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Hala Gorani Tonight
Migrant Camp Under Del Rio International Bridge Cleared; Huawei CFO Expected To Resolve Charges In U.S. Court; Biden Hosts "The Quad" To Discuss China's Influence In Asia; Biden Hosts "The Quad" To Discuss China's Influence On Asia; U.S. Homeland Security Director Updates On Border Crisis. Aired 2-3p EST
Aired September 24, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Deplorable conditions is how the U.N. Refugee chief is
describing the situation at the U.S. border with Mexico. We're live on the ground. Then, we are learning that the Huawei CFO was at the center of an
international spat could finally be on her way back to China. Is there a deal in the works?
And China looms large over a key meeting of U.S. allies known as the Quad at the White House. It's happening this hour. I will bring you the very
latest. A week of chaos and unsettling activity at the U.S.-Mexico border has come to this. Right now, a makeshift migrant camp under the Del Rio
International Bridge in Texas is cleared. At one point, as many as 14,000 migrants mostly from Haiti were living there in squalid conditions. Just
before noon local time, the last buses carrying migrants departed, heading for Customs and Border Protection Processing Centers. CNN's Josh Campbell
is there in Del Rio, Texas, while Matt Rivers is in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. Let's begin with Josh. And where are these migrants now?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, let's look at that video that we just shot there underneath the bridge. That was the last
group of migrants getting on the bus, our team was down there. To your question, they're being taken to the CBP Processing Centers, U.S. Customs
and Border Protection. This after several days of living in these squalid conditions underneath this bridge. I want to take you to the live drone
shot here over that bridge where you can see just how empty that is right now.
And again, up to 14,000 were under there at one point, it is now at this point cleared. Now, the question about where they're going has been a very
contentious one here in the United States. It's obviously been very politically-divisive even within President Joe Biden's own party because
there have been some Democrats who have been criticizing the administration for sending these migrants, primarily Haitians, back to the nation of
Haiti, a name -- a nation that remains in political and economic turmoil. Officials here even within Joe Biden's party are criticizing him for
sending them back to a place where they will likely be worse off, a country again that continues to deal with so many crisis.
Now, as this continues, although the migrants have left this bridge, you can see on these images that it is now empty, what's left behind are these
remaining law enforcement officers. I want to pan over and show you very quickly, though, what it looks like at the water's edge. Now, we saw here
this show of force by law enforcement. This line of police vehicles that were brought here to the U.S.-Mexico border, lined up there in what the
Texas governor is calling a barrier of steel. And that is because, although this particular migrant camp is now cleared, officials here are concerned
about additional waves of migrants coming to the U.S. southern border, of course, as that happens, officials try to harden this area.
The issue of immigration policy continues to be debated here in the United States, especially as far as what the United States is doing to actually
help the nations from where these migrants are coming, perhaps improve their own economic conditions so these migrants won't see the need to make
this treacherous journey through South America, Central America and here to the U.S. southern border, Hala.
GORANI: Right, and stand by, Josh, because Matt Rivers is on the other side of that border. What are migrants there telling you about what their
plans are? We saw obviously there with Josh that those under the bridge have been driven to processing centers.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's essentially the same thing on this side of the border, Hala. There are not many migrants left
here. There's probably a few hundred, which is remarkable that there's now more migrants from Haiti on this side of the border in a camp than there
were on the U.S. side, given what we saw just a few days ago. But what's happening here is that the migrants that are here, they're staying in
Mexico. They're going to go through the asylum process in Mexico basically. They've decided not to try and cross to the U.S., no one has really crossed
all day long this morning.
We saw a few people early this morning within the last few hours, no one has crossed. It is remarkable the difference that a day or two can make.
And I can show you, I mean, Josh was just talking about this wall of steel. I mean, there's so little for them to do at the moment that those border
patrol agents right now, they're actually practicing on their equipment. They're training right now. That's the -- some -- you know, it's one of the
craft that they use with a raft on the back that would be able to get someone out of the water.
It just gives you a sense of this time yesterday, Hala, when we were talking, you know, dozens of migrants were streaming back and forth, back
and forth. There were still thousands of migrants on the other side of the bridge. It is remarkable at least at this point, you know, how things have
changed in a day.
GORANI: And Josh, to you, the deportations, we know that about almost 1,500 Haitians have been deported back to Haiti. Of those, who were under
the bridge, what are authorities planning to do with them?
CAMPBELL: So, that remains a key question, the fate of these migrants. We're told by the Department of Homeland Security that only a small number
of migrants who were here will actually be able to remain in the United States. And that's for two main reasons. The first being if they make a
claim of asylum that the U.S. government determines to be legitimate, and that's based on the U.S. government believing that a migrant will face harm
or danger if they returned to the nation from which they came, they will be permitted to stay here awaiting an immigration hearing to make the ultimate
But very sadly we're learning that some are being allowed to stay because when they arrived here under this bridge, they were in medical distress and
found themselves out in the elements. It is extremely hot here in this Texas heat. This Mexico heat that we're feeling here on both sides of the
border, and so many of these migrants fell ill to different health conditions. They will be permitted to stay as they're receiving treatment,
but it's the others, the vast majority, their fate is still being decided. We've seen these so-called repatriation flights taking off from the United
States to points in Haiti.
