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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Militants Threaten To March Toward Baghdad; Obama Won't Send Combat Troops To Iraq; Doctors: Bergdahl Making Progress; Migrant Children Flee to U.S.; Interview with Miss Indiana
Aired June 14, 2014 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yet again, high winds and hail and even tornadoes may be on the radar this weekend.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Let's check in with meteorologist Jennifer Gray tracking it all.
How severe is this threat?
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, we do have a slight and moderate risk across the Midwest. The highest threats are going to be places like Omaha and Lincoln. We could see damaging winds, very large hail, even isolated tornadoes are possible. Slight risk of severe weather from Minneapolis, all the way down to the Texas panhandle. It is Father's Day weekend, a lot of plans going on. Just keep your eye on the skies, especially during the late evening hours tonight into the overnight.
Already seeing some storms starting to fire up around Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, even down in portions of Texas. Now, this is not the main event. That's going to happen late this evening and into the overnight. What we are seeing some showers and thunderstorms ahead of it.
Let's track it. You can see the main event happening overnight hours. This is Sunday, 1:00 a.m. So, we could see some overnight storms. Those could be the most dangerous kind sometimes, because a lot of times folks are sleeping, make sure you have that weather radio on handy, for tonight guys, on Father's Day, more showers and storms firing up as well.
PAUL: All right. Hey, thank you for the alert. We appreciate it, Jennifer.
GRAY: No problem.
OBAMA: We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has done nothing, but invent ways for us not to be engaged or involved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reintegration is going on. GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How much money? It's $6,000.
PAUL: We have just hit the 8:00 hour. Hope you are on time this Saturday. Hopefully with a bit of R & R on your schedule. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY. We are starting this hour with the crisis unfolding in Iraq.
PAUL: Baghdad is bracing for possible onslaught by militants who are so ruthless and feared that even al Qaeda has disowned him. They are from the extremist group, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or known as ISIS. Iraq-state television says air strikes have already killed dozens of militants in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
BLACKWELL: Now Iraq's prime minister also says that his troops will, quote, "Cleanse every inch desecrated by traitors."
PAUL: Now ISIS has already grabbed control of key territory in Northern Iraq and neighboring Syria. You can see here, here is the map we have for you see if you can get a gauge of those red areas. That includes Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, and that is where ISIS has really solidified.
BLACKWELL: Yes, as fighting rages in parts of Iraq, President Obama, of course, is weighing U.S. military options. That could, could, include air strikes.
PAUL: President Obama, though, insists no American combat troops will go back into Iraq.
BLACKWELL: But he will be reviewing several other military options. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq's security forces. I will be reviewing those options in the days ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: White House correspondent, Athena Jones, joining us live now. So if ISIS does carry out this threat of marching to Baghdad, what are those other options that the president is talking about?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Obviously, if this ISIS forces make it to Baghdad, this would be very, very serious not just practically speaking with fighting on the ground and symbolically after all of the years and blood and treasure that the U.S. spent trying to win that war in Iraq.
And so among the options being considered, you mentioned air strikes. Those could be carried out by either unmanned drones or by manned aircraft, and of course, the challenge there is they have to have the intelligence they need to make sure those strikes can be targeted and effective.
They have to have the infrastructure in place. The U.S. is also looking at other ways to help Iraq. For instance by speeding up some military aid. Certain equipment they could get to the Iraqi troops sooner. Those are among the many options that the U.S. is looking at this weekend.
We can tell you that the president is in close with his national security team all weekend. Many of them will be working all weekend in the building behind me trying to come up with the range of options. The president did warn this could take several days. Any plan the U.S. carries out will take time to put together -- Christi.
BLACKWELL: Athena, Iran is offering to help oust the group, ISIS. This brings up a cliche of strange bed fellows. If the U.S. and Iran are on the same side, same page here. Are they?
JONES: Well, this is really interesting here because certainly both the U.S. and Iran have an interest in making sure that Iraq's government doesn't fall. That it isn't overrun by these Sunni militants. I spokesman of the State Department spoke about the Iran issue yesterday. Let's listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIE HARF, DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: No, we are not talking about the Iranians about Iraq. They need to do things not to destabilize the situation even further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And so the president also echoed those words, they have to get Iraq's neighbors involved. This is a regional conflict. When it comes to sending Iranian forces in to fight off ISIS that is when things get a lot more complicated. Iran could help in the U.S. view would be to put pressure along with the U.S. on Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to make some of these political accommodations he has been making during all of these years.
