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Isa Soares Tonight

Moscow Launches Fresh Strikes On Odesa As Ukraine Claims To Have Killed The Head Of Russia's Black Sea Fleet; A Tentative Deal Reached Between Hollywood Studios And Writers; Migrant Surge At U.S.-Mexico Border Towns Continues To Grow; Venezuelan Government Regains Control Of Major Prison; Mexico Reaches Deal With U.S. To Deport Migrants From Mexican Border Cities As Number Of Crossings Surges; London Met Police Launch Investigation Into Allegations. 2-3p ET

Aired September 25, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Moscow launches fresh strikes on Odesa

as Ukraine say they've killed the head of Russia's Black Sea fleet. Then, screenwriters could get back to work in the coming days as a tentative deal

is reached with studios to end the nearly five-month long strike.

Plus, U.S. border towns in crisis. Will the new U.S.-Mexico migrant deal help reduce the surge in crossings. We'll explore this hour. But first this

evening, it has been dubbed Operation Crab Trap, and Ukrainian special forces says it was a devastating blow to Russia's military in occupied

Crimea. Missiles rained down on Sevastopol if you remember on Friday.

Ukraine says they killed dozens of officers, including the head of Moscow's Black Sea fleet. Admiral Viktor Sokolov is one of Russia's most seasoned

Naval commanders, we can't verify claims about his death, but if he is alive, his whereabouts are unknown. Meanwhile, Russia stepped up attacks on

Odesa overnight. Ukraine reports at least two people were killed after a grain warehouse was hit.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry called it pathetic attempt to retaliate after the strike on Crimea. So let's put all of this into perspective, Our Sam

Kiley has reported extensively from Ukraine, and he joins me now with the very latest. So, Sam, if truly, like we said, we cannot verify this, how

much of a blow is the death of this Russian admiral in Crimea?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It'd be difficult to underestimate just how devastating a blow this is, both in terms of the

numbers of senior officers that the Ukrainians are claiming to kill, and as you rightly say there, we shouldn't really be getting into body counts from


But if they've killed over 30 senior officers in the headquarters of the Black Sea fleet, including the unit's commander, then that is a huge blow,

not just in terms of the command and control structures, of the Russian Armed Forces, but also, indeed, of the morale.

Now, if you can put that, Isa, in the context of other recent strikes by Ukraine that they have claimed to have sunk a diesel-powered submarine,

also in Sevastopol and several other warships over the last year and a bit, or more than a year and a half now of war, all of this points to increasing

levels of sophistication, not only of the Ukrainian special forces operations, but of their ability to use the weapons that they've been given

in all probability.

This was an attack using a star -- storm shadow cruise missile probably supplied by the United Kingdom or France, as namely French product, and

kind of making the argument if you like ultimately, that they really deserve to get the longer-range missiles, the ATACMS as they're called here

from the United States. And of course, we're expecting the decision on that from the White House fairly soon.

So, a very important devastating blow, and on top of that, of course, you'll recall, Isa, indeed, we've talked about it --

SOARES: Yes --

KILEY: In the past, the deliberate targeting of Russian officers is very much a tactic that the Ukrainians are pursuing in this war.

SOARES: Yes, indeed, something that you and I discussed at length. Let's talk then about what we're seeing on this counteroffensive, because I

remember, about a year ago or so, Sam, we saw the West ruling out these Abrams tanks. Now, we're hearing they actually have started to arrive. I'm

guessing it's welcome news for Kyiv, but how much of a difference will they make this counteroffensive that we've been seeing in the south and also in

the east.

KILEY: Well, it's only going to be about 31 of them in this first batch. We understand they're not going to make any real difference in terms of the --

even the tactical framing of this fight. Is much more of a symbolic gesture, there were complicated weapons, they require air, fuel -- the sort

of fuel they use in aircraft, one to drive them, not diesel.

So that is a logistical problem. They have sophisticated weapons on board and very sophisticated armor. So they're more survivable than for example,

the Leopard tanks that Europe has been supplying lately, smaller in number than the British Challenger tanks. All of these adding up really though, to

largely symbolic help being given to the Ukrainians in terms of the tank war because they probably need several thousand tanks if they're going to

make any real --

SOARES: Right --


KILEY: Difference, and also, this war has shifted very rapidly to the use of drones. And tanks are very vulnerable to drones.

SOARES: Sam Kiley for us with the very latest, great to see you, Sam, thanks very much. We are getting more information about what led the

Canadian prime minister to probably link the Indian government to the assassination of a Sikh activist. According to the U.S. ambassador to

Canada, Justin Trudeau's Intel came through the Five Eyes; that's an information-sharing pact between the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, as

well as New Zealand.