There were five of those flights yesterday for a total of 548 migrants, that brings the number since last Sunday to 17 of these flights that the
U.S. government is continuing to turn from here to Haiti. So, we see them expelling these migrants at a very rapid pace. Of course, it's in these
individual processing centers along the U.S.-Mexico border that immigration officials actually make that final determination whether a migrant is
allowed to stay or whether they will be deported home.
GORANI: And lastly to you, Matt, why have we seen such a reduction in the number of Haitians and other migrants trying to cross into the U.S.?
RIVERS: Well, I think the people who wanted to cross were able to cross. I think that's the simplest answer at this point, Hala. Is that, you have
this massive sudden influx of Haitian migrants that frankly immigration activists have never seen that amount of Haitian migrants specifically
arriving at the border all at once within just a few days of one another. And I think that the people who wanted to get into the U.S., who wanted to
go through the immigration process there which ultimately ended in deportation or perhaps being let into the U.S. to then further have
immigration proceedings down the road, they've done so.
And there are Haitians that have been doing this for years, they've come to Mexico and go through the asylum process in Mexico, try and build a life in
Mexico. There's a huge Haitian community in Tijuana, for example, further west along the U.S.-Mexico border. So, this is something that we have seen
before. A smaller number of Haitians being willing to stay in Mexico, go through that process of immigration here. But I think you have this sudden
influx, the people who wanted to go to the U.S. were able to make it to the U.S., and now you're left with these numbers.
But as Josh has been saying, this is not the last time we're going to see large groups of migrants coming in to the U.S. border. Whether they come in
the next week, I think that that's very unlikely in terms of the number of -- the numbers we've seen recently. But we know throughout all the way down
to South America, you've got Haitians, you've got Venezuelans, you've got Colombians, Brazilians, and from Central America, Hondurans, Nicaraguans. I
mean, you have lots of people who are making their way here. What made this so different was how quickly people arrived in a way that immigration
activists in southern Mexico told me they have never seen before. When, if we see that again, you know, is just going to be a matter of time.
GORANI: Sure, Matt Rivers, thanks very much on the Mexican side, and Josh Campbell in Texas on the U.S. side. People fleeing some pretty dire
conditions in their home countries. We're expecting to hear any moment now that Huawei's chief financial officer has resolved her legal issues in a
U.S. court. Meng Wanzhou is accused of bank fraud and evasion of economic sanctions against Iran. She was arrested, you'll remember, more than two
years ago back in Canada and has been living in her multimillion dollar Vancouver mansion with a surveillance bracelet.
A source tells CNN that Meng accepted a deal with U.S. prosecutors that would send her back to China. Paula Newton joins me now from Ottawa. So, I
understand a virtual appearance for Meng Wanzhou is expected today in a U.S. court.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, it's just under way. I was listening in but have now broken off to speak to you. I can tell you that
she has so far pleaded not guilty to some of the charges. I had to pull off before I could get the rest of it. But this is really interesting, Hala.
What this means is that her deal, her original stance -- because this deal has been in the works for -- in the works for several months, was that she
did not want to plead guilty, that she would not set foot in the United States. As you just indicated, she's appearing virtually and that she
wanted to be able to return home.
To be clear, the charges against her which have to do principally with fraud, she has been charged as an executive of Huawei but also the company
itself, Huawei has been charged. Right now, we have no definitive end to this to understand exactly what kind of a deal she has struck, just that
some kind of a deal is in the works, and we'll wait to hear in the next few minutes exactly what this means. We do understand, though, that this
includes the fact that whether it is later today or next week, that the U.S. will be dropping its demand from Canada to have Meng Wanzhou
extradited to the United States.
And that means that as soon as that court appearance is done and that paperwork is finalized, that Meng Wanzhou can return to China. It is a
victory certainly for her. She did not want to face these charges in a U.S. court. China, the Chinese government backing that up and saying, look, this
is really arbitrary, to use a word and that these charges should never have been prosecuted. Remember, though, Hala, as I'm sure we've spoken about
this for several years now, this really ensnared Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, they are two Canadians, they are now known as the case of the two
They were detained in China just days after Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese government not only accused them of espionage, it charged them and has
found them guilty. And that has really led to a lot of geopolitical intrigue in the last few years. They involve not only Canada, but I should
say the United States. What was interesting here was that when Joe Biden came into office, Hala, he said that he would treat these two Michaels like
they were U.S. citizens, and that he would continue to bring them up in his dealings with China. And you don't need any reminder, Hala, just to know
how contentious right now U.S.-China relations are.
