving things that are proven to be safe.

And now we have excellent data that is showing us globally, what this can do to protect our kids. And so what I would tell the parents who are still hesitant and not wanting to vaccinate their kids is please talk to someone who you trust that has some medical knowledge.

Be wary of getting your information from unreliable sources. You want to talk to someone who has a medical professional background, primarily your pediatrician or another healthcare expert, and ask those questions that may help you to get more comfortable with vaccinating your kids because I feel strongly that is the most important thing I can do as a mother to protect my kids from getting the coronavirus and potentially the long-term consequences of the coronavirus, which is Long COVID that we've actually seen an uptick in kids getting that and having long-lasting symptoms that may impact them for years to come.

WHITFIELD: Yes, in fact, I want to ask you further about that. I mean, this new research showing that up to 10 percent of kids, of the 13 million kids who tested positive for COVID, since the beginning of the pandemic may develop these long haul, you know, kind of symptoms or the consequences of such.

So what should parents be looking out for?

CLAYBORNE: Certainly, I think one of the things to keep in mind is that we still have a lot of data coming in, and we don't have a good understanding or grasp of what this long haul COVID really means. The symptoms sometimes can be vague, related to fatigue, or brain fog, a bit of a cognitive impairment, but those can substantially impact kids, especially those who are young and in the prime years of going to school and trying to learn, and it can inhibit them from being able to kind of flourish at a very critical point in their life.

And so I think that parents need to be mindful if your kid does get COVID or has cold related symptoms that they seem to just not be shaking, they might indeed have, you know, these long haul symptoms related to a COVID infection and they need to make sure that their child is tested and followed up, and that they're being really kind of diligent with making sure that they're monitoring their progress.

I think that we're going to find there's going to be even larger numbers in the 10 percent that they're projecting right now of kids because in adults, we're seeing up to 30 percent of adults having long haul symptoms, and the kids might have numbers that are similar to that when the data washes out later on.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right. Well, Dr. Elizabeth Claiborne, always good to see you. Again, Happy Mother's Day. I hope you get to kick up your heels at some point today, relaxed.

CLAYBORNE: Absolutely. You, too, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Okay, thank you so much.

All right, still ahead, the search continues for a missing former Alabama Corrections officer and an inmate charged with murder more than a week after they disappeared. We'll bring you the latest on the manhunt, next.



WHITFIELD: More than a week after an Alabama Corrections officer add an inmate went missing, authorities remain in the dark about the pairs' whereabouts. The getaway car police say the pair used was later found abandoned on a road in Williamson County, Tennessee across state lines. The Sheriff says the two left nothing behind after ditching the vehicle.

CNN's Nadia Romero is following this story for us and joining me live now from Northern Alabama. So Nadia, you actually talked to one of Casey White's victims and what did they tell you?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. We've spent so much time over the past week talking about Casey White and Vicky White and their romantic relationship in this twisted story of them fleeing this area and this car showing up in Tennessee that the Sheriff says will be brought back to Lauderdale County tomorrow.

But we have to remember that there are real victims, people who have been victimized by Casey White, because he was already serving 75 years in prison when he escaped from Lauderdale County Detention Center. And that, one of those victims is a man named Josh Goan and he's a lovely man, a husband, a father and also was victimized back in 2015.

He says he was just in his house minding his own business, and the very next morning, he found out about a crime spree that Casey White went on that he was convicted of and part of that crime spree was stealing a gun out of Josh's car using that gun to help him commit a long list of crimes including attempted murder and burglary and kidnapping.

And so we spoke with Josh because he testified in Court against Casey White, stemming from that incident that happened back in 2015 and this is what he had to say about Casey White when he encountered him in the Courtroom. Take a listen.



JOSH GOAN, VICTIM OF CASEY WHITE: He seemed like he was a very empty -- I mean he did not have remorse. Whenever they were describing what he had done, he almost smirked. He did not have any sort of -- he found it humorous almost. So yes, it wasn't -- I did not feel like he had received any sort of

change. You know, it didn't affect him in any way that he just knew he was going to be in a cage for a long time, but he didn't seem to care.


ROMERO: So Josh says after that happened to him, he thought about it just about every day for the first six months and it's stole a bit of his peace, Fredricka.

He said he lived in this quiet town. He was able to leave his car unlocked, his door unlocked. He knew all of his neighbors, but after something like that happens to you, it changes you forever -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right, and hey, I'm sure he's been very brave and he feels some relief, too for even sharing his experiences with you.

