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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Admin Warns "The Border is Not Open" As Title 42 Ends; Marine Veteran in Chokehold Case Expected to Surrender Today; Sources: Ukrainian Forces Begin "Shaping" for Counteroffensive; Biden's Second Meeting with Congressional Leaders Postponed. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 12, 2023 - 05:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, new rules now in effect at the southern border. Are migrants and border mayors ready for what comes next?

Plus, the marine veteran who used a chokehold on a man in New York subway about to surrender on manslaughter charges.

And, a key meeting called off as Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy stare down a default deadline. What's really going on behind the scenes?


JIMENEZ: Welcome to our viewers in the United States, and around the world.

I'm Omar Jimenez, in for Christine Romans. We have a lot to get to this morning, so let's start right now.

The Biden administration said it was prepared for the end of Title 42, now we will find out if that's true. The pandemic era immigration restriction expired five hours ago, and a surge of migrants are expected to follow at the southern border.

At midnight, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas put out this warning for migrants who may falsely believe that the border is now open.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Starting tonight, people who arrive at the border without using a lawful pathway will be presumed ineligible for asylum. We are ready to process and swiftly remove people without a legal basis who remain in the U.S. Do not believe the lies of smugglers.


JIMENEZ: And overnight, a federal judge in Florida temporarily blocked the administration for releasing migrants from custody without court notices, and that's important because it is a policy governments used to manage the volume of people since border facilities aren't equipped to hold people for extended periods of time. Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection say they will comply, but called the ruling harmful and potentially dangerous.

It will expire in 14 days, the Biden administration is expected to appeal.

More now from the border, and CNN's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The public health policy known as Title 42 has been lifted. It had been in place since March of 2020, during the Trump administration, it essentially became a de facto immigration policy, even though it is never what Title 42 was expected to do. But nevertheless, it has been kept in place and kept out around 3 million migrants from requesting asylum since that time.

So, now, the question becomes, what will the U.S. southern border look like now that this policy has been lifted? And what is the future of migration here along the southern border?

The U.S. border patrol chief says, he no longer expects at this massive rush of people which at some point the Biden administration was expecting would be anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 people per day. The U.S. border patrol chief says, we have already started seeing in the days leading up to this point a larger influx of migrants.

So, he thinks that it's not going to be as dramatic at what had been anticipated, and you know, now migrants requesting asylum, it is become a much more traditional, but difficult process. Now, that Title 42 is gone, there are stricter penalties in place that can threaten at the migrants ability to immigrate into the United States. So this really does change the dynamic on the ground here, and one of the things to look for will be the number of people trying to evade arrest by U.S. border patrol officials here on the ground.

We're also starting to see an uptick in the number of people crossing in areas away from city centers where there is heavily fortified border wall, and that sort of thing. So the question becomes, how many poor people will be trying to avoid arrest and get away from border patrol agents here on the ground, and continue to enter the country illegally?

But, you know, right now, we are getting kind of mixed signals if you will as to what exactly is going to happen here in the days ahead, many more communities bracing for the worst. But, it is a question of, you know, just how intense were this influx of migrants be, we just don't have a clear picture yet on the situation.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


JIMENEZ: Ed Lavandera, thank you. Another issue for migrants and law enforcement in the southern border,

the weather. Heavy rain in parts of south Texas could bring potentially dangerous flash flooding.

CNN's Derek Van Dam is tracking all of that this morning.

So, I mean, Derek, it seems like one issue on top of another, at least complicating factor here.


What areas are we talking about though?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, these are a compounding threat that the migrants trying to cross. We are following a number of weather patterns today, from severe weather over the nation's heartland, to the flood threat. But let's focus in on Texas first, because of the larger story here. Title 42 coming to an end, and now we have a level 3 to 5, for both, today and tomorrow for the locations, where we have some of the most traffic moving from Mexico into the U.S. border, Laredo, Eagle Pass, for instance those on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Now, look at the rain that is going to across those regions, specifically between the 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. timeframe. And not only will this bring the potential for such flash flooding, but also the potential for large hail and damaging winds.

So, migrants potentially crossing the border within this location have to deal with a severe weather conditions, and that is only going to complicate the issues as if the last thing they need to further increase their challenges here as they are dealing with.

Look at the flood watches in place across Central Texas, this is part of a larger storm system, another low pressure, just to its north that created severe weather overnight.