The accusation has set off a diplomatic firestorm with India vehemently denying the claim. But it's not the only controversy Mr. Trudeau's

government is facing. Over the weekend, the speaker of Canada's House of Commons was forced to apologize after he praised the Ukrainian veteran who

once fought in a Nazi military unit.

Our Paula Newton joins us with the very latest from Ottawa. So, Paula, these shared Intelligence among the Five Eyes, do we -- still don't know,

I'm guessing at this stage the origin of this Intelligence? But what about the question of providing evidence to support those allegations, why not

put some of it out?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the prime minister and in fact, the entire Canadian government has said, look, this is a matter for the Asian

people, for Canadian police in the West Coast. But many including the opposition parties here in Canada said look, if you're going to make an

accusation like that on one of our key allies, you should come up with more evidence.

That was, of course, the issue with the Indian government -- the Canadian government should expect that, look, we have shown India some evidence. And

what's been controversial here in fact, Isa, is what that Ambassador Cohen --

SOARES: Yes --

NEWTON: Here in Ottawa said. He said that it had come from Five Eyes, this is an incredibly sensitive issue as to whether or not, any allies are

spying on diplomats in country. And so, for that reason, it became controversial, I asked the State Department to clarify, they're refusing,

they don't comment on Intelligence matters.

And Ambassador Cohen has turned down an interview with CNN, at issue here was whether or not Canada received Intelligence directly from Indian

diplomats here in Canada that would support what they call, credible Intelligence that the government of India was behind the murder of that

Sikh leader. Isa?

SOARES: And Paula, I mean, if the evidence is there as the Canadians say it is, why the silence from the other countries, from the other allies, from

the other Five Eyes? Is this -- has this surprised some in Canada?

NEWTON: No, it has not surprised them. I'm sure they would have wanted some more robust condemnations from allies, but given the fact that not just for

the United States but also for Canada, also for Australia, also for New Zealand. Members of the Five Eyes and Britain as well, India is at the

heart of the Indo-Pacific strategy. And for this reason, unless they --

SOARES: Yes --

NEWTON: See evidence that they cannot refute, they will stay on the sidelines.

SOARES: And on a separate matter, we mentioned it briefly, Canada's House of Commons' speakers being in the headlines this weekend for all the wrong

reasons. What's the latest there, Paula?

NEWTON: Yes, listen, by everyone's admission, incredibly embarrassing incident for Canada, and quite frankly, for anyone involved in this. This

was when Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in parliament on Friday, giving an address to that parliament and invited guests, a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran,

apparently, who is accused of having fought for the Nazis in World War II.

The fact of the matter remains that it was the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, who took full responsibility for this in the

parliament this morning, saying it was his initiative because he was a constituent, and he apologized for any embarrassment. Right now, opposition

parties calling for his resignation.

We have not heard from Volodymyr Zelenskyy about this, but unfortunately, Isa, this definitely did get farther to Russian propaganda --

SOARES: Yes --

NEWTON: Dmitry Peskov; the Kremlin spokesperson denouncing Canada for this, and saying that Canada should learn its history. Again, not entirely is --

not a lot is known about how this man was vetted, if he was vetted at all, and as I say, it is certainly giving Russia some ammunition here.

SOARES: Paula Newton for us in Ottawa, thanks very much, Paula. Well, after 146 days on strike, the Writers Guild of America has reached a tentative

deal with Hollywood studios. News of a deal was released Sunday night, although terms of the deal are not yet known. The Guild's new three-year

deal still needs to be ratified though by 11,000 members.

But tomorrow, the WGA could authorize members to return to work before that happens. Joining us with the very latest from Los Angeles is Camila Bernal

who has been on the story for us from day one. So, tentative deal here, Camila. I mean, are you -- what are you hearing about what's in the deal?

What are your sources telling you?


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it has -- it has not been made public, but every single writer that I've talked to have told me,

look, we're confident that the WGA negotiators got what we wanted. And what they wanted was higher wages, specifically when it came to residuals and

streaming and artificial intelligence, this is a big one because a lot of these writers say they don't want to be or have scripts written by


They want to be the ones writing the scripts. And so, a source did tell us that artificial intelligence was really one of the last sticking points in

these negotiations. And the thing is, a lot of people don't understand artificial intelligence or don't know how it's going to develop. So that's

why it appears it took a little bit longer when it came to that issue.

