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Obama Wants $3.7 Billion for Immigration; Obama Asks to Meet with Rick Perry in Texas; Menendez Lawyers Says Cuban Spies Behind Prostitution Claim; Rollercoaster De-Rails; Google CEO Talks Shorter Work Week; Interview with British Singer Lulu

Aired July 8, 2014 - 11:30   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: White House officials are on a conference call with reporters earlier this morning stressing that because of the way the law is written, they believe that many of these children just are not eligible to stay in the country, so they will have to be removed.

So there's an additional $1.1 billion for that. $433 million for border patrol agents. There will be a need for more overtime money, other costs that are involved with the border patrol needs that are going to be up and down the southwestern border. Then this is also very interesting and it is a sign of things to come. $64 million to the Department of Justice to hire immigration judge teams and also provide legal assistance to these unaccompanied minors and their families, because so many of these children have come in from countries other than Mexico. They have come from Central America. There is a special stipulation in the law that says children from Mexico are immediately returned, children from other parts of Central America, there's a different process involved. That is why the White House is also seeking some new legal authorities from the department of homeland security to expedite the process of returning those children back to their countries of origin so that expanded legal authority that the White House is seeking along with that $3.7 billion, the White House is hoping they can put a lid on this crisis.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Jim, quickly, this is the second big piece of news on immigration to come out of the White House today. The first is this political game of invitation. First, Rick Perry really challenged the president to come meet with him at the border when he goes to Texas tomorrow. Well, early this morning, the White House said, hey, Rick Perry, governor of Texas, come meet with President Obama in Dallas tomorrow. Has the White House received a response yet from the Texas governor?

ACOSTA: I asked that question specifically on a conference call with reporters earlier this morning, and White House officials as of about 30 or 45 minutes ago said they had not yet received a response from Governor Perry. Obviously this may not be what he had in mind because what he had rejected was a handshake on the tarmac in Austin. What the president is now saying is he would like Rick Perry to travel from Austin to Dallas to go to a meeting the president is having with local leaders and other elected officials who are talking about converting schools in Dallas to temporary shelters for these unaccompanied minors. By the way, there are reports out of Houston that that kind of move is also afoot down there, turning schools into detention facilities. It just gives you a sense as to the massive scope of this crisis. But getting back to the political back and forth here, it would be interesting if Rick Perry were to say no to all of this after all of the complaints that he's registered in the last several days aimed at the president. There is a part of this, I think you are aware of this, that perhaps the White House is setting a bit of a track to say no. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

BERMAN: Very interesting.

Thanks so much, Jim.

Let's talk more about both the issue and the politics. Maria Cardona is our political commentator and Democratic strategist. Alice Stewart is former national press secretary for Rick Santorum.

Alice, I'll start with you. Should Rick Perry say yes? Should we have this high profile meeting on this very important issue, immigration, tomorrow in Dallas?

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR RICK SANTORUM: Well, I spoke with someone in the governor's office a short time ago and the bottom line is this. They say that Governor Perry has been making the point that this is a national crisis for quite some time and wanted the president to see it first-hand and the fact that his invitation for the president to go see it face-to-face on the border, the fact that that was turned down, he's a little frustrated by that but at the end of the day, he's the governor of his state and he wants what's best for his state. I think between now and the time the president leaves Texas, they will have some kind of conversation because at the end of the day, Governor Perry wants what's best for his state and certainly, for our country.

PEREIRA: Maria, we talked a little about this yesterday. I think it's stupefying some people as to why the president isn't going to the border. He's getting heat from Republicans and from those in his own party. When you look at his roots in community organization and you look at the type of president he's been, I think it's surprising a lot of people that he doesn't want to see this first-hand.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think what the White House is focused on, and there's a very good argument for this, he doesn't want to politicize the issue which is what Republicans are doing. But I think what he wants to focus on, and this is what he's doing with what he just asked for Congress, $3.7 billion, and everything that he's been doing in terms of talking to the people in Central America, talking to law enforcement, making sure that homeland security folks are focused on the issue and the solutions at hand. He wants to try to take the politics out. I agree it is probably next to impossible to do that. But what he wants to focus on is on the solutions. He knows if he goes to the border right now, and I think he will go. If he goes right now, it will absolutely be focused on the politics of this. We need to make sure that solutions are at hand. This is a humanitarian crisis. These children are as vulnerable a population as we have. We have to make sure that our solutions are focused on them and I hope that Rick Perry, Governor Perry, will accept this invitation from the president. They can talk about this away from the glare of the border and I know the president will be anxious to hear what Rick Perry wants to bring to the table in terms of helping him solve this.

