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Counting Underway In Turkey's Pivotal General Election; Migrant Mothers Make Perilous Journey To Provide for Children; DHS Says Only 4,200 Border Encounters Saturday, Down From 10,000 Last Week; Frontline Town Takes Fire Ahead Of Ukrainian Counteroffensive; President Biden Commemorates One Year Since Buffalo Shooting With Op- Ed; Can Lower Childcare Costs Bring Moms Back To Workforce? Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 14, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Hello, and Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there. Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm Alex Marquardt, in today for Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with the votes being counted in Turkey's high stakes presidential election. The race could have global repercussions by reshaping the country's domestic and foreign relationships.

Right now current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is facing the greatest challenge yet to his 20-year rule. At the moment it would be 60 million plus votes still being counted. The election is too close to call. Both Erdogan and his main opposition claim to be leading.

For the very latest, let's check in with CNN's Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul. And it is live where you are, Jomana.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex, very early preliminary results are beginning to trickle out. Vote counting is continuing and we expect in the coming hours to get the preliminary results of this presidential vote.

We've got the whole country right now is anxiously awaiting the results. And we will find out what the Turks decided to vote today. Did they decide to vote for President Erdogan, for more of the same, for the promise that he is going to continue on the same path for this country, or are they -- did they decide to go for the opposition that has promised them change, to reverse the past few years of President Erdogan's rule, and they say a return to real democracy? Or is this divided, polarized nation headed towards a run-off in two weeks' time? We'll have to wait and see in the coming hours.

We can tell you today we were at polling centers speaking to people and supporters of the president say they want him to continue to lead this country. They say they trust no one other than him to lead Turkey. And then you speak to others who say they've had enough. They want change, they want real democracy, freedoms, rights. There's just much on people's minds. The state of the economy. They're very unhappy with the government's response to that disastrous earthquake in February.

Almost everyone you spoke to will tell you that they felt that this is such a critical election for their country. They had to take part in this because this will decide the future direction of this nation -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Our thanks to Jomana Karadsheh in Turkey where it could be a long night.

Joining me now to discuss further is CNN's Fareed Zakaria, of course the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

Fareed, thank you so much for joining us today. This obviously a hugely consequential election. If Erdogan were to lose, how much of an earthquake would that be?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I think it would be an earthquake not just in Turkey, but all over the world. Look, in Turkey, Erdogan is the most important leader of Turkey since Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. He has ruled for two decades, which is longer than anybody else since Ataturk, but he has also defined Turkey. He has put his stamp on it in so many different ways.

He has changed the nature of Turkey's character which was more secular, more pro-Western, more pro-American, and he's turned it into a more -- a country that looks east as much as it looks west. That has a stronger sense of its Islamic heritage and frankly is much more authoritarian and less democratic than it had been in -- certainly even at the beginning of his term. So in many ways it would be a big shift for Turkey.

But as importantly, it would be a kind of global message that this kind of illiberal democracy or elected autocracy where somebody wins an election and wins a couple of elections, but accumulates power, you know, dispenses with independent judiciary, dispenses with independent press, all this can be reversed, that democracy has within in it the seeds of the ability to correct this kind of flaws.


So, you know, on my program a month ago I said this was the most important election of the year, and I stand by it.

MARQUARDT: And it is obviously being watched very closely by many world leaders, not least because of the war in Ukraine and the central role that Turkey plays in that. Turkey and Erdogan have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the same time Erdogan maintains close ties with the Kremlin. How much do you think that war in Ukraine is going to be impacted by the outcome of this election?

ZAKARIA: I think it would make a big difference because the -- Erdogan's rival is promising a more pro-Western policy which means frankly a return to Turkey's traditional pro-Wester policy which would mean I think there will be more pressure on Russia. The sanctions would be better enforced. Ukrainian grain would be able to leave port more easily. All the things that Erdogan has been playing a little bit -- you know, has been playing both sides would be less true.

Remember, there's the other huge issue on which Erdogan has played extraordinary politics, which is the refugees. Erdogan has kept threatening Europe with sending a stream of refugees from the Middle East essentially mostly fleeing the Syrian civil war. And in return for that, it's essentially blackmail. In return for him not doing that, the Europeans keep sending him money.