But what happens next is that tomorrow, likely, you're going to see leadership votes. After those leadership votes, then the agreement will be

made public, and once it's made public, then the writers will have the chance to ask questions and see if they like it or not. After that, then it

gets -- goes to a vote, and it could be ratified by the writers.

Now, the problem here is that, even if the writers do come to an agreement and vote yes on it, the actors are still on strike. And so, you are not

going to see productions really going back to normal any time soon. The only thing you may be able to see return to normal are late-night shows or

talk-shows. But you're not going to have any actors as -- going to have any actors as guests.

So, there's still a big question as to what happens for the rest of TV shows for the year, and movies next Summer. But a lot of this is just

giving a lot of people hope and everybody saying, look, maybe this will speed up the process for the actors, because so far, it's just been really

tough for everyone in the industry. This has had a huge economic impact, Isa, and the estimates are that it's probably around $5 billion.

And so, people really do --


Want to return to work here.

SOARES: Yes, we have some very -- we've had some very strong voices with the impact this has had on their -- on their livelihoods in the last

several months. In terms of the process then, they could vote -- it could come as early as -- as soon as next -- as tomorrow. So they could be at

work as quickly as what? Wednesday potentially?

BERNAL: Yes, potentially. But what the WGA is saying, you're not allowed to work until we say so, right? So, they're --

SOARES: Right --

BERNAL: They're telling people we're suspending picketing, but they are telling people go support the actors, right? And so, again, even if they're

told, yes, you can work on Wednesday, if they don't have actors, a lot of these --

SOARES: Yes --

BERNAL: Productions can't start shooting. And so, we'll see. Some of them may be able to return back to work this week, but will obviously have to

wait for the union to give them that green light.

SOARES: I know you'll stay across it, Camila, thank you very much. Camila Bernal there --

BERNAL: Thank you.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, time is running out for U.S. Republican lawmakers to act before the government runs out of funding. Where things

stand and what a possible shutdown would mean. We'll bring you that story. And the man known as the last godfather of the Sicilian mafia dies, we'll

take a look at his gruesome legacy, next.



SOARES: Well, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in Kenya, part of a three-nation tour of Africa this week aimed at bolstering diplomatic ties.

Earlier in Nairobi, Austin met with his Kenyan counterpart to discuss regional security and counterterrorism efforts. This comes as France

announced the withdrawal of its ambassador and troops from Niger two months after a coup removed -- of course, a coup removed a pro-French president.

Our national security reporter Natasha Bertrand joins me now from Nairobi with much more. Natasha, good to see you. So just explain to us what

Secretary Austin's aim here with this trip across Africa.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, it's his first time to the continent as Secretary of Defense. And what he's really trying to

drive home here to the partners in the countries that he's been meeting with is that alliance when it comes to counterterrorism efforts.

Of course, the U.S. has many troops all over the continent that are helping fight against Al-Shabaab, against other terrorism threats. And so, he's

also going to be visiting with them, but what he really wanted to discuss today and yesterday when he was in Djibouti, are the things that the U.S.

can do to help these countries better fight these terrorists.

When we are in East Africa as we are right now, and we were in Djibouti yesterday, the discussions were really focused on Al-Shabaab. For Kenya, it

is of course, a very big problem. Al-Shabaab has ramped up its attacks near the Kenya and kind of Somalian border in recent months. And so, this is

going to be a big test for these countries.

And in fact, Secretary of Defense Austin came to Kenya to announce the signing of a new partnership, defense partnership and agreement that will

essentially provide more resources to the Kenyan government so that they can better tackle this major threat and challenge, Isa.

SOARES: And meantime, Natasha, you know, we were just -- as we were just saying, France has ended its troop presence in Niger and is withdrawing its

ambassador. How much is this a win in your eyes for the Wagner Group? Does it not, I suspect, provide an opening for them. Any reaction from the

secretary here on this?

BERTRAND: Yes, so, I did ask the secretary directly today during a press conference, what France's withdrawal from Niger would mean for U.S. forces?

He did not answer the question directly, however, he did indicate that the U.S. would not be changing its force posture there in the near term. And as

we have reported, the U.S. has been extremely reluctant to pull its troops out of Niger. But here is just a bit of what he said.



LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES: Well, when it comes to our force posture in Niger, we've not made any significant changes to our

force posture. And as I have mentioned a number of times before, we really want to see a diplomatic solution evolve. We want to see a peaceful and to

the crisis, and most important, we want to see preservation of Niger's diplomatically-elected government.


