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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Record Number Of Migrant Deaths On U.S. Southern Border In 2022; Educators Confronting Severe "Learning Loss" In Students; New U.K. Leader Reveals Plan To Tackle Soaring Energy Costs. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 08, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A record number of migrants have died this year on the southern border. According to Homeland Security, nearly 750 people have lost their lives trying to enter the U.S. That surpasses last year's total by 200.

It comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott keeps busing migrants from Texas to blue states in the northeast. But as CNN's Rosa Flores tell us, a Texas border city led by Democrats is now doing the same.



ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You asked your children for forgiveness?


FLORES (voice-over): Anny Jimenez feels guilty for taking her three children on the dangerous trek from Venezuela to the U.S. southern border. She says one of her sons almost drowned along the way.

JIMENEZ: (Speaking foreign language).

FLORES (voice-over): At that point, she said she had no other option but to keep going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

FLORES (voice-over): Migrants like her are caught in the middle of the latest immigration debate. Some Republican-elected officials, like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott --

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): This is an American problem caused by the President of the United States.

FLORES (voice-over): -- busing migrants from the U.S. southern border to the northeast. But now, El Paso, a Democratic-led city, is doing it, too. The city is in a border patrol sector that has encountered more than 228,000 migrants since October, a 47 percent increase compared to last year.

Wymed Jimenez (PH) had a homeless shelter there where a growing number of migrants are arriving without money for bus tickets after being processed by immigration authorities and released.

FLORES (on camera): Where are you going?

JIMENEZ: (Speaking foreign language).

FLORES (voice-over): The mayor of El Paso, Oscar Leeser, is a Democrat.

FLORES (on camera): Are you worried about potential backlash?

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D), EL PASO, TEXAS: You know, when you're doing the right thing there is no such thing.

FLORES (voice-over): Leeser, like Abbott, points to the spike in migration for his decision to bus migrants to the northeast. But unlike Abbott --

ABBOTT: Until suddenly, buses of migrants started showing up.

FLORES (voice-over): -- who started busing migrants to D.C. earlier this year to send a message to President Joe Biden, Leeser says --

LEESER: We're not doing it because we want to bus them and get rid of them. We're doing it because we want to help them because they don't have funding. They can't get to the next destination. We're doing it because it's the right thing to do.

FLORES (voice-over): The net effect, Leeser and Abbott are doing the same thing -- busing migrants, largely courtesy of taxpayers. In Abbott's case, more than 200 buses costing more than $12 million.

But their handling of the bus rides does differ. Abbott doesn't coordinate with destination cities. El Paso does.


CNN was there when a New York City mayoral delegation was briefing migrants on what to expect upon arrival.


FLORES (voice-over): Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas says Abbott doesn't coordinate with the federal government either.

MAYORKAS: We have sought to communicate with the governor but a partnership takes two.

FLORES (on camera): So the governor has not been responsive?

MAYORKAS: The governor has not been responsive.

FLORES (voice-over): Abbott's press secretary responded to Mayorkas saying, in part, "The Biden administration has made little to no effort to communicate or work with Texas to address their almost two- year-long border crisis. Only now is Secretary Mayorkas feigning attempts to reach out."

Back at the El Paso homeless shelter, Jimenez boards the city-provided bus to New York, the last leg of a grueling journey.

FLORES (on camera): Would you do it again?


FLORES (on camera): No?


FLORES (voice-over): She says she wouldn't because she has learned that having a humble life anywhere, surrounded by family, is more than enough.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


ROMANS: Oh, Rosa, thank you for that report.

Still ahead, the welcomed surprise almost no one saw coming at the Apple iPhone event. And how can teachers and students overcome pandemic learning loss?



ROMANS: Teachers facing a new kind of challenge as we emerge from the pandemic -- learning loss in students, mostly from a lack of in-person classes in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the national data show it. It shows that children who were learning to read in the early days of COVID now have the lowest reading proficiency rates in about two decades.

Let's bring in NPR correspondent Anya Kamenetz, author of "The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children's Lives and Where We Go Now." Anya, so good to have you on this morning.