So there are so many areas where Erdogan has put his personal stamp on policies that are quite unusual, and a departure for Turkey. The Ukraine war, you're absolutely right, is the most urgent and most critical one where an Erdogan loss could mean a big shift in policy.

MARQUARDT: Erdogan was furious with the U.S. Ambassador Jeff Flake when he met with the main opposition candidate.

Is it fair to say that most Western leaders, NATO leaders, E.U., the U.S. would want a change in Turkey's leadership?

ZAKARIA: I think very much so, though, of course they wouldn't say that. Now it isn't because of Erdogan per se in the sense that the first few years of Erdogan were very productive. And in many Western capitals he was regarded as a great hero because he had managed to combine a genuinely Islamist politics with democracy, with being pro- Western. He wanted to join the European Union.

But the Erdogan of the last seven or eight years has become increasingly anti-Western, increasingly illiberal, increasingly authoritarian. He's shut down a lot of independent media. He's shut down independent bureaucracy. He's taken a very tough line on the Kurds, all areas where he had been much more accommodating and progressive early in his presidency. So there's a story here about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely.

So it's not that they always disliked Erdogan, but I think it's fair to say that at this point most people think two decades is enough.

MARQUARDT: And one area where he's really ruffling feathers with allies is at NATO. We recently saw the as accession into NATO by Finland, but Sweden is being blocked by Turkey because of that Kurdish issue that you mentioned. So speak to -- tell us a little bit more if you will about the impact of this election on the NATO alliance.

ZAKARIA: Look, this is the most important decision that NATO has taken since the end of the Cold War, to allow -- to try to hope to allow Finland and Sweden to both join. NATO operates by consensus, which means unanimous vote, which means one country voting against can veto it. So far Turkey is the only country that is holding out and they are holding out on Sweden for really is a kind of a crass, selfish reason.

They believe that the Swedes are too nice to the Kurds whom they regard -- the organization within which they regard as terrorists. The Swedes have actually done most of what the Turks have asked for, but Erdogan is being very, very difficult about it. And it's just one more sign of this very narrow-minded, self-centered, pretty anti-Western policy that Erdogan has morphed towards. And again, I say it's a kind of peculiar transition that's taken place

because whereas Erdogan came into power 20 years, he was more liberal on the Kurdish issue than the government that preceded him. And that was one of his promises that he was going to resolve the Kurdish issue through dialogue, not through brute force. But, you know, once you stay in power so long, you start to like brute force.

And that is a very simple way to talk about Erdogan, but it's true. He really has come to like power and like absolute power even more.


MARQUARDT: Well, it is going to be a fascinating few hours and perhaps days and weeks ahead as this election unfolds.

Fareed Zakaria, thank you so much for your time and perspective. Appreciate it.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.

MARQUARDT: And still ahead, the Biden administration says it is too early to tell if the surge of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has peaked. But border agents say they're seeing a dramatic drop in the number of migrants trying to cross into the United States. We'll be live in El Paso, Texas.


MARQUARDT: It has not been three days since the expiration of Title 42 and border agents say that so far they're seeing a dramatic drop in the number of migrants trying to cross into the United States. Officials say there were only about 4200 encounters on Saturday, down from 10,000 seen at the U.S.-Mexico border in the days before Title 42 ended.


But the secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, told CNN earlier today it may still be too early to say whether these numbers will hold. Take a listen.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Over the past two days the United States Border Patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended at midnight on Thursday.

It is still early. We are in day three. But you know, we've been planning for this transition for months and months and we've been executing on our plan and we will continue to do so.

We have communicated very clearly a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our southern border. There's a lawful safe and orderly way to arrive in the United States that is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way and then there's a consequence if one doesn't use those lawful pathways.


MARQUARDT: And CNN's Polo Sandoval is at the border in El Paso, Texas.