BERMAN: Alice, I'm not speaking out of school here. I think Rick Perry is considering running for president again in a couple of years. He ran once already, didn't quite go as well as he had hoped. Interestingly enough, he had some issues with immigration when he ran before. Many Republicans did not see him as conservative enough on the issue of illegal immigration. What do you think the risks and rewards are right now for a potential candidate Rick Perry?

STEWART: Well, I think first of all, the risks are not being firm as he is. He is first and foremost looking out what's best for his state and I think he has been strong, he has been firm in calling attention to this, and I think if there is a reward in this crisis, not that we are going to look at it from that standpoint but if he is successful in getting the president to go to the border and take a look at the issue, but here's the thing. Maria talks about getting the politics out of it. The president's politics are what got us in the situation in the first place. The fact that he has rolled out the red carpet for illegals to come into this country, he has defied all Republican attempts to seal off the border and his own DHS, Homeland Security spokesman on Sunday said our border is not open. That is a bunch of malarkey. That's the reason we're in this mess that we're in. The fact that this administration has no plan in place to deport these people that are here, that just goes to show that as Jim says, this is just the tip of the iceberg and we are going to need not just $3.7 billion, we are going to need twice that in a few months' time because this situation is getting far worse before it's getting better.

CARDONA: I'm sorry, but what she said is absolutely laughable. I love you --


CARDONA: -- but the president ever since President Obama took office, the growth in undocumented population has been net negative. The growth of the undocumented population under George W. Bush was three to four million. So if we want to talk about who has secured the border more, we have to take a look at the facts. I know that Republicans sometimes don't let facts get in the way of rhetoric but we have to look at the facts here.

PEREIRA: Big thanks to both of you. Thank you for joining us. Obviously a very heated conversation about an issue that has a lot of emotional ties for so many people in the nation.

All right. Check this out. Another story we are watching. Cuban spies, underaged prostitutes. Believe it or not, a lawyer for Senator Robert Menendez says the Cuban government cooked up and sold stories about him leaving the country to have sex with underaged prostitutes.

BERMAN: The lawyer says the alleged plot tricked both the media and the FBI and it is now time for the Justice Department to investigate this. Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is in Washington with the latest.

Even, when this story first came out, the women who were being quoted, they didn't check out. The FBI looked into it, said the whole story didn't check out. Now more than a year later, why do you think Menendez's team is coming forward with this allegation?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's one of the strangest parts of this story is that those allegations had faded, frankly, because the FBI couldn't verify them. The women recanted in interviews with the "Washington Post" but now we are hearing the "Washington Post" itself is reporting that the CIA had found some indication, some proof, that the lawyer is now saying indicates that this was a smear campaign by the Cuban Intelligence Agency. We haven't seen any proof of this yet but that's what their allegation is.

PEREIRA: I think people have to ask, why on earth would Cuba go after Menendez.

PEREZ: Well, first of all, he's of Cuban descent. He's from a district in New Jersey with a very large Cuban population, especially northern New Jersey. He is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is very strong on maintaining sanctions against the Castro government. So that is one reason why they say the Cuban government would be interested in doing this.

BERMAN: You hear allegations of Cuban spies, Cuban intelligence and your first reaction is "holy cow." The lawyers for Senator Menendez, have they put forth any proof of this?

PEREZ: No, they haven't. Keep in mind, there are other things going on. They are basically asking the Justice Department to investigate the beginnings of their own investigation.


PEREIRA: Investigate the investigation.


PEREZ: Right. Exactly. Because some of it began with the prosecution stuff, then moved on to other parts of his alleged behavior. And that's where this is going.

PEREIRA: Evan, thank you so much for this. Weaving your way through a complex story. Appreciate it, as always.

Ahead, it was supposed to be a thrill but it turned into quite a nightmare. A roller coaster jumping the tracks leaving 22 people dangling from those very tracks. We will tell you about the rescue, next.


BERMAN: It may have been an amusement park but it was not one bit amusing. Imagine being suspended 20 feet in the air, dangling from a roller coaster trapped for hours.

PEREIRA: It's a terrifying scene that became reality at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, southern California, Valencia, specifically.

Here's how it played out.

PEREIRA (voice-over): The front car of the ninja roller coaster seen dangling from the tracks at Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles after a tree branch fell, derailing the car, trapping 22 passengers and leaving them suspended about 20 feet in the air.

