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U.S. Senate Unveils $118 Billion Bipartisan Border Security Bill; Blinken Returns to the Middle East as U.S Strikes Iranian-backed Targets; IDF Strikes a Mosque in Central Gaza; Massive Flooding in California; Chile Battles Massive Wildfires; Police and Protesters Clash in Senegal; Namibia Swears in New President; Namibia Swears In New President After Hage Geingob's Death; Fans Angered After Superstar Sits Out Hong Kong Friendly; U.S. Senators Unveil Bipartisan Border Deal; Biden Looks To Win Back Diverse Voters In Swing States. Aired 2- 3a ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States, around the world and streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead, the U.S. Senate unveils a bipartisan border security bill designed to send more aid to both Israel and Ukraine. But is the deal already dead on arrival in the U.S. House?

America's top diplomat heads to the Middle East for the fifth time since October, looking to ease tensions amid growing fears of a widening conflict.

And California grapples with extreme weather as heavy rain and strong winds bring power outages and potentially deadly flooding.

Good to have you with us. And we begin this hour in Washington where U.S. Senators unveiled the details of a highly anticipated border bill on Sunday. It could dramatically change U.S. immigration law for the first time in decades. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will take the first procedural step today. But before the details even came out, House Speaker Mike Johnson signaled that the bill would be dead on arrival.

The $118 billion bipartisan package would empower the U.S. to significantly restrict illegal migrant crossings at the southern border. It also includes critical aid for Ukraine and Israel. U.S. President Joe Biden says he strongly supports the deal, adding, quote, "The United States Senate has done the hard work it takes to reach a bipartisan agreement. Now House Republicans have to decide, do they want to solve the problem or do they want to keep playing politics with the border? I've made my decision. I'm ready to solve the problem."

More now from CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, who's following Joe Biden on the campaign trail.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Joe Biden brought his general election argument to Nevada on Sunday as he tried to draw a connection between his administration's accomplishments and what voters are feeling in the state. Of course, it's an important state as the president stares down November, one that he only narrowly won in 2020 and especially important as polls show a close contest nationally between President Biden and his Republican opponent.

Of course, all of this. happening as news broke of a deal that was struck in the Senate that would address the U.S.-Mexico border. Only minutes before the White House releasing a statement saying the following, quote, "For too long, going back decades, the immigration system has been broken. It's time to fix it." It goes on to say, "Now we've reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it."

Now, of course, White House officials had been involved in these ongoing talks to make major border policy changes. They include in this deal, for example, a new emergency authority that would give the president the ability to shut down the border if certain metrics are met while also expediting the asylum process. Now all of this is still up for debate and the Senate leader Chuck Schumer plans to set up a floor vote this week.

But already House Speaker Mike Johnson is coming out against it saying that even if it were to reach the house it would already be dead on arrival. Meaning that the future of this deal is still very much up in the air. Priscilla Alvarez, traveling with the President, CNN.

CHURCH: Antony Blinken is on his way to the Middle East where tensions are high after U.S. strikes in the region. This will be Blinken's fifth visit since the October 7th Hamas attacks in Israel. He plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank. Meanwhile, two U.S. defense officials tell CNN that weekend airstrikes in Iraq and Syria destroyed or damaged 84 of 85 targets. The strikes were retaliation for the drone attack that killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan.

And as we get a look at the aftermath of the strikes, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan tells CNN that more action is coming.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are still assessing the battle damage. Our CENTCOM, Central Command, is looking at the capabilities we reduced and the casualties that were incurred. The president was clear when he ordered them and when he conducted them that that was the beginning of our response and there will be more steps to come.


[02:04:59] CHURCH: In Yemen, hundreds of Houthi supporters marched on Sunday, one day after U.S. and U.K. strikes. A Houthi official says the group will quote, "meet escalation with escalation."


U.S. Central Command released this new video of the strikes in Yemen. It shows missiles launched from two U.S. destroyers and fighter jets taking off from the USS Eisenhower.