So, it will be interesting to see if this at least clears the deck on one issue --
GORANI: Right --
NEWTON: I will say though, this does not mean that the two Michaels are coming home any time soon --
GORANI: Right, because that was going to --
NEWTON: It's a complicated issue and China continues --
GORANI: Sorry to jump in because we're a bit --
NEWTON: All right --
GORANI: Short on time. But what is it that clinched this? This has been going on for years? I mean, if the U.S. came to this deal, what is the U.S.
getting in return?
NEWTON: I suspect that what they are getting is some kind of admission from Huawei itself, from the company. Those details may not be known for
several months. What they are getting, though, is that a clear irritant that the Biden administration has defined as a clear irritant now has the
potential to be cleared. Again, as I was just saying, it does not mean that the two Michaels will be home any time soon, but it certainly clears the
way for China to perhaps uphold their convictions but deport them perhaps in a few weeks or months. Hala?
GORANI: All right, we'll keep an eye on that. Paula Newton, thanks very much, reporting from Ottawa. A lot more to come on the program. The killing
of a young British school teacher is sparking fresh debate about violence against women in the United Kingdom. We'll have a live report from the
vigil happening right now in London. Plus, the White House is hosting a group of world leaders known as the Quad, and the world is waiting to hear
what they'll have to say about, you guessed it, China. We'll be right back.
GORANI: The murder of a London school teacher is sparking renewed -- a renewed outcry about violence against women in Britain. Mourners are
gathering this hour to remember Sabina Nessa. Police say the 28-year-old was murdered last Friday during a short five-minute walk from her home to a
pub across the park. Police have arrested a 38-year-old man on suspicion of the murder. He's now been released. They are also searching for a silver
vehicle and another man in connection with her death.
Nada Bashir is in London live at the vigil. And of course, we all remember about half a year ago, Sarah Everard who was just walking home in Clapham
in south London who was murdered, and only half a year later this happens, Nada. Nada, can you hear me?
NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Hala. Yes, it's been just months since Sarah Everard was killed, and there are still a massive turnout here
at the vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa who was brutally murdered on Friday of last week. And it's just another reminder of the violence that women
face in the U.K. You can see the turnout behind me, that's huge. People are outraged. The shock in this local community has reverberated across the
country. And it is still a very raw shock.
You can't see but just off the camera, there are still forensic teams digging through the bushes for evidence. And this is the reality that this
local community has had to reckon with over these last few days. Many say the measures that's being taken right now aren't enough. Take a listen.
BASHIR (voice-over): Another community in mourning. Another woman senselessly killed. Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old London school teacher
murdered minutes from home. She was on her way to meet a friend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As she walked through the park, she was approached by an individual and fatally attacked. Sabina's body was sadly found by a
member of the public around 5:30 p.m. the following day.
BASHIR: Sabina's family have described her as a family-oriented, caring soul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is truly the most kind, caring person out there. That she's the sweetest person, sweetest girl. I don't understand how
someone can do this. I really don't. I really don't. It's just -- is a big loss to our family.
BASHIR: That shock is felt far beyond Sabina's family.
CROWD: No one deserves to die for being out at night.
BASHIR: Just over six months ago, another murder galvanized this nation. Thirty three-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a
serving police officer. The brutality of her death and heavy-handed police response to protests in her honor woke many up to this epidemic. Her killer
pleaded guilty and now awaits sentencing. In this year alone, there have been at least 106 cases of women being killed by men or where a man is the
principal suspect. According to counting dead women, an organization which tracks femicide in the U.K.
MAYOR SADIQ KHAN, LONDON, ENGLAND: We do have an epidemic when it comes to violence against women and girls. I think we need a whole system approach.
We need to make sure at a young age, our boys are taught to respect girls. I think we need to make misogyny a hate crime. I think harassment in the
public space against women should be a criminal offense.
BASHIR: Women's rights organizations say these changes are long overdue.
JAMIE KLINGLER, CO-FOUNDER, RECLAIM THESE STREETS: Nothing has changed. I'm not safer than I was six months ago.
BASHIR: And that's particularly true for women of color.
KLINGLER: In the number of column mentions, the number of minutes you get on air time, it's absolutely proven that women of color do not get the same
amount of coverage. And it's systemic in the society.
BASHIR: For now, the investigation into Sabina's tragic murder continues. And while many questions remain, there is little debate to be had on the
fact that Sabina, like the countless women killed in the U.K. every year, should have been safe.
BASHIR: And Hala, that really is the bare minimum that women are asking for to be safe enough to walk home on their own. And you can see behind me
the immense reaction of not just the local community, but hundreds of people from across the city coming here to remember the life of Sabina
Nessa, but also to call for change, to call for systemic change so that a case like this doesn't happen again. Hala.
GORANI: And Nada, the latest on the investigation, I understand one man was arrested and then released, and they are searching for a second man.
What can you tell us about that?