Polo, it is hard to overstate the kinds of journeys that so many of these thousands of migrants have taken to get to this point. What are you hearing -- from them, rather, as they go through this process?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You'll hear from some of them in a few moments, Alex, but first we should also point out that we visited, we've spent time in some of these shelters and also hearing about the situations at some of the DHS processing facilities. And to be clear, they are still at or near capacity. So what has been qualified by the DHS secretary as a 50 percent decrease in apprehensions, it's at least given the system an opportunity to essentially catch up.

But back to your earlier point, the human element in all of this, you know, we had an opportunity to visit one of these shelters and to hear from some of these migrants, many of them single mothers coming from countries where they've already celebrated Mother's Day, but today they still have a reason to hang on to hope despite their very complicated situation.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): Step inside this shelter in the heart of El Paso, Texas, and you'll find people waiting in limbo. They're migrant families. Some single mothers who told us they were recently processed and released by border authorities. While some children visibly exhausted nap inside, others play in the courtyard. The young minds spared the anguish of moms and dads trying to figure out when or even if they can continue the rest of the journey in what can easily become a hopeless space.

It seems the migrant mothers keep hope alive here. Conny Barahona keeps it to together for Daniella, her 9-year-old. She says two of her older daughters ages 18 and 20 remain in federal detention. It will be a sad Mother's Day, she tells me. My daughters won't be by my side. In the last three days Barahona turned down coveted opportunities to travel to Houston, refusing to go anywhere without all her daughters.

We left Honduras together and that's how we must remain until God allows, the single mother says. She forged a friendship with fellow migrant mom, Yesika Gonzalez (PH), who've left South America three months ago with her partner and their son Jason.

We found another motherly bond in this corner of the shelter where (INAUDIBLE) Falcon receives help when caring for baby Yeremy just 2 weeks old. His mom tells me she carried him from Venezuela to Texas where she went into labor immediately after stepping on to U.S. soil.

All of the migrant mothers we spoke to say maternal instinct to provide for their children is what drove them to make the perilous journey in the first place. A parent will do anything to see their children safe, says Barahona. A

hug from Daniella seems to ease any of mom's sorrows. We asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. A seamstress like mom.


SANDOVAL: And we should note that the migrant presence in that particular shelter, that has actually decreased. I just went inside a few moments ago here in front of us, Alex, so there does seem to be an opportunity for many of these asylum seekers that make their way into the United States ahead of the expiration of Title 42. Those that have been released with obviously the expectation that they'll show up to court eventually, they have been allowed to travel on.

And those are the numbers that will continue to climb regardless of what happens here on the border. See, many of the people here practically all of them, tell us this is not their final destination. Cities like El Paso or other U.S. cities. They're heading to Washington, D.C., to Chicago and certainly to New York where 200 to 300 asylum seekers are arriving in a day.


MARQUARDT: All right. Polo Sandoval in El Paso, thank you so much for that terrific report.

For more on all of this, I'm joined now by Dan Restrepo, a former NSC director for Western Hemisphere Affairs and a CNN contributor.

Dan, thank you so much for being with us today. I want to start with what we heard from the DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier today. A 50 percent drop, he says, in migrant encounters at the border since that expiration of Title 42 at midnight on Thursday. But we've also heard warnings from other DHS officials to prepare for as many as 14,000 daily encounters in the coming weeks. So why do you think we're seeing fewer migrants arriving right now?

DAN RESTREPO, FORMER NSC DIRECTOR OF WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS: In part uncertainty, uncertainty kind of in the migratory system of what crossing the border means today versus what it meant a week ago or a month ago. When there's been policy changes in the past, over the course of the last four or five years, you've seen similar kind of pauses if you will. As this is a dynamic system and as it kind of sorts out what is going on and what are the likelihood of remaining in the United States, if encountered, right?

So should a migrant seek detection, which is what we've seen over the course of the last several years where migrants aren't trying to sneak into the country? They're trying to be apprehended to start the asylum process. Or is the system telling them that they need to evade detection? That that other option is no longer there? So I think that's what we're experiencing at the moment.

MARQUARDT: We just saw there in Polo's report the hardships that so many migrants are going through as they try to navigate this new era of border policies. Do you think the Biden administration is making clear enough to those coming how to go about it? Is there more that you believe can be done?

