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New Day Sunday

CDC: Fully Vaccinated People May Gather Unmasked Indoors For Easter; This Week: Biden Launches Push On $2.2. Trillion American Jobs Plan; U.S. And Remaining Members Of Iran Nuclear Deal To Meet In Vienna; Georgia Governor Kemp Blames Cancel Culture, Partisan Activists For MLB Fallout; Transgender Rights In Spotlight As More States Pass Anti-Trans Laws; Border Communities Face Challenges As Number Of Adult Migrants Surge; NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Set For Its First Mars Flight. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 04, 2021 - 07:00   ET


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And they have been the best two teams.


They had a game in December, a big match up that was actually cancelled due to COVID. Four months later, they're now going to meet here at Indianapolis tomorrow night for the title.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

NEW DAY continues right now.

SCHOLES: All right.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Every day that you get 4 million, 3 million people vaccinated, you get closer and closer to control.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, BROWN UNIVERSITY: About 60 or 70 percent of American adults have zero immunity to COVID-19. They are ending up in my ER and in my hospital.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: Major League Baseball caved to fear, and lies from liberal activists.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cobb County where we're located here estimates that there's more than $100 million potentially lost because of MLB relocating this all star game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Laredo, arrests of mostly adults smuggled in tractor-trailers are up 120 percent this year compared to last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stay (ph) in the banks trying to avoid detection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sitting on a box of dynamite, a powder keg that could easily explode.


BLACKWELL: Good morning to you. It's April 4th, Easter Sunday. Happy Easter to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Easter, everyone.

I'm Amara Walker in today for Christi Paul.

Today, people who are fully vaccinated can be with their families without masks to celebrate the Easter holiday. That is the new guidance from the CDC, and it includes unvaccinated people in some circumstances, but they do warn, you still need to take precautions.

BLACKWELL: So, close to 60 million people across the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, that's more than 18 percent of the population. Dozens of states have now expanded eligibility to everyone 16 and older, and Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. has been doing extremely well with vaccines.

WALKER: So all of this is great news, but health experts warn the U.S. may be on the cusp of another surge. Several states are seeing alarming trends, including in Michigan. That state has now reported the second highest number of U.K. variant cases.

Let's begin there. CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the latest from Michigan where they are seeing yet another surge -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Amara and Victor, it was a year ago that pews across the country were relatively empty as we were just in the early weeks of the pandemic. But here were are now, a year later, and houses of worship across the country preparing to welcome back people, and so we are expecting in places like Michigan, for example, you can expect those mask and social distancing recommendations to make sure that people can worship safely.


FAUCI: It's coming, Jim, trust me. It's coming.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The nation's top infectious disease expert, telling CNN's Jim Acosta, the country is slowly but surely heading towards normalcy. Dr. Anthony Fauci says his promise with over 4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses having been administered Friday alone, a record reporting day, tweeted the Biden administration's COVID data director.

Dr. Fauci also renewed his call for people to keep their guard up, even after 104 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose. Dr. Fauci said researchers are getting closer to confirming that it's highly unlikely that vaccinated people can infect those who haven't received their shot.

But we're not there yet, he says. FAUCI: I wouldn't be surprised if it shows that vaccinated people do not transmit infections to others even when they have asymptomatic breakthrough infections. When those data come in, Jim, you're going to see a turn around in the recommendation.

SANDOVAL: For now, the bottom line recommendations say the medical experts mask up, even if you're among the 18 percent of Americans now fully vaccinated.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We'll get there faster with less damage if we keep wearing the masks while we're getting vaccinated. That makes good sense to us. I know it's kind of hard for people to keep those two apparently conflicting notions in their head at the same time. But hang in there with us.

SANDOVAL: Michigan continues serving as a reminder of how young people can contribute to a surge in infections. Yesterday, Michigan reported over 8,400 new COVID cases when a mere two months ago, that number was 563.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is deploying over three dozen pop up COVID testing sites through mid April and recommending families and students who travel to spring break use them before and after their trips.

As New York state surpassed 10 million vaccine doses given, Broadway came back to life for only a brief performance on Saturday. St. James Theater became the first to open to limited crowds since all Broadway venues closed in March of 2020, due to the pandemic. It was for one of ten scheduled pilot performances ahead of a planned wider reopening in September.