Nadia Romero, thank you so much.

All right, a man was shot dead by police on Saturday after they say he used Molotov cocktails to damage police cars before threatening an officer. In a news conference, the Raleigh Police Chief said one of the incendiary devices was thrown at an officer prompting police to open fire on the man. The suspect was hit multiple times and later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The incident was caught on surveillance and body camera footage which is being reviewed by investigators.

In the City of Laredo, Texas sits along the United States southern border with Mexico. Well, city officials and civil society leaders there are getting ready for the changes to come when the Biden administration ends a Trump-era immigration policy. Here is Rosa Flores.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Rebecca Solloa is the director of this Catholic Charity shelter in Laredo, Texas --

(REBECCA SOLLOA speaking in foreign language.)

FLORES (voice over): A place where she says Border Patrol drops off the migrant overflow from processing centers in South Texas and even for more than a thousand miles away in Yuma, Arizona.

(JOAQUINA ORMILLA speaking in foreign language.)

FLORES (voice over): Like Joaquina Ormilla (ph), a 23-year-old Medical student from Cuba.

FLORES (on camera): So $50.00 to $60.00 a month she says is how much a doctor in Cuba earns.

FLORES (voice over): To prepare for the lifting of Title 42, the Pandemic Public Health Order used by Federal agents to expel migrants to Mexico more than 1.8 million times in just two years, Solloa says she opened a second shelter.

REBECCA SOLLOA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC CHARITIES, DIOCESE OF LAREDO: My think, there is in my opinion, might be a mob mentality process.

FLORES (voice over): She says about 5,000 migrants are waiting in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico alone for Title 42 to lift.

LORENZO ORTIZ, PASTOR: It shows you the reality that we --

FLORES (voice over): Pastor Lorenzo Ortiz runs four shelters there and shows us video of the 2,000 mostly Haitians who he says arrived a few days ago from nearby cities.

ORTIZ: I believe it's because they find out that they were coming in --

FLORES (voice over): Ortiz says the Haitians learned that in the last week, Federal agents were allowing 70 migrants per day to seek asylum at the port of entry under an exception to Title 42, and they traveled to Nuevo Laredo to see if they could, too.

CHRIS MAGNUS, COMMISSIONER, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: It tells me that there are a lot of desperate people out there.

FLORES (voice over): Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, Chris Magnus in his first national TV interview said he wasn't aware of the situation in Nuevo Laredo.

FLORES (on camera): If that is a preview of what the lifting of Title 42 is, how do you deal with thousands of migrants knocking on the doors of America?

MAGNUS: We follow the law and if they meet that criteria, that's what they're going to be entitled to. If they do not meet that criteria, and even number of other circumstances could cause them to be expelled or to be prosecuted.

FLORES (voice over): During prior migrant surges, images like these showing overcrowded Border Patrol facilities have made headlines, especially when children are held in custody more than the 72 hours allowed by law.

MAGNUS: We have made, I think, a tremendous amount of progress.

FLORES (on camera): So this time around, you feel confident that children will not be in Border Patrol custody for more than those 72 hours.

MAGNUS: We do absolutely everything in our capacity to make sure that happens.

FLORES (voice over): Ortiz says some of these Haitians were in Del Rio last year, part of the 15,000 who were under a bridge, got deported to Haiti and are now back, this time in Nuevo Laredo.

MAYOR PETE SAENZ (D), LAREDO, TEXAS: Yes, we don't want the Del Rio situation.

FLORES (voice over): Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, a Democrat wants Title 42 to remain in place. He fears lifting it could increase human smuggling and violence in his city because he says houses that stash migrants and drugs are run by local gangs connected to the cartels.

FLORES (on camera): Do you have a message for the Biden administration?

P. SAENZ: Maybe have a Plan B in the event that Plan A doesn't work?

FLORES: Is there a Plan B?

MAGNUS: Whether you want to call it A, B, C, or D, it is comprehensive. It is ready to deal with the challenges coming our way.

SOLLOA: You will see this --


FLORES (voice over): Solloa plans to do what she can.

SOLLOA: Our job and our mission here is to be ready.

FLORES (voice over): She says she does it for migrants like Ormilla who say they are fleeing persecution?

(JOAQUINA ORMILLA speaking in foreign language.)