Let me take you to Noble, Oklahoma, this is just south of Oklahoma city, you can see some of the tornado damage that ripped through some homes, and you can see we also had 16 reports of tornadoes across the Plains, through Oklahoma, and into portions of Texas and Louisiana, also 50 reports of hail, and when damage as well.

We have a severe weather threat today. I mentioned Texas. That stretches into Oklahoma once again. That's primarily a wind and hail. But look to the north, level 3 of 5 from Storm Prediction Center, that shading of orange. That's where we have our greatest threat of tornadoes, including portions of Nebraska and Iowa -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Derek, something to watch for. I mean, another -- another threat in already tough conditions down there.

Derek Van Dam, thank you very much.

VAN DAM: Pleasure. JIMENEZ: The marine veteran involved in a controversial chokehold death in the New York City subway is expected to surrender to police today. Prosecutors claim the charge 24-year-old Daniel Penny with second-degree manslaughter. Jordan Neely died after Penny held him in a chokehold last week.

Witnesses say Neely had been shouting about being hungry, thirsty, and having nothing to live for. Penny's attorneys say his client stepped in to protect himself, and fellow passengers, and that the did not intend to kill Neely.

Meanwhile, two Western officials say Ukraine has now begun the so- called shaping operations for its counteroffensive. That means striking Russian command centers, and ammunition depots to prepare the battlefields for advancing forces.

CNN's Scott McLean joins us from London.

Scott, any idea how long these shaping operations could last? And also, I mean, does it say anything about any larger momentum here?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Omar, this could go on for days. This is something that we also saw ahead of the Ukrainian counter offensive last summer, which resulted in Ukrainians it taking back of the wide swath of territory in the Kherson region.

The Russians though are just lying down and taking this, there been some 80 reported attacks in the last day in the Kherson region alone, but regardless of whether this official counteroffensive has begun or not, the reality is that Ukrainians have had some success with on the battlefield, in the heavily, heavily fought over city of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine.

There are undoubtedly on the offensive there. The deputy defense minister says they have been taken a mile and a quarter of territory over the last week or so. The Ukrainians say, they have needed to explore gaps in the Russian flanks, though they are not calling this a counteroffensive as of yet.

The president says that Ukrainians need more time to get more western weaponry into the country before the counteroffensive can officially begin. The head of the Russian Wagner private mercenary group says that Ukrainian counteroffensive though is in full swing, and he concedes that they have had some success on the front lines, so much though that the Russian defense ministry actually put out a very unusual late night statement last night, denying reports that the Ukrainians had made a major breakthrough.

There is also this escalating tension between Wagner at the Russian ministry of defense. The leader of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has actually invited the defense minister to come see for himself the frontlines, because he accuses the Russian regular forces of retreating, though some Ukrainians say the opposite is actually true, that it was Wagner troops that retreated in that area rather than Russian regular forces. The Kremlin has tried to downplay this dispute, saying that, look

everyone is falling into the same direction, yet they acknowledge the situation is quite emotional at the moment -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Scott McLean, thank you so much.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, a potentially catastrophic deadly fault could be less than three weeks away. But the talks to steer America away from the cliff won't be happening today. The White House says President Biden scheduled meeting with congressional leaders has been postponed until next week.


Now, they met three days ago, there didn't appear to be any breakthroughs.

CNN's Jasmine Wright joins us from Washington.

So, Jasmine, the word is the delay today actually could be a positive development? I mean, the clock is ticking, so lay it out for me.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Omar, that is right. The bottom line here is, conversations are progressing among the staff level meetings, sources tell CNN, but they haven't addressed so far yet that they feel like they can bring into those five principals, that President Biden and congressional leaders, and that they could go forward and have a productive meeting on their own. There's still more work to do before guests that level. So White House announced that they had postponed that meeting with the five principles, their and staff will get more work in.

Now that meeting with the five principals is expected to happen early next week, and staff are expected to meet today, once again. Now, when we talk about what the conversation has been so far, really sources tell CNN it has been about the scope of what is possible, really defining the contours of where the negotiations can take, place to always get to a deal to stave off this catastrophic outcome.

Now, the White House says they have been really clear about putting what is off the table, as you can see on the screen, there that includes Inflation Reduction Act, which is a key pillar of President Biden's agenda, and whether it is investments in climate change and other areas. They say that is not touchable. Of course, that is something GOP Republicans have really set their eyes on.

Another thing is student debt forgiveness, an olive branch really from President Biden to young people and Medicaid, and SNAP benefits, something else that we heard Republicans talk about in the past, they would be interested in putting some caps on. The White House is saying, not here, not in these negotiations though.