And in Gaza, Israeli airstrikes killed dozens of people over the past 48 hours. A doctor told CNN at least 14 Palestinians were killed and many others injured when Israeli strikes hit a mosque in central Gaza on Sunday. And on Saturday, an Israeli strike killed at least 17 people in Rafah. The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry says at least more than 27,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us live with more on the situation. Good morning to you, Elliot. So, what can we expect Secretary Blinken's top priorities to be with so much going on right now in the Middle East?

ELLIOT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: He does have a very full intro, doesn't he, Rosemary? And as you say, this is his fifth trip to the region since the October the 7th massacre by Hamas. And he's got a pretty familiar looking entree and he's got four broad objectives. One at which we just heard the Houthis discussing about escalation being met with escalation is to try to prevent any further escalation of the Israel-Hamas war, which of course is very much focused on the Gaza Strip, but tensions still remain incredibly high on the border with Lebanon, with the Iranian-backed proxy of Hezbollah and Israel continuing to exchange fire.

Israel, in fact, saying over the weekend that since October the 7th, it's hit more than 3,400 Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and more than 50 Hezbollah targets in Syria, saying that the aim is to disrupt the supply and the flow of weapons from Iran to its proxy in southern Lebanon and also partly in Syria as well. So that's one of his objectives, but the others all revolve around the hostage talks. Now we were talking last week about a kind of framework agreement being reached between Hamas and Israel via the mediators of Egypt and Qatar.

This would allow for the release of some of the 100 hostages who abducted in the Hamas-led massacre of October the 7th and have been in captivity now for more than 120 days in exchange for roughly three times the number of Palestinian prisoners in the first phase. There would be a six-week pause in fighting as well. And then we are talking about subsequent phases, which would see the release of IDF soldiers and then bodies that Hamas took into the Gaza Strip or people that it killed in the Gaza Strip as well.

But it seems we're in a bit of an impasse there because Hamas still seems to be insisting that Israel not only cease fire, but that it withdraws completely from the Gaza Strip before it will agree to a hostage deal. Israel, for its part, is saying that it won't do a deal at any cost. We heard from Prime Minister Netanyahu last week talking about he would not be releasing thousands of terrorists in order to do a deal.

And everything revolves around that, because also in Blinken's entree, or his objectives for this trip, is to get a humanitarian pause in the fighting and to get more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. But of course, those things cannot happen really without a hostage

deal. So, he's got a very tall order to achieve if he wants to go back to the United States with anything of substance. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Elliott Gotkine joining us there, many thanks.

Well, retired Australian Army General Mick Ryan joins us now. Appreciate you being with us. So, we have seen U.S. strikes on Syria and Iraq in retaliation for the deadly attack on a U.S. base in Jordan and at the same time U.S. led coalition strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen continue in response to the Iran-backed militants attacking ships in the Red Sea. What is your assessment of the U.S. retaliatory strikes on the weekend and will all these strikes work to contain or expand this conflict?

MICK RYAN, RETIRED AUSTRALIAN ARMY: Well, the aim here is to de- escalate things, particularly with the Houthis shooting at ships and these militants are shooting at U.S. bases. It doesn't appear yet that the Houthis and others are ready to step back, but these strikes aren't about destroying those organizations, they're about convincing them not to fire missiles at international trade ships or at bases where U.S. and its allies are working at all.

CHURCH: And U.S. officials are vowing further action against Iran- backed militants using a multi-tiered response, they say. What will likely come next, do you think, and what more should the U.S. be doing to deter these militias?

RYAN: Well, we saw the first round of attacks have a bit of a pause.


The U.S. intelligence agencies would have been looking at what happened in the immediate wake of those strikes, whether they were successful, on what else was moved around, who moved around, who spoke to who, followed up by a second round of strikes, and that's probably what they're doing at the moment.

But beyond the physical strikes against this range of targets, there's probably a range of things going on in the background, cyber-attacks, there's probably special forces collecting information as are others. So, there's a range of activities beyond the strikes that we can see that the U.S. and its allies will be undertaking.

CHURCH: And how much control does Iran actually have over these militant groups, do you think?

