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Man Receives Two New Arms; Obama Pitches Immigration Reform; Immigration Reform Gaining Momentum; Father Of Six-Year-Old Newtown Victim; Gun Control Hearings; Soldier Gets Double Arm Transplant; New Orleans Cashing in on Super Bowl

Aired January 29, 2013 - 13:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: To get to the top, you have to take a steep ladder up another 656 feet.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. President Obama on his way to Las Vegas now. He's hoping the odds are in his favor when it comes to immigration reform. The president is going to outline and highlight his proposals for overhauling immigration in a stage that happens just a couple hours from now. His plan includes a path to citizenship like the Senate plan unveiled yesterday. And under the president's proposal, undocumented immigrants would have to register with the government, also undergo background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, and learn English. I want to bring in our Senior Latin American Affairs Editor Rafael Romo to talk about the reaction to what we are seeing here, specifically when it comes to Mexicans.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: A lot of people who have been waiting for a long time on this, they're talking about Mexican Americans, everybody has somebody in their family touched by immigration. But what I wanted to talk to you about, Suzanne, are some of the numbers regarding immigration. And for example, during the Obama years, immigration authorities have reached record levels of what they call removals, detentions and deportations of immigrants. Take a look at the year 2012, for example, 409,849 detentions just to put it in perspective. This would be similar to deporting each and everyone in cities like Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Oakland, California.

Now, let me also talk about somebody that a lot of people don't really know much about, and the reality is that, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, the net migration from Mexico to the United States has reached zero. Between the years of 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million immigrants arrived but 1.4 million or more left which, again, talks about the fact that net migration from Mexico to the United States is zero. And what I would like to do now, Suzanne, is play some sound from a couple of very young immigrant who were brought to this country when they were very young and are hoping for a final solution to the problem of immigration in this country. Let's take a listen.


ANA LAURA RAMIREZ: I didn't have a choice to come here, but I have done nothing bad here.

ROMO (voice-over): The Ramirez sisters were toddlers when they were brought to this country by their parents.

RAMIREZ: I went to school here. I grew up here. I don't -- my whole life is live here. So, I would consider myself a U.S. citizen but I'm not.


ROMO (on camera): And, finally, one fact that a lot of people don't really know about, it's this. It used to than most immigrants were Hispanics. Take a look at this graphic. Now, it is people from Asia coming through to the United States, the vast majority of immigrants 36 percent compared to 19 percent. Let's take a look at what was the situation a decade ago back in 2010. The numbers were much different, only 19 percent Asians, 59 percent Hispanic. So, a lot has changed in the last 10 years, Suzanne, and that's probably the reason why you see this new willingness both in Congress and by the president to tackle this issue once and for all.

MALVEAUX: Is there -- I know the Obama administration has had a really high number of those who they've actually deported. Does the community, Mexican American community, think that they adequately address that? That they're not going after folks to bring them back to Mexico?

ROMO: There was a lot of people who were complaining to the administration because the president said, I'm going to solve the immigration problem once and for all. And the reality is that about 1.6 million people were deported from the country. But reality is that on the other side of the aisle, the Republican rhetoric didn't do a much better with talk about self-deportation and making life in the United States so miserable to immigrants that they would have no other choice but to leave the country. And that's probably the reason why President Obama got more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote.

MALVEAUX: All right. Rafael, thank you, appreciate it.

Of course, the push for immigration reform is gaining momentum but some of the critics say, not so fast. I want to bring in critic Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Good to see you, sheriff, as always. You and I had a chance to talk about border security and immigration when we chatted back in February. I got to visit your county as well. Now, it's a pretty dramatic landscape. It's dramatically different than when you and I spoke the last time. The president presenting his own immigration reform proposal and then you have Republicans and senators working side by side to push forward on something that is very comprehensive. In light of the 180-degree change from members of your own party on this issue, have you had a change of heart?

JOE ARPAIO, SHERIFF, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Well, you know, I'm still going enforce the laws. I took an oath of office. We're doing it in my office. We're doing a great job. Maybe that's why the Justice Department is taking me to court and Obama is going after me. That's sad. Here we have a recent election year, now all at once everybody's talking about enforcing these laws. They should have been doing it years ago. So, it is a political situation. Let's see what happens. And I'm very amused at we must secure the border first before really we do anything. I was the director -- regional director in Mexico City, South America, Texas, Arizona, with the U.S. drug enforcement. We still haven't secured a border. Throughout the years, you will never secure the border 100 percent. So, why do we keep saying secure the border first and then we'll do something about it? We should be enforcing the laws in the United States of America when they cross the border. It's very simple.