Ultimately though, Omar, the White House is coming around to the idea that they are going to have to accept some sort of spending cuts to try and stave off the debt default really when it comes to trying to raise the debt ceiling. But the conversation of course will be about, time because the White House does not want to be here again in the next year, and also spending caps, something the White House does not want to be 10 years, which we know the House GOP have really floated.

And so, ultimately, this is going to come down to a conversation of whether or not the White House can of course give up catastrophe, but also stick to the presidents bottom line which is he wants a clean debt ceiling, but will also accept spending cuts on the side -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: And meanwhile, June is coming very, very, very quickly.

Jasmine, thank you so much.


JIMENEZ: Meanwhile, the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway is set to be extradited from the U.S. to Peru. Joran van der Sloot was one of the last people to see 18 year old alive in Aruba.

CNN's Jean Casarez has more.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighteen years after Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway vanished on a school trip in Aruba, the prime suspect in her disappearance is being extradited to the United States. Joran van der Sloot, who was one of the last people to see Holloway alive and twice detained in connection with her disappearance, will finally face federal charges in the U.S. for extortion and wire fraud.

BETH HOLLOWAY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: He knows exactly what happened. He knows what, where, when, who, why and how. He knows the answers.

CASAREZ: He is accused of extorting thousands from Holloway's mother, Beth, in exchange for details on the location of her daughter's remains.

According to legal documents, in March 2010, van der Sloot, quote, offered to take the cooperating witness to the location of Natalee Holloway's body, advise as to the circumstances of her death and identify those in her death and disappearance in return for a payment of $250,000. Papers were signed. A total of $25,000 was given to van der Sloot. And Holloway's attorney flew to Aruba. Van der Sloot took the attorney to a house, saying her body was buried within the foundation.

Soon after fleeing to Peru with the $25,000, he e-mailed the Holloways saying, quote, he had lied about the location of Natalee's remains. Extortion charges were filed a short time later.

In May 2005, the 18-year-old Holloway was last seen leaving a nightclub in Aruba with van der Sloot and two other men. All three were charged by Aruban prosecutors in 2007 for involvement in manslaughter, but a judge ordered their release, citing a lack of direct evidence. Her body was never found.

Beth Holloway said in a statement she would be 36 years old now. It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off.


Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.

After the U.S. legal proceedings conclude, van der Sloot will be sent back to Peru according to a statement from Peru's judiciary, to a Peruvian prison where he is serving time for the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores. She was murdered five years after Holloway's disappearance.

CNN was allowed exclusive access to van der Sloot's cell shortly after his arrest, and in 2012, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for that murder.


CASAREZ (on camera): The attorney for Joran van der Sloot, Maximo Altez, is telling CNN, he is going to fight this extradition request, that was ordered by Peru's Supreme Court. He believes that charges are just too old to have it be valid. Of course, there is an extradition treaty between the United States and Peru signed in 2001.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.

JIMENEZ: And just ahead, U.S. ambassadors accusing South Africa of supplying arms to Russia. We take a look at the accusations.

Plus, content creation gone not great. See why one YouTuber is in legal trouble for an aerial stunt.

And, hook, line and -- cheater? Yeah, ahead, two fishermen faced the scales of justice after being caught cheating in a competition.



JIMENEZ: The COVID era border regulation known as Title 42 has officially expired, and new rules take effect for thousands awaiting asylum in the U.S. That includes the return of what's known as Title 8, the law that carry steeper consequences for on lawful entry. Border patrol will also be fast-tracking deportations, as part of its enforcement strategy. And, those deported would be ineligible to reapply for five years or more.

CNN's Rosa Flores is speaking to migrants in El Paso, Texas.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dark, cold dusty. That's how the final day of Title 42 started near the banks of the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. In the encampment where hundreds of migrants were waiting to get processed by immigration authorities.

This couple from Colombia, who did not want to be identified by name, wanted to make a fire to keep their ten year old daughter warm.

They say she's shaking from the cold. The overnight chill going straight through the blankets.

Just feet away, migrants are arriving, including this couple.

Did you want to come before Title 42 ended?

They say there from Colombia, and that the woman is 37 weeks pregnant.

SOLDIER: Coming down on three, one, two, three.

FLORES: Just feet away, a team of Texas National Guard members assembled border barriers of concertina wire. The work is slow, coordinator, methodical.

This is the sharp metal migrants crawl through to enter into El Paso.