BERTRAND: Now, of course, it has been months, Isa, since the military Junta overthrew the democratically-elected government in Niger. And of course,

there is no real end in sight to this coup. And so, what the U.S. is trying to do now is find ways to stay in the country, even though of course, they

have undergone this change in government by force with the French forces now withdrawn completely from the country.

But senior defense officials did tell us just the other day that they have seen signs that Wagner is trying to exploit kind of the instability in

Niger. And so, that is something that they're going to be closely --

SOARES: Yes --

BERTRAND: Watching here, but as of right now, the U.S. really determined to stay in the country. Isa.

SOARES: Natasha, thank you very much. Natasha Bertrand live from Nairobi there. Well, the Sicilian mafia boss known as Diabolik has died according

to Italian media reports. Matteo Messina Denaro spent nearly three decades evading police. Europol considering him one of the most wanted men in

Europe before he was arrested in January while seeking treatment for colon cancer.

Known for his brutal tactics, he was given several life sentences in absentia. Ben Wedeman joins me now from Rome. And Ben, of course, for our

viewers to remember, he spent what? A decade or so in the run before being arrested earlier this year. What has been the reaction from -- to this in

Italy? Three decades, pardon me, I've been told, not --

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's three decades actually on the run, yes. Obviously, there's been great relief that he is

no longer there.


But certainly, this is a man who really was the iconic sort of mafia boss. This was somebody who at the age of 14, already learned how to use

firearms, by the age of 18, he committed his first murder, and it was only the first of many more.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): He reportedly quipped he had killed enough people to fill a cemetery. A macabre boast made to a fellow mafioso-turned state's

witness. Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro died of cancer over the weekend in a prison outside Rome. Almost 9 months after police finally captured him

in a private health clinic in Palermo. Until then, for 30 years, he had evaded capture, living under a false identity in his hometown of

Castelvetrano in western Sicily.

Unmolested during all those years, thanks to omerta, the mafia code of silence. Messina Denaro was tried in absentia and found guilty for

involvement in a series of murders, including the car bombings of two anti- mafia judges in the early 1990s. Among the most grisly of those murders, when he and his fellow mobsters dissolved in acid a 12-year-old boy, the

son of a mafia-turncoat in front of his own grandfather.

He was the last of the old style crime bosses, the godfathers he so admired, who bumped off those who got in their way. "That mafia isn't there

anymore". Investigative journalist Roberto Saviano told CNN earlier this year. "The organization understood well that they have to kill less." The

law albeit after 30 years, eventually caught up with Messina Denaro, and now death has as well.


WEDEMAN: And of course, the authorities will not allow a funeral to be held for this individual. This is customary for mafia hotshots, they don't want

the publicity.

SOARES: Yes --

WEDEMAN: But he will be buried next to his father, otherwise known as Don Ciccio, who was also a mafia boss. Isa?

SOARES: Thanks very much, Ben Wedeman there with the very latest. Well, we are tracking this hour reports of an explosion at a gas station, Nagorno-

Karabakh, where ethnic Armenians were lining up to get fuel. Details are slim at the moment. The last comes after separatist began surrendering to


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been visiting Azerbaijan today, and he's urging Armenians to accept peace. Turkish military support has

been critical for Azerbaijan. And Mr. Erdogan's trip comes as Armenian state media report more than a 100 bodies have been found after last week's

fighting. And far from accepting peace, thousands of ethnic Armenians are fleeing. Our Becky Anderson has more on those leaving Nagorno-Karabakh.




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): A mass exodus raising fears for Armenia of ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan. A charge Baku

staunchly denies. So far, thousands of ethnic Armenians have fled the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia. A tragic journey

they've become all too familiar with.

SVETLANA HARAPETYAN, NAGORNO-KARABAKH RESIDENT (through translator): We had three wars. Three times we left and came back, and now, we -- I don't know.

ANDERSON: Last week, Azerbaijan forced surrender of ethnic Armenian fighters in the breakaway disputed region. Closing a major chapter in a

conflict that is simmered for decades. But like every war, the horrors don't stop when the fighting abates. Although, internationally-recognized

as part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh is home to about 120,000 ethnic Armenians who make up the majority of the population.

Over the last three decades, the two countries have fought intense wars over the enclave with a larger, more powerful Azerbaijani military seizing

increased territory. Russia, the traditional power broker says, it's been delivering aid to the regions capital, Stepanakert, and then its

peacekeepers on the ground will help escort civilians fleeing to Armenia.

But despite Moscow's presence, Nagorno-Karabakh has been under a blockade for nine months. Azerbaijan-backed forces blockading the Lachin Corridor,

the only road connecting Armenia to the region, preventing the import of food made and separating families and loved ones.


On Saturday, just days after the ceasefire was signed, the first convoy of humanitarian aid into the region from the International Red Cross, its

members also carrying out medical evacuations. But there are still fears aid isn't reaching those who need it most. With thousands here, having been

surviving with little to no food and fuel for close to a year.

And that is why many of those fleeing seemed to prefer an uncertain future in Armenia over a bloody and vicious past in their homeland. Becky

Anderson, CNN.


SOARES: Well, Serbia's president denies his country is involved in a standoff between police and gunman at a monastery in northern Kosovo. This

as Kosovo officials show off a massive collection of seized weapons. They say up to 30 attackers barricaded themselves in the monastery this weekend

after shooting and killing a police officer.

The attackers are said to be a part of a Serbian gang. Several were killed and others arrested. Serbia's president condemned the officers' death, but

says they Serbs were only at the monastery to help wounded children. Kosovo is calling on Serbia to hand over suspects it says escaped across the

border. And still to come tonight, an infamous prison once occupied by notorious criminal gang.

A look at Venezuela's Tocoron jail just ahead. Plus, a new agreement between Mexico and the United States. Now, the border crossings are back on

the rise. We'll see what's in the deal. Both those stories after this very short break.



SOARES: Welcome back. One of Venezuela's largest prisons is back under government control after years of being run by inmates. Tocoron Prison was

used as a headquarter for the transnational criminal grand, Tren de Aragua. They added lots of unusual features, including a swimming pool and several

restaurants. Venezuelan authorities took back the jail in a major operation last week, involving over 10,000 personnel.

Our Stefano Pozzebon is in Bogota for us with the very latest. And Stefano, we'll talk -- I want to talk about immigration with you in just a moment,

but first let's talk about this prison tour. Clearly, the Venezuelan government wants to show that it's regained control from these gangs, but

has it?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Well, Isa, I think the main term here is showing. We've seen -- we know that the Maduro government down in Caracas

knows how to play the rhetoric war. I think the crucial point here is that what we're seeing here is a prison that was run by inmates. They had a

stake house, I love particularly the stake house, the swimming pool, and this of course is absurd. But it's not unheard of when it comes to

Venezuela. Tocoron was notorious for years for being a safe citadel, essentially, for criminals.

The leader of the Tren de Aragua, we are hearing, there are reports that the leader of the Tren de Aragua is in fact on the run. He was not detained

from this raid onto the prison. What's important here is that I think the mayor existence of this prison, that now of course the government, Isa, and

that they have raided and they have control of it. But the mayor existence of this prison for so many years is symptomatic of the deep economic,

humanitarian, and social crisis that Venezuela is still going through, even though maybe it's a little bit out of the radar these days, we don't talk

about it too much. But it remains a country in deep, deep problem.

And that is why going back to migration, you hear and you see so many Venezuelan people, refugees who are looking for better opportunities


SOARES: Yeah, and on that point, I mean, I was speaking to our correspondent in Rio Grande, in fact, in Eagle Pass, Texas last week, and I

remember him telling me, Stefano, that the Venezuelans are among the top nationalities of migrants arriving in the U.S. Why is that right now? I

know you've painted that the socioeconomic, the political situation that Venezuela has been facing for many, many years, of course, under Maduro,

but why now? Why the surge?

POZZEBON: Yes, exactly. I think it's important to look at what's happening in the main bottleneck between Colombia and Panama. This bottleneck, Isa,

Darien Gap, it's a stretch of treasures jungle that leads not just from Colombia and the Panama, but actually from the entire of South America into

North America, Central America, and then of course, North America and the U.S. South America has worked as a tank, as a safe area for Venezuelan

migrants for so many years. And now this migration route has opened up and it's been taken by hundreds of thousands of people. Take a listen.


POZZEBON (voice-over): The journey for the American dream starts before dawn. At 4:00 a.m., this group of migrants is getting ready to cross the

Darien Gap, the stretch of tropical forests between Colombia and Panama.

In the darkness, a loudspeaker invites each migrant to sing the anthems of the countries that have left behind. The voices of the Venezuelans resonate

the loudest. At sunrise, the gates of this makeshift migrant camp open up and the group advances into the forest. Panamanian authorities estimate

that, on average, more than 1,400 people have crossed this thick stretch of forest every day this year, already more than double the numbers in 2022.