The stats are pretty startling and we're going to show them. The Department of Education releasing data last Thursday showing that the reading scores for 9-year-olds are down, the sharpest decline in some 30 years. You can see the math scores there, too.

OK, how far behind are America's kids here? ANYA KAMENETZ, NPR EDUCATION CORRESPONDENT, AUTHOR, "THE STOLEN YEAR: HOW COVID CHANGED CHILDREN'S LIVES AND WHERE WE GO NOW" (via Webex by Cisco): I think it's reasonable to expect a few years of recovery before we resume the achievements trajectories that we had seen in years past. But it's not going to be automatic. The recovery happens if there's investment in extra learning time and in proven strategies to help kids succeed.

ROMANS: So we're going to have to work for it.

And we know that some states are implementing mandatory tutoring and new reading programs into the schools. And we know that those who can afford it have hired tutors.

I mean, this headline in The Wall Street Journal this morning really struck me -- "Wealthy Families Stick With Full-Time Tutors Hired Early in Pandemic. Upper-middle-class families, dissatisfied with K-12 schools, are signing up for the instruction as well."

That makes me real concerned about inequality in that -- in that recovery.

What do you think it's going to take to close that learning gap here?

KAMENETZ: I mean, it really underlines the inequities that we saw all the way through the pandemic, whether that meant access to hot meals or a safe place to be during the day, as well as the mental health issues that happen, both in rich and poor families, with certainly families with economic stresses, it really compounds.

Again, we know that the access to remote learning was also unequal by class and that white children, as well as the higher-income children, were more likely to have more time in person. So in order to rectify that, I don't see it coming from anywhere else other than the federal government and state governments.

ROMANS: So, I can remember having a fifth-grader and I was really concerned about my fifth-grader falling behind. That's a really important year. I mean, each one of these grade school years are really important to set you up for high school and college but fifth grade, in particular, so much research shows.

And I can remember other parents and even some teachers saying well, they're all in the same boat, right? They're all kind of stalled together. And I'm not sure that's true. I think that some kids really did keep moving, especially kids who were wealthier.

Are they all in the same boat here or not?

KAMENETZ: Well definitely, everyone faced headwinds, but that's right -- so it might be the same storm but it's not the same boat. And I think that we're absolutely seeing the effects of that here.

And what's dangerous is that when we start talking about achievement gaps or learning loss that we're going to brand the kids who didn't get as much to begin with, and we're going to say that it's their failure or it's their deficit, and that's not the case at all.

What needs to happen here is a progress -- a project of redressing what went wrong and being very, very laser-focused on the kids that didn't get the resources that they needed to succeed.

ROMANS: In your book, you spoke to a 13-year-old who spent most of the pandemic in his room playing Xbox. He said this. "I'm not really involved in a lot of stuff with my friends. Like, they get to hang out a lot because their parents don't care as much about COVID, I guess."

It does show you that different families address this crisis in different ways, and different states and different school districts did as well.

So, I guess, what's your advice to parents this fall on navigating COVID, especially if they come from a family that's concerned about the virus?

KAMENETZ: Yes, that's a really great question because most of the restrictions in most places have really lifted. And for those people who have vulnerable family members at home, intergenerational households, or they've already been dealing with the effects of long COVID, you no longer feel like your community is out there helping you. You kind of like -- you feel like you're on your own.

The good news is that one way masking with high-quality masks can be very protective. People can get booster shots. There are other ways to protect yourself. But it's not like it was in the earlier stages of the pandemic where it did feel like a collective effort, for sure.

ROMANS: Anya, there's some CDC advice for parents, too. You know, make sure your kid has a daily predictable routine -- that that's important. Connect with other parents with children in the same program. Talk to your teachers and your educators.


I guess, what's your advice for what extra parents should be doing as we try to redress this learning loss here?

KAMENETZ: You know, learning is so connected to the social and emotional and the sense of motivation and belonging that kids have at school. So I would say make sure that your child's social environment is enriched, too. We don't want to flip our kids over into feeling like they have to work at academics all the time because they will have time to catch up as long as they remain engaged and motivated, and seeking a brighter future.