SUSAN SLOTOROFF, BROADWAY WORKER: Broadway is the heart beat of New York City. New York City is not what it is without Broadway.

SANDOVAL: It's one of the many signs of normalcy across the country as vaccinations and the virus run simultaneous races.



SANDOVAL (on camera): Back here in Michigan, starting tomorrow, the state will actually be expanding vaccine eligibility to include all people ages 16 and above as it scrambles to contain the spread of these variants. Also, Victor and Amara, they will be aiming for administering at least over 100,000 doses a day up from their current 50,000.

Back to you.

BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval for us there, thanks so much.

So, this week, President Biden starts the job of selling his massive $2.2 trillion American jobs plan. It's an infrastructure plan that has money for road repairs, and job training and upgrades to public schools and hospitals an expansion of broadband Internet access.

WALKER: Jasmine Wright joining us now.

Good morning, Jasmine.

So, how will the White House move the ball on President Biden's plan this week?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Amara, President Biden wakes up this Easter morning at Camp David. But when he returns to the White House, he faces an uphill battle trying to gain Republican support for his American jobs plan.

Now, on Friday, President Biden talked really optimistically about that effort.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Congress comes back after this Easter break, I'm going to begin meeting with Democrats, Republicans, about this plan. I've spoken to Republicans on the phone. I'm going to be looking forward to meeting with them.

They all have their ideas about what it will take, what they like and what they don't like. That's a good thing. That's the American way.

Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes in my plan are certain. But inaction is not an option.


WRIGHT: Now, President Biden said that on Friday, but it was Thursday that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to fight this plan every step of the way, saying that he didn't believe President Biden had a mandate to pass a bill of this size, of this kind.

Now, of course, it was McConnell who in 2017 said famously, winners make policy, losers go home, but even in President Biden's own party, there are folks, and yes, I'm talking about West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who stalled that COVID relief bill last month who says he doesn't even want to talk about Democrats going it alone before they try to go through regular order, before they try to do bipartisan negotiations.

Now, remember, this is not the COVID relief bill, Amara. This is his American Jobs Plan, and it is going to be permanent raising the stakes. We will see President Biden selling it to the country, looking to put pressure on lawmakers coming to the table, on Wednesday when he has an event on this American Jobs Plan.

Before that, we'll see President Biden tomorrow talking about Easter from the White House now that this is the second career that the traditional White House Easter egg roll has been cancelled because of coronavirus.

WALKER: All right. We'll see how the sales pitch lands. Jasmine Wright, appreciate you. Thanks so much.

And for more on the odds of the president's infrastructure plan getting passed without major changes, turn into "STATE OF THE UNION" today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Jake Tapper will be joined by several lawmakers who will consider it, including Senator Bernie Sanders. That's at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: The signatory countries of the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. will meet face-to-face in Vienna this week for the first time in an effort to salvage the agreement. American and Iranian officials do not plan to meet directly, though. But State Department officials say the talks will focus on steps that Iran will need to take to fully comply with the nuclear deal and a pathway for the U.S. to lift sanctions and rejoin it.

Here with me is CNN political and national security analyst, David Sanger.

David, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: And so, let's start here. What brings Iran to this point?

I want to separate the leadership from the people. So what first brings Rouhani and Zarif and even ayatollah at some point to want to have these indirect talks with the U.S., because they rejected direct talks not too long ago?

SANGER: They did. And, you know, the good news here is that the United States and the Iranians are talking to each other and conducting some diplomacy even if indirectly for the first time in four years. Remember, there basically was no contact after President Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

So, what's brought them to the point here, I think, is two things. One, U.S. pressure on Iran, which has been cutting off a good deal of their oil revenue, and second, Iranian pressure on the rest of the world because after holding off for some time, about a year ago, they began breaking out of the limits of the agreement, saying if the United States wasn't going to respect the agreement, why should they?


But what's interesting, Victor, is the Iranians haven't done anything irreversible. So, the question is, could you find a way, a careful dance of who moves first and who moves second, that would -- or who moves simultaneously that would get them back into compliance, and get the sanctions lifted?

BLACKWELL: Is that plausible? I mean, what we're hearing publicly at least from the Iranians is that they would need some securities, they would need those sanctions lifted because it was the U.S. that walked away from the deal and the United Nations as the Trump administration withdrew in 2018, said that Iran was in compliance up to that point. So is it plausible that sanctions would be lifted first, and that Iran

would sign on to something before that?

