Return to Transcripts main page


Violence Continues Between Israel and Hamas; Immigration Crisis Involving Central American Children Along U.S. Southern Border Continues; Interview with Sheriff Paul Babeu; Pulitzer Prize Winner Jose Antonio Vargas Arrested Trying to Board Flight

Aired July 16, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. We begin with the violence in the Middle East. Israel is now telling residents of northern Gaza leave for your own safety and ignore calls from Hamas to stay put. The Israeli military is getting ready to hit those areas they say in order to take out Hamas rocket launchers there. And 141 rockets fired Tuesday. Israel suffered its first fatality of the conflict. However, in Gaza the death toll now tops 200. The conflict shows no sign of slowing. Karl Penhaul is back in Gaza for us this morning. Karl, what's the latest from there?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's not only northern Gaza that's under threat this morning, Chris, also these neighborhoods behind me in eastern Gaza. There, too, the Israeli military dropped leaflets and made automatic phone calls known as robo-calls to civilians to get out because they would be in the path of danger, and they have been in the path of danger, because throughout the course of the morning we have seen repeated Israeli air strikes, F-16s screeching through the air and landing bombs into those areas. We've seen at least 12 airstrikes.

But that has not stopped the Hamas rockets. Those strikes have not been pinpoint enough to hit the Hamas rocket launchers because from a single launching site at one point in the morning we saw eight rockets at least going out from there, heading off towards Israel. So this fight is still very much going on. The civilians are the ones bearing the brunt of this. I saw a man moving his entire family out of his home from this neighborhood on a donkey cart. When I looked him in the eye and said are you afraid for you and for your children, he looked me in the eye and he said I'm not afraid. I feel we're already dead. Back to you, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievably desperate situation for the citizens there. Thank you so much, Karl Penhaul in Gaza for us. Let's continue this discussion. Let's bring in Yousef Munayyer. He is the executive director of the Palestine Center and the Jerusalem Fund. Yousef, it's good to see you again.


BOLDUAN: So let's talk about kind of where things are at this point. We have the ceasefire proposal from Egypt. Israel signs onto it, accepts it. Hamas keeps firing. Why do you think Hamas kept firing? MUNAYYER: Well, you know, we saw some very interesting reporting

yesterday in the Israeli media that revealed the back story to that entire diplomatic conversation, and it turned out that the parties in Gaza were never presented with the ceasefire agreement, but rather it was an agreement made between Israel and the Egyptians, but there was no consultation with the Palestinian factions in Gaza. So obviously that's not any serious way to get an agreement here. You have to have the parties involved in the hostilities actually aware of and consulted in the terms of the agreement.

So I think we saw that happen in the past. We saw that happen in 2012. We saw that happen in 2008. So there's obviously a formula there, but what we saw yesterday was not that at all, and that's, of course, why that ceasefire was not successful.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean, you definitely saw Hamas -- Hamas leaders came out and one of them even called it a joke. I do wonder, what is the view of the Palestinian people in Gaza of Hamas rejecting a ceasefire or not taking part in the attempt of a ceasefire if Israel had just stopped firing even for I think it was like six hours?

MUNAYYER: I think the important thing to remember here, and I think this is a view shared by many Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere, is that when there is a ceasefire, and, again, we saw this after 2012, the fire on Gaza does not necessarily stop. In fact, after the 2012 ceasefire before the next projectile was fired Palestinians were killed and injured in the Gaza Strip by Israeli fire.

BOLDUAN: Yes, but what about this time?

MUNAYYER: Again, they don't want a ceasefire that repeats previous instances where the world turns the attention away from the Gaza Strip and the siege of the Gaza Strip continues and Israeli violations in the Gaza Strip continue. I think what they want is a ceasefire agreement that addresses the real problems that they face and the system of violence that is this siege, that is the occupation, so that it can be a genuine ceasefire agreement that brings an end to hostilities, not just from one side.

The Egyptian president is hosting the -- is hosting Palestinian president in Cairo today, and I do wonder though what can come of those discussions if -- if Abbas doesn't have sign-on or support from Hamas.