RYAN: Well, Iran's not in the process of sending out daily task orders to a lot of these organizations, but it exerts indirect control by the provision of weapons, the provision of financing. And it's interesting on the weekend where Jake Sullivan did not rule out attacking Iran and its interests in the region more broadly, although an attack on Iran itself is very unlikely at this point in time.

CHURCH: Right, and Iran says that these U.S. strikes make it hard to find a political solution. Can a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas be achieved while these strikes continue? And will a ceasefire help de- escalate all these hostilities in the Middle East, if it can be achieved, do you think?

RYAN: I think a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel is a separate concern to the rest of the things going on in the region. At the end of the day, Hamas only cares about what's going on in Gaza at the moment, and if it can reach an agreement with Israel, separate everything else going on, it's likely to do so.

CHURCH: And how concerned are you about the possibility of a miscalculation in the midst of these strikes and counter strikes that we're seeing in the region?

RYAN: Well, I think we've already seen that. I think the Houthis miscalculated the response from the West and the ongoing series of strikes here. And potentially Iran has already miscalculated the response from the U.S. since the 7th of October. This is an ever- present concern in any of these kinds of conflicts.

CHURCH: Mick Ryan, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.

RYAN: Thank you.

CHURCH: And still to come, this is some of the flooding that people in parts of California are facing right now and more severe weather is on the way. The latest on the million still under threat. Straight ahead.



CHURCH: In the United States, nearly one million people are without power after a storm lashed California with heavy rain and strong winds. Some cities re-issuing evacuation orders for low lying areas. At least one regional airport says it has shut down because its airfield is flooded and California's governor has declared a state of emergency in nearly 15 percent of its counties.

We're getting more images of the damage this storm has unleashed on central and southern California. And you can see uprooted trees in the streets and the National Weather Service says the wind gusts that are leading to this destruction could reach speeds in some areas of nearly 90 miles an hour.

Well, joining us now is CNN Meteorologist Karen Maginnis with the very latest. Good to see you, Karen. So, what are you seeing right now?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This looks to be over the next 24 to 48 hours one of the worst storm systems that I have seen in recent times affect California. I want to show you this image and this just kind of gives you an idea of what we can expect. High water rescues on some of these coastal California communities. We've had a lot of reports of those downed trees, downed power lines.

This gentleman is leaving his minivan in a flooded area. The Cal Fire person has offered him a ladder to get out of this situation. It has been very difficult for a lot of these rescues to take place because the water continues to rise. This is occurring, or this has occurred, about 25 miles to the south of San Luis Obispo.

All right, we take a look at this. You see there's a marginal risk, pretty much northern and central California. We get into Southern California, different story. Now the main portion of this atmospheric river, that moisture that's moving in off the Pacific, this very warm, very copious amounts of moisture, this is being thrown onshore in Southern California now. As I mentioned, 24 to 48 hours, this is going to be continuing.

Very little let up. And for some of these coastal communities extending from Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo, we are looking at maybe four, maybe nine inches of rainfall. I saw that one report for Pasadena, possibly nine, almost 10 inches of rain is forecast. Well, very few days in these high-risk flood areas, very few days out of the year do they ever see that. But they account for almost 90 percent of the damage done.

So, it doesn't take very much, but we go into Monday, we start to see that really high risk of excessive rainfall pushes further towards the east, so in areas right around Pasadena. That's why that was the report of perhaps as much as 10 inches of rainfall. This is a dire situation. In Malibu, they're saying that those canyon roads leading out of Malibu, impassable. You can't travel on them. That's one area.

But this is going to happen all across Southern California. So please be aware. Take this seriously. It's going to be a very dangerous situation, even going into Tuesday. But we'll keep you updated. Rosemary, back to you.

CHURCH: And we appreciate that. Thank you so much, Karen Maginnis. Appreciate it. William Boos is an associate professor of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and he joins me now from San Francisco. Appreciate you being with us.


CHURCH: So, an intense atmospheric river is bringing all the dangers associated with extreme weather and flash flooding to California.