BASHIR: That's correct, Hala. The latest development is that this 38-year- old man who had been arrested on suspicion of murder has been released under investigation, but police are still appealing for information on a
second individual. They have released CCTV footage and images, but still and calmly, they are asking people to come forward if they have seen this
man. And people have been coming around to us and to the people here at the vigil with leaflets and pamphlets asking for them to come forward if they
know of anyone who may have seen this man or may have been in the area at the time of Sabina's murder. Hala?
GORANI: All right, Nada Bashir, thanks very much. We're seeing CCTV screen grabs of that footage that police have released, asking people for any
information. It's important also to note this woman was walking in the park at 8:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. on just an ordinary Friday and ended up dead. There
you have it. Thanks very much, Nada Bashir.
In India, another horrific case is putting a spotlight on the nation's rape crisis. Police near the city of Mumbai have arrested 29 men accused of the
gang rape of a 15-year-old girl -- twenty nine men. Police say the girl was assaulted repeatedly over the course of almost eight months, and that a
video of the rape was used to blackmail her. Police are looking for several other suspects.
It's been nearly eight months since a military coup overthrew the elected government in Myanmar. Since then, thousands of protesters have been killed
or arrested. Now, some activists say the Junta is targeting their families. Paula Hancocks has this story of a 5-year-old punished for her father's
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 5-year-old girl sings along to her favorite song, at first glance, a picture of
innocence. But Su Htet Waing innocence is gone, taken away by Myanmar's brutal military. Soldiers arrested her along with her mother and older
sister because her father, a leader in the pro-democracy movement was in hiding. Released after 18 days, she spent her 5th birthday behind bars. She
is now reunited with her father. Hiding in the jungle, Su Htet sends us audio clips through his mobile.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
HANCOCKS: The young girl says she was forced to stay in a half-sitting, half-standing position widely considered to be a stress position.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
HANCOCKS: The U.N. Committee against torture abuse, stress positions as contrary to the convention against torture.
TOM ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR FOR MYANMAR: I've seen reports of infants being abducted. It's just a degree of outrage, that it's hard to
put in words just how angry I am at the depths that this military Junta is willing to go.
HANCOCKS: We sent the military detailed questions about the girl's detention, they have not responded to our e-mails or texts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She's still suffering some mental trauma. She wakes up in the morning crying, saying, I miss my mom and I
miss my older sister. Why aren't they back yet?
HANCOCKS: Su Htet refuses to give up on his fight for democracy despite a seemingly desperate situation. His says his wife and daughter have been
sentenced to three years in prison and have been separated from each other. He heard his daughter contracted COVID-19 in prison, but has since
recovered. Khaing Zin Thaw is a social influencer with around 700,000 followers on Facebook. She's been active in the civil disobedience movement
collecting donations for protesters before going into hiding when the military tried to arrest her.
Instead, she says they arrested her parents and sister-in-law. The latter has since been released.
"My father was on medication", she says. "But he doesn't have any in prison. I send food, but have no idea if it gets to him. I heard from a
source that my father has been tortured. Sometimes, I feel like I'm losing my mind." Khaing Zin Thaw says she feels guilty her parents are suffering,
desperate she has no contact with them and guilty she can no longer help protesters from hiding.
ANDREWS: A form of terror in which they are intimidating people to an extraordinary degree, people are extremely fearful.
HANCOCKS: Two more families torn apart by a ruthless military Junta intent on holding power no matter the cost to the people of Myanmar. Paula
Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
GORANI: Still to come on the program, the White House says the U.S. is, quote, "doubling down on diplomacy". But President Biden's meeting with
Indo-Pacific leaders has China worried that the opposite might be true. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Right now, the American President Joe Biden is hosting the leaders of Australia, India and Japan at the White House. It's the first in-person
meeting of the Quad. The White House says they'll discuss the promotion of a free and open Indo-Pacific region and that it proves the Biden
administration is dedicated to diplomacy. Many see them as being dedicated to countering the rise of China in Asia. Beijing of course is slamming the
Quad, saying it represents a cold war mentality. Let's get more from Jeff Zeleny at the White House, Will Ripley joins us as well from Taiwan.
Jeff, this is really reaffirming once again that Joe Biden is placing countering China at the heart of his foreign policy.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hala, it is absolutely at the heart of his foreign policy. And that is -- was made
clear just a few moments ago here at the White House when the leaders that did take their seats in the east room. And it's the first of the summit of
its kind for the leaders of the Quad, as it's being called to meet face-to- face. They've had virtual meetings before, but just the fact that all of them are in the same room, the east room of the White House, which has not
been used for this kind of setting before, and they are right now behind closed doors hammering out these discussions.
But the headline of this regardless of what they say is that, this bloc of countries, they are certainly uniting around the concern of the rising
China. This is what the President Biden is at the heart of his agenda. Of course, it's been a controversial in the last week or so with the submarine
deal we've talked so much about with Australia, and the U.K., and the U.S. leaving France on the sideline of that. This is about something entirely
different beyond. It's about confronting China and its ambitions. So we'll see what comes of this meeting. But certainly the fact that they are
meeting at the same time in the same room is so significant.
And Will Ripley, China, unsurprisingly, is slamming the -- it's not the squat, it's the quad, it's slamming the quad saying it's the opposite of
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're saying, you know, this narrative they've been building for months, Hala, that the United States is
actually the aggressor in the region, that there's this Cold War mentality, and that the U.S. is trying to pull its allies together to contain the rise
of China, as opposed to the U.S. perspective that they're trying to counter what is seen as an increasingly assertive China, a China that intimidates
lesser nations, including the island of Taiwan, which has seen the last two days three separate incursions into its self-declared air defense
identification zone, not at sovereign airspace, and not a violation of international law, but still getting too close to comfort for this
democratically controlled island that China still claims as its own territory.
And so The Quad, you know, Australia, Japan, India and the United States, a diplomatic Alliance, that it's definitely there's a lot of the discussion
is in terms of ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific region, but also this AUKUS trilateral military alliance that you heard Jeff mention a moment
ago, supplying nuclear powered submarines to Australia, that is all designed from the U.S. perspective to counter China's increasing military
influence, as well as The Quad discussing their economic influence, and ensuring free trade and the supply chain, and all of the other things,
technology and innovation that are important to the U.S. and its allies.
But China and President Xi, Hala, certainly has made it very clear that their goal is to be the superpower in this region and the symbolism that
President Xi stayed in Beijing and spoke virtually to the UNGA did not travel to the United States, did not push for face-to-face meetings with
leaders there, it shows President Xi's focus is in this region, his resources are in this region. And China is determined to be the power in
this region. But that is why you see the U.S. and its allies forming these alliances, trying to find a counterstrategy to maintain the Indo-Pacific
balance has been in play since the end of World War II.
GORANI: And Jeff, Australia, India, Japan, why those three countries? What is Biden hoping to achieve with this particular Alliance?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, proximity and democracies, I mean, those are a couple of the reasons, of course, that
President Biden has his eye on these members of The Quad. And as Will was saying I mean, it is entirely at the heart of the Biden foreign policy
doctrine, which we are seeing it is, you know, to confront the rise of China. And as we saw President Biden earlier this week at the United
Nations in New York say that competition should not bleed into conflict, but they are doing many things here to keep an eye, if you will, for lack
of a better word on China, and really begin forming different alliances.
And, Hala, at the same time, this is really causing some angst among European leaders not, of course, France only because they were excluded
from the submarine deal and this new AUKUS partnership with Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S., but because that the U.S. is turning its eye,
in some respects, its attention away from Europe into the Indo-Pacific region. So the quad also is emerging as a power center in that way,
certainly not as much as the G7 or the G20, if you will, you know, the group of nations of the biggest economies.
But this is a subset that certainly is getting a lot of attention. So this meeting here on Friday in Washington, at the end of the meeting of the
United Nations General Assembly, that's why all the leaders are in the United States, of course, certainly very significant. And we'll just watch
to see how this power center, this group of leaders grows. Of course, it could change with the next U.S. president, we don't necessarily know, but
it certainly is the beginning of, you know, this emerging relationship in power dynamic in the region.
GORANI: And lastly, Will, we hear a lot about what the U.S. is doing to counter China, what is China doing to try to counter all these moves by the
United States to push against its own expansionism?
RIPLEY: Well, there are a couple of fronts that China is flexing its own muscles. One, of course, is the economic front. China pushing to join a new
Pacific trade deal that Taiwan has also applied for much to the chagrin of Beijing. So China wants to get in on as many trade agreements as possible,
as well as signing its own trade deal with countries, there's vaccine diplomacy.
China donating scores, millions of doses of its vaccines to countries that have had a hard time getting them through COVAX, and other agencies up
until perhaps recently, even though here in Taiwan, they've rejected the repeated Chinese offers for vaccine donations even when this country --
when this island was in the midst of an outbreak of COVID-19. Then you have the military muscle flexing, including those air incursions flying their
massive Air Force near Taiwan, sailing their own ships in the South China Sea. And, of course, the United States doing the same thing with its
freedom of navigation patrols, both in the air and at sea.
So you have also diplomatic efforts continuing to try to isolate the island of Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory, and to forge diplomatic
relationships with any countries that are willing to open up their ears and also willing possibly to accept Chinese dollars in terms of investment and
whatnot. So, there's a very concerted push heavily focused on the Indo- Pacific region. China wants to be the dominant superpower here and that's why you see all of these meetings, all this activity on the other side of
the world, but the focus, laser focus, right here.