RESTREPO: This is a tough information space for the Biden administration because they're not the only ones speaking into this space. Obviously smugglers, human smugglers rely on an enormous about of mis and disinformation but has communicated quite efficiently to people on the move through social media and other platforms.

Quite frankly the political noise machine of the United States also creates a lot of mis and disinformation about what's going on at the border. I think the administration is trying to communicate clearly the change in policy that was put in place post-Title 42, but it's a very difficult information environment. And I think there's a lot of confusion among the migrants themselves, which again is kind of to be expected. This is an irregular and dynamic situation.

MARQUARDT: And obviously a huge topic of conversation here in Washington, on Capitol Hill, last week. We saw House Republicans passing HR-2, known as the Secure the Border Act, which codified some of former President Donald Trump's border policies which include bringing back the Remain in Mexico policy, resuming construction on the border wall. Likely will not get through the Senate which of course is controlled by Democrats.

But from your view what do you think Congress should be doing right now given that Congress is divided to address this crisis?

RESTREPO: Well, working to solve the problem rather than posturing. Right? So HR-2 is all about posturing. It's all about trying to score political points and thinking there was going to be a lot of chaos this weekend. And I think, again, it was timed to the end of Title 42 with the expectation of scoring political points.

Rather than doing that is you kind of need to work the issue. Right? We have an asylum system that doesn't work and hasn't worked for quite some time. That needs fixing, that needs more resources. These alternative pathways that were mentioned in terms of where the Biden administration has opened ways for people to get into the United States in an orderly fashion, to reunify with family if they need protection much closer to home, that needs to be codified into law.

Right now it's being done by executive action. Executive action is constantly being challenged in court. We need more resources for the border itself and we need more resources to support Latin American and Caribbean countries that are actually hosting the vast majority of folks who have been displaced in recent years. There's 20 million displaced individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean today.

The vast, vast, vast majority of those folks aren't seeking to come to the United States. Rather they're being absorbed by communities in Latin America and the Caribbean that are struggling with COVID fallout, the Ukraine-Russia economic impacts, interest rate hikes, accelerating climate problems, and then the kind of traditional drivers of migration. We need greater investment to address those things so those countries can keep absorbing migrants so folks aren't forced to come to the U.S.-Mexico border.

MARQUARDT: All right. Dan Restrepo, thank you very much. Really appreciate your thoughts at this very important moment. Thank you.

RESTREPO: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Coming up, Russia's air force may have suffered one of its worst days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.


Reports saying four of its aircraft were shot down inside Russian territory while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been meeting with European allies signaling the long-anticipated counteroffensive may begin soon. That's coming up next.


MARQUARDT: Russia's air force may have just suffered one of its worst days since its war in Ukraine began. Unconfirmed reports say that four of the Russian aircraft were shot down within Russia territory in what would make a significant coup for Ukraine.


Now, this is a video of the moment a Russian helicopter was shot out of the sky. Another video captured a cloud of black smoke billowing from the ground after a Russian helicopter crashed.

Inside Ukraine, Russia is continuing to hit targets across the country. This is new video of a drone attack that injured 21 people in western Ukraine Saturday. Now, surviving under artillery fire and keeping watch out for incoming Russian missiles, that has become a way of life really in frontline towns all across southern Ukraine, where Russian strikes have become all too common.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh went there and came with an eyeshot of Russian missiles.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Occupied Ukraine is aflame and evacuating its civilians. Russia's wholesale departure can't come soon enough for front line town Norahiv (ph), ravaged by Moscow, where four missiles hit on Thursday alone. Rescuers left guessing what the constant bangs mean and have done.

We see people just down the road here carrying on life as per normal despite dust in the sky around us.

Is that Ukraine?

DMYTRO HAIDAR, FIREFIGHTER (translated): No, that might not be.

WALSH (on camera): That may not be, in fact. Outgoing? Ukrainians?

HAIDAR (translated): Thirteen thousand meters away is the last Ukrainian position. WALSH: He's saying it doesn't, in particular, time of day when these sort of things start. Could be anytime at all, frankly.