MUNAYYER: Well, obviously I think you need to engage the parties involved, you know. It's important to remember that there has been a reconciliation agreement between Palestinian parties, and so there are, of course, relationships between Mahmoud Abbas and the other parties in Gaza that are currently involved in the belligerency, including, by the way, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is affiliated with the Fatah party, Mahmoud Abbas' party. So, you know, there's definitely channels there that could be used, but they need to be used effectively. They need to be used with genuine intentions to bring a ceasefire about that also genuinely addresses the problems that Palestinians face in Gaza under the siege. BOLDUAN: Is it clear to you right now who is leading Hamas though

because we had two different reactions to the discussions of a ceasefire yesterday when that came out. I mean, there seems to be a divide, a long-standing divide between the political wing of Hamas and the military wing. If they can't be on the same page, then how are they going -- get to any point of agreeing on a ceasefire?

MUNAYYER: There is, of course, a political wing and a military wing for Hamas as well as for other factions in the Gaza Strip, including Islamic Jihad, including a number of other parties which span from Islamists to nationalists to secularists, by the way. And so there are a number of different players here. But in the past we have seen that when genuine ceasefire negotiations are undertaken, that Hamas and their leadership in the Gaza Strip is able to bring others on board.

But they have to be able to give something to those factions as well, including guarantees that a ceasefire would be genuine and would not result in the continued violation of that ceasefire through firing, for example, on fishermen and on farmers, extrajudicial assassinations by the Israelis, and so on.

So there's a lot of players here, a lot of politics involved, and, unfortunately, just trying to impose a ceasefire without consulting the people who are actually involved and dealing with the interests of the people on the ground first and foremost is not going to provide security or safety for anyone.

BOLDUAN: Yousef Munayyer, thank you so much for your time.

MUNAYYER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, we want to direct your attention to another urgent situation that you have to follow today. You know, the acronym NIMBY, not in my backyard, well, it's been taken to an entirely new level because of these migrants who have shown up on America's doorstep. Many of them are children, and there are a lot of border towns. Now one town in Arizona is the latest epicenter of the crisis. Protesters for both sides squared off in Oracle, Arizona, after learning buses of undocumented children were expected to arrive there. Now, they may have learned this from local sheriff Paul Babeu. He was at the rally and some accused him of stoking that angry crowd there. He joins us now. Sheriff, thank you for joining us this morning. It's good to have you on NEW DAY.

SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: Thanks for having me on, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, the general proposition is that you share the common frustration with many in state and local government that you don't want these kids, yes?

BABEU: Well, it's not just the kids as we have enough issues and concerns here with drug smugglers and with the 123,000 illegals that were apprehended in this sector alone just in one year. So, yes, we do have our hands full here in Arizona.

CUOMO: Sheriff, they are not being released into your community. They are going to be held, detained. Is it misleading to say they are going to add to your troubles when they are not going to add to your community?

BABEU: Well, we have no information to lead me to believe one way or the other, and that's where I've asked the question. It's never been answered. And this supposed to be a republic with a transparent government, and not only do I have questions, legitimate I believe from a law enforcement and public health perspective, but certainly the citizens of the county who live there want answers because these individuals, these unaccompanied juveniles that are in Texas, are being sent not just here to Arizona. And you mentioned NIMBY, what about every community throughout the southwest or wherever these young kids are going?

I think it would help because it's a national issue is to answer some of these concerns and these questions just as Secretary Johnson testified before Congress last week that in fact his direction was that all of DHS, Department of Homeland Security, would coordinate with local and state officials. That hasn't been done. So I believe I have a legitimate concern and complaint. I've been criticized from both sides, and so where's the federal government in this discussion to answer these concerns as well?

CUOMO: Well, I understand that issue, but you do seem to be blowing it out of proportion a little bit. You say they are going to hurt my community. You don't know that. You say I don't know where they are going to be kept. Sure you do. You know the Sycamore Canyon Academy has agreed voluntarily to take them and expand its staff, so that's not an open question. And you told the protesters where the buses were coming in. You could have created a dangerous situation. Most of the people coming are kids. Don't you think that was a little risky?

BABEU: Not at all. If you know where Oracle, Arizona, is, and where this location is, there's only one road to get in here. And what I did is talking to all the organizers and protesters, I did this myself, not only asking for calm, trying to set up two different locations, and the members of the community have not only legitimate concerns, they want to be heard. Everything went fine yesterday outside of arguing.

