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Trump Signs Order to Fund Mexico Border Wall; The Reality of Trump's Mexico Border Wall; UN Refugee Agency Spokesperson on Trump's Executive Actions; Breaking Free of Pyongyang. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 25, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:10] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, making good on his promises, Donald Trump announces plans for that border wall on the very day

Mexico's foreign minister arrives for talks at the White House. And from Mexico City, we asked one of his predecessors, what cards can the country

play in this game of hardball.

Plus, as Mr. Trump prepares to sign tough new visa restrictions, the U.N. refugee agencies Melissa Fleming on building trust with refugees, not

building walls.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.

America first says President Trump, signing an executive order to get his border wall going and in an interview Trump insisted that eventually Mexico

would pay, even if the U.S. taxpayer makes the initial down payment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be reimbursed at the later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Mexico's president said in recent days that Mexico absolutely will not pay, adding that it goes against our dignity as

a country and our dignity as Mexicans. He says we simply are not paying.


TRUMP: David, I think he has to say that. He has to say that. But I'm just telling you, there will be a payment. It will be in a form perhaps a

complicated form.


AMANPOUR: But Mexico vows to resist and a senior diplomat tells CNN, it will be Mexico first, reminding Washington that his country does have cards

to play as well.

In a moment, we'll talk to the former Mexican foreign minister, but first our Ed Lavandera is finding out that some of Trump's claims and promises

may not be so easy to fulfill as he traveled the length and breadth of the U.S.-Mexico border.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This journey across the U.S.-Mexico border begins in South Texas where the Rio Grande empties into

the Gulf of Mexico and on a rugged ride in an all-terrain vehicle with Robert Cameron, who runs an ATV border tour business in the small town of


(on-camera): What do you think people will have of that impression of the wall if it exists, scary, dangerous place?

ROBERT CAMERON, OWNER, TEXAS BORDER TOURS: Scary, dangerous place -- absolutely. It's not as bad as people make it seem to be.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cameron was born in Mexico is now a U.S. citizen, was a long-time Democrat until Donald Trump came along and made him a

Republican, living and working on the border reveals a blurry reality. Cameron fully supports the idea of Trump's border wall, but every day he

sees the holes in that plan.

A few months ago while riding along the Rio Grande, he record this video of what appeared to be smugglers with packs. It's the kind of story countless

people along the border can share. But this is an area where a border fence is already in place yet drugs and human smuggling keep coming.

CAMERON: It hasn't stopped them. No, absolutely not. So you've got this wall all the way around until the eye can see all the way over there and

then --


LAVANDERA (on-camera): And it keeps going.

CAMERON: It keeps going, but then it's like, they start here. I don't know. I'm sure there's a reason, wouldn't you think? They ran out of


LAVANDERA (voice-over): This is the landscape in the Big Bend area of Texas. And that is the challenge. How in the world do you build a wall in

this kind of terrain?

Marcos Paredes lives in Terlingua, a far flowing outpost in the big bend region of West Texas. He's a former Big Bend park ranger and now takes

visitors on aerial tours of some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

MARCOS PAREDES, BIG BEND PARK RANGER: I want to know where in all of that do you put a wall?

LAVANDERA (on-camera): This is some of the most rugged terrain you'll find along the southern border. Hard to imagine that anyone would ever try to

cross illegally through here, just simply too treacherous.

(voice-over): Every night 88-year-old Pamela Taylor, out of compassion, leaves bottled water outside her home for migrants moving north and the

border patrol agents chasing them.

Taylor voted for Trump and wants to see illegal immigration controlled. She once found an undocumented migrant hiding from border patrol agents in

her living room, but she warns the rest of the country that a wall won't work.

PAMELA TAYLOR, RESIDENT: Wall is not going to stop them. If it's 20 feet high, they're going to get a 21-foot ladder, right.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ed Lavandera, CNN, along the Texas-Mexico border.


AMANPOUR: What is Mexico going to do all about this? Let us get immediate reaction to President Trump's executive actions on that wall from the

former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda.

Thank you for joining me, Mr. Castaneda from Mexico City.

[14:05:00] There are reports swirling around right now that your President Pena Nieto may not come to the United States because of all of this that's

gone public today.

Do you have any further news on that?

JORGE CASTANEDA, FORMER MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Christiane, I don't really know. I know that the rumors have been circulating both in Mexico

City and then Washington for the last couple of hours. There has been a great outcry in Mexico City since last night when it was -- we were

informed that Foreign Minister Videgaray and Trade Minister Guajardo on their way to Washington to meet with negotiators today.