As dusk falls, the sky is lit in a duel (ph). All they can do here to stay alive is read the horizon. Some of it perhaps further south into occupied areas than a week earlier. But so much of it also very close.

Dawn is often jarring. We hear a jet overhead. The slowly building, grating sound of damage moving towards you. A missile, a half million dollars KH-31, Ukrainian officials later say, lands just 700 yard away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful of double taps.


I was on the floor, buddy.

WALSH: Another blast follows. Either jet entrails or anti-aircraft fire settle to shape a z in the air, the symbol of Russia's invasion. It is soon gone. The damage it leaves, though, isn't. This is where it hit, or missed.

Down here you can get a feeling of just how massively brutal Russian fire power can be. And also how indiscriminate. I can still smell the explosive down here and you're kind of left wondering where the obvious military target is.

At the end of this road is Polahi (ph), one of the towns Russia has said it is evacuating. We are just one mile from Russian frontline positions here, a world torn apart as Moscow tries to hold Ukraine back.

Well, no more than ten miles in that direction are the first towns that Russian occupying forces say they're going to be evacuating because of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. But look here, the last town really held by Ukraine, absolutely battered. And so few people left here, there's little need to evacuate.

Where there were once 3,000, there are 200 people trying to stay, says Raysa.

RAYSA, MALA TOKMACHKA RESIDENT (translated): We can't leave. We don't have a way out. We survive just on aid they bring to us.

WALSH: Caught in these wide open spaces where a distant bang can suddenly alter life in an instant.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Mala Tokmachka, Ukraine.


MARQUARDT: Our thanks to our Nick Paton Walsh for that report.

Now, let's talk about this more with CNN global affairs analyst and "Military Times" senior editor Kimberly Dozier. Kim, you're joining us today from Tallinn, Estonia.

Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

We are seeing today, this weekend, President Zelenskyy taking another trip outside of Ukraine, appearing to be increasingly confident about leaving his country. He went to Rome. He went to Berlin. He's gone to Paris to meet with leaders in those countries, including the pope.

And the visit to Germany is quite remarkable given the bumpy relations between Ukraine and Germany over the past 15 months. Germany now pledging another $3 billion in military aid.

So, how are you seeing this European tour by President Zelenskyy?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah, Zelenskyy hailed Germany as its second largest funder at this time and jokingly would like Germany to eventually to be number one, subplanting the United States.


But when you think about the fact that Ukraine is about to start its much talk about counteroffensive, probably from here on out, it's going to be harder for Zelenskyy to leave the country.

So, this is his opportunity to reach out to the European allies that had been funding the effort and saying behind closed doors, this is what we hope to do, we need this funding, we need this weaponry to keep coming in. But one of the things that Kyiv is feeling right now is a sort of performance nerves.

If they don't do well enough on this counteroffensive and impress all the various Western funders, the concern is that by next year, that support will begin to wane. Everyone likes to support a winner. If Ukraine looks like it hasn't used this pause or this weakening of the Russian forces to its advantage, maybe the European capitals will start to talk about peace talks and tapering off arms support. That's the fear anyway.

MARQUARDT: There's a lot riding on this counteroffensive. President zelenskyy said they need a little more time. We believe we're starting to see the so-called shaping operations of the counteroffensive.

How much is riding on this in terms of the stage that will be set for potential diplomatic talks down the line? There's no talk of negotiations now. But how much is this counteroffensive going to in influence what those talks could look like?

DOZIER: Yeah, you saw President Zelenskyy's rejection to the pope's offer of some sort of peace negotiations with Russia, because at this point, Ukraine is not ready to talk peace.

The feeling here in Tallinn where the military conference was just held, we had NATO, European and Baltic security officials here talking about this, is that that Ukraine needs to get back at least a large chunk of the territory that Russia has seized over the past year before there's any sort of pause. Of course, Ukraine would like to go all the way through Crimea, but Ukrainian officials privately tell European officials they know that this is possibly, you know, unlikely to happen.