He has to strike deals with his rivals, Sunnis and Kurds to create some sort of unified government that could really bring stability to Iraq and that is one place that Iran could help the U.S. in a way sort of partner with the U.S. to pressure Al-Maliki politically speaking -- Victor, Christi.
BLACKWELL: All right, Athena Jones for us, thank you so much. Let's talk more about the crisis in Iraq with Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Dave Deputla. Am I pronouncing that correctly?
LT. GEN. DAVE DEPTULA, U.S. AIR FORCE (RETIRED): Actually it is Deptula. PAUL: Thank you for being with us.
BLACKWELL: I wanted to make sure I got it right.
PAUL: When you see the images of violence in Iraq and we know what is happening there, do you get any sense that the U.S. pulled out too soon?
DEPTULA: It is really not an issue of timing, pulling out too soon. It is an issue of not having negotiated appropriate agreements before the bulk of the force left to allow access to air bases for example to be able to provide a continuous intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance to monitor to be able to nip them in the bud before they get to a critical state where they already are.
BLACKWELL: You know, I think what is interesting is the report that the U.S. was shocked by the growth and speed of the growth of ISIS. We know there was this meeting back in May where Secretary Hagel was in Saudi Arabia with leaders of Arab countries there and they discussed it, but there was no plan. What is your reaction to that?
DEPTULA: I find it pretty amazing that this kind of a threat was not detected earlier or perhaps it was, but it was negated or passed off as an Iraqi problem. So, it is a bit shocking. One of the things that the United States military does very well, the Pentagon does very well is plan and plan in advance. It is a bit shocking to hear that it will take a while to develop plans. What is unfolding over there appears to be a requirement to respond very quickly. Not spending time to sit on one's hands trying to figure out what to do.
PAUL: All right, General Deptula, stay with us because we have some more questions we want to ask about specifically with Iran coming into play here. We want to get your thoughts on that and a few more questions on what's happening there in Iraq. Stay with us. We are back in just a moment.
DEPTULA: Sure. You bet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: That was President Obama back in 2011 announcing the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq. Today, radical Islamic militants threatened the security of the country and it gained control of cities that U.S. troops died to defend during the Iraq war.
PAUL: CNN senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson in Baghdad and we bring back Retired General Dave Deptula. We want to get to Nic real quickly to find out what it is like in Baghdad. We know the ISIS group is trying to make its way to the capital -- Nic. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): A lot of the fighting going on with the militias, we know the most important religious figure in the Shiite community called people to volunteer to fight. Significant he would do that. He would never gotten that before. What we have seen today or people seeing around Baghdad, young men put up on buses to be taken north of the city to join militias there to be directed by the army and the fight against ISIS.
The government is putting a lot of effort in the province to stop the fight moving further south. A while ago, I was talking on the phone with an army lieutenant who was north of the town of Baiji. He was left to defend for himself. He took off his uniform and is now in hiding as ISIS is in the town he is in and trying to negotiate with the local towns people to come in and take control of the town.
This man I talked to, this army lieutenant, very, very frightened. This is what is happening. The towns people there, he told me, very frightened. People in Baghdad know about these situations. This, for them, is a big fear that ISIS could come there. That said, the Sunni tribal leader who is supporting is on the battlefield, said they would come and surround the city and force the prime minister to negotiate and make the political compromises everyone is saying he needs to take.
BLACKWELL: OK. Let me ask you this, Nic, you mentioned the ayatollah urged Shia to fight and defend these cities against ISIS. We learned from Arwa Damon also that there are Sunni groups that are supporting or at least fighting alongside ISIS not because they are hoping for the Sunni caliphate. What could be the impact of the Sunni groups supporting or fighting alongside ISIS and do we have any idea of numbers?
ROBERTSON: Well, I was told yesterday that initially there were several thousand of these Sunni tribal fighters and there are probably more now because they were limited by the number of weapons they had because the American weapons given to the Iraqi army or sold to the Iraqi army, now in the hands of ISIS and of the Sunni tribes. They say that they want the government national unity.