SANGER: You know, I think what's plausible is that they come up with a way in which uncertain dates both countries act simultaneously, which you'll remember, Victor, is how the Iran deal came into effect in late 2015 and early 2016. They had these target dates and they both acted.

I think there are two things that could get in the way here, one is the Iranian election which is coming up in June, and I think the second one is that the United States and the Biden administration has said, look, the old deal is not enough. It doesn't solve the problem of missiles. It doesn't solve the problem of their support for terrorism.

So after you get that together, you must go beyond it and it looks like right now, the Iranians have no interest in that.

BLACKWELL: What is the appetite of the Iranian people of getting back into this deal? I know that the sanctions have been crippling, but just 15 months ago, the U.S. assassinated Qassem Soleimani out of the Quds Force there. And what do the Iranian people see or view as these talks, incorrect talks start on Tuesday?

SANGER: Well, it's complicated, because younger Iranians want country to be integrated with the rest of the world. They want to be able to travel. They want to be able to go to Europe, once coronavirus lifts, and once again, study in the United States as many elder Iranians did before the Iranian Revolution.

But the getting from here to there, they know, is going to be difficult. The killing of Soleimani, I think, made this harder, and so did the killing of the lead Iranian nuclear scientist just a few months before President Trump left office. That killing, we believe was done by the Israelis.

So Biden is going to have to -- President Biden is going to have to go make the point that he will stick to this agreement, even though the Iranians are going to say, you know, that's fine for the next three and a half years, but the president who comes after you, could pull out again.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, let's pull that thread. President Obama ended (ph) the JCPOA through executive agreement, didn't take it to Senate to ratify, although that ratifications may not have stopped President Trump from withdrawal.

What -- is there any approach that guarantees the other member nations, the other signatories here that the U.S. will stay if a President Haley or a President Cruz or another Republican president promises to withdraw at the start of the next administration, whenever that is?

SANGER: Yeah, it's a great question, Victor, because the reason this was an executive agreement is that President Obama knew he did not have the votes to get a treaty, and President Biden does not have the votes to get a treaty.

Almost all of the Republicans who were opposed to this in 2015, and some Democrats were as well. So, I can't imagine a way of getting this done other than through an executive agreement, and as you point out, those are subject to being overturned by the next executive.

BLACKWELL: David Sanger, appreciate you being with us this morning. Thanks so much.

SANGER: Great. Happy Easter, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, sir.


WALKER: Victor, the U.S. Capitol Police officer injured in Friday's attack is out of the hospital. That is according to a law enforcement source and the officer was injured when a driver rammed his vehicle into two officers near the Capitol, and then hit a barrier on Constitution Avenue.

BLACKWELL: Authorities say the suspect lunged at officers with a knife after he got out of the car. He was killed by officers.

The identity of that wounded officer has not been released to the public, but Officer William "Billy" Evans, he's an 18-year veteran of the Capitol Police force. He died in that attack.


He's a member of the first responders unit. The investigation, of course, into this attack is ongoing.

Still ahead, we'll speak with the father of a daughter, Jessica, she's transgender who defended, that father defended the doctors who helped her transition in a speech before Alabama lawmakers. He called her medical team angels. He said they saved her life.

WALKER: Also up next, hear how Georgia's governor is blaming cancel culture for Atlanta losing Major League Baseball's all star game because of backlash to his new voting law, and find out how many millions the city is losing out on.


BLACKWELL: A state of emergency unfolding along Florida's Gulf Coast this morning. Hundreds of homes forced to evacuate after a reservoir that holds nearly 400 million gallons of toxic waste water began leaking. The former Piney Point phosphate mine is the source of the leak.


Nearby residents are under a mandatory evacuation order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SKYE GRUNDY, LIVES NEAR EVACUATION AREA: So, is it going to get into our water? How long has it been leaking? Is it safe to bathe my children in it? Wash my dishes in it? You know, how long the long term effects are going to be?

And we're avid boaters, and we fish, and you don't want to see that being dumped out into your beautiful bay.


WALKER: Florida officials fear the leak could give way to an uncontrolled breach and cause a rush of toxic pollutants to charge into Tampa Bay, causing a major environmental disaster.