But, you know, they would have to shoot for the maximum and get what they can get. This is probably going to be the only offensive that Ukraine can do this year that starts in the next month or so because pretty soon you got winter coming and what you have happening is that they want to take advantage of the fact that Russian troops seem to be on their back foot as U.S. intelligence has said. They would need to have another call up of forces back in Russia to make up for the battlefield losses.

So, this is a chance to use all the new weapons, all the Ukrainian troops that have been trained overseas and seized as much territory and as much momentum as possible and drive the Russians as far out as they can before winter sets in. And then, they've got the U.S. elections coming this year and there's a big question mark on how much the U.S., Washington and, therefore, everyone else will continue to support this effort.

MARQUARDT: So many factors at play. It really is a pivotal moment and inflection point possibly for this conflict. Kimberly Dozier in the Estonian capital, thank you so much for your time.

DOZIER: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Coming up, on the one-year anniversary of the Buffalo grocery mass shooting, President Biden announces new actions to combat gun violence and calls on Congress and state legislators to do more. That's coming up.



MARQUARDT: This morning, President Biden marked the one-year anniversary of the Buffalo mass shooting with an emotional op-ed in "USA Today." Ten Black people were killed in that racist attack at a Tops grocery store in New York. In his op-ed, Biden called on Congress to take additional action on passing common sense gun safety legislation.

CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz joins me live now from Washington, from the Whiter House.

Arlette, Biden wrote that power is not absolute. What steps is he asking lawmakers to now take?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, President Biden has long said that he's exhausted all options on the executive level that he can take when it comes to gun control and he is once again urging Congress to act.

Now this statement comes on the anniversary of that deadly shooting at that supermarket in Buffalo. It also comes ten days before the anniversary of that shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and 2 teachers were gunned down in the middle of a school day. The president wrote today, quote: America doesn't have to be a place where our children learn how to duck and cover or scan a movie theater for their exit options. Gun violence is mobilizing an entire generation of young people, but we cannot sit back and pass this problem off to the next generation to solve.

He added, if we wait, too of them many will never have the chance to grow up. They deserve better than that, as do all gun violence survivors and victims' families asking Congress to do more. The president says, for God's sake do something.

Now, you'll remember after that shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Congress did pass some gun safety measures, the first measures that have been passed in decades. But they were very minimal and President Biden is urging Congress to do more. That includes banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, also requires safe storage of firearms for all gun owners. Additionally, he wants to see universal background checks and repealing that manufacturer's immunity from liability.

Now, this all comes as really there has not been much traction on Capitol Hill for more action when it comes to gun safety.


The reality check at this point is that the appetite, the political appetite, simply doesn't exist. You remember after the shooting last weekend in Allen, Texas, the state senator, John Cornyn, he came out and said that it was unlikely there would be more gun safety legislation in the wake of that shooting.

Democrats convened this week. They had a discussion about steps forward. For the time being it doesn't appear they're going to put any gun safety legislation on the Senate floor as they realize most would be used as a messaging push rather than actually be able to garner votes to get anything to pass. So, right now, when it comes to gun safety reform up on Capitol Hill, things really remain at a stand still.

But the president is trying to use this anniversary and that upcoming Uvalde anniversary as well try to urge Congress to act.

MARQUARDT: Yeah, very, very little can be done with such a divided Congress.

Arlette Saenz at the White House, thank you so much.

Up next, paying for child care in the United States can cost as much as a mortgage payment. We'll talk about why the price of child care is increasing and the push to bring moms back into the workforce.

Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: Inflation may be cooling a bit but there are still many things that still are not cheaper and one of those things is childcare. Typically, of one of the biggest expenses for families, the cost of child care has some mothers dropping out of the workforce.

But as CNN's Natasha Chen reports, there is a push now to change that.


BRI DWIGHT, WORKING MOTHER: Let's pick out a book.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bri Dwight says a nanny used to cost $15 an hour when her first daughter was born five years ago. Now with her new baby, it's $25 an hour.

DWIGHT: Then lights the moon.

CHEN: The U.S. Department of Labor says the median cost of child care can range from more than $5,000 a year in small counties, up to more than $17,000 a year in very large counties. That can mean a fifth of the median family income per child.