They are just fighting with ISIS at the moment as a matter of convenience to get to Baghdad. They don't share this kind of extremist view and without that level of support, is could not have made the gains on the ground because it doesn't limit the number of fighters. It has a limited number of fighters it has means it moves in a city and take control and move on to the next city.
And we understand that councils are set up in the towns, councils where the ISIS has a reputation with the Sunni tribal leaders, which are very important and relevant in the Sunni society. This all grew out of the fact the Sunni tribal leaders felt that Nuri Al Maliki, the Shia prime minister was looking out for their interests. This has happened. They say what they are doing now is a matter of desperation. It is not the way they want to achieve this government of national unity. PAUL: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much, reporting from Baghdad. Stay safe to you and the crew. We want to bring back Lt. General David Deptula. Thank you for waiting. General, I know that you've been listening to what Nic had to say. What do you make of the fact the Sunni militias are fighting alongside ISIS and how big a threat does that make this really?
DEPTULA: First, before we go any further, obviously there are some serious and very significant political sectarian and religious issues involved. Relative to the application of force, one has to define the desired outcomes of any inclusion or use of military force before one decides exactly what is it we want to do. If, in fact, we have the rapid movement of is, it appears that, one overarching goal may be to halt movement south toward Baghdad.
The second one may be, OK, to work in conjunction with indigenous forces to remove ISIS from the occupation of the cities that it has already captured. The third may be to eliminate is as an effective fighting force. It is only when we define what it is with the outcome that we can get into the number of force and type and location to move in and assist in the situation.
There is some direct issues at play that affect the United States other than the political ones that you have been discussing. The fact of the matter is we have a large number of people located in the U.S. compound in Baghdad. We want to halt the movement of the forces south. That is a mission that is tailored made for air power.
BLACKWELL: That is the decision that the president will have to make this weekend. Lieutenant General David Deptula, thank you so much for spending some time with us and offering insight.
DEPTULA: You bet.
PAUL: We appreciate your expertise.
Coming up here, former POW, Bowe Berghdal is back on the American soil after five years as a Taliban prisoner.
BLACKWELL: We'll get the latest on his mental and physical condition and why his parents were not there to greet him when the plane landed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLONEL BRADLEY POPPEN, EXPERT ON THE EFFECTS OF CAPTIVITY: It has been five years for Bowe Bergdahl he has been in captivity. A lot has changed in his mind and his family's minds. We need them to recognize to come together and patiently wait for each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: That was Colonel Bradley Poppen, a member of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's recovery team. He gave CNN a little more details about Bergdahl's first moments at the military hospital in San Antonio. PAUL: At the news conference yesterday, officers say that Bergdahl is in stable condition. His recovery may take months or years as we discussed. CNN's Martin Savidge is there in San Antonio. Martin, good to see you. Tell us a little bit more about what you learned about his mental state.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there is a lot of things that the military will talk about and issues they will not talk about. When it comes to the mental state of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, that is one that is in between. Of course, anybody who has been held in captivity and isolated by enemy force for that have an effect on you.
They will say he is doing about as good as you could imagine given the circumstances he has been through. One of the issues that came up is language. He spoke Pashtu for so long and when he first got freed, he was having trouble speaking English. They said that is not a problem anymore. He speaks with his team all in English. He is doing fine on that.
BLACKWELL: Martin, for years, Sgt. Bergdahl's parents worked to bring him home. They spoke in the Rose Garden and a news conference after that. We have not seen them since and there has not been a conversation between Bergdahl and his parents. Any idea if when that reunion when it will happen?
SAVIDGE: No, there isn't. You know, this is one of those things where there is obviously a private situation going on between parents and child that is played out very publicly here. It is really a difficult thing. It had always been said to me and I have been here a while, the parents would arrive first and Bowe Bergdahl would come in within 24 hours and soon reunite.
That is what many people hope to see. It has not happened. It is quite clear that Bowe Bergdahl doesn't want that to happen. It was raised at the press conference yesterday. Here's what was said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPPEN: Family support is a critical part of the reintegration process. Making sure the family understands the reasons we do it and the necessity of decompression. Overall, it is the returnee's choice where and when they want to reintegrate socially. The family understands that at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: I think as a parent, it would be heart breaking to have your son back after so much time and you are so anxious to be together, but right now he is not ready. That is a simple thing to say. He is just not ready for the reunion. Not to say it won't happen. Now is not that time apparently.
PAUL: All right, Martin Savidge, you make a great point. As a parent, what is happening? But thank you, Martin, so much for keeping us apprised of what is happening there.
SAVIDGE: You're welcome.
BLACKWELL: Look at this. We have startling video of a plane crash killing a member of the Rockefeller family. The plane just ripped to pieces there. Narrowly missing a house.
PAUL: Also, as radical militants march toward Baghdad right now, a new race against time to evacuate Americans from the city.
PAUL: What's on the menu? I hope breakfast is waking you up this morning. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Bottom of the hour now, let's start with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY. Up first, President Obama is in close contact with his national security team this weekend because he is weighing military options for Iraq, including possible air strikes. Islamist militants seized Iraq's second largest cities and other towns and threatening toward Baghdad. The White House says no ground troops are going back to Iraq, but they are considering the other options.
PAUL: Number two, 49 people are dead after insurgents shot down a military plane in Ukraine. Officials in the country say pro-Russian rebels used anti-aircraft machine guns to bring down the transport plane. It is the most likely deadliest incident yet as government forces face off against pro-Russian rebels.
BLACKWELL: Number three, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is recovering at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. Officials say that his condition is stable and he was able to walk into the hospital yesterday. They added that they will be doing more tests and Bergdahl's full recovery and rehabilitation will take months.
PAUL: Number four, Dr. Richard Rockefeller, the great grandson of John D. Rockefeller was killed after his plane crashed after takeoff north of New York. There was bad weather reportedly in the area. Dr. Rockefeller was an experienced pilot. He was headed back to Maine after celebrating his father's 99th birthday.
BLACKWELL: Number five, a federal judge has now put a halt to same- sex marriages in Wisconsin just days after she first allows them. The state's attorney general asked the court to stop the marriages while he appeals the ruling. About 600 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples. Those marriages are now in some legal limbo.
PAUL: I want to get you back to our top story now -- the deteriorating situation in Iraq. For now, the American embassy in Baghdad, we know is open, but American contractors working in Iraq are being evacuated.
BLACKWELL: Last night, Anderson Cooper spoke with a contractor who gave his name Tony who was rushed out of an air base in the city of Balad after it came under fire from ISIS. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TONY, U.S. CONTRACTOR: The local national security forces they pretty much just dropped their weapons and walked off base. Not the Iraqi army, Iraqi army stayed and fought (inaudible). But if it wasn't for the villagers on our perimeter, we might not be talking to you because the villagers stood up and they helped out the Iraqi army tremendously. They can be very smart and they can be very fast. And they can be very threatening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Alexandra Field is joining us now from New York. So, Alex, do we know when or if they may expand evacuation orders there in Iraq?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right at this point, the State Department has said that several hundred U.S. contractors were being evacuated. Obviously we're talking about that military base in Balad. No time frame for how long that would take but this is reaching and clearly now causing just a great deal of stress and anxiety here in the States for the families of the contractors who are in that country.
We did hear from one Texas woman who talked about the very tense moments that she spent waiting to hear whether her husband had been safely evacuated from Balad. Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLA, HUSBAND IS CONTRACTOR IN IRAQ: Saying you know I love you and just be safe. You have done the hero thing. Just come home. You are a hero to us. Just come home. You know, they need a dad on father's day to like be here.
He had to get off and I didn't hear from him the rest of the day. Normally I hear from him like early in the morning and then late at night. And I didn't hear anything. So I was worried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: Right now, the decision to relocate contractors is being made by the companies that employ them. That's the protocol that we're seeing there right now. But we also spoke to a Maryland woman who says that her husband is a contractor in Iraq. He is not being relocated from his current position. She did not want to give details about his location in order to protect his safety. But she says just knowing that he is in the country where the situation is deteriorating so rapidly is really causing a great deal of concern for her family. Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERYL, HUSBAND IS CONTRACTOR IN IRAQ: Obviously, his family, you know, all of us want him safe and out of harm's way. We know the person that my husband is. And he is just the type that he's going to do, you know, whatever he can to help protect those that are still there and needing protection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: Cheryl says that her husband has been working as a contractor in Iraq on and off for the last nine years. She says this tour as stressful if not more stressful than any she can remember -- Christi -- Victor.
PAUL: Oh my gosh, you feel for this people. Alexandra Field thank you so much for bringing the stories there; appreciate it.
BLACKWELL: Another story we are following -- the surge of Central American children. Some of them unaccompanied by their parents or anyone over the age of 18 trying to make it to the U.S. only to be held in a cramped detention center and then possibly sent back home. Is it worth the risk? We're live in Honduras where dozens of deported teens just arrived.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Hey, good morning. I'm Michael Smerconish.
Should we be going back into Iraq? And if not, why not? And why is everybody is so surprised about this uprising? Where is the intelligence? I'm going to talk to Representative Peter King and former CIA expert Phil Mudd.
Also, squeeze in the juice for all it's got. How O.J.'s Bronco on the run sparked everything from the "Real World" to "Real Housewives". We've got a great program for you this morning and I hope you'll join us. Victor, Christi.
PAUL: Michael it sounds like a good one.
BLACKWELL: It does.
PAUL: "Smerconish" airs this morning at the top of the hour at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
This story is just so sad all the way around. Thousands upon thousands of unaccompanied children are traveling by bus, by foot, by whatever means necessary to reach the U.S. border. And immigration officials here are struggling to manage the exodus from the Central America.
BLACKWELL: And just look at these photos. I mean immigrants, these kids, the kids packed into holding cells, sleeping on the floor with these thermal blankets. There is not enough food, not enough beds. Not enough bathrooms or facilities there. Many of the kids and their parents are fleeing epidemic gang violence in El Salvador and Guatemala and Honduras.
PAUL: Rosa Flores is now joining us from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Rosa I'm so glad that you're with us, a lot of the children who make this trek I know think that they are going to be allowed to stay in the U.S. But really, how often is that the case? ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, let me start with the root
of the problem. And the root of the problem is really if you look around me, it's the violence in the streets of not only this country but other countries in Latin America. And if you look around, it looks like any other public square in a city in Latin America. However this is San Pedro Sula which has been dubbed the murder capital of the world. And if you look closely behind me you'll see military fully armed that are simply watching over the public square.
The other thing I wanted to point out is in today's paper, the headline here locally is that the president of this country here is blaming organized crime and the coyotes for facilitating the smuggling of these kids, which brings me to your question, which is ok so why are these kids going there and are they able to stay.
What we're told on the ground from kids who have been deported back into this country is that human smugglers lie to them. They tell them the gates of the United States are open, that all they have to do is get to the United States and that they will be able to reunite with their families.
We, of course, know that according to U.S. law, that is not the case. So it's a very complicated situation, Victor and Christi, that involves a lot of lies from organized crimes and coyotes to try to convince these kids to go and make this dangerous trek to the United States.
BLACKWELL: All right, Rosa Flores there in San Pedro Sula, Honduras for us. Stand by Rosa, thank you very much.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson say it's a priority to enforce immigration laws regardless of age.
PAUL: So let's bring in CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. Thank you both for being with us.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.
PAUL: The big question is our policy at the border working Ron?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well I think obviously -- excuse me -- when you're see this level of -- when you're seeing this level of --
BLACKWELL: Should we start with Maria?
PAUL: Can we start with Maria. Do you need a minute?
PAUL: That's ok.
BLACKWELL: All right let's go to Maria.
PAUL: Maria, go ahead. What is your take on what's happening at the border?
CARDONA: I think that not only is our policy at the border not working, but our immigration policy is clearly not working. And that is why this President, this administration and Democrats and frankly some Republicans have really been working toward trying to fix it. Because part of the problem here and I'm sure we're going to talk about it a little bit more is the mixed messages that these countries are getting from the discombobulation that we have in our own country in terms of what immigration should be.
BLACKWELL: All right Ron your turn.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes but Rosa makes a critical point which is that -- you don't go from a level of flow that we're seeing now to what we had without some intermediary force which is I think this organized effort by organized crime to move more of these kids forward. And there has to be an effort in the flow countries as well because this cannot be stopped solely at the receiving end.
PAUL: All right Maria and Ron -- hey hold on here stay with us because we want to talk more about this. Should these kids be granted asylum is the next question if they are running from violence in their home country if they are truly in danger? We're going to talk about that next. So they are going to stay with us. Don't go away.
First, though, I want to go to Andy Murray's hometown in today's "Open Court."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The roar of the crowd is gone, but there is a lasting sense of pride on the streets of Dunblane, Scotland. This is 2013 Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray's hometown. The courts where Andy learned to play are filled with children competing in their first tournament, the Judy Murray Cup.
JUDY MURRAY, ANDY MURRAY'S MOTHER: This is the Andy racket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judy is Andy's mum.
MURRAY: I've always been about raising opportunities for kids and this event that we have here is just a perfect starter. You see the parents getting involved, the sun shining and the kids are having fun. This is where it started. Just our little local club. So hopefully it's going to inspire a whole more kids to try tennis and certainly in the local area to get more people down to our local club.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: It's being called an urgent situation and it's happening right here in the United States. Migrant children -- most of them from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras -- flooding into the U.S. illegally and by themselves. BLACKWELL: The numbers are staggering. So far this year, 47,000 kids
have crossed the border and Christi said by themselves. I mean some parents are letting their kids as young as five -- four years old. They just point them in the direction and tell them to go.
Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson warned parents of the dangers of telling your kids just go that way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Illegal migration is not safe. Illegal migration through the south Texas border is not safe. A processing center is no place for your child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Let's bring back CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.
I want to start with you Maria. You know that Arizona governor, Jan Brewer just blames this on President Obama's immigration policy and what she says is the unwillingness to secure the border. Is this a policy problem in some part? She says it could be the assumption that President Obama is lenient when it comes to illegal immigrants. What say you?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the fact of the matter is here this is a perfect storm. Let's go back to Rosa's report which is absolutely right. The rise in crime and violence in these countries is what has spurred this massive migration of unaccompanied children. We've had a lot of unaccompanied children appear at our borders for years and years and years. And in fact in 2008, there was an act passed with additional protections for these children called the Trafficking Victims Protection Act that essentially said that these children cannot be in the custody of the border patrol for more than 72 hours.
Then they are processed by an HHS agency shelter and then they are given to whatever relatives they might have in the country. I think that has led to the rumors that these children will be let go if they get to the border patrol. But at the end of the day, what matters here is that we have to get our own immigration policies in order.
So you know, Jan is absolutely wrong because what we need to do is make sure that we send a unified message and then work with these countries to get the message to those parents that say don't send your children. They're not going to be set free. And in fact, it could be very, very dangerous. But imagine the desperation of these parents in terms of what they are going through to be able to say go to a five- year-old child because you're going to have a better life in the United States.
PAUL: Yes, you can't imagine it. But you know, we heard Rosa saying there are these coyotes, these middle men who are telling them otherwise. And Ron, you brought up last time that we need to focus on infiltrating that first of all and making sure those lies aren't there. But if these kids are fleeing violence and because they are minors -- I mean the human I think in most people, you just feel for them.
Should there be some sort of modified law for them when it comes to border crossing?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. Hard cases make bad law. And it is very difficult to argue that if you provide amnesty, any kind of refugee status, that you would not increase the flow and impound the problem inadvertently. I mean the issue here is we really have to cut it off at the source and that, I think, is very difficult.
And Maria points out the 2008 law which had the goal of providing more humane treatment in fact may have compounded the problem itself by making it easier for people to come and stay longer which increases the flow. So it's a very complicated problem, but ultimately I think the solution is diminishing the flow, not changing the way they are dealt with once they are here.
BLACKWELL: Maria, should the U.S. offer these children asylum. I mean they are escaping violence. They are coming here for safety.
PAUL: Right. We haven't been able to change that.
CARDONA: Right. Well, what actually happens is that these children are looked at on a case-by-case basis. And so while some children and some families are targeted back in these countries, and I talked to many of them, by gang violence specifically and by drug violence and drug cartels because Mexico has done a very good job of trying to push the violence from Mexico downward. And so this is part of that effect.
So if it can be proven these kids have been targeted, that these families have been targeted, they will be given asylum. And I think that is the right way to go instead of doing a blanket announcement that all of these children will get asylum because I think that will I think encourage another mass migration. It is done on a case-by-case basis and that's how it needs to be done.
BLACKWELL: All right. Maria Cardona, Ron Brownstein -- we're going to let you get a lozenge, a nice warm cup of tea.
PAUL: Hope you're feeling ok -- Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: We hope you feel better.
PAUL: You pushed through it though, buddy, thank you.
BLACKWELL: We thank you for coming.
BROWNSTEIN: Appreciate it.