CUOMO: It may have gone fine. You didn't help it stay calm. Take a listen to what you said just so everyone else knows. Take a listen.


BABEU: This is where the federal government is sending 40 to 60 unaccompanied juveniles. Do you think they should be here to answer, to talk about that?


BABEU: And this is where that needs to be discussed. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: I'm not saying you don't have a legitimate question, but that's not keeping the price. That's riling up people there who are already angry, and I'm sure you understand that. I just want to point out a couple of things you said and see if I can get some clarification on it.

BABEU: Sure.

CUOMO: You draw another legitimate issue.

BABEU: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Some of these kids are gang bangers, MS-13, one of the most dangerous gangs in the world. There is reason to suspect some may be there, but you're talking about tens of thousands of people who are here now, many children. Why paint them all with that brush? Why prejudice this population with what may be true just about a few?

BABEU: Well, and here you mischaracterize what I said, and I qualified those remarks. We know for a fact that through screening in Texas that there have been documented cases. I said I don't know how many there are. I don't know what this population --

CUOMO: Many of these have infiltrated. Many of these have infiltrated. It's very clear a lot of these individuals have been coached.

BABEU: No, it's not very coached.

CUOMO: You said it. I agree with you. You said it.

BABEU: That is clear. Those are my -- those are my -- absolutely, and so this is where -- how is it that we've arrived at this place in America where guys like myself and other Americans who are paying the Bill, right, if you're sending people into not just my county and my state and we have 60,000, and what is expected by the federal government's estimate, 90,000 unaccompanied juveniles, their very hope was realized when we took them in. Nobody was turned back. And what I believe, and I think a lot of Americans would agree, is instead of accepting these 90,000, they should have -- the humanitarian way to address this is reunite them with their families and their country of origin because this 90,000 is going to be hundreds of thousands --

CUOMO: Nobody disagrees with that.

BABEU: Well, then, why aren't we doing this?

CUOMO: Because you are an officer of the law and you know, I hope, what the law says. These people have to be processed. They have to get their day in court. You have to find out if they have grounds for asylum or not. You know that's what the law calls for. You could change the law, but that's the law. And you're getting 40 to 60 people and you're scaring people about gangs.


CUOMO: You're riling them up about the government.

BABEU: That's not scaring people about that.

CUOMO: You're distracting them about the plan from Obama. You're saying this $3.7 billion, it's a waste. It's going to exactly what you say you want -- more judges to process to cases and more border security.

BABEU: No, it's not. Let me respond.

CUOMO: Please, please.

BABEU: It's absolutely not. You know, here, you don't know the situation on the ground here. We just arrested eight cartel scouts on mountaintops in my county. This is America, and the fact that we have --

CUOMO: Do they have anything to do with these 40 to 60 kids?

BABEU: Absolutely.

CUOMO: How do you know? You said it was a problem before.

BABEU: The problem before with the cartels?


BABEU: In the fact that we have hundreds of thousands -- not just the unaccompanied but regular illegals, and this is where I have asked instead of not just spending this $3.7 billion to address this issue, why don't we solve the core issue? The core issue is this is an unsecured border.

CUOMO: Right.

BABEU: And I think most people would agree.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

BABEU: If you want to get to the discussion of not just the humanitarian issue but the long-term issue of the 11 million to 20 million illegals who are here, secure the border first.

CUOMO: Absolutely, secure the border.

BABEU: And then you won't have the dispassionate --

CUOMO: Secure the border, and $1.5 billion goes to border security, $1.5 billion in the plan goes to border security, cracking down on smugglers, and transportation costs.

BABEU: This is not going -- this is not going to secure the border because there's no enforcement of the law. When we have illegals who are deported 10, 12, 15 times that my deputies are encountering on a daily and on a weekly basis, that in law enforcement we call a clue. The law is not being enforced when it comes to immigration.

CUOMO: That's true and it has to be addressed.

BABEU: The law applies to you and me.

CUOMO: That's true and it has to be addressed..


BABEU: I'm asking questions.

CUOMO: You're writing them off as gang members.


CUOMO : I understand that you're frustrated with the federal government.


BABEU: I had a town hall with 300 -- I had a town hall with 300 of these local residents.

CUOMO: Right.