ROMANS: Anya, in your -- just very quickly -- I mean, did we do it right, closing the schools and going to remote learning and hybrid learning? Did we get it right or was closing the actual schools the wrong answer?

KAMENETZ: The point of my book, "The Stolen Years," is that we could have done this much differently and we could have served kids and prioritized kids much more by opening the schools and closing the bars.

ROMANS: All right.

Anya Kamenetz, it's a great read. Thank you so much for that. Nice to see you this morning.

All right. Just ahead, water as far as the eye can see. We're on the ground in Pakistan's deadly flood zone. And a run on cars that a lot of us can't even afford.



ROMANS: The Pentagon has temporarily suspended deliveries of F-35 fighter jets to military branches and international customers after manufacturer Lockheed Martin discovered a metal component used in the jet's engine have come from China. That is a violation of federal defense acquisition rules.

Officials determined it does not transmit information or harm the integrity of the aircraft. Lockheed has already found an alternative source for future deliveries. The company says the issue does not affect F-35 fighter jets already in service.

All right, it is job one for the U.K.'s new prime minister. Liz Truss is set to unveil her plan for tackling Britain's energy crisis, spending billions to help with soaring energy costs. An announcement expected in the next hour or so.

Let's bring in CNN's Clare Sebastian from London. Clare, what do we know about her plan?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, we know that it's likely to be very big. The number that's being reported by the Financial Times is 172 -- in the region of $172 billion worth of spending. That's more than any single COVID scheme. It's more than double, by the way, or around -- almost double what Germany has already said it's going to spend to mitigate its own energy crisis. That will include support, we think, for households and businesses.

It could include a plan to freeze household energy bills, set to double in the U.K. by January. That would be an extremely helpful thing for households who are -- about a third of them, according to research, are looking at falling into fuel poverty this winter. A really urgent situation.

The big question though, Christine, how is she going to pay for this? This is a staunch conservative Liz Truss. She does not want to raise taxes. She's already ruled out extending a windfall tax that's already in place on the profits of oil and gas producers.

So it looks like we're going to be looking at more borrowing in the U.K. and that is risky. That could hurt the U.K.'s reputation among its national investors on whom it relies to buy its debt. It could lead to the pound falling even further. It's already close to the lowest point since 1985. And that could fuel inflation in itself.

Having said that, though, the plan to freeze household energy bills, according to economists and the Bank of England, is likely to bring down headline inflation rates -- so that is a positive. And we await the details coming in the next hour or so.

ROMANS: OK, great. We will get them from you when you get them. Thanks, Clare. Nice to see you.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Looking at markets around the world, you can see Asian shares closed mixed here, although a pop in Tokyo. European markets trying to edge higher here. London and Paris moving up. The European Central Bank will make a significant monetary policy decision later today.

And you just heard Clare tell us about the new U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss. We're waiting on that package worth tens of billions of pounds that will help people pay their sky-high energy bills this winter.

On Wall Street, stock index futures down just a tad, but I would call this -- I would call that static here after the Dow rose 435 points after weeks of declines. The S&P posted its biggest single gain in four weeks. A two percent rally over there at the Nasdaq. Indices are now on pace to snap their 3-week losing streak.

A rally yesterday despite flashing signals that the Fed will raise interest rates aggressively and keep them there until inflation is vanquished. Jerome Powell will deliver comments later today in a Q&A session with the Cato Institute.

Gas prices, by the way, overnight, dropping a penny -- $3.75. We're almost 90 days in a row of falling oil prices -- gas prices. And oil prices now at their lowest point since January. Oil down about five percent yesterday.

All right, the world's second-largest movie theater chain is filing for bankruptcy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to Cineworld where cinema means more. More together times.


ROMANS: British company Cineworld, owner of Regal Cinemas, says it has begun chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. to shed debt. But it also says it has access to nearly $2 billion in financing from existing lenders and it plans to keep operating.

Like many theaters, Cineworld struggled when the pandemic hit and the industry is still trying to recover. While economics have improved for theaters, a return to normal is still far off.

All right, some big surprises at Apple's unveiling of the iPhone 14. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: iPhone 14 will start at just $799. This is the same starting price as last year's iPhone 13 but with so much more capability that sets a new standard for iPhone.