BLACKWELL: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms fears the Georgia's voting rights law will dramatically impact the state financially. On Friday, the MLB announced they were moving the all star game out of the state. One county tourism official says the economic impact is about $100 million.

WALKER: Governor Brian Kemp is blaming cancel culture, and partisan activists.

CNN's Natasha Chen has more.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On Saturday, Governor Kemp doubled down on this voting law, saying Major League Baseball caved to cancel culture, bend to the left. He said that President Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams have been lying to the American people about this law.

I asked whether lies about the 2020 election had anything to do with the urgency, and timeline of passing this bill into law.

Is the timing of this based on your belief that there was some fraud in recently elections in Georgia?

KEMP: I've realized people have all kinds of difference of opinions and beliefs about the 2020 election. But make no mistake: there were issues that happened on the election, like they do in every election.

CHEN: Kemp also said MLB should have come to him with specific complaints about the bill and that he would welcome questions about the specific. So we did ask him about things like banning mobile voting centers, banning the automatic mailing of absentee ballot applications, specifying the number of drop boxes and locations, he chalked up a lot of that to improved election security.

Of course, now, you have pro athletes, and politicians like former President Barack Obama chiming in, saying they support MLB's decision here.

Now, whether you support or oppose it, it's local businesses who are really going to hurt from potential lost revenue. Cobb County where we're located here, estimates that there's more than $100 million potentially lost because of MLB relocating this all star game.

MLB has said that they'll continue to invest in local organizations in Atlanta as part of the all star legacy project as originally planned.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Cobb County, Georgia.


BLACKWELL: George Floyd's sister is joining calls for police reform in Texas.

WALKER: Bridgett Floyd joined Democrats in Austin yesterday calling for passage of several bills related to the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. According to CNN affiliate, KXAN, one of the bills would ban chokeholds and require police officers to intervene if another officer uses excessive force.

Talking to supporters, Floyd said the family is mourning the loss of her brother who she described as a family man.


BRIDGETT FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S SISTER: We go through a lot of pain, we go through a lot of grief, every single day. Nobody knows what my niece goes through not having her father anymore. That officer didn't know that he had a daughter that he didn't go home to, that he would never see again.


WALKER: Testimony resumes tomorrow in the trial of Derek Chauvin, one of the officers charged in connection with George Floyd's death.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, why NASA is celebrating that its tiny helicopter is now on mars.

And we've had pasta and prosciutto and parmesan. But if you missed out on any of it, you can catch up tonight. Watch back-to-back episodes of the CNN original series, "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY". It starts at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.



BLACKWELL: LGBTQ rights advocates say they are concerned about a growing movement to stem the rights of transgender people in America. Republican governors in South Dakota, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas have signed anti-trans laws or executive orders recently aimed at removing transgender girls from participating in girls sports. And according to the ACLU, 29 states have issued or introduced legislation with similar bans or attempts to restrict health care for transgender youth.

In Alabama, there's a bill that would make it a felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison for a doctor to prescribe gender-affirming medication for trans people under age 18.

Last month, David Fuller, a sergeant with the Gadsden Police Department, addressed Alabama lawmakers with a heartfelt plea not to approve the bill that would have him putting handcuffs on the doctors that he says saved his daughter's life.

His speech went viral after it was tweeted out by the Human Right's Campaign.


DAVID FULLER, SPOKE OUT IN OPPOSITION TO ALABAMA'S ANTI-TRANS LEGISLATION: All three of my kids were born boys. All three of them were brought up as boys. So when found a note in front of my computer, I realized this is a coming out letter. And as I read more, I found out it was a coming out as a transgender child.

I mean, I was probably like you guys. I didn't understand it. But I was a police investigator for a long time, so I put myself to the grindstone and started investigating.

Unfortunately, the first thing I found is half the kids that are teens that are transgender try to kill themselves. I was terrified. Little more that I found that number drops to just below normal kids their age if they've got cooperation from their family, health care, and therapists and people in the community that can help them, and that's where I was going to come in for my daughter.



BLACKWELL: With me this morning is David Fuller and his daughter Jessica Fuller.

Thank you both for being with me. Happy Easter to you.