BABEU: Answering the questions that I didn't have a lot of information. This information was promised by the federal government.

CUOMO: Right.

BABEU: And there have been no response about this and so ---


BABEU: I'm the one who is on your show --

CUOMO: You're painting them as potential gang members, that's not good. Okay? We both know that. You haven't even met with these kids.

BABEU: Some of these are potential gang members.

CUOMO: I know.

But you're making it sound like it's a given that you're going to get new gang bangers in your community, you know that. You know that that's how it's coming across to many people. You haven't even met with the kids. You had an opportunity to do that. You didn't take it.

BABEU: Then answer the questions. No, I did not -- that's not true.


BABEU: These people have never come to oracle, Arizona.

CUOMO: Didn't you say, and I have it here in front of me --

BABEU: There are no unaccompanied juveniles in --

CUOMO: I know, but you said you had a chance to go and meet with some kids but it was cursory so you didn't take the opportunity.

BABEU: No, what I had said in Nogales, which is three hours away from my county, that there was a processing center. They denied me and everybody else access to that facility for over a week and then nobody got to meet with any of the kids. All you did is go out in the lobby and look at the facility, and that's where at that point nobody went to this facility. My concern is not only my county. I don't work for the rest of the country, but I'm telling you that a lot of people are upset, and you mentioned NIMBY. Its like, this is going to go on in counties all across every state in the southwest. And if this is a PR disaster, not for me, from the federal government. There's -- there's not a better recipe for disaster than rolling it out this way with a lack of information, not calling the local officials, and providing information. If that more than anything would de-escalate everything.

CUOMO: Assuming all of what you just said is true, the frustration, the lack of communication, the lack of coordination I still have this fundamental question.


CUOMO : Do you think you're making it better by villainizing these kids?

BABEU: Its not about villainizing--Do I have a right to know who these kids are?



BABEU: We do know by fact -- well, we know for a fact through the screening in Texas that some number, we don't know what the number is, not just that, we had our own experience here. 300 to 400 violent criminals, we do know for a fact were released in my county a year ago. So this is my experience and I'm speaking from my perspective in my county and my job is to protect the families of my county, not to protect the families of Central Americans.

CUOMO: I understand.

But you know that these kids are going to be housed in a facility, that they're not just being released into the community. And you know what my point is. Don't fear monger. You have a lot of legitimate issues here that are law enforcement and political.

BABEU: Then answer the questions, you know, the federal government should be answering these questions.


BABEU: And that would disarm everybody, not just me, but everybody.

CUOMO: I agree. And Sheriff --

BABEU: So I'm not the villain here.

CUOMO: I'm not saying you're a villain. You're a sheriff and I respect that, but I'm saying we don't want to villainize the kids either. Please stay in touch with us. Let us know what happens with your request to government. We'll continue reporting on it. We want you to get your information.

BABEU: All right, Chris.

CUOMO: Sheriff Babeu, thank you very much for joining us today. Mich.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: An indication of how heated this ongoing debate and crisis is. Chris, thank you so much for that.

Let's give you a look at your other headlines right now. Breaking overnight.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Another major gain for militants in Iraq as they take the major city of Tikrit. Iraqi security forces had re taken government buildings in the city, about 100 miles from Baghdad. But militants returned fire with mortar shells and machine guns, killing more than 50 Iraqi soldiers and driving the rest out. The militants are believed to be from ISIS.

CNN has learned that negotiations between western powers in Iran over the country's nuclear program are likely to be extended beyond the July 20th deadline. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with President Obama and congressional leaders this week and will likely recommend the extension, which could be limited to a matter of weeks. Secretary Kerry says there has been progress on key issues on a proposed deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control expected to testify before a congressional panel today. Dr. Thomas Readen will answer all sorts of questions about recent incidents in which dangerous pathogens were mishandled at CDC labs. The panel will with examine charges of a cover-up after a dangerous strain of avian flu was accidentally shipped to a department of agriculture lab.


PEREIRA (on camera): The CDC closed several labs in response to the breach and the recent breaches. Those are your headlines, guys

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Michaela.

PEREIRA: No problem.