BRANDY CHAMBERS, WITNESS: We saw the ninja go into the trees and it was just a lot of leaves blowing and then cracking noises and crashing noises and lot of screaming.

PEREIRA: Four riders were hurt after the train car was left hanging at a 45 degree angle, facing the ground for nearly three hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car came around the corner and hit the tree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just fell. Like there was just a loud boom.

PEREIRA: Two people were taken to the hospital after a specialized urban search and rescue team worked to free the passengers. Climbing atop the coaster and using a thick rope to tie the front of the car to the track above.

BRIANNA MADRIO, WITNESS: The people that were on the ride, like their family and friends were kind of freaking out a little bit. That's how we were kind of like what happened.

PEREIRA: A Reddit user posted this picture online. The front of the train completely detached from the track. In these images, a close-up look at the fallen tree limb.


PEREIRA: Instead of operating like a typical roller coaster, this suspends riders from the track. As this video shows, the coaster is surrounded by trees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary because it could have been us.

PEREIRA: The derailment is the latest in a series of high profile roller coaster accidents at other parks in recent years, and the third incident in the past week.


BERMAN: Obviously, not supposed to happen. Six Flags released a statement saying, "The safety of our guests and employees is our number-one priority. As a precaution, the ride will remain closed until a thorough inspection of the area is complete."

PEREIRA: They will probably be doing a little tree abatement. Trimming of the trees.

BERMAN: That's a good idea.

PEREIRA: The ride themselves, doesn't sound like there was an issue with this ride. The safety wasn't a problem. Are you a roller coaster guy?

BERMAN: I love roller coasters. But they're scary and things happen. When you get on them, you know that --

PEREIRA: You don't worry that's going to happen?

BERMAN: Not really.

PEREIRA: Not tree limbs falling? I'm a big chicken. My friends took me there, I white knuckled the whole time.

BERMAN: Are you scared of that or the actual ride?

PEREIRA: The ride. Not the tree limbs. Sorry. Was that too much?


BERMAN: That was too much.

Quarter to the hour right now. How would you like to work less than 40 hours a week? Is that possible? It is an attractive idea being touted by a very important CEO from Google. Could the future of our work force really be part-time?

PEREIRA: I like when you do your voice like that.

Also, she was friends with the beetles and performed with the Monkees. British singer and actress, Lulu will join us to talk about how the British invasion influenced popular music.





PEREIRA: Google's founder is talking about ended the 40-hour work week.

BERMAN: In a fire-side chat with the venture capitalist, Larry Page says people want a better work-life balance, more time with their families and time to pursue their own interests. He said, quote, "The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people's needs is just not true. You just need to reduce work time."

PEREIRA: Our chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is here.

The idea is work harder, but at the end of the day, the work still needs to be done.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: He's a futurist. He's saying, 100 years ago, all of us were farmers and we worked a lot harder than this. People today are like, come on, this is like tech elitism. If you're a programmer with one great idea, if you work two hours a day, we should all do that. The point is, so many people want to be working more hours. How many people are employed in this country part time but want to be working full time? They need more hours. If you want part time, do you get paid full time? There's a two Americas discussion. The tech part of the story where in the future in theory we should have to work less and have great ideas and make more money. But the reality of right now, which is, hey, wait, a lot of people want to work more, not less it.

BERMAN: A lot of people are working a heck of a lot more than 40 hours a week. People are working two, three jobs to make ends meet.


ROMANS: People are stressed out. I call it the work-life out of balance. The work-life in balance. The work-life balance is one of those things nice to say but a lot of people are really struggling with it. What the Google folks will tell you is, look, Google cars, for example, can take 50 minutes a day off of your commute. That's more time in the work-life balance. Talking about technology making your lives better and more convenient.


PEREIRA: So we've often seen models of companies like splitting up jobs into part-time work, instead of taking full time. Then also do you not qualify for benefits like health insurance?

ROMANS: He said, look, maybe we can increase employment by having people take two jobs, one job and make it into two jobs. But it costs more money to do that because you have the overhead of two employees. And are you going to pay the employees the same amount of money. There are practical considerations to what he's say. He's a futurist. These tech CEOs like to think big, big ideas. It shows you there are these two worlds. The tech elites who really are see things in this idea-knowledge driven way. And then this growing group of people living paycheck to paycheck who are working with their hours, where that's where the bulk of the jobs are coming in. They're saying, wow, I'd like to be a programmer, but I'm not.