And, David, let me start with you. Why did you want to go and testify? It's such a personal story. Why did you want those committee members to hear your story?

D. FULLER: Well, want to, it was a little steep. I was asked to and I was terrified to go. I had never spoken to hardly anyone about our family at all, but the health care that my daughter got was vital to her survival. Up until that time, she came out in November, we didn't get to see doctors until I think it was May.

And it was hit or miss during those months of, you know, she was so upside down about what was going on, suicide was a definite fear, and we got to UAD (ph), they made us feel like we weren't alone, normal folks in an abnormal situation. That changed anything, to take that health care away from students, it's just a terrible thing you can imagine.

BLACKWELL: Jessica, you're an adult now. So, I want to go back, since this focuses on teenagers, take me back to when you were 16 and you decided to write that note and leave it on your father's keyboard in front of the computer there, what were you feeling? What was that like for you?

JESSICA FULLER, OPPOSES ALABAMA'S ANTI-TRANS LEGISLATION: Well, in all honesty, I wrote and rewrote that note several times. I was terrified, is the best way to put it.

BLACKWELL: And when you first got the response from your father, what was that initial response after he read it?

J. FULLER: Well, his initial response was telling me that he loved me, and that we'll work on this together.

BLACKWELL: So the bill, let's talk about the bill, Jessica. It criminalizes doctors prescription of what are called colloquially puberty blockers, which are what they sound like. It's called the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, but the original version actually criminalized affirmative counseling for trans teens. That was later removed.

What would this law have meant to a 16-year-old Jessica, what would this have meant to you, then, Jessica?

J. FULLER: In all honesty, I can't put it any better than that, it would mean I couldn't get what I want, what I needed, and that would be me doomed.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. David, you talked about the research that you did as it relates to the suicidal risk in transgender teens, and how that number drops dramatically once there is some family support. So what is your message to the father that just read the letter, to the mother that just had the difficult conversation?

D. FULLER: Well, right now, it's a difficult message. If they take away health care, that would have been the first thing I would have sent them to. Doctors that helped us changed everything for us.

So, the message from me would be to remind them to support of you and your family is paramount, in your child's lives. Without that, they will not have a chance.

They take this health care away, there's nothing else. Honestly, I don't have the words to say once they take this health care away, and I know they don't understand what trans genderism is or what these kids go through, and they're voting on these laws without any knowledge of how damaging this will be under the guise of protecting kids. I mean, raised up as a protection for them, but it's doing the opposite. It will kill some of them.

BLACKWELL: You said that -- and I should say that the sponsor of the bill, this is Representative Wes Allen says that, quote, he told the local paper, I believe in biology, when a person is born male, they're male. When a person is born female, they're female, how he reconciles that with something he calls the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act is I guess beyond me.

But you say that these are not based on biology. They're not based on science. They're politically motivated.

Now, if that's the case, are they -- and there's a distinction here, do they misunderstand or are they committed to not understanding? Or is there something else happening here?

D. FULLER: It's definitely the people pushing this forward, it's politically motivated. They're not understanding and not caring.


I don't think there's any question about that. The problem is the legislators, I assume as I spoke to them, do care, but they're given such poor information from the people who are pushing the bill that they're not -- they're not put in a position where they can make a good reasoned response to what they're hearing, because you get three or four minutes to explain your case in these hearings, and that's some of the information that they're getting in those three minutes is the only information that some of these legislators have ever gotten about a transgender youth.

And they should be trusting a parent who lives it every day and the doctors who work it every day, (INAUDIBLE) and out of state they carry all over the country to different states that are passing these bills.

The legislators that support us have not gotten the information they need, and don't have the time. I think some of them do care, they just haven't been given the opportunity to learn.

BLACKWELL: Jessica, last question to you. You told the "Alabama Political Reporter" about these laws. It's cruel and mean and stupid but the reality is you can't change these people's minds.

Will you stay in Alabama?

J. FULLER: Well, we're planning on moving. It's been a long time coming. We want to get going to the next thing (INAUDIBLE). I don't know if we're leaving the state. We could, but we could definitely end up somewhere else, just somewhere by the beach.

BLACKWELL: Somewhere by the beach. That sounds good.

All right. David Fuller, Jessica Fuller, thank you so much for your time. And your story this morning, and again, happy Easter. Thanks so much.

D. FULLER: Thank you.

J. FULLER: Happy Easter. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Amara?

WALKER: The Biden administration opens up another facility to house unaccompanied minors as border crossings continue to grow. What's behind the surge and the dangers faced by those who make that journey. That's next.



BLACKWELL: The Pentagon has approved a request to open a temporary facility to house the thousands of migrant children in federal custody. The Department of Health and Human Services says it's considering whether to send some unaccompanied minors to Camp Roberts. That's a training site for the California Army National Guard.

Now, on Friday, the Biden administration opened a facility in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Texas Representative Joaquin Castro laid out the challenges that the administration is facing.


REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): President Biden is trying to honor both American and international law in allowing right now at least unaccompanied minors to actually present themselves for asylum and be allowed to remain in the United States while they wait for they day in court.

So you have a lot of people that are anxious to have their case presented in a court of law and have it decided. We have to completely reimagine and redo how we -- what we do with people when they present themselves at the border for asylum and they take their next step or their first stop after that.


BLACKWELL: Now, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, there are more than 13,000 children in its shelters with another 5,000 children in Border Patrol facilities.

WALKER: Communities along the U.S./Mexico border have struggled with this flood of migrants. Much of the attention has been focused on that surge in unaccompanied minors, including what you see here, video of little children dropped over the border fence into the U.S.

BLACKWELL: But the number of adults crossing the border has, I mean, that's skyrocketed as well. And at least one mayor in Texas says his city is a dynamite box.

CNN's Rosa Flores reports.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas where mostly migrant families and unaccompanied children are turning themselves in to law enforcement, the border is fortified with a wall.

In Laredo, arrests of mostly adults, smuggled in tractor-trailers are up 120 percent this year compared to last year. Apprehensions at stash houses are up 400 percent during the same time period. And there's no border wall.

MAYOR PETE SAENZ, LAREDO, TEXAS: You know, we're sitting on a box of dynamites, a powder keg, it could easily explode.

FLORES: Laredo's mayor fears it could all spill over into violence.

SAENZ: President Trump was asking for a physical wall. President Biden now is asking for a virtual wall. But we haven't seen those resources yet.

FLORES: We tagged along with U.S. Border Patrol Supervisor Ken Kroupa to see the challenges for ourselves. At 2:45 p.m., he's on the scene of a dismantled stash house in the middle of a neighborhood.

KEN KROUPA, U.S. BORDER PATROL SUPERVISOR: Some locations there's multiple locations on a single day.

FLORES: One by one, 18 adults from Mexico and Guatemala were apprehended, the smuggler who is usually linked to criminal networks or cartels was not in the House.

As the evening settled in, Kroupa is off to another active smuggling case, this one on the highway involving two vehicles.

KROUPA: As you can see over here, this is one of the vehicles.

FLORES: Allegedly smuggling at least nine adults from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras. Four were locked in the black of the SUV without a way out.

The others --

KROUPA: As soon as the vehicle stopped, these others tended to flee on foot.


FLORES: But they didn't get away.

Late into the night, the smuggling activity picked up by the river.

KROUPA: We had a group of 15 people that just crossed the river. They crossed over this area and they're skirting the banks trying to avoid detection.

FLORES: As the radio traffic picks up, Kroupa says Border Patrol agents in the area are trying to find and arrest up to 70 migrants.

Is this usual?

KROUPA: Yes, ma'am, it's a constant flow of traffic.

FLORES: Despite the daunting cat and mouse game, some Laredo Border Patrol agents have been relocated to the Rio Grande Valley to help with the humanitarian crisis there.

SAENZ: What does that mean, it leaves us more vulnerable. It leaves the Laredo sector vulnerable.

FLORES: Do you feed into the cartels by leaving this area with fewer resources?

RAUL ORTIZ, U.S. BORDER PATROL DEPUTY CHIEF: We're not feeding into the cartel's strategy but we do recognize that every decision we make has an impact. And so what we're going to try and do is ensure that as we start to see these threats flare up that we move and transfer agents into the area to reinforce the already existing work force.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, Laredo, Texas.


WALKER: Powerful reporting there by Rosa Flores.

All right. Coming up, how a Wright Brothers moment could happen this week on Mars. We will explain after the break.