What is going on here and what is an atmospheric river?

BOOS: Well, an atmospheric river is literally a river of water that runs through the air. Typically, they actually carry more water than the Mississippi or the Amazon, just in vapor form. They get that water from the equatorial Pacific Ocean usually, and it's stretched out and sheared into a thin filament that makes its way to the west coast of the U.S. and dumps a lot of rain on us.

CHURCH: So around one million people in California are facing power outages as this intense atmospheric river lashes the state with heavy rain and strong winds. Just how bad could this get, do you think?

BOOS: Well, they are predicting a flood watch in many parts of -- especially Southern California through late Tuesday. You know, it can take time for the rain to not only fall on the mountains, but percolate down and into lower lying areas. So, you know, please do be careful for life threatening and damaging flooding for the next couple of days even.

CHURCH: Yeah, let's talk about that, because with a flash flood warning in effect for parts of the southern and Central Coast, including Los Angeles, how should residents be preparing for this, given the city and the surrounding areas are not used to dealing with this sort of weather? What should people be doing right now?

BOOS: Yes, well, you know, we live in a strange part of the country, right? It's dry and arid and drought-filled for four or five years. And then we have this very wet weather and we're not used to dealing with it. So, it's important to not try to drive through standing or especially running water with your car. You know, cars can routinely get swept away. Stay away from rivers and anywhere you think you might stand and any remote risk of drowning, right?

There's also been a lot of trees falling. So, I think if you can, especially during this peak of the storm on a Sunday, a great day to stay home.

CHURCH: Yeah, very good advice. And I did want to ask what exactly is causing this to happen right now and how remarkable is this?

BOOS: Well, this is certainly the strongest atmospheric river that California has had this season. We had an atmospheric river a few days ago that was more intense for us up here in Northern California. I'm in San Francisco right now. But I think this one that's blowing through Southern California, we're getting strong winds from it, but it's certainly the peak one of this year so far for Southern Cal.

CHURCH: You do feel by mid-week this should really start to be clearing up?

BOOS: Yes, yes. The atmospheric river, I think, they come through as these plumes of moisture. And as they sweep through, there's a wet part and then it's the river sort of undulates past you, you'll move into more of the dry parts. So, we will be seeing that through. I think as you go further out into the future, beyond a few days, who knows? You know, weather is chaotic. We can predict the climate, the average weather over long time periods, but we can't predict individual weather events weeks out into the future.

CHURCH: William Boos, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate you explaining this to us and our viewers. BOOS: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Turning now to Chile where raging wildfires have been tearing across parts of the country, leaving dozens dead.


CHURCH: What you're seeing now is video recorded by firefighters driving through flames in central Chile as that nation battles devastating wildfires. At least 112 people have died and a state of emergency has been declared. Chile's president says if any of these fires were set intentionally, the criminals will pay.


GABRIEL BORIC, PRESIDENT OF CHILE (through translation): It's hard to think there are so horrible and heartless people who could be able to inflict so much pain. But if these people exist, we will search them, we will find them, and they will have to face not only the entire society's rejection, but also the law.


CHURCH: Tens of thousands of acres have burned according to government officials. There are currently 161 active fires across the country, and they come as Chile is being hit by a summer heat wave.

Still to come, Namibia has sworn in a new leader after the death of its president. We'll have a live report after the break.



CHURCH: Police and protesters clashed in Senegal on Sunday, a day after the country's president announced he would postpone a vote for his replacement.


Pro-democracy demonstrators set up barricades in the capital city Dakar and police responded with tear gas. Elections were scheduled to take place February 25th, but President Macky Sall has put that on hold, saying a conflict over the candidate list must be cleared up first. Opposition groups call it a quote, "institutional coup." Protesters say they fear democracy is at stake.


UNKNOWN (through translation): We are only defending ourselves. He meddles with the constitution. He meddles with the newspapers. He meddles with the population. He does everything he can to put us in a difficult position. I say it and I repeat it once again. We are not fighting for a simple cause. We are fighting for freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: In the coming hours, lawmakers will debate whether to hold the election in August and whether to keep Mr. Sall in power until then.