FLORES: She is looking for freedom, for liberty --

FLORES (voice over): Who wants in America feel safe for the first time in their lives.

FLORES (on camera): So how will it work once Title 42 lifts?

According to Magnus, the migrants who are waiting in Mexico, like the thousands who are waiting in Nuevo Laredo, which you can see behind me will be able to walk up to a port of entry and seek asylum.

Look, they have not been able to do that for a very long time, and if you ask immigration advocates and attorneys, they will tell you that that has forced migrants to cross into the United States in between ports of entry, which they say practically hands them over to criminal organizations and the cartels.

Rosa Flores, CNN Laredo, Texas.



[15:50:29] [VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]

WHITFIELD: All right, that was a pretty powerful show of support. In a Kyiv subway station, as music group U2, lead performers Bono and Edge sang alongside Ukrainian popstar, Taras Topolia. The acoustic set included many well-known U2 songs, plus that song right there, "Stand by Me." I mean clearly some symbolism there for the global support for Ukraine and empathy being showed around the globe.

Well, tonight at seven Eastern here on CNN, Taras Topolia will join my colleague Pamela Brown.

And as we continue to watch the massive humanitarian response to Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, CNN's Randi Kaye is in neighboring Moldova, and it is there she finds a new mission for families blossoming.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These children are far from the war ravaging your home country of Ukraine. The joy on their faces is thanks in part to this woman, Meredith Wiedemer. She is a mother of three originally from Baltimore, but she has been living in Moldova since August last year.

When refugee moms started trekking across the border to Moldova with their children in tow, Meredith took notice.

MEREDITH WIEDEMER, MOTHER LIVING IN MOLDOVA: You can just see in a refugee's face when they're here, they are just completely startled, and we wanted to provide a place where they can get that support.

KAYE (voice over): That idea became the Sunflower Center, a place where yes, kids could have fun and hopefully forget about the war for a few hours. But Meredith also really wanted to provide educational services and structure.

WIEDEMER: There were some children's classes going on, but they weren't actually classes. They weren't, you know, sitting and creating, they were just like an entertainment, right with like a loud techno music playing and kids jumping around.

They needed someone to hold their hand. I mean, we walked every single kid up to the classroom, right? We were trying to meet every kid here with an empathetic approach, and be kind and listen to what they need.

KAYE (voice over): In this room, we found more than a dozen children making Mother's Day cards, and they were anxious to show them to us, hardly a hint of the stress of war on their faces.

(IRYNA ZELKOVA speaking in foreign language.)

KAYE (voice over): Their teacher is Iryna Zelkova (ph). She too is a Ukrainian refugee. She fled Odessa, Ukraine with her two-year-old daughter and is making a new life here.

KAYE (on camera): You're a teacher. How important is this school and this center for the children?

(IRYNA ZELKOVA speaking in foreign language.)

KAYE (voice over): She tells me, "It's very important that these children have a place to go after being ripped from their own schools, and their friends and all they know."

Iryna also says she has seen a change in the children now that they have some structure in their lives. They are calmer, she says, more positive and communicating better.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

KAYE (voice over): The Sunflower Center has only been open a few weeks, but the classes are already growing in numbers and popularity, and it is privately funded, so there is no cost to any of the refugee families.

This woman fled the region near Odessa with her daughter, who is now enrolled here.

KAYE (on camera): How grateful are you that that you have this?

(TATIANA speaking in foreign language.)

KAYE (voice over): Tatiana (ph) tells me she is overwhelmed with gratitude. She and her daughter feel embraced by Moldova and its people.

The Sunflower Center, she says is a calming experience, though she is quick to tell me her heart is still in Ukraine.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Chisinau, Moldova.


WHITFIELD: In today's episode of "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy," he visits the region that made the dream of unified Italy a reality.


(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: Very good. If you happen to be employed one day, we'll always have a job here for you.

STANLEY TUCCI, CNN HOST, "SEARCHING FOR ITALY": I would love it back here.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: You never know. God works in mysterious ways.

This will be the best bagna cauda you'll ever have in your life. Remember this. Dip it.

TUCCI: My new favorite word.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: So you like it?

TUCCI: Oh my God. That is amazing.



WHITFIELD: The expression says it all.

Hey, a new episode of "Searching for Italy" airs tonight at nine right here on CNN.

Thank you again for joining me today. Happy Mother's Day again to everyone. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. The CNN NEWSROOM continues after a quick break.