CARDONA: Thank you guys.
PAUL: Thanks to both of you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
PAUL: So you know, I would like to have gotten their opinion on this one too because this is the talk of social media. Is this a normal body? One Miss USA contestant at the center of this whole thing and she is here on NEW DAY to talk about it. Miss Indiana herself, Mekayla Diehl joining us live next.
PAUL: You know, she may not have won the 2014 Miss USA pageant, but Mekayla Diehl and her so-called normal swimsuit body is what the world is talking about this weekend.
BLACKWELL: Yes. So believe it or not -- take a look. There's the 25-year-old beauty from Indiana. This is what social media right now is praising as average.
Reactions like, "The fact that Miss Indiana is not a complete twig makes me really happy."
"And #dear Miss Indiana, thank you for looking like an average woman."
PAUL: Ok. But you know that stuff like that then prompts people to say what exactly is an average woman? What is normal today? Well, according to the CDC Miss Indiana is about five inches taller than most American women and her dress size is a four. Most women are between a 12 and a 14.
BLACKWELL: And apparently, average women wear ankle length skirts? What is this?
PAUL: I don't know what that is. I don't know what that silhouette is.
Mekayla Diehl though is with us live from Indianapolis. Congratulations first of all because you know what -- you made it so far.
MEKAYLA DIEHL, MISS INDIANA: Thank you.
PAUL: And that was -- that was very impressive as it is.
DIEHL: Thank you so much.
PAUL: What do you make of all of this, you know, body-type reaction?
DIEHL: It was, I guess it was a surprise. I didn't think anything was going to come of this. I just competed. Of course, you are going for the crown. If not, you go home and continue your life. And this is kind of Plan C. I'm not really sure what I'm doing with it, but I'm loving it.
BLACKWELL: Well that's great. I'm glad you are enjoying it. What was your -- you know, was size ever an issue for you before? Was this something that was new once you got to the Miss USA competition?
DIEHL: Well, I guess, size was not an issue for me. Was I aware that I had more of an athletic build than the average model? Absolutely. I have a mirror. I mean I could tell that. It never was an issue. You always want to be your best healthiest version when you are on national television in a swim suit and that's exactly what I did.
PAUL: Ok, so let me ask you this. And I'll tell you -- myself, I used to be in pageants myself. And I know that there was a real -- when you are going to get on stage, you darn well better be in good shape. I have not been there for a really long time. So I'm wondering today, you know, there are 50 other contestants that competed against you. Are they more concerned with body size and image do you think these days than in the past?
DIEHL: What is important here is -- I mean I had a hard time because there are so many other girls that have different body styles as well. And at the end, we are just trying to be healthy. There's a lot of girls and there's a handful of them that we have similar body types that did not make the top 20. And we should be celebrating them as well -- all 51 girls. We are all were just trying to be healthy.
I think that has really kind of shown that the pageant industry has changed a bit that we are celebrating the diversity of women and not so much looking for a supermodel anymore.
BLACKWELL: You know, beyond the pageant world and the other contestants, what would your advice be to young woman who watched this pageant and they see you and the other women as their ideal. You know, as the song goes. What would you say to them?
DIEHL: I would say look at us and say why we are participating in these pageants. Most of us had started pageantry for scholarship reasons, for community service outlets and career opportunities. That is what we need to be pushing. If someone is interested, especially a young girl, in being like us and to do a pageant, we need to show her the advantages of doing a pageant, the life lessons she's going to learn and have to make sure that they see beyond that crown and banner.
PAUL: Yes. And you know what; I think normal -- it is not even subjective. It is scientific. I mean my daughter is tall. She will be taller than me by the time she is in sixth grade. What is normal to me is not going to be normal to her so I think it's all kind of relative.
But Mekayla Diehl, congratulations to you. Thank you again. And just an FYI we have a producer back there who would love to know if you are single. But I'll let you deal with that on the other side.
BLACKWELL: Thank you Mekayla.
DIEHL: Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: You know there is this one little element that you mentioned, you were in pageants. What happened when you were in the Miss Ohio pageant?
PAUL: I fell off the stage at Miss Ohio. I fell off the stage.
Smerconish doesn't though. He's coming at you next.
BLACKWELL: Thanks for starting with us. We'll see you back here.
PAUL: There is video, yes.
BLACKWELL: -- top of the hour after the show.