In Namibia, former Vice President Nangolo Mbumba has been sworn in as the country's new leader, just hours after President Hage Geingob died while receiving treatment for cancer.


Mbumba appealed to the nation to remain calm and collected as some paid tribute to the late president.


KOTOKENI SHIMBINDJA, LOCAL RESIDENT: He believed in equality. He believed in peace. He believed all of these qualities that (INAUDIBLE) should actually live for. I just think that -- I remember him for all of these great things that he had done, and also serving our country, liberating it. And he played a very better role to liberate Namibia and the whole Africa in general.


CHURCH: Joining us now is CNN's Larry Madowo in Nairobi.

Good to see you, Larry.

So, we are seeing two different stories play out in Africa. One with a peaceful transition of power, another with a lack of transition altogether. What is the latest on both stories?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this weekend, Rosemary, was an important one in Africa's democratic chapter. You see the progress that's been made across the continent, but also some of the challenges, starting in Senegal with these protests on Sunday after President Macky Sall shocked the nation and the world by announcing that he was postponing the election with just three weeks to go.

So, now, in the hours ahead, lawmakers will decide if he can stay in power until August and if they can hold elections in August.

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS and the African Union both saying they're concerned and there needs to be dialogue and the election date needs to be set as soon as possible. That same sentiment shared by many in the United States, the European Union and around the world.

But you are seeing some concerning signals, from Senegal, reports of an opposition candidate Aminata Toure arrested, of television stations whose broadcasts were cut and reports of some journalists harassed. These are sense of democratic backsliding that will concern many in Senegal.

And then you see the converse of that, a peaceful transition in Namibia. President Hage Geingob dying while receiving treatment in Windhoek, in the capital, and then just hours later, his vice president, Nangolo Mbumba, appointed and sworn in as the new vice -- as the new president. He appointed the deputy prime minister as vice president, and says he will not be running in November. In fact, he says his dream as a child was to be a school principal and he's already achieved that. He doesn't want anything more.



NANGOLO MBUMBA, NIMIBIAN PRESIDENT: I have to thank the Namibian people for the honor they have bestowed on me to be their president for a short period of time. I am not going to be around for the elections so don't panic. You are telling yourself already stories. I will be serving you for the remainder of the Geingob's term of office.


MADOWO: So, that means the elections in Namibia will still take place in November. That's an extraordinary statement and he is aware, he's 82, President Mbumba. The median age in Namibia is only 21. So he is not quite the right man I think for a lot of people in the country to be taking them forward, and the woman who is now vice president, Netumbo Nadi-Ndaitwah, who is 71, will be the ruling party's presidential candidate.

But Namibia is rightfully very proud of the maturity of the democracy that this transition can happen peacefully and that is why it shines an extra spotlight on Senegal and signs of democratic backsliding when you see opposition candidates reportedly arrested, when you see media, independent media being curtailed, a sign that democracy is hard work for the United States or here in Africa, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Larry Madowo for that live report.

And we're back in just a moment.



CHURCH: The biggest night the music lived up to its name with the biggest show of the year on Sunday. The 66 Grammy Awards honored the best music of the last year with performances from artists at the top of their game.

Crowds gave a standing ovation to singer Tracy Chapman early in the night for a rare public performance. She and country artist Luke Combs performed her hit "Fast Car" which Combs famously covered last year.

The night also featured tributes to artists who died in 2023 with Stevie Wonder honoring Tony Bennett. Annie Lennox remembering Sinead O'Connor and Fantasia performing Tina Turner's classic hit "Proud Mary".

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) CHURCH: But the big winner of the night was Taylor Swift who won Album of the Year for the fourth time for "Midnights". She is the only artist win the category that many times surpassing Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra.

Well, Hong Kong's top sport official says the government made repeated requests for Lionel Messi to play in Sunday's match but he never entered the game, and this was the reaction.


CHURCH: Fans booed when the superstar failed to take the pitch during the match between his in Inter Miami team and a group of local standouts. The Hong Kong government said the events organizer Tatler owes fans the explanation. Tatler expressed extreme disappointment but denied any pre-game knowledge that the World Cup champion would not play. Inter Miami's coach said Messi and another player set out with injuries.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout was there at the match.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Hong Kong, no-show on the pitch for the Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi and the fans are disappointed. What was initially cheers in the stands here in Hong Kong stadium turned into jeers, boos and chants of "where is Messi?" and "refund, refund, refund". Some 40,000 fans here in Hong Kong clamored for the opportunity to see Lionel Messi play with his team Inter Miami for a preseason friendly against a Hong Kong squad.

This was Inter Miami's first ever international tour. Its co-owner David Beckham also here, adding to the football star power, but when Lionel Messi failed to get off from the bench, the mood inside the stadium soured and the fans have been leaving utterly crushed and disappointed.

Joining me is a super fan here in Hong Kong of Lionel Messi, Christrom Leon (ph).

A lot of people disappointed tonight. How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disappointed, just like everyone is, yes, very disappointed. We really wanted to see him play even for five minutes. So --

STOUT: Really disappointed. You named your son after Lionel Messi. You paid for the ticket. How much did you pay for your ticket?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like 2,300 dollars, Hong Kong dollars.

STOUT: So, that's about US$300, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very disappointed, and most people are. It's really -- it started -- the disappointment started from yesterday I think with the training session, because that was not cheap either. That was 100 bucks. So, then, today, you know, we really -- like we saw the signs, right? He wasn't on the substitutes list actually. He was dressed in full tracksuit. So, yeah, we were -- we were praying for good but we were expecting the worst a little bit I think.

STOUT: Yeah, prayers weren't answered, Christrom. So sorry. Thank you for joining us.


STOUT: Now, the Hong Kong government were hoping that a event like this would turn Hong Kong into a hub for mega events to help drive tourism and help to reboot the economy. But for all the fans that showed up tonight, it was never about the economy. It was also about that beautiful game. It was about football, and it was about seeing their hero, Lionel Messi, on the pitch but that was a dream that was ultimately denied.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


CHURCH: And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. For our international and Max viewers, "World Sport" is coming up next.

And for our viewers here in the United States and in Canada, I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.

Do stick around.



CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers in North America. I'm Rosemary Church.

And back to our top story this hour, U.S. senators have unveiled a long- awaited deal to crackdown on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The more than $118 billion package would give the president far- reaching powers to restrict illegal immigration. It will also provide aid to key U.S. allies including Ukraine and Israel.

But the speaker of the House says the bill will be on arrival dead in the Republican controlled chamber. It comes as more than a dozen Republican governors from across the country met with Texas Governor Greg Abbott in the border town of Eagle Pass. That city has become a flashpoint in immigration crisis.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more now from Eagle Pass, Texas.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eagle Pass looks like a warzone. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordering miles of razor wire placed along

the Rio Grande and around a public park to block migrants like this group of Venezuelans from entering the U.S.

They are trying to turn themselves into immigration authorities.

Texas shutting down 2.5 miles of border Maverick County, and denying U.S. Border Patrol access.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Texas, very simply, is securing the border.

FLORES: County sheriff Tom Schmerber says that Texas takeover puts local officials in a tough spot.

TOM SCHMERBER, MAVERICK COUNTY SHERIFF: Creating some kind of a problem for us because we cannot get like in the middle.

FLORES: The weeks-long standoff between Texas and the Biden administration over command and in control of the border in Eagle Pass has turned into a partisan rally cry.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: And now, it's as bad as it's ever been at the southern border.

FLORES: Dozens of Republican governors and attorneys general from around the nation and former President Donald Trumps side with Texas.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I want to express our thanks to Governor Greg Abbott.

FLORES: House Speaker Mike Johnson also said, I stand with Governor Abbott.

He and House Republicans blamed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the ongoing border crisis.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: That's why Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is going to be impeached.

FLORES: House Republicans looking to keep the focus on Mayorkas instead of new legislation. The last time Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform, it was 1986 and Ronald Reagan was president.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: The most comprehensive reform laws since 1962.