BERMAN: I appreciate his ideas and leadership on his many issues. I think he may be living and playing by a different set of rules.

ROMANS: I would like to work less than 40 hours a week. I don't think anybody here works 40 hours a week.

PEREIRA: No we don't. Three or four-day weekend?

BERMAN: That would be France. We all know what happened to them.

ROMANS: Some tech companies are doing the four-day week. You're seeing this already.

PEREIRA: Christine Romans.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, nice to have you with us.

ROMANS: Be nice to the French.

PEREIRA: He never is nice to the French. You should know that.

Up next, her voice was one of the most memorable of the 1960s. She was friends with the Beatles. Married a Bee Gee. The British singer and actress takes us through a trip through the British invasion.




BERMAN: Got some breaking political news for you. A panel has recommended that Cleveland be the site of the 2016 Republican national convention. Cleveland of course is in Ohio, which of course is a key swing state, which is why they chose it.

PEREIRA: It's not because Cleveland rocks?

BERMAN: Cleveland does rock and they hope Cleveland rocks some swing voters. The other city up for option there was Dallas, Texas. Dallas, not so much a swing area.

PEREIRA: Not so much.

BERMAN: Big move.

Before there was Beyonce, before there was Madonna, there was this singer from Britain who became a sensation.

PEREIRA: She was only 16 years old when she sang and acted in a ground-making movie, "To Sir with Love." She starred next to Sydney Poitier as a teacher trying to educate some rough kids from east London. Take a look at Lulu singing the title song.


BERMAN: The sounds of "The Sixties."

PEREIRA: An iconic movie.

Lulu joins us live from London. Looking fabulous. What a delight.


PEREIRA: So we're learning all of our trivia about -- the era of the British invasion, the movie, et cetera, the title song originally was different for the movie. LULU: What happened was -- I mean, I was 16, and to be in a film with

Sydney Poitier, I was walking on air. They said -- my manager very smartly said if you want her to be in the film, she has to sing the title song. They kind of agreed to it but nobody made any effort to get a song. I had got the song written and, you know, thank goodness because nobody was bothering. They sent me some rubbish stuff. I thought they'd get, you know, Hal David and -- but I got some British guys to write it.

BERMAN: So we're talking this week, first of all, because we're lucky. Second, CNN has a terrific special on the Britain invasion coming on Thursday night here. We talk about the British invasion. It's so interesting, we talk about the Britain influence on American music, but you and so many others actually came here influenced by American music.

LULU: Oh, again, I'm going to use the same word, it's in my vocabulary a lot, rubbish is what I thought of English music, British music. The people I liked -- it was about black American music for me, Ray Charles was the man. It was not about English people singing. When I hear myself singing "To Sir with Love," I'm very judgmental. I think I sing it rather sweetly. Now, when I do it in my account, I do it, give a nod, pay homage to Al Green, when I sing.


LULU: Those schoolgirl days I don't destroy it but a little bit more with the al feel, you know?

PEREIRA: I like that.

LULU: I bet you'd like it.

PEREIRA: Absolutely do.

It's interesting, because we're seeing, if you will, a sort of second British invasion right now. I'm thinking of tremendous artists, Adele, Sam Smith, Lilly Allen, and they too are very influenced by the very same R&B music you're talking about.

LULU: But, of course. You know what was interesting to me, too, because I was, after all, when I made "Shout" which is --


I made that record, my first record, but I was a 14-year-old girl and very, very enamored of the four Beatles. So no British actors before them influenced me. I think that's also because we like the same music.

BERMAN: I have to say, we've been lucky --

LULU: American music.

BERMAN: -- not lucky because we have this special but lucky to hear you sing in little snippets here. You say you don't like to hear yourself sing. I have to say, you're really good at it. I think you should make a career out of it.


LULU: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Lulu, thank you very much for joining us, really appreciate your time.

LULU: My pleasure, my pleasure.

PEREIRA: "The Sixties" airs Thursday 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

BERMAN: Set your DVR and watch it live.

We'll have more on the Britain invasion coming up this week on the program. Tomorrow, we will speak with the legendary Graham Nash, of course, from Crosby, Stills, Nash. Before that, he was part of a British band called the Hollies, another phenomenal British band.

PEREIRA: Thursday, we'll talk to Petula Clark.

And stay with us now, because we're going to continue our conversation with Lulu online. We're going to post our special after this hour with Lulu on Facebook and Twitter.

That's it for us @THISHOUR on TV.

BERMAN: "LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.