ROMANS: Apple revealing customers can get the bigger iPhone 14 and a new Plus version with all the new features without having to pay the pro prices. Apple didn't jack up the price due to supply chain issues and inflation like so many had expected.

Also revealed, a new 12-megapixel camera capable of taking photos of fast-moving subjects. Low-light capturing also improved about 49 percent.

All right, Frances Tiafoe's magical run at the U.S. Open has reached the semifinals.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. What a story.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Christine. Good morning to you.

Tiafoe's coach says they should make a movie about this one day -- but first, he needs to win the U.S. Open. And the 24-year-old from Maryland is now just two wins away from doing just that.

Tiafoe winning the first two sets yesterday against Andrey Rublev in thrilling tiebreaks before taking the third set to the joy of the New York crowd. Tiafoe is the first American man to make the U.S. Open semi since 2006 and the first Black man to do it since Arthur Ashe back in 1972.

He certainly has the crowd behind him as fans have just fallen in love with his story. And Tiafoe's dad was a custodian at a tennis center when he was a kid and that's how he fell in love with the game.


FRANCES TIAFOE, 2022 U.S. OPEN SEMIFINALIST: If you are truly, truly passionate about something I think anything can happen, and being just obsessed with it. Right now, I'm just really obsessed with tennis, and I want to see how far I can go with this thing.

Seeing people just like screaming your name and just loving what you're doing -- I mean, that's awesome and that's what it's all about. You know, everyone loves a Cinderella story, so I mean -- I'm just trying to make one.


SCHOLES: Yes. If Tiafoe wins, it certainly will be a Cinderella story.

Now, none of the men left in the draw have won a Grand Slam title. Next up for Tiafoe is going to be 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who didn't book his spot in the semis until the wee hours of the morning. And Alcaraz getting fancy in the second set of this one, going behind the back against Jannik Sinner. He would win that point.

This match lasted five hours and 15 minutes. It didn't end until just before 3:00 am eastern time. It was the latest finish in U.S. Open history.

Alcaraz is the youngest man to get this far at the U.S. Open since Pete Sampras won the title at age 19 back in 1990.

All right, on the women's side, for the third time this year, American Jessica Pegula is knocked out of the quarterfinals of the Grand Slam. She lost to two-time French Open champ and number one seed Iga Swiatek, who advances to her first-ever U.S. Open semi.

After the match, Pegula -- who is -- whose parents own the Buffalo Bills -- called it a tough day at the office and took some swigs of a beer between answering questions from reporters.

All right, to baseball where Aaron Judge continues his assault on the American League's single-season home run record. The Yankees slugger blasting his 55th home run in game two of a doubleheader against the Twins. That was his fourth homer in four games.

Judge is now just seven away from passing Yankees legend Roger Maris for the A.L. record of 61, which was set back in 1961, which happens to be 61 years ago. How about that?

All right, and finally, the 207-day wait since the Rams won the Super Bowl is finally over. The NFL season kicks off tonight with the champs hosting the Bills.

The Rams have almost all of their players back from last year's squad, but no team has repeated a Super Bowl champ since the Patriots did it back in 2005. The Bills, meanwhile, led by quarterback Josh Allen -- they are the preseason favorites to lift the Lombardi trophy, according to Las Vegas.

And, actually, Christine, the Bills, not the Rams, the favorites in tonight's game -- 2 1/2 point favorite. A lot of people surprised that the Bills, traveling across the country, are favorites against the Super Bowl champs. But hey, we've got NFL football back and we won't have to worry about not having it until February. It's always a great day.

ROMANS: We call it around here Harry Enten's Buffalo Bills, by the way. But -- and this is my first Fantasy Football league and I think my first matchup is against Fred Pleitgen's -- Fred Pleitgen's team. So I'm very excited to be a newbie watching sports differently this fall.

SCHOLES: Oh, Fantasy Football changing the game. It's all -- it's all --

ROMANS: It sure does.

SCHOLES: Yes. You're more concerned about your team than your actual real team.

ROMANS: Exactly. All right, we'll see how I do.

Thanks for joining me.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Andy.

I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.