FLORES: And while a bipartisan group of senators are pushing for a border deal, now, the bill appears to be dead on arrival in the House, much of it due to the strong opposition from former President Donald Trump.

TRUMP: This is a terrible bill, terrible bill for our country.

FLORES: Sheriff Schmerber from his neighborhood in Eagle Pass is calling out Trump for lobbying against a bill that both party say is the toughest border security legislation in decades.

Would you blame President Trump if the deal doesn't go through?

SCHMERBER: Yes, because it's going to hurt us. I see that it's political. President Trump, it's just self-interest.

FLORES: Magali Urbina, a Republican with riverfront property in Eagle Pass that is lined with razor wire, says the border deal fall short of fixing the issue.

Former President Trump has been lobbying against that bill. Do you agree with them?

MAGALI URBINA, REPUBLICAN LAND OWNER: I do agree with him. Actually, I believe that when Trump was president having them remain in Mexico, I think that helps.

FLORES: Meanwhile, in Eagle Pass, standoffs like these between the group of Venezuelan migrants already on us soil and state police --

TEXAS STATE POLICE: You have to return to Mexico.

FLORES: -- are daily occurrences that don't stop legal immigration. Instead, just delay it for a few hours or a few days.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott hosted a dozen governors from across the country here in Eagle Pass, in Shelby Park, inside the take over zone, the zone taken over by the state a few weeks ago and what is extraordinary about the visit is that Governor Abbott and these governors are advocating for states to enforce immigration policy. Now, what's extraordinary about that is the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that immigration is a federal function.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Eagle Pass, Texas.


CHURCH: A diverse coalition spanning minority communities and young voters were instrumental in sending Biden to the White House in 2020. But the U.S. president now faces major challenges with the demographics as he eyes a second term in the Oval Office.


CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Detroit with the details.


REV. CHARLES WILLIAMS, SENIOR PASTOR, KING SOLOMON BAPTIST CHURCH: It's like two -- just the two old white guys duking it out.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reverend Charles Williams is bracing for a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, exhausted at the notion of a nine-month battle for the White House.

WILLIAMS: Some may feel, I don't have any hope in a Donald Trump or I don't have a hope in a Joe Biden.

ZELENY: As pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, Williams was on the front lines of soaring turnout among Black voters four years ago. He believes Biden can't win reelection through fear of Trump alone.

WILLIAMS: It's almost like your big brother, or your big sister saying, the boogeyman is under the bed, the boogeyman is under the beds. Sooner or later, you figure, you know, is it really a boogeyman? You realize isn't -- maybe, maybe this guy ain't the boogeyman.

ZELENY: One of the biggest tests facing the president is piecing together a vast frame coalition, particularly in Michigan. Trump carried the state in 2016 along with Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. But Biden flipped off all three in 2020, a blue wall that led to victory.


ZELENY: His challenges are complicated by anger among Muslims and Arab Americans over the Israel-Hamas war made clear by relentless protests, including as the president visited Michigan.

ADAM ABUSALAH, CAMPAIGNED FOR BIDEN IN 2020: He's just not somebody that I can trust.

ZELENY: Adam Abusalah worked as a field organizer for the Biden campaign four years ago. He said he will not vote for the president again, seeing him as complicit in deaths of innocent Palestinians.

By taking this stand, do you wonder if it will help elect Donald Trump?

ABU SALAH: It probably will. We have seen for years of Trump, we have seen for years of Biden, and people don't really see a difference between the presidencies.

ZELENY: It was nearly four years ago when Biden pointedly presented himself as a bridge to the future.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: Look, I view myself as a bridge not as anything else. There's an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country. They're the people --


ZELENY: Those cheers rang out in the gymnasium of Detroit's Renaissance High, where these students are now following the presidential race.

EMANI WILLIAMS, MICHIGAN VOTER: I don't feel like he represents the young voter demographic at all.