Most of those crossings are Venezuelans, but migrants from Ecuador, Haiti, Colombia, and even China also attempt these routes.

Hundreds of thousands of personal stories, but one shared goal.

RICARDO RUIZ, VENEZUELAN MIGRANT (through translator): I have a lump in my throat, but I'm doing this for my family, for a better future.

POZZEBON (voice-over): The hike lasts several days across rivers and jungle mud, but the prospect of making it to the United States over 2,000 miles

north from here is stronger than ever.

MARISELA SILVA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: The longer-term vision, I think it's difficult to say right now.


But what we can work with, what we see in terms of a trend, and the trend is that the numbers will continue increasing.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Venezuelans have been leaving their home country for years, but until recently, most of them headed towards other South American

countries. What sets this year apart is that hundreds of thousands of migrants are now traveling directly towards the United States. Worryingly,

according to the United Nations, a growing number of unaccompanied children are attempting to trek on their own. These little ones instead follow their

parents, tied together so they don't get lost in the crowd.

On the other side, finally in Panama, a small group gets a passage on a boat down the river. Others heal their feet, wounded from the hike before

the journey continues north.

From the air, these soldiers can only monitor the record flow, but there is no way of stopping it, Colombian and Panamanian authorities say. And for

most of these people, there is no way of turning back. Despite recent economic reforms, Venezuela remains in deep humanitarian crisis, with over

80 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to independent figures.


POZZEBON (on camera): So Venezuela remains in deep trouble, as we've seen. And there are -- there is a population of about six million Venezuelan

migrants in South America. These are staying in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina and Chile. Of course, the living conditions in South America

are not good enough for -- to host these enormous populations. And the opening of the Darien Gap, this new migration route, means that these

people are now trying and trying to reach directly the U.S. border, and of course get better opportunities. Because in the end, these populations are

looking for better opportunities, not just for them, but for the children. That's why we see so many families down in the jungle, Isa.

And it's great that we can see the picture from both here in South America, here in Colombia, where most of these migrants are staying, and up in the

Rio Grande Valley, and up in the U.S.-Halden border because they are the two sides of the same coin. It's the same story with global repercussions,


SOARES: Yes. And we're going to look now at the other side of the coin. It's such an important reporting. Stefano Pozzebon live for us from Bogota.

Thanks very much, Stefano.

Well, let's take a look now at exactly what Stefano was talking about, the other side of the coin, the surge in illegal crossings along the southern

border of the U.S. Mexico and the U.S. have now struck a deal with Mexico agreeing to the port migrants in its border cities to their home countries.

Mexico's president says he also wants a face-to-face meeting with his counterpart, Joe Biden, talk about the situation. Many border towns are

feeling the strain, as we've shown you here on the show, the mayor of El Paso, Texas, the city is reaching a breaking point with more than 2,000

migrants coming there each day.

Texas lawmakers are planning to hold a press in less than an hour. Of course, we'll bring that to you when that gets underway. Our Rosa Flores is

in Houston for the very latest. So, Rosa, let's talk about this agreement. And how significant is this agreement between Mexico and the U.S.? Just

give us some details.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is so significant, Isa, because it could be the difference between another surge in the U.S. and

averting the surge. And here's what I mean. In essence, what Mexican officials have agreed to is a "decompression" of the northern cities in

Mexico that border the U.S. And what they mean by that is that they plan to deport migrants from their border cities back to their home countries.

So, in essence, what that means is that they could reroute those migrants back to their home countries before they arrived to the United States. Now,

these types of tactics have been used in the past, and they've been very controversial with immigration advocates and human rights organizations

being very critical of these tactics being used on the border to curb migration.


FLORES (voice-over): From Mexico to the riverbanks of Eagle Pass, thousands of migrants have crossed the border, waiting across the Rio Grande,

crawling under the razor wire, and overwhelming Eagle Pass and other southern Texas cities.

ROLANDO SALINAS, MAYOR, EAGLE PASS, TEXAS: We're here abandoned. We're on the border. We're asking for help. This is unacceptable. Please just

enforce the laws that are on the books.

Eagle Pass In an effort to "depressurize" northern Mexico border cities, the United States and Mexico have brokered a new agreement. Meeting in

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Friday, the countries agree to a 15-action plan, which includes Mexico deporting migrants to their home countries by land

and air.

U.S. Border Patrol agents will be able to expel migrants to the bridge that connects El Paso to Ciudad Juarez.