We're going to be received by President Trump's announcement of the construction of the wall, of great -- more deportations, of federal funding

for the wall, et cetera.

All of this was seen as a slap in the face to the two ministers and consequently, people are saying that President Pena Nieto should cancel his

trip to Washington next week on the 31st and perhaps do it later. This has not been confirmed yet, but apparently given the fact that President Trump

is going to sign those three or four executive actions, it is quite likely that President Pena might cancel and I think he should cancel by the way.

AMANPOUR: Well, you think he should cancel. So let's talk about the cards that Mexico has, if any, in this ramped up war now. But let me play

devil's advocate.

This is not a surprise to Mexico. Donald Trump has been saying this throughout his campaign -- the wall, you'll pay for it. We're going to,

you know, have a border tax maybe. We're not going to have any more illegals, etcetera and also renegotiating NAFTA.

What cards does Mexico have to play in this game as I asked at the beginning?

CASTANEDA: I think that we have very powerful cards, Christiane. First of all, we have the entire amount of cooperation between Mexico and the United

States on issues such as drugs, Central American migrants, terrorism, security. All of that enormous amount of cooperation which has been going

on for years depends on good faith between the two countries, depends on trust between the two countries and depends also on a good relationship

between the two governments.

Mexico is not obliged to do any of this. It did a huge favor to President Obama two and a half years ago by stopping the Central American children

and other migrants on our southern border. We have no need to do that. We have no need to continue with the war on drugs now that California has

legalized recreational marijuana.

And we have caught over the last 15 years a large amount of people coming from other countries into Mexico seeking to go to the U.S. with perhaps not

very orthodox purposes, perhaps suspects of terrorism.

We are not obliged to do any of this. We do it because we believe in it and because we want to be friends with and cooperate with the United

States. If the United States does not cooperate with us, we are not obliged to do this. These are powerful chips.

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, this really does sound like both sides sort of upping the ante.

But can I ask you, obviously, he says that he wants to either rip up or renegotiate NAFTA. What will that mean for Mexico? Because although both

sides benefit from NAFTA, Mexico could be the most economically, you know, strapped since it does form the backbone of your export economy.

What happens if NAFTA is either ripped up or renegotiated? What do you get out of it?

CASTANEDA: Well, certainly Mexico would be more negatively affected than either Canada or the United States. We would prefer, I'm sure, to leave it

as it is. We see no need to renegotiate it. Perhaps there could be side agreements that could be added to it as President Clinton did in 1993, but

that's a different story from renegotiating.

Renegotiating means opening an era of uncertainty for Mexico, which would last a year, maybe two years. This is a very complicated process. It

would have to go back to the U.S. Congress and be approved by both houses. It's a long, drawn out process and during that time, Christiane, investment

in Mexico would be halted, would be put on hold until people know what the new rules of the game are going to be. And that would be very harmful to

the Mexican economy and might unleash new and greater immigration from Mexico to the United States exactly what Trump wants to stop.

AMANPOUR: And actually, at the moment, there's a net outflow back to Mexico anyway, we understand, from homeland security and all of the other

security agencies here. But is there any area where NAFTA could be renegotiated.

Is there any sort of win-win situation in a renegotiation or areas of the trade deal that could be renegotiated that wouldn't hurt Mexico as much?

[14:10:08] CASTANEDA: I'm sure there are, but a lot depends on the way to do it. For example, if there were a way to renegotiate and increase what

is called North American content for the rules of origin, without opening up the treaty or agreement, again, without it having to go back to the U.S.

Congress, to the Canadian parliament and to the Mexican Senate.

That could be done instead of let's say 65 percent North American content for automobiles, raise it to 80 percent, but without having to renegotiate

or touch the treaty itself. Doing it as a side agreement. That might be possible.

The dispute settlement mechanisms that the Americans want to change and which could be improved, maybe they could become standing panels. If that

could be done without renegotiating, that would not be a bad thing.

The key issue here is that if you renegotiate, you have to go to the three legislative bodies, you have to open up a huge can of worms and nobody

knows what's going to happen to it once you start doing it. You know how it starts, you don't know how this ends.

AMANPOUR: And on that note, we have to end this. We will hopefully catch up with you as these proceeds.

Jorge Castaneda, thank you for joining us from Mexico City.

And in other Trump news, in an interview with "ABC," the president said he is keeping the door open for torture even after being told that it doesn't

work by his Defense Secretary James Mattis.

When we come back, a group hit by President Trump's executive orders, what to do now that America is slamming the door shut and rolling up the welcome

mat for refugees? We find out next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, Donald Trump is expected to sign more executive actions tomorrow. Sources say he will block visas for those

living in Syria and six other Muslim countries and he's suspending the entire refugee program except for those fleeing religious persecution.