MALVEAUX: You've lost -- you've lost some allies here. Senator John McCain, he weighed in on this. And, obviously, there was some political realities to pushing for an immigration reform. But here is what he said about what's being put on the table.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Elections, elections. The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens. And we realize that there are many issues in which we think we are in agreement with our Hispanic citizens, but this is a preeminent issue with those citizens.


MALVEAUX: So, sheriff, I mean, there is the political reality that the senator is talking about. Do you acknowledge that you need to move on this issue if you are going to actually have a party that is viable when it comes to enough people supporting your agenda, including the Hispanic community?

ARPAIO: Well, you know, it's good to have these discussions by the senators, and I presume the president. I don't know if they talk to each other and already have their game plan. But any plan is OK to try to resolve this situation. I think we should go to the Latino community and talk to those that are here legally and try to get the message across to them and where's the fairness here? Why do you want to give amnesty to those people that came across our border illegally? And you've got people all over the United States waiting for years and years to come into our great country? I look at it as a fairness issue also, not just a diplomatic, you know, political, law enforcement issue.

MALVEAUX: Sure. And, sheriff, is there any alternative that -- either to the president's plan or to the senator's plan that you would propose, that you put forward? Because you are talking about 11 million people, potentially, who are illegal in this country. Would you say they have to go back? I mean, what would you do as an alternative?

ARPAIO: Well, first of all, I'm a little -- you know, right now, I haven't made decisions on those that are already here. We should build up our guest worker program. This information that they keep putting out that we have to bring illegals in that are already here to cut -- to pick tomatoes and lettuce and everything else, we have an economic problem in our country, unemployment. Are these people the politicians trying to say that we cannot have people in our own country to do these jobs? I think that's an insult to our country. Pay them enough and they will do the job. We don't have to keep saying we must import poor people from Mexico or those already here to pick lettuce.

MALVEAUX: Right. I guess the real question is, what do you do about those who are already here, who are legal in this country? Would you still propose that you send them back to their country of origin?

ARPAIO: You know, that's not a bad idea and let them come back legally. I have no problems with them coming back on green cards. Whatever you want. On the other hand, we're doing a good job. We've arrested more last night, over 700 when we raid private businesses, which nobody else is doing, including the feds, and find out that the majority of people have fake I.D. And human smuggling, we did over 6,000 coming from Mexico that we arrest that were heading for another state. So, I think law enforcement is very critical, too. But I have compassion for Latino people. It's a very complicated, convoluted situation. But at least someone is looking at it. Maybe someday in our lifetime that the decisions will be made instead of all of the talk, and the politics, and secure the border first, and then we'll look into the problem.

MALVEAUX: Sheriff, when I was there in your country, when we were visiting and talk together, I had an opportunity to speak with many Latino residents as well in your county, and many of them who were there legally felt that they were targeted, that they felt very uncomfortable in the community. Have you since had conversations do you have ideas where you can make people who are in your county legally feel like they are not the target of law enforcement or overzealous policy in your -- in your county?

ARPAIO: Well, I don't know, if you mentioned targeting, we don't racial profile. The Department of Justice has taken me to court. That's great. We don't racial profile. They want to take over my office with federal monitors. I'm going to fight that to the bitter end. I'm an elected constitutional sheriff and I'm not going to have the feds tell me how to do my operations.

MALVEAUX: All right, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Thank you for your time, your attention. We appreciate it.

Here's what we're working on as well for this hour.

(voice-over): A wounded warrior receives a second chance at life after losing his arms and legs in a roadside bombing. He's now the first service member from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to receive a double arm transplant. His story of triumph over tragedy.

No matter who wins the Super Bowl, there is one clear winner, the city of New Orleans. How the big game means big bucks.

This is CNN NEWSROOM and it's happening now.


MALVEAUX: A father who lost his six-year-old son in the Newtown massacre speaks out about his heartbreak. He pleads for someone to tell him why civilians should be able to own semiautomatic weapons? But what happens next simply shows how deep the gun rights divide is this in this country.

Jason Carroll is following the story. I understand it happened at a hearing last night. Tell us what happened.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, first of all, I think we have to -- what we have to understand is -- as you know, I was out covering this story, you were covering the story. This is a story that is very personal for these parents. These are parents that are still grieving. You've got a community that is still trying to come to terms with what happened, still trying to heal. So, I guess that's why you can expect there was so much attention at this particular hearing. In fact, more than 1,000 people packed the Connecticut legislative office for this hearing on gun violence. Several hours of testimony was filled with emotion as parents whose children were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting took to both side of the issue. They brought in pictures of their children, they held them as they spoke. And one parent, Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son, Jesse, was killed says he supports gun control.

And, Suzanne, he was talking for several minutes and then he was briefly interrupted, shouted down by gun advocates who shouted at him "Second Amendment" while he was trying to make a point.


NEIL HESLIN, SON DIED IN NEWTOWN SHOOTING: My name's Neil Heslin. Jesse Lewis was my son. He was a victim in Sandy Hook. He was my son. He was my buddy. He was my best friend. And I never thought I'd be here speaking like this, asking for changes on my son's behalf. And I never thought I'd be laying him to rest. The happiest day of my life was the day he was born. He's my only son and my only family. And the worst day of my life was the day when this happened and I buried him.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not infringe on our (ph) rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Heslin, please continue with --

HESLIN: We're not living in the wild west. We're not a third world nation. We have the strongest military in the world. We don't need to defend our homes with weapons like that.


CARROLL: Again, you had parents on both sides the issue, Suzanne. Mark Mattioli's son, James, who was also six years old, attended the hearing. We were able to get him on the phone for just a little while this afternoon. Mattioli says more laws, in fact, may not be the answer. He spoke at the hearing yesterday as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK MATTIOLI, SON DIED IN NEWTOWN SHOOTING: How do we expect to have any impact on a society and say, we will -- we're going to pass a law, hey, this is inexcusable, we can't allow anymore of this, let's pass a law that will change the course of the future when we don't enforce the laws that we have on the books. The most severe -- the most important laws.


CARROLL: So, again, let me talk a little bit more about this hearing. It's taking place by a bipartisan task force as it tries to come up with recommendations for lawmakers. Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation that would limit large magazines to 10 rounds from 30 and banning certain types of ammunition. The hearing that you just heard is the second of a number of hearing lawmakers are holding in Connecticut. The first one, Suzanne, was on school security. Then they had another one yesterday on gun control. Another today taking place right now, in fact, is on mental health. And trying to figure out ways to improve the system. And tomorrow the public will weigh in on yet another hearing. So you can understand why there's just so much passion behind this particular issue, especially there in Newtown.


MALVEAUX: Jason, it's really -- it's heartbreaking when you hear the testimony from that father.


MALVEAUX: Do you get a sense that folks -- I mean, either way, that they feel in the debate, you know, as passionate as they are, that they are kind of trying to be as understanding, as empathetic with the other side, because you are dealing with parents, families who all lost their children?

CARROLL: I think the majority of people there are trying to get to answerers and trying to improve -- trying to improve laws. I mean I think when you heard some of the hecklers there interrupting Neil Heslin, I think that's a small minority of people. Once again, there's passion on both sides of this issue, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Jason. Really appreciate it.

So what are we going to do about gun violence? That is the question, of course, on Capitol Hill. And Anderson Cooper, he is looking at both sides of this debate. Watch "Guns Under Fire," an "Anderson Cooper 360" town hall special. That is Thursday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And a U.S. soldier loses his arms and legs in a roadside bombing, but now doctors are giving him a second chance at life. He is the first service member from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to receive a double arm transplant. It is unbelievable. His triumph over tragedy up next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still alive, so that's really all that mattered to me at the time.



MALVEAUX: An American soldier who lost all of his limbs in Iraq now has a new lease on life. Brendan Morroco has become the first service member to receive a double arm transplant. Doctors used a new procedure they hope will prevent his body from rejecting his new limbs. The 26-year-old appeared in a news conference at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore just this past hour.


BRENDAN MARROCO, DOUBLE ARM TRANSPLANT PATIENT: I will pretty much now I can move my elbow. This was my elbow. The one I had before. I can rotate a little bit. This arm is pretty much -- not much movement at all. Not yet at least. Hopefully -- we're hopeful for the future to get some pretty good function out of it, out of both of them.


MALVEAUX: So, Marroco, he is one of only seven people in the country who have undergone successful double arm transplants. Want to bring in Elizabeth Cohen.

You know, I love stories like this. I mean it's like wow.


MALVEAUX: To see that guy smile, first of all --

COHEN: Right.

MALVEAUX: And say I'm hopeful when he takes a look at the other arm. Like maybe this other arm is going to work well. First of all, how do they -- how did they do this?

COHEN: Well, let's first get to why one arm seems to be doing better than the other arm. It may have something to do with where the transplants actually took place. So on the right one, it was actually above.


COHEN: So the new arm is -- it was here. It was from here down. The other one, it was from somewhere around here down. So the more arm you have to transplant, the more difficult time somebody's is going to have. So that's an important thing to remember. So the more arm you have to transplant, the more difficult the recovery's going to be, because these doctors are putting together tendons, muscles, nerves, blood vessels. I mean this is really tiny surgery. They practiced on cadavers first, which I thought was fascinating.


COHEN: These surgeons, who obviously are trained surgeons, I mean they're Johns Hopkins, they practice on cadavers first.

MALVEAUX: Is it possible that -- I mean because he is hopeful, the second arm, is it possible that he will have full functioning arms at some point?

COHEN: You know, he may not have full functioning as he did before, but I talked to a surgeon whose done these transplants before and he said that his patients, many of them were able to do what they did before but a lot more slowly. And that's a big difference. But, you know, let's listen to Brendan again because he talked about his aspirations and how glad he is that he got this surgery to begin with.



MARROCO: Not having arms takes so much away from you out of even your personality. You know, you talk with your hands. You do everything with your hands basically. And when you don't have that, you're kind of lost for a while.


COHEN: So its -- so the hope is, is that he will be fully functioning. But again, I mean, he may be able to do what you and I do, but just more slowly.

MALVEAUX: And this is groundbreaking. Why is this so rare that this is successful, that this happens?

COHEN: Because you have to have someone who had an injury such that you can do -- such that you can do this surgery. You also have to find a match, a donor. These are deceased donors. People who have died for whatever reason. So you have to find someone who matches them. I mean there's a lot of -- that goes into this.

Also, you have to have the right patient. There have been some -- at least one double arm transplant that didn't work out so well and the patient actually went on YouTube to complain about it because he said he was expecting much more functioning than he actually -- much more function than he actually got.


COHEN: So it's -- you have to have someone who's really devoted to doing the kind of physical therapy, all of that stuff. And that's tough. You've got to find the right patient.

MALVEAUX: I imagine you have to have mental toughness. That that is a very unique person who can actually undergo all of that.

Elizabeth, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

MALVEAUX: We really appreciate it. And good luck to him. COHEN: Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: He's amazing.

COHEN: He is.

MALVEAUX: He's an amazing guy.

COHEN: He is.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you.

Well, no matter who wins the Super Bowl, one clear winner, the city of New Orleans. The big game means big bucks. We're going to talk with small business own and actor Wendell Pierce up next.


MALVEAUX: Wow. Super Bowl XLVII here. Today marks the most entertaining event in the run-up to the game. We're talking about media day. This is a live picture of the Ravens news conference going on right now in New Orleans. Now, earlier, the 49ers spoke to the media.

And who's going to be the top ref on the field this year. Former Morehouse College quarterback Jerome Boger. There's been some controversy sounding the selection, however. Some say he was picked based on favoritism and not merit. Well, he has worked three divisional playoff games as a ref, but he's never worked a conference championship or a Super Bowl.

One thing for sure is that whatever team wins the Super Bowl, winning coach is going to be a guy named Harbaugh. Jim of the 49ers or John of the Ravens. As our Carlos Diaz shows us, it's not the only guarantee this Sunday. The city of New Orleans is going to be a big winner as well.


CARLOS DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whatever the final score turns out to be on Sunday, there's one clear winner in the big easy, the city of New Orleans itself. The big game means big bucks. And the crowds are already here celebrating and spending.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is good food no matter where you go. Good drink no matter where you go. And good people. The people are so hospitable. They are so welcoming and friendly.