DWIGHT: At first, I can't believe it, but then, you know, when you go to the store and see how loaf of bread is $7, it kind of make sense.

CHEN: Dwight is lucky, she receives $7,500 a year in childcare subsidies from her employer, salt manufacturer Dr. Bronner's.

Even so, she'll have used it all by mid-year due to high costs. Nearly 16,000 providers permanently shut down their facilities during the pandemic, according to a report from the nonprofit Child Care of America.

Then the so-called Great Resignation of workers quitting for better paying jobs, coupled with soaring inflation, pushed up the price child care providers need to charge money.

DWIGHT: We wouldn't be able to pay $15 an hour and know that they can afford a place to live.

CHEN: The cost of operating is up at the Sanderling Waldorf School in California where they offer tuition assistance to eligible families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to show you the tricky ones.

ANDREW UPRICHARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SANDERLING WALDORF SCHOOL: Actually, what we're finding is that gap is too big and we're losing families because of it.

CHEN: Decreasing child care costs by 10 percent could result in up to 2.5 percent more mothers in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

JEFF MCADAM, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TOOTRIS: When the child care programs started to close down left and right, these working parents, especially moms, were sidelined, and they don't get included in the unemployment numbers.

CHEN: Jack McAdam is with TOOTRiS, a platform for finding child care and administering child care benefits. He says the partnership with companies offering these subsidies shot up 500 percent last year.

In April, President Biden signed an executive order calling on federal agencies to try to lower the costs and expand access to child care for their workers and the recent CHIPS Act tries to draw semiconductor business to the U.S. by letting them qualify for over $150 million in federal funding only if they have a plan for employee access to child care.


CHEN: MiraCosta College prepare students for those semiconductor jobs but saw a drop in female student enrollment since the start of the pandemic.

KUROKAWA: I suspect that a lot of them discovered that by staying at home they were saving awful lot of money.

CHEN: So the college is partnering with TOOTRiS, too, and got a grant to offer some childcare subsides beginning this summer.


CHEN: Adriana Gonzalez if a MiraCosta alum.

GONZALEZ: I'm a single mom.

CHEN: She was still paying for after-school care for her son when she first enrolled.

GONZALEZ: Even for the Girls and Boys Club, it was $50 back. Now, it's $230. I couldn't study. I was thinking about my next notice.

CHEN: Now, she makes more money as an engineering technician and can breath a little easier. The hope is that future students can benefit from a little child care assistance. But even the best subsidies can only take parent so far.

How do you make the rest of the year work?

DWIGHT: We just are going to be cutting back.

CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Carlsbad, California.


MARQUARDT: Our thanks to Natasha for that very important report.

And we have a quick programming note, tonight, it's a journey into the wild right here on CNN. Follow a team of adventurers around the world as they take on incredible endeavors of physical prowess and mental fortitude in a four-part documentary series called "Edge of the Earth." You don't want to miss it, that airs tonight at 10 p.m., right here on CNN.

Still ahead, some life --


DENNY KELINGTON, BUFFALO BILLS ASSISTANT ATHLETIC TRAINER: I've said repeatedly that I am not a hero, but I will tell you what I was that day, I was ready.


MARQUARDT: Those are some life lessons for the graduating class at Oklahoma State University from the man credited with saving the life of Buffalo bills player Damar Hamlin.


We'll be right back.


MARQUARDT: I'm not a hero. Those are the words of Denny Kellington, the Buffalo Bills assistant athletic trainer, who helped save the life of Bills safety Damar Hamlin earlier this year. Twenty-five-year-old Damar Hamlin's heart stopped you'll remember after he took a shoot to the head and check while making a tackle during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That was back in January. Kellington is credited with restoring Hamlin's heartbeat by performing CPR.

But in his commencement address yesterday to his own alma mater, Oklahoma State University, he said it wasn't really anything special and that a good education should prepare you for any crisis you may face. Take a listen.


KELLINGTON: Thankfully, we restored Damar's heart beat. We were ready. It's a bid odd to be the person reporters are talking about when they say Denny Kellington is a hero. It's very humbling.