WALKER: While we celebrate this Easter morning here on Earth, think of this, more than 167 million miles away on Mars, NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity is getting ready for what could be humanity's first Wright Brothers moment on another planet. The helicopter touched down to the Red Planet yesterday, dropped off by its mother ship, the Perseverance rover.

Now, Ingenuity's first flight on Mars is set for this week. When it takes flight, it will carry a piece of Flyer 1, the Wright Brothers' plane that first took flight for all of 12 seconds. That was back in 1903.

Janet Ivy joining us now. And among her many credentials she is the president of Explore Mars, which is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the human exploration of Mars by the 2030s. Not that far away.

She's an award-winning science educator and serves on the board of governors for the National Space Society.

A pleasure to have you on. This is extremely exciting for me just reading up on it and I didn't even know that a helicopter can fly on another planet. Isn't that a feat itself to have a chopper engineered to get off the ground in that atmosphere? I mean, how difficult is it to get a lift and what will ingenuity do for its debut?

JANET IVEY, PRESIDENT, EXPLORE MARS, INC.: Well, it's like incredibly, it is an engineering marvel. This is a technological demonstration for NASA. It's interesting, it's like they had to design, as they were trying to think about, you have to overcome this physics proposition of how do you get something heavier than air?

You have to also realize that it's like -- the Martian atmosphere is only 1 percent of Earth's atmosphere. So while we can fly and do drones and helicopters and planes, this will be the first time that we've ever attempted, you know, to fly an aircraft on another planet.

I mean, Mars is populated by rovers, right? And robots. But we've never flown an aircraft on another celestial body. So, it's ground breaking, it sets the pace for future prototypes. Eventually, they want to send a dragonfly, kind of quad copter to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. It's super exciting.

And it will be this Wright Brothers moment. They will be following along.

In 1903, they did four successive flights. The first went up for 12 seconds, they went 120 feet. The next 15 seconds, and it was a little bit longer. By the fourth attempt, they had gone 852 feet.

So, the Ingenuity team will do similar to this for this helicopter. And remember, these blades are spinning it like 2,400 RPMs, four to five times faster than anything we see here on an earthbound helicopter.

WALKER: Twenty-four hundred RPMs, wow, yeah, that's intense. So tell us more about why the need for a helicopter on Mars? It's going to be hovering over Mars, just incredible to think about. What exactly will scientists be looking for?

IVEY: You know, in many ways this sets pace. Think about it. It's like if this works, and again they have attempted it here on Earth.

But when ingenuity can rise above and kind of see greater, travel farther, then that can image and say, hey, this is a good place to go and explore. Oh, don't attempt that, there's some danger there.

So it becomes like a scout, a drone scout, and that could potentially really help future human exploration.

WALKER: I just want to show a list to our viewers of how busy NASA has been on Mars just over the past several years. Tell us, you know, what's this fascination with Mars more than any other planet?

IVEY: I think because it's so close to us and, again, it's like -- whether it's science fiction and we thought is there life out there, I mean that's really the question, right? Are we alone? And if we are alone, why did life develop so beautifully here and not elsewhere?

We know, you know, in September of last year we discovered that there are huge saltwater lakes underground, you know, at the south pole of Mars. And so, I think there's a couple of things going on.

It really -- it's like our fascination goes, can we go elsewhere? Can humans expand and explore? Can we -- are we related somehow to these processes?


Why didn't Mars thrive? I mean, that's the big question. We know it had water at one point 4.5

billion years ago, so what happened? Did it ever have an atmosphere?

So, it -- we can look at Mars as a way, is that where Earth is going, to be arid and lose its properties? Is Mars a future outpost if something happens here? And then, ultimately, it goes to how we are all interconnected. The elements that are on Mars are the same elements that create our sweet planet Earth.

So I think it's just -- it's a drive, it's a push, it's an exploration, it's an adventure.

WALKER: It sure is an adventure. I think it's so cool that it's being dubbed a Wright Brothers moment because you have a piece of the plane from the Wright Brothers there.

Janet Ivey, we're leaving it there. Thank you.

And thanks for starting your Easter morning with us, everyone.

BLACKWELL: You know, we need more space news.

WALKER: We do.

BLACKWELL: Because we can have Janet Ivey on all the time.

"INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" with Abby Phillip is up next.