As chief spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency, Melissa Fleming believes the world must know the real-life stories of refugees as she's discovered

in her new book, "A Hope More Powerful than the Sea."

It tells the story of Doaa, a young Syrian who tried to reach Europe on a smuggler boat with her fiance Bassem. The boat was attacked and it sank.

Out of 500 people aboard, Doaa was one of only 11 who survived, including a baby named Masha (ph), a stranger's child who was thrown into Doaa's arms

as she was struggling to stay alive in the water.

And Melissa Fleming joins me now from New York.


AMANPOUR: Melissa, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Can I -- before I get to your book, ask you your reaction as a UNHCR spokeswoman, the impact of signing these refugee orders, in other

word suspending the program and blocking visas for people from Syria and six other countries.

FLEMING: Very much hope this is a temporary measure if it is indeed signed and that it will be reviewed and reinstated because the U.S. is one of the

champions and has been traditionally for years and years and year. It goes back to the Vietnamese boat people for bringing vulnerable refugees who

have been screened and scrutinized into this country in regular ways.

[14:15:00] Otherwise, you know, we see more and more people taking to the seas, trying to cross new borders, using this horrendous human smuggler

business. So this is a program that is tried and tested and has worked for the United States for years and years and we very much hope that this is

just a temporary measure.

AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you on the facts because the president portrays it in security, you know, law and order and security. In terms of vetting,

he said they need to be much better vetted.

How much, because we thought that refugees from Syria, for instance, were vetted more intensely than just about anyone and takes up to two years and

there hasn't yet if I'm not mistaken been any refugee from Syria who's committed any terrorist act or any refugee here in the United States.

Can you get me straight on those two issues?

FLEMING: Well, you just explained it perfectly, Christiane. The vetting system from the United States is the most rigorous than for any other

country. It does take up to two years and the process is extremely detailed. There's probably no other more vetted human being arriving in

the United States than a refugee being resettled to the United States.

So I would feel very confident that every refugee that arrives here is coming because that person is in need for a peaceful place to resettle, to

restart their lives and otherwise would be living in a place that is either too dangerous or where they could not cope in exile somewhere else.

AMANPOUR: So let me talk to you about your book obviously, because this is the great disconnect. The fact that people don't see refugees as people or

at least in general. Sadly, they don't.

What are you trying to tell with this story?

FLEMING: Yes. Well, you know, there's this saying that "Statistics are human beings with the tears dried off." And I think that many politicians

tried to exploit the fears of people when they, you know, show images of masses when they are each and every one of these people are human beings

and actually I've been working with refugees for eight years. I always ask their stories. I always -- I just find it astonishing that they've even

survived what they have survived.

I mean, they've been fleeing bombs. They've lost family members. They've seen everything that they hold dear destroyed. And now they are in a place

of vulnerability.

So I tell through the story of Doaa, which is a compelling story -- her story represents the story of Syria. The story of millions of refugees

who've had to flee. But it also represents the desperation that drives so many refugees to actually, to risk their lives again once they've reached

another country across the seas to try to reach a place that's more peaceful and offers them the chance to restart their lives. So that's my

hope with this book that people --


AMANPOUR: And when you see the pictures that we're putting up now, one of the tiny, little kids who was saved at the same time as Doaa, and when you

think that -- as you've said that Doaa is now in Sweden, learning, you know, fluent Swedish, wants to go to high school then to college. It is

extraordinary. Politically, somehow, nations feel that they cannot deal with refugees and right now it's a real problem with all the populism and

the nationalism.

But there are countries who do it really well. I'm just thinking Canada, just north of us here in the United States. They have taken in tens of

thousands in a very short period of time.

Explain how they do it. It's really on a community level they have sponsored families? Why can they do it there and other countries find it

so difficult, apparently?

FLEMING: Canada is exemplary. It has what's called a sponsorship program, where individuals or communities can sign up to sponsor individual or

families of refugees that they've just come up with a certain amount of money and commit themselves for one year. And what's remarkable is that

the government can't keep up with the demand from population -- from the population of wanting to sponsor refugees to come into their communities.

So I think it really is the way it is being portrayed by politicians.

The people, the citizens including in this country, including in the United States, when a refugee is resettled here, the entire community comes out to

welcome refugees, to help them start their lives, find jobs, learn the language. It's sometimes the political set that is trying to exploit the

fears of foreigners, the fears of different cultures and religions to win votes.

AMANPOUR: And last year, of course, we know that more than 60 million refugees were on the move, the most ever since UNHCR was formed.

What do you expect for this year?

[14:20:00] FLEMING: Well, you know, never have we seen so many people on the run. And it's really a reflection of the state of the world that there

are so many conflicts that are unresolved and new conflicts popping up. So, I mean, I'm now working also for the new secretary general Antonio

Guterres, who has made it his absolute priority to prevent conflicts and at the same time try to stop the conflicts that are driving so many people

from their homes, particularly and really with urgency, the conflict in Syria.

Everybody -- every refugee I've met from Syria. There are 5 million of them. They just want to go home. They want to live in peace and they want

to see their country in peace. So --


AMANPOUR: That was -- that was going to be my last and brief question. Obviously, there are still human beings in devastated Eastern Aleppo. How

are -- I mean, they are IDPs, not strictly refugees, how are they coping?

FLEMING: Well, at least the bombs are not falling every day on their houses, but everything has been destroyed. I mean, the water systems. So,

you know, aid agencies like UNHCR and others are in there trying to rebuild and help people but it's really, really rough.

It's still cold. It's the middle of winter and there's absolutely no infrastructure. And there is still, of course, fear and the people are

completely traumatized. And then of course other parts of the country are still in conflict and very, very dangerous. And it's much, much more

difficult these days to escape Syria.

AMANPOUR: And we're just seeing as you speak people who have escaped, you know, caught in the mud and the cold and outdoor camps on the Serbia-

Croatian border.

Melissa Fleming, UNHCR spokeswoman, thank you so much for being with us.

FLEMING: Great to be with you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, we imagine breaking out from the banality of evil.

CNN's Paula Hancocks meets a rare specimen. A top level North Korean defector who lived to tell his story. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, President Trump may be signing off a storm of executive orders, but imagine a world of real trouble from a nuclear

North Korea. We get some vital insight into the Hermit Kingdom and its next military moves from that rare being, a high level former North Korean

official. He was a top diplomat at the embassy in London, who grabbed his family and ran for his life. And CNN's Paula Hancocks caught up with him

and his cautionary tale in South Korea.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A North Korean diplomat in London praising his country and his leader. Thae Yong

Ho says he knew that it was a lie only now he has escaped from his former life at the North Korean embassy in London and he speak freely.

THAE YONG HO, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR: If you want to survive in North Korean system, you have to be a very, very good actor.

HANCOCKS: Thae is the most senior defector in almost 20 years. He says more high ranking defections will follow as Kim Jong-un continues to

execute and persecute the elite.

[14:25:00] THAE: If Kim Jong-un decides to kill someone, if he thinks that he is a threat or he scared him, he might not, you know, he just want, you

know, want to get rid of him.

HANCOCKS: Thae wanted to save his wife and sons from what he calls the slave system and he wants to warn the world that Kim Jong-un intends to use

2017 to reach his nuclear and missile goals, exploiting changes of power in the U.S. and South Korea. Thae says Kim Jong-un was as shocked as any

other leader to see Donald Trump win the U.S. election but he is determined to play it to his advantage.

THAE: He wants to open a kind of, you know, bargain. But one thing is quite sure for Kim Jong-un that we will not go back to the process of

denuclearization of North Korea. That is absolutely sure.

HANCOCKS: There's nothing that Washington or anybody else could do to convince Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons.

THAE: He will never give up his nuclear development.

HANCOCKS: The Obama administration insisted it would never accept North Korea as a nuclear state. The Trump administration's North Korean policy

is unclear.

As for President Trump suggesting he may meet Kim Jong-un, Thae says even the leaders of North Korean allies, China and Russia have distanced

themselves from the young leader. Mr. Trump meeting him would give him the legitimacy he desperately craves from the world.

THAE: If North Korean people are educated and if they know that their lives in the system are slave system, they should -- if they stand up, you

know, and overthrow the present regime, then their life will be, you know, improved.

HANCOCKS: Wishful thinking may be, but Thae says questions about Kim Jong- un's legitimacy are already being asked within North Korea. He said the world needs to pour the gasoline and let the North Korean people set fire

to it.

Thae is free. His immediate family is safe. But Kim Jong-un has called him human scum, a traitor, even a criminal. He assumes relatives still in

North Korea may now be in prison camps, who will be used against him. And he know the past 50 years of his life have been a lie.

THAE: I have to deny, you know, my past and it is really a sad and miserable, you know, moment.

HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.

AMANPOUR: And coming up with a real strategy for containing North Korea, many say is a key or should be a key goal for the Trump administration.

That is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, you can see us online at and follow me on Facebook

and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from New York.