Mexico has also agreed to carry out negotiations with Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia and Cuba to determine their willingness to accept

citizens deported from the U.S.-Mexico border. The agreement also includes Mexico submitting a daily report of the number of migrants on its train

system, establishing checkpoints along the rail route, and conducting interventions on railways and highways according to Mexican officials.

HENRY CUELLAR, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Look, you know, what we need to do is to do this. One, we need to have repercussions at the border. What does

that mean? You got to deport people and you got to show those images of people being deported. When was the last time we saw people going the other

way instead of just seeing people flow in?

FLORES (voice-over): On the ground in Eagle Pass, CNN witnessed the reality for migrants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said we faint, we pass out, this is crazy but thank God we are here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like Jorge Carrillo of Venezuela and his 3-year-old child. According to a federal law enforcement source, Border Patrol agents

in the Rio Grande Valley are encountering about a thousand migrants per day. This reality leaves Texas border towns like El Paso at their breaking

point with thousands of migrants in custody.

OSCAR LEESER, MAYOR, EL PASO, TEXAS: You know, we seem to be doing the same thing over and over again. It keeps running this money. We keep trying to

find shelter and we try to make sure people off the street, make sure our community is safe, make sure they're safe, but the end of the day, the

immigration system's not changed.


FLORES: Now in our story, you learned a lot about what Mexican officials are doing, what law enforcement in Mexico was doing, but what about what

the United States is doing? And Isa, we learned more about that from a senior CBP official who says that in part what the U.S. will be doing are

mirror patrols on the border. And what that means is that law enforcement in Mexico and law enforcement in the United States will be patrolling in

the same areas.

And so migrants will be either apprehended on the Mexican side or on the US side. And on the U.S. side, we know that law enforcement here will be

applying the laws of the United States. In Mexico, we've learned based on this agreement that Mexican authorities are ready to deport migrants back

to their home countries.

SOARES: And Flora, I mean, this agreement sounds great on paper, you know, the idea to depressurize the border, but how willing are the countries to

take back some of these migrants? Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua. Do we have a sense of how -- what they have said about this?

FLORES: Well, this is really interesting, Isa, because when you think about it, the United States has very frosty relationships with Venezuela, with

Cuba, with Nicaragua, but Mexico has better diplomatic relationships with these countries. And so what's happening here, and what you can really see

on paper as you're describing, is that Mexico is having to do that diplomatic work with countries in Latin America that would be very

difficult for the United States to do.

And this, of course, raises the question, is Mexico doing the U.S. work south of the border to control the flow of migration? I think it's a fair

question that we need to be asking, because that is the net effect. That is what we're seeing, or that is what we could be seeing if Mexico goes along

with this agreement, of, in essence, deporting migrants back to their home countries after they've already reached their northern border.

SOARES: Yes, and that's why we think we've what -- we know that Mexico's president says he wants a face-to-face meeting, of course, with Joe Biden

to talk about the situation. Rosa Flores, always great to see you, Rosa. Thank you. And we'll be back after this short break.



SOARES: Well, here in London, the Metropolitan Police have announced an investigation into comedian Russell Brand. This comes after Channel 4 and

the Sunday Times reveal he had been accused of rape and sexual assault. These allegations date from 2006 to 2013. Since they were published, the

Met Police say it's received a number of claims of other sexual offenses by Brand.

Brand has denied the allegations and said all sexual encounters were consensual. He was demonetized by YouTube following the accusations. The

video platform Rumble, which hosts Brand's podcast as a member of the U.K. S Parliament, asked it to do the same. Rumble has so far refused.

Well, the U.S. government remains in the brink of the potential, I should say, shut down. Government funding will run out in just five days unless

lawmakers can strike a deal. A shutdown could have a significant impact on all Americans including millions of federal employees, many of whom will

not be paid during an impasse. The House and Senate are not in session today, but that doesn't mean things aren't happening behind the scenes.

Our Melanie Zanona joins me from Washington with more on what's at stake and what may happen between now of course and Saturday. Melanie, here we

are again. You know, we spoke on Friday. How likely is a shutdown at this point?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the expectation here in Washington is that there is going to be a shutdown.

SOARES: We, think to have lost Melanie Zanona. It sounds -- OK. Let's try and connect. Let's just try and see if we've got Melanie. Melanie, let me

pick up -- you were saying it looks like there might be a shutdown. Clarify that because we lost you mid-sentence.

ZANONA: That's exactly right. It looks like there's going to be a shutdown but it's just a matter of how long that is going to be. And just to give

you a sense of where things are at right now is Kevin McCarthy is trying to pursue a plan to get all Republicans on board in the House with a

conservative-leaning spending plan, but something like that unclear whether they even still have the votes to pass it in the House. And even if they

do, it's dead on arrival in the Senate.

So for Kevin McCarthy, he's really trying to live day by day at this moment. There's not really a clear plan to avoid a shutdown because at the

end of the day, really, what it's going to take to keep the government funded is work between Democrats and Republicans, work between the Senate

and the House. And at this juncture, Kevin McCarthy has shown no interest in going down that path.

And the reason he doesn't want to work with Democrats is because number of his conservative hardliners have threatened to oust him as speaker if he

does try to cut a bipartisan deal. So, that is the predicament that Kevin McCarthy finds himself in right now and ultimately it may come down to

Kevin McCarthy having to choose between keeping the government open or keeping his speakership.

SOARES: Melanie Zanona with the very late is for us from Capitol Hill. Thanks very much, Melanie.

And still to come tonight, an extraordinary mission, samples from an asteroid that could reveal the origins of life on Earth have finally made

it here safe and sound. Give you the details next.



SOARES: Well, diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but can they help us unlock secrets about the solar system and life on Earth? Well, some other

rocks can.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touchdown. I repeat, EDL, SRC has touched down.


SOARES: That's touchdown for NASA in the Utah desert on Sunday. The space delivery, the first of its kind for the U.S. was a capsule containing

pristine samples from the asteroid Bennu. And there's a slight chance it could collide with earth one day by the way. Don't worry about 250 grams of

asteroid rocks and soil were collected by a spacecraft that launched seven years ago.

CNN's Space and Defense Correspondents Kristin Anne Fisher has more for you.


KRISTIN ANNE FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft left Earth back in 2016. Since then, it has traveled more than

four billion miles to the asteroid Bennu and back before finally releasing a capsule over the United States on Sunday morning.

Inside that capsule is about half a pound worth of rocks dust from the asteroid itself. And this is really the first time that NASA has ever done

anything like this. This capsule re-entered the earth's atmosphere traveling about 27, 000 miles per hour, it hit temperatures of about 5,000

degrees Fahrenheit before finally touching down at a very gentle 11 miles per hour in a remote stretch of the desert in Utah with the help of some

very big parachutes.

From there, the recovery team swooped in to make sure that the capsule was intact and safe and not leaking any toxic fumes. It was deemed to be intact

and safe. And so from there, they moved it to a clean room. And from there, they're going to be transporting it to the Johnson Space Center in Houston,

Texas where they will open up the capsule for the public to see. And it's also where scientists are going to be spending the next few years studying

what is inside and this is important because scientists believe that ancient asteroids like Bennu contained the seeds of life that this

asteroid, in a way, perhaps might have acted like a seed when it, or an asteroid like it, hit the earth and had molecules like, you know, water,

carbon, things like that, which then seeded the earth and then proved to be the genesis for life as we know it.

So there's a very important scientific component to this. But there's also a the planetary defense component because Bennu is an asteroid that has a

very small chance of actually hitting planet earth in the year 2182, but that is about more than 150 years from now so scientists have time, but

again very small chance but it's enough to where NASA wanted to get an up close and personal look at the asteroid itself. Kristin Fisher, CNN,



SOARES: Grammy winning artist Usher will headline the 2024 Super Bowl Half- Time Show in Last Vegas next year. We think his mega hit "Yeah" will make the cut.


Since his debut album in 1994, Usher has sold over 80 million records and earned eight Grammies. In a statement, he said headlining a Super Bowl

Half-Time Show was on his bucket list and called it the honor of a lifetime.

Well, after a football career that has made much of an impact off the pitch, as on it, Megan Rapinoe is retiring from international football.

Taking a bow there. She got the celebration she deserved on Sunday night in her final game playing for the U.S. women's national team as you see there.

She came off after 53 minutes to a standing ovation and you saw that little bit where she actually took a bow as people -- as everyone clapped there,

has applauded.

Rapinoe played 203 games for the U.S. after making a debut back in 2006, helping them to World Cup success in 2015, 2019 and, of course, an Olympic

gold in London in 2012. But it's her accomplishments beyond football she's most proud of. Addressing the crowd, she said this. I'm going to bring it

up for you. "We fought so hard off the field to continue to create more space for ourselves to be who we are, but hopefully in turn make more space

for you guys to be who you are." A fantastic career. We wish her the very best of luck.

And that does it for us for this evening. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. Bye-bye.