Major Sean Storrud, the commander of this mission says, his team has deployed more than 17 miles of it.

But as Title 42 ends, guard members are doing something different, creating a gap in the border barrier.

MAJOR SEAN STORRUD, TASK FORCE WEST COMMANDER, TEXAS NATIONAL GUARD: We actually created that gap, not to admit people, but to give the migrants the opportunity to go back.

FLORES: Storrud says guard members will explain to migrants that once Title 42 lifts, there are consequences to entering illegally.

STORRUD: We don't want to trap them into that bad decision across illegally, we want to give them the option to take it back.

FLORES: But some migrants crossing along the nearly 2,000 mile border were not choosing that option. Not in El Paso. Not in Yuma, Arizona. And not in San Isidro, California.

Border authorities on the U.S. southern border are encountering around 10,000 migrants per day, and border patrol holding facilities are overcapacity, according to federal officials.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, DHS SECRETARY: We are clear-eyed about the challenges we're likely to face in the days and weeks ahead, and we are ready to meet them.

FLORES: Back in El Paso, a group of migrants huddle on the Mexican side, determining how to cross into the U.S. While a group of three others had just crawled through the concertina wire. The woman's hand caught by the sharp metal.

And her friend shows us the gaping wound on his leg, the result of an assault in his native Guatemala. And says the conditions in their countries are the very reason why migrants risk and endure everything to be here.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso.


JIMENEZ: Rosa, thank you.

At exactly midnight Eastern Time, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted out the video message to migrants now trying to cross the border.


MAYORKAS: People who do not use available, legal pathways to enter the U.S., now face tougher consequences, including a minimum five-year ban on re-entry and potential criminal prosecution.

We are prepared for this transition and will enforce our laws.


JIMENEZ: So, to talk about all of this, I want to bring in Suzanne Monyak. She reports in immigration and homeland security for "CQ Roll Call".

So, I just want to start with what do you make of Mayorkas' message, last night?

SUZANNE MONYAK, IMMIGRATION & HOMELAND SECURITY REPORTER, CQ ROLL CALL: I think about his message really reiterated the message she's been putting out there, it's a message that we have heard multiple times throughout the past week and prior. He wants to discourage migrants from coming to the border. There's a lot of fear that we're going to see the sharp increase in migration for weeks and weeks following the lifting of Title 42.

And he's really trying to encourage people not to make that journey.


He wants to see them take advantage of the migration pathways the Biden administration has implemented, and to not come to the border at the time that is not scheduled.

JIMENEZ: You know, I don't think anyone at this point is pretending this is going to be a smooth process moving forward. I mean, the Biden administration already being dealt a blow to its post-Title 42 plan, with federal judges temporarily blocked the administration from releasing migrants from Border Patrol without court notices and we know that border encounters have already surpassed 10,000 on Tuesday.

So, I mean, what do you see as the biggest concern over the next few days and weeks to come for officials?

MONYAK: I think that the resource challenge is probably in the short term, the biggest concern if we do see a projected thousands more crossings a day. That's just going to be a lot to handle for these smaller and poorer communities for these NGOs who want to welcome these migrants. They welcome the end to Title 42.

But there's just a lot of needs when they crossed that border. There might be shelter space capacity constraints, there might be shortages in representation and fighting pro bono lawyers to represent some of these migrants in their cases. We can see overcrowding at border patrol facilities.

I think in the short-term, the fear is that we're just going to see government facilities and nonprofits and just border communities being overwhelmed by this even as they try.

JIMENEZ: Yes, Suzanne, thank you so much. I mean, obviously, it's a situation that we have known has been coming for awhile, but one that's going to be no doubt difficult to deal with. Thanks again.

And just ahead on "CNN THIS MORNING", Phil Mattingly will talk with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. That will be at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Now, quick hits across America.

The Supreme Court upholds the California law barring pork sales from other states, unless the sow or breeding pig was allowed more space to move about freely. Court producers say that the law will force prices to go up nationwide. So, heads-up.

YouTuber Trevor Daniel Jacob will plead guilty to a federal obstruction charge after he intentionally crashed his plane and recorded in 2021 for the views. The FAA revoked his pilot license last year.

And, in Ohio two men are getting ten days behind bars fines and probation after pleading guilty to cheating in last year's Lake Erie fishing tournament. They stuffed lead weights into walleye into an attempt to win the $30,000 price. Come on, what are we doing?

Coming up, Brazil launches a major investigation into soccer match fixing. And what Italy is doing as the cost of pasta surges.