GORANI: All right. Will Ripley, thanks very much. Jeff Zeleny is in Washington. The Homeland Security Director is updating us with the latest
on what's going on with the migrant crisis at the border and all those Haitians that have been bussed to processing facilities. Let's listen in
for a moment.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Good afternoon, everyone. Less than one week ago, there were approximately
15,000 migrants in Del Rio, Texas, the great majority of whom were Haitian nationals. This was the result of an unprecedented movement of a very large
number of people traveling to a single point of the border within a matter of a few days. We responded with a surge of resources to address the
humanitarian needs of the individuals, many of whom include families with young children.
We also applied our month's long standard operating procedures at the border, which we have been applying to all migrants encountered at the
border during this very challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this morning, there are no longer any migrants in the camp underneath the
Del Rio International Bridge. I will walk through what we have done, how we have done it, explain the processes and provide data that you have
But first, I want to make one important point. In the midst of meeting these challenges, we, our entire nation, saw horrifying images that do not
reflect who we are, who we aspire to be, or the integrity and values of our truly heroic personnel in the Department of Homeland Security. The
investigation into what occurred has not yet concluded. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation's ongoing
battle against systemic racism.
We have been swift and thorough in our response. First, we immediately contacted the Office of Inspector General and launched an investigation
into the events that were captured in the disturbing images of horse patrol units. We cease the use of horse patrol units in the area. The agents
involved in these incidents have been assigned to administrative duties and are not interacting with migrants while the investigation is ongoing.
I directed the personnel from the C.B.P. Office of Professional Responsibility to be on site in Del Rio full time to ensure adherence to
the policies, training, and values of our department. The highest levels of the C.B.P. Office of Professional Responsibility are leading the
investigation, which will conclude quickly. The results of the investigation, I will make public. The actions that are taken as a result
of the -- what we have seen in those images, the investigation will be compelled. The results will be compelled by the facts that are adduced and
Let me be clear, the department does not tolerate any mistreatment of any migrant and will not tolerate any violation of its values, principles, and
ethics. Now, I would like to turn to our operational response, DHS led the mobilization of a whole of government response to address the challenging
situation in Del Rio. D.H.S. immediately worked to address the acute humanitarian needs of the migrants themselves by partnering with federal
and non-governmental agencies and entities.
We rapidly deployed basic services like drinking water, food, clothing, and portable toilets. I am grateful to the Red Cross for providing more than
17,000 hygiene kits in the World Central Kitchen, for contributing more than 14,000 meals per day to supplement other food programs. We've searched
medical resources and capacity, including over 150 medical professionals to provide health services to ensure the safety of the migrants, employees,
and the surrounding community. We provided personal protective equipment, including facemasks. We erected for climate control tents to support
housing for vulnerable populations.
Let me go through our operational response. Simultaneously, with the humanitarian response, we, in the Department of Homeland Security,
implemented a series of operational measures to process migrants consistent with existing laws, policies and procedures. In particular, C.B.P., Customs
and Border Protection, searched 600 agents officers, and D.H.S. Volunteer Force personnel to the Del Rio sector to provide operational support. We
also -- D.H.S. officers and agents conducted 24 hour patrols for general safety, as well as to identify anyone who might be in medical distress.
I.C.E., the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice provided transportation support to transfer migrants out of Del
Rio to other border patrol sectors with capacity, working with the departments of state. In Haiti, D.H.S. increased the number of removal
flights to Haiti commensurate with the country's capacity to receive. Importantly, USAID has established a $5.5 million program to provide on the
ground assistance to repatriated Haitian migrants. Nearly 30,000 migrants have been encountered at Del Rio since September 9, with the highest number
one time reaching approximately 15,000.
Today, we have no migrants remaining in the camp under the international Bridge. Migrants continue to be expelled on under the C.D.C.'s Title 42
authority. Title 42 is a public health authority and not an immigration policy. And it is important to note that Title 42 is applicable and has
been applicable to all irregular migration during this pandemic. It is not specific to Haitian nationals or the current situation.
Some more data. To date, D.H.S. has conducted 17 expulsion flights to Haiti with approximately 2,000 individuals. Those who are not expelled under
Title 42 are placed in immigration removal proceedings. Let me take a step back and explain the process. There are two exceptions to the applicability
of Title 40 to the public health authority. Number one is if an individual has an acute vulnerability, such as an urgent medical care and two, if in
fact our operational capacity is such that we are not able to execute the Title 42 authority that rests with the Centers for Disease Control. I
should also say that there is a convention against torture exception if someone claims torture, which is a distinct legal standard. Individuals, as
I mentioned with acute vulnerability, can be accepted from the Title 42 application.
Approximately 12,400 individuals will have their cases heard by an immigration judge to make a determination on whether they will be removed
or permitted to remain in the United States. That is a piece of data that has been requested of us. If someone is not subject to Title 42 expulsion,
for the three reasons that I explained, acute vulnerability, operational capacity limitations, or a convention against torture exception, then the
individual is placed in immigration proceedings. That means they go before an immigration judge in an immigration court.
If they make a claim that they have a basis under law to remain in the United States, then the judge will hear and adjudicate that claim.
If the judge determines that the claim is not valid, the individual will be removed. An estimated 8,000 migrants have decided to return to Mexico
voluntarily and just over 5,000 are being processed by D.H.S. to determine whether they will be expelled or placed in immigration removal proceedings
under Title A. We have previously articulated publicly, we've previously expressed that in light of the fact that we had such a significant number
of individuals in one particular section in Del Rio, Texas, that we were moving people to other Customs and Border Protection processing centers to
ensure the safe and secure process processing of those individuals.
And we will assess the ability to exercise the Title 42 Public Health Authority in those processing centers. And if any of the exceptions apply,
then we will place those individuals in immigration enforcement proceedings. But if we are able to expel them under Title 42, because that
is indeed a public health imperative, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control, we will do so. And with that, I'll take your questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Steve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for coming in to take our questions.
MAYORKAS: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first question is what I was hoping you could explain more of your view that these agents on the border acted in a way
that violated policies or procedures, if you can tell us what they did wrong to start. And then my second question has to do with what this
episode -- how this episode informs your understanding or thinking about the current and ongoing asylum review. And whether perhaps if the
administration were to take a more permissive stance to -- toward asylum membership in a particular social group, that this episode could be seen as
one of many in the future.
MAYORKAS: So I think if I may, you're conflating two very different phenomenon, two very different processes. First of all, the images, as I
expressed earlier, the images horrified us in terms of what they suggest, and what they conjure up in terms of not only our nation's history, but
unfortunately, the fact that that page of history has not been turned entirely. And that means that there is much work to do, and we are very
focused on doing it.
But I will not prejudge the facts. I do not, in any way, want to impair the integrity of the investigative process. We have investigators who are
looking at it independently. They will draw their conclusions according to their standard operating procedures. And then the results of that
investigation will be detect -- will be determined by the facts that are adduced. Now with respect to the asylum process that has -- that is an
independent process. And I'm not sure I understood your question, if you're asking about the definition of a particular social group, and just for
everyone's benefit, the asylum laws provide that an -- the first step in an asylum process is a claim of credible fear.
Economic need, flight from generalized violence does not qualify as credible fear but rather credible fears, credible fear of persecution by
reason of one's membership in a particular social group. What is the definition of a particular social group was significantly constrained,
that's an understatement, in the Trump administration, and there is a body of law that speaks to that definition. And that definition is currently
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, if I may forgive me for just the follow up on this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Question was, if this administration were to take a more permissive stance toward that definition, could this be what we've just
experienced in the last several weeks, just the first of many similar instances to occur in this country on the border?
MAYORKAS: What instance are you referring to, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we have 15,000 migrants that the United States government had to now process. And --
MAYORKAS: So we determine, we determine the standards to apply in a claim of persecution, according to the principles that a government should have,
both domestically and in the international architecture with the treatment of individuals who are fleeing persecution, by reason of their membership
in a particular social group. It is not a tool of deterrence to define what a particular social group means.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. The people who -- sorry I'm here, hiding behind a mask. The people who were under the bridge, you've talked about some of
them have gotten to Mexico.
Some of them have been flown to Haiti. The others, are they spread out at C.P.B. holding facilities? Have some been released into the community or
released to family members awaiting hearing?
MAYORKAS: So you ask a very --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's their status?
MAYORKAS: So let me let me be clear. So some have been returned to Haiti, indeed, others have been moved to different processing facilities along the
border in light of operational capacity, and then many of them will be returned to Haiti from there. And if any of the exceptions apply, they will
not be returned to Haiti, but placed in immigration enforcement proceedings. I should say "released" is a very general term. And I may need
to drill down on that, if I may, individuals, some of them are detained. Some of them are placed on alternatives to detention. We remain in touch
with them. We monitor them to ensure their appearance in court at the designated time of appearance. Does that answer your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does. And one other question.
MAYORKAS: And I gave -- and I provided the data if I need to do so again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. No, I got that. But the broader question is that it seems like there are border crises that keep popping up sort of like
Whac-A-Mole, every month or so, there's another clump of people or another major issue or unaccompanied minors or -- and is there a plan to maybe
have, you know, like FEMA type teams that go to these prices points? Or is the goal to somehow stop having these crises that keep breaking out?
MAYORKAS: Well, look, you mentioned FEMA. So to two points, if I may, let me first address the front -- well, let me go in reverse. From an
operational response perspective, we addressed the challenge of unaccompanied children in March. And I said then that we had a plan, we
were executing our plan, and it would take time. And in fact, within 60 days or so, we went from an average time of an unaccompanied child in a
border patrol station of 124 hours to less than 25 hours.
And we did that through our operational capacity throughout the Department of Homeland Security, as directed by the president in an all of government
effort. Here, last weekend, we had approximately 15,000 individuals in the Del Rio section, I committed to addressing that within 10 days. And today
we have none. And that was because of the Department of Homeland Security's assets with the assistance of others across the government. That is
something very different than the fact of the dynamism of a regular migration writ large. And the fact that this is a situation that has
occurred from time to time, ever since I can remember in my more than 20 years of government service.
And the President has spoken very powerfully about this from day one and before he assumed office. First and foremost, and most fundamentally and
foundationally, we are dealing with a broken immigration system and we need legislative reform. And everyone agrees in a world where unanimity is so
difficult to achieve, there is one thing that as to which there is unanimity, and that is the need for comprehensive immigration reform. And
unfortunately, it seems to remain elusive. But our real dedication to achieving it is unrelenting, and we continue to do so, number one.
Number two, we have a three-part plan. We invest in the root causes to address the need the -- address the reason why people leave the homes in
which they live and take a perilous journey that they should not take. Second, the building of safe, orderly, and humane pathways, and third,
rebuilding an asylum system and a refugee program that were dismantled in the prior administration. This takes time. And we are executing our plans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for being here. I know we had suggested it'd be great to have you. So it's good to see you in
the same week we made that request. Starting with the situation on Del Rio, the mounted units are temporarily suspended. Are you considering
eliminating them altogether?
MAYORKAS: So we're going to take a look, what we were focused on right now is addressing the urgency of the situation in Del Rio under that bridge. We
are still getting through it. Remember, as I mentioned, in response to the prior question, we still have operational needs across the border with
respect to this particular population of individuals.
But we're going to be taking a look at this. What the horse patrol is costing customarily used to do for everyone's benefit is, you know, horses
are able to cross terrain that might not otherwise be traversed. And what they often do, and in fact most often do, is assess the situation and
actually assist in helping people in distress. And that horse patrol, the horse patrol that the Customs and Border Protection employs, the Border
Patrol specifically, has actually saved lives many times before. But we will take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just thought, because you're just such a sprawling department, you face multiple issues at once, the situation regarding
Afghan refugees that are being processed by your department, we've had a few questions on that which haven't entirely been answered. I'm just
curious if you know how many cases of forced marriage or so-called child brides has D.H.S. found in the system so far.
MAYORKAS: To my knowledge, we have not found one. But I will tell you that we have experts at the airport and beyond who understand that phenomenon
very, very well, who know how to detect the indicia, the signs, of any such activity, and are able to place people in secondary screening, discern the
facts and make the decisions that the facts so warrant, we are very skilled in that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I know you said you'd be looking into this. But the President was really clear today. He said those
four patrol agents on horseback seen in those images will pay. He said it's dangerous. He says it's wrong. And he said there will be consequences. So
do you disagree with that?
MAYORKAS: Oh, no. I know, the President was echoing the sentiments of the American public in response to the images and what those images suggest.
But I want to speak to the fact that this investigation will be based on the facts that the investigators learn, and the results of the
investigation will be driven by those facts, and nothing less and nothing more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the President said that they would pay. So you guys are not on the same page on that.
MAYORKAS: I think the President was speaking in terms of the horror that he observed from seeing the images, and what they suggest. That investigation
will have integrity. I can assure you of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I understand you guys have been saying since January 20, if you inherited a broken system, there's a
lot of work to be done here to do it. Thousands of people living in squalid conditions, limited opportunities to go through asylum processes here,
advocates have been warning about situations like this for months now. How much responsibility to you does the administration take for these
situations, continuing to kind of pop up in various places?
MAYORKAS: So if you're addressing the situation in Del Rio, I will tell you that it is unprecedented for us to see that number of people arrive in one
discrete point along the border in such a compacted period of time. That is unprecedented. We have the Chief of the Border Patrol, Raul Ortiz, is, I
think, a 30-year veteran, and he has not seen that before. And what we do when we see something that is unprecedented, is we respond and respond we
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Steve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Democrats have wanted you to be more lenient on the asylum claims because of the earthquake that Haiti went through. Have you
considered that at all, sir?
MAYORKAS: So let me let me speak to that. We studied the conditions in Haiti a number of months ago, as is our legal obligation to do so. And
based on the country conditions that we observed and studied, what we did is we designated Haiti for temporary protected status for those Haitian
nationals resident in the United States, who were here prior to July 29th. And we were mindful of the assassination that occurred, and we were unsure
of the results of that assassination, in terms of the stability of the political order.
Once a new leader took office, and things seem to settle down. We determined that the July 29th date was equitable to address --
GORANI: Alejandro Mayorkas, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, they're providing somewhat of an alternate sort of version of events of
what happened under the Del Rio Bridge in Texas and also apologizing for the shocking images of border control agents on horseback. They're pushing
backs on Haitian migrants. So that's an update happening at the White House.
We'll continue to follow that story, of course, on CNN. A quick programming note though before I leave you tune in Sunday for CNN's special live
coverage of the German elections. We'll find out who will be the next leader of the country and I'll be here along with Fred Pleitgen and Salma
Abdelaziz, that's Sunday just before noon Eastern 5:00 pm in London on CNN, Quest Means Business is next.