BOLDUAN: Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, the Pulitzer Prize winning activist behind the CNN film "DOCUMENTED." He's now free after being detained by Border Patrol. We're going to speak with a close friend of Jose Antonio Vargas about what happened there. What happens now?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Possibly the most famous undocumented immigrant in the United States, he has been released after being detained by Border Patrol.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist behind the CNN film "DOCUMENTED," he was trying to board a flight at an airport in a Texas border town when he was detained. You can see him in some there. Officials say that they let him go because, he's never been arrested before and didn't have a criminal record, but he did receive a notice to appear before an immigration judge.


BOLDUAN (on camera): Joining us now is a close friend of Vargas', Tonya Chavez (ph) also an undocumented immigrant. She's joining us from Texas now. Tonya, thank you so much for your time.


BOLDUAN: Of course. We want to first get your take on what happened yesterday.

CHAVEZ: Well, I think it's a firm testimony that our south Texas border is already secure. If it wouldn't be Jose Antonio wouldn't have been detained. We have been living in this situation for many years, and you have to take Jose Antonio to come down to the Rio Grand Valley for people to realize the situation which we live in.

BOLDUAN: When you put it that way, Tonya, did Jose know that this was going to happen? Didn't he have some idea that this was going to happen? Was this a publicity stunt?

CHAVEZ: No, no, no. When Jose Antonio came down to the Rio Grand Valley, it was because Minority Effort Counsel and United We Dream, we invite him to come and be part of our vigil that we had in honor of those Central American kids that are coming in. And when he came down, I remember telling him, "Jose Antonio, how are you going to get out?" And he said, "What do you mean how am I going to get out?" And I was like, "Yes, we have border patrol at the airport," and he said, "no, I travel all over the place with my Filipino passport," so I -- I know that this was not a political stunt because I witness him. We cried together that night when he realized that he might had a little more trouble getting out of the Rio Grand Valley and sure he did.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean --

CHAVEZ: This is part -


BOLDUAN: You know the situation at the airport. Did you not -- did you try to warn him beforehand because you had invited him down there?

CHAVEZ: No, because I didn't invite him. It was through United We Dream network. He had never been to the Rio Grand Valley. United We Dream had never been to the Rio Grand Valley and when they invited him they did not know what they invited him into. I think it was an eye- opening for all the Dream Undocumented movement to realize the area in which we're in because we're in this cage. We're so secure. We can't get out of this segregated space that separates us from the rest of the United States.

BOLDUAN: So Tonya, you are in a very similar position. You are undocumented. You came here when you were 14 years old. You're in this situation. I've seen -- you described it just then as being in a cage. You can't get out. If you leave, you are not going to be able to get back in. Are you risking your situation now by speaking out so publicly, just like Jose?

CHAVEZ: Possibly I am, but I think we're all tired of being undocumented and so I am here standing for my community. I am here defending my community because it is time that we're liberated. It is time that President Obama grants us administrative relief. It is time. The time is now. We're tired. We can't be living in this situation anymore, and so I will continue fighting for my community regardless of the consequences.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask, get take on one of the -- there are a couple things going on, obviously. The immigration crisis that has been percolating for a very long time, your situation fits right into that, but also the current border crisis that the administration is facing with this surge of undocumented children that have come over the border. I mean, you are asking the president for action, but the president has said that many of these children that have come over, they are going to be sent back to Central America. They are not going to be able to stay here. Do you agree with that? Do you think that's the right thing for the president to be doing?

CHAVEZ: Why are we going to send them back when they are refugees? They are flying for their lives. I believe that the United States is a nation that embraces peace. This is a nation that embraces being able to provide refuge to those who need it. At least on this land. And so if they are coming in because they are feeling afraid in their home countries, why don't we embrace them? We're a nation of immigrants so let's welcome them in because I believe we have space for everyone.

BOLDUAN: Well, that point, there's the space for everyone. There are a lot of people that would disagree with you on that. Even the president and his administration have said that they do not want to send a message that the border is open and anyone can come here. Anyone can send their children here because it's dangerous what they are trying to do even to get in.

CHAVEZ: Well, how would a mother be feeling right now if they are sending their children to the United States and that dangerous trip rather than have them being killed by gang members? I think that mother's despair is very much. I think that for a mother to be able to make that decision --

BOLDUAN: Do you think also the message should be don't send your children because they could die on the way here and be abused and assaulted?