ZELENY: It's the first time that Emani Williams and her friends can vote. Dante Parker said a vote for Biden is hardly guaranteed. DANTE PARKER, MICHIGAN VOTER: We've been stuck in the system for far too long, you may even to venture outside of it to really make some parts -- some progress now.

ZELENY: The Biden campaign tells CNN it will draw sharp distinctions with Trump and earn the support of voters concerned about their rights, their pocketbooks, and our democracy.

NORMAN CLEMENT, FOUNDER, DETROIT CHANGE INITIATIVE: We are happy with Biden, but we understand that the other option is not an option that's favorable to us.

ZELENY: Norman Clement said, voters are eager to hear what Biden would do in a second term, not simply what he's done or tried to do.

Are you more worried about people voting for Trump or more worried about young voters and others not voting at all?

CLEMENT: I'm worried about the protest vote. My message to them is that we did that in 2016. We held our vote. Folks didn't come out.


ZELENY (on camera): So, for the next nine months, there will be a heavy focus on Michigan and those other blue wall states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. But before that, the primary comes here. That is February 27th. The Biden campaign is working to increase their support. They are worried that any protests could show up in the primary on that day.

Now, the bigger, of course, is rebuilding that coalition that led him to the White House in 2020. The roadmap is there, the question is, are the voters?

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Detroit.

CHURCH: February is Black history month here in the United States where we celebrate the contributions and culture of Black Americans. A group in Tennessee is fighting to preserve an important piece of that heritage. Rosenwald schools were among the few sources of education for Black children in the segregated south.

CNN's Isabel Rosales has more.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Memories packed the halls of this nearly century-old schoolhouse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Radcliffe (ph), this was her side. And that was a hallway, and the window was not there.

ROSALES: Now, in their 70s and 80s, these former students walk us through the ruins of their school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the interest way. ROSALES: It may not look pretty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of these was desks.

ROSALES: But this dilapidated structure stands tall in the pages of not only black, but American history.

GEORGIA HARRIS, FORMER LEE-BUCKNER SCHOOLHOUSE STUDENT: Just to think, that a lot of people and children don't know how it was and how important education can be.

ROSALES: A unique partnership between Booker T. Washington, a former slave and black education pioneer, and Julius Rosenwald, a first- generation Jewish-American philanthropist led to the construction of nearly 5,000 Rosenwald schoolhouses throughout the Jim Crow South. The state-of-the-art schools a major force and improving the quality of education for black children.


By 1928, one in every five rural schools in the south was a Rosenwald school.

RACHEAL FINCH, HISTORIC PRESERVATIONIST CONSULTANT: It's a place of community and it bridged the gap for African-Americans during a time when separate was definitely not equal.

ROSALES: The schools not only revolutionized black education in the South, but alumni like Maya Angelou and the late Congressman John Lewis went on to make their own mark in the history books. But when the Supreme Court ruled separate but equal education was unconstitutional in 1954, Rosenwald schools slowly became obsolete. Only 10 percent of them still stand.

Located about 30 minutes outside of Nashville, Lee-Buckner is the last surviving Rosenwald School in the region.

MAUDY ADKINSON JOHNSON, FORMER LEE-BUCKNER SCHOOLHOUSE STUDENT: This little box sitting here on side the road, it might not mean a lot to a lot of people when they ride by. I always would come by and hope that it wouldn't just sit here and fall down.

ROSALES: And it was special to these former students when a day of missed class helping their parents work was a sad one.

All of you guys worked the tobacco field --

JOHNSON: Yes, yes.

ROSALES: -- to help down with your parents?



ROSALES: After years of planning, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is restoring the one-room schoolhouse. Lee- Buckner will be relocated to downtown Franklin.

BARI BEASLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TN: I think that we can have a better future if we understand even the difficult parts of our past.

ROSALES: Crafted to be a springboard to a better future and home --


ROSALES: -- to those who walked its hallways.

HARRIS: I don't want to forget where we came from. We didn't have a lot, but we had teachers who cared.


ROSALES: Isabel Rosales, CNN, Franklin, Tennessee.


CHURCH: And thanks for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment. Please stay with us.