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Fear Among Immigrants; Hostile Town Halls; Mixed Response After Trump Condemns Anti-Semitism. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 22, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:10] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Concern gripping immigrant communities as Homeland Security outlines how it plans to enforce President Trump's orders on border security. What the DHS orders mean nationwide. We're breaking it down just moments away.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: That's just a sample of angry crowds greeting Republican lawmakers at town halls nationwide. We'll have some of the most revealing moments you don't want to miss.

SANCHEZ: And after finally denouncing anti-Semitism, President Trump still finds himself taking heat from some Jewish organizations who say the White House is just covering its tracks.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CABRERA: And I'm Ana Cabrera. Tough day, it's Wednesday, February 22nd, 4:00 a.m. in the East. Thank you so much for joining us.

Concern is growing this morning among immigrants all across the country about plans for more aggressive immigration enforcement. Guidance just released by the Department of Homeland Security could pave the way for a huge expansion of undocumented immigrants detained and deported.

There's no doubt, much of this will come up as DHS Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visit Mexico City, they'll be meeting with President Pena Nieto and his cabinet to discuss border security and trade.

Now, let's take a closer look at this new plan from DHS. It increases the number of immigrants who face expedited removal from the country with almost no court proceedings. It sets in motion plans to end the catch and release policy, limiting who can be released pending a hearing. And so, this means detention becomes the default for thousands more immigrants. That takes more resources.

So, the plan calls for a surge in immigration judges and facilities. The guidance also orders more resource for ICE and Border Patrol.

SANCHEZ: And DHS officials stressed that the agency could still target criminals. But they admit that by giving broad latitude to field agents, immigrants not targeted under President Obama may now be deported.

DHS officials stressed these policies enforce existing laws, laws already on the books and that there would be no deportation force of National Guard troops and also that there will not be huge roundups of undocumented immigrants.

The Trump administration is also emphasizing that the DACA program protecting the so-called DREAMers, will remain in place. The new guidance on deportation is coming as we await another big immigration- related move from the White House that revised travel ban.

We get more on that now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.



President Trump clearly making good on immigration promises he made during the campaign. Now, we are looking for him to sign that new immigration order to do a redo, if you will, of that immigration order he signed in the first week of his presidency that was blocked by the courts. But before he did that, he ordered his Department of Homeland Security to go after specifically tightening immigration laws.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained it like this.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at anytime. That is consistent with every country, not just ours. If you're in this country in an illegal manner, obviously, there say provision that could ensure that you be removed. But the priority that the president has laid forward and the priority that ICE is putting forward through DHS' guidance is to make sure that the people who have committed a crime or posed a threat to our public safety are the priority of their efforts.

ZELENY: Expanding deportations and enforcing the law. That is what this White House says it will do. But it's also creating an alarm throughout the immigrant community.

Now, the White House clearly looking forward to what they say is a new immigration order that they believe will pass legal muster on regarding those seven countries, Muslim majority countries letting people travel here to the country. That new executive order could come today or more likely Thursday or Friday -- Ana and Boris.


CABRERA: All right. Jeff Zeleny reporting. Thank you.

Lawmakers are usually happy to get out of Washington, as they are this week, but some Republicans probably can't wait to get back to the Capitol, after the backlash many are facing this week in their home districts. They're face-to-face with frustrated voters at town halls like this. And one moment that stood out, we want to show you is Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn put on the spot trying to explain Steve Bannon's position in the West Wing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have in the White House now the notorious white nationalist as a special adviser to the president of the United States. I'd like to know your thoughts on that.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I don't speak for the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to know how you feel about it. You're our congresswoman.

BLACKBURN: Yes. My interactions with him have all been fine. The things that have been policy directed have been specific to certain policies.

[04:05:03] And I am not aware that he's taken anybody's place on the NSC.



CABRERA: So, that was Tennessee. This is in Iowa.

Senator Joni Ernst facing a pretty hostile full house at an event planned in typically friendly rural territory. She ended up slipping in a side door. She called on mostly veterans. She took only one question on health care when she abruptly pulled the plug after 45 minutes. You can hear the chanting in the background. Protesters actually chased her to her car.


PROTESTERS: Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!


SANCHEZ: Not everyone is having that approach, though. Some are really having a good time with this.

Virginia Republican David Brat also faced a typical rally crowd at these town halls. They shouted and jeered as he took dozens of questions for more than an hour. Unlike some of his colleagues, he enjoyed that back and forth. He said, "I don't mind the boisterousness, I'm having fun."

And even lawmakers who are not holding town halls are being targeted by angry voters. These protesters lined up outside of a hotel in Bakersfield, California, where House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes were attending a closed-door Republican fund-raiser. Some people who showed up at town halls wear stickers with their home zip codes to prove that they are constituents not political operatives like some Republicans are claiming. President Trump, though, is not buying it. He tweeted this out

writing, quote, "The so-called angry crowds at home districts of some Republicans are actually in numerous cases planned out by liberal activists, sad."

CABRERA: Well, the president did what a lot of people are calling on him to do, he directly condemned anti-Semitism, this following those recent against Jewish community centers and destruction at a Jewish cemetery.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful. And a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.


CABRERA: Still, some say that's too late too little. The Anne Frank Center calling the president's comment, quote, "a band aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration."

Now, Trump's condemnation came after a tweet from Hillary Clinton where she said, "JCC threats, cemetery desecration and online attacks are so troubling and they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting with the president."

SANCHEZ: Meantime, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create a special task force to catch the people who threatened to bomb dozens of these Jewish centers. The 70th incident came early yesterday in San Diego and in St. Louis. The vigil was held last night. That's where more than 100 headstones were vandalized on Monday.

CABRERA: Texas officials plan to appeal a federal judge's ruling that bars the state from withholding Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood. Texas cut off the Medicaid fund in December, accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal body parts. It's based on a video secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group.

But the judge said there was no proof in that video that Planned Parenthood violated ethical or medical standards. The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the ruling, quote, "flies in the face of basic human decency."

The Trump administration may use a new maneuver to try to negotiate better trade deals. Make the trade deficit look worse than it actually is. This change would center around so-called re-exports according to a "Wall Street Journal" report. Now, those are products assembled in the U.S. and made from parts that have been brought into the country like cars and machinery. If those exports are removed from the trade balance, the trade deficit would skyrocket. That could President Trump a better bargaining chip as he starts bilateral trade negotiations, in particular with Mexico. Here's where things stand right now. The total trade deficit in 2016:

$502 billion. Meaning the U.S. imports much more in goods and services than it exports. By country the biggest trade deficit is with China, had $347 billion, and then Japan, Germany and Mexico all around $60 billion.

We still haven't heard the president talk much about trade with Germany. The rest on that the list are frequent targets.

SANCHEZ: Yes, especially China and Mexico.

We just want to give you a friendly reminder. You may have seen the ticker on your screen. Eight different members want to leave the Democratic National Committee and they're set to hold their votes just three days away.

But, first, the candidates debate tonight live right here on CNN. It gets underway at 10:00 p.m. Eastern moderated by Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo.

[04:10:01] This is a critical position as the party tries to rebuild for the future and oppose President Trump. Again, be sure to join us 10:00 Eastern right here tonight on CNN.

CABRERA: Well, I thought we were going to break there. Caught me off guard.

Iraqi forces, we have an update now what they're doing in Mosul, as they try to force ISIS out of the western part of that city. They are facing new obstacles. We'll go live to Iraq, next.


SANCHEZ: Iraqi forces say they are making progress in a large push to retake western Mosul from ISIS. Officials say U.S. back forces have cleared terrorists from a key village overlooking that city's airport, but the battle ahead will not be an easy one. As the war wages on, Iraqi forces have discovered tunnels dug by ISIS, along with bomb making factories believed to be tied to the terror group.

CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is live in Irbil, Iraq, with more.

[04:15:04] Ben, good morning to you.

We know this is going to be a brutal, brutal fight. This is a very fortified part of the city. Do we know how many civilians are still there and if there's a plan to protect them?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Boris, we understand from the United Nations that there are up to 800,000 civilians still inside western Mosul. In terms of a plan -- well, what we saw on the eastern side of the city, when the fighting was going on there was that the Iraqi military did drop leaflets telling the residents that there are safe corridors. But it takes two to tango. And obviously, what we did learn from speaking to people who actually

took advantage of those safe corridors, that as they were trying to flee, ISIS snipers were shooting at them. So, it's not a very good situation for the civilians no matter how you look at it.

As far as the battle goes at this point, we understand from sources on the front lines that the Iraqi army is in control of the village, which is overlooking the airport, and from there, the Iraqi artillery is pounding the airport at the moment and they are expecting at some point to try to take it itself.

Now, overnight, we've learned that coalition aircraft did strike a building in western Mosul where apparently there were foreign fighters staying, they were, we're told by sources within Mosul, that the intelligence that was provided to the coalition came from people living in that area who don't like these foreign fighters fighting with ISIS.

Now, the battle is going to be a difficult one, Boris. In addition to networks of tunnels that Iraqi forces have already uncovered to the south of the city, they're dealing with, for instance, these newly deployed armed drones. These are just civilian drones that ISIS has armed and put explosives on. And we're also seeing reports that for the first time ISIS is using cluster munitions as well.

So, they're very well dug in. They're very well-armed. But they are outnumbered by Iraqi forces. Officials say it's going to be a hard battle. But it's only a matter of time before western Mosul is retaken -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Ben Wedeman, thank you for the update from Iraq.

CABRERA: Let's head to Sweden where riots broke out. The unrest happening in predominantly migrant suburbs there. Residents clashed with police officers, some throwing stones, some cars set on fire. Police then returning with warning shots to disperse the crowd.

They say the chaos broke out during the arrest of a suspect in a community made up of mostly immigrants. The clashes come just days after President Trump suggested immigrants in Sweden were to blame for increase in crime across the country.

SANCHEZ: Another bizarre chapter in an already bizarre saga. Malaysian authorities want to speak in connection with an employee of the North Korean embassy there in connection to the murder of Kim Jong-un's half brother who police say was poisoned at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Meantime, security is being stepped up at the hospital where Kim Jong- nam's body is being held. Listen to this, police say someone whose identity they say they know but they don't want to share just yet made multiple attempts to break into the morgue. Officials say Kim Jong- nam's cause of death will not be released until lab test from his autopsy are completed.

CABRERA: Could that story get any more bizarre and twisty and thorny? SANCHEZ: So strange, so strange.

CABRERA: Absolutely.

Well, there is a deepening divide between Russia and the Ukraine on full display at the U.N. as more cease-fire violations are being reported. We're live in Moscow with more.


[04:23:08] CABRERA: Growing tensions between Russia and the Ukraine at the United Nations following the sudden death of Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. Now the Ukraine is blocking a formal U.N. statement of condolences on Churkin's passing. And officials are confirming about 200 ceasefire violations in Eastern Ukraine just overnight.

Let's go to CNN international correspondent Clare Sebastian live in Moscow for us this morning.

Clare, what's the next move here?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's interesting, Ana. I think it shows just the level of tension between Russia and Ukraine at the moment. This is an argument at the United Nations over the type of statement that would be issued in the wake of that sudden death of the longtime U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. There were several parties including Russia who had backed the idea of a presidential statement, that's a more formal statement that becomes -- that is issued as an official document of the council.

Ukraine which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council blocked that move and said issuing a press statement, the Ukrainian foreign minister saying this is appropriate. Another diplomat at the U.N. telling CNN, he believes that is a traditional way of doing things.

But Russia reacting very strongly to that, the foreign minister saying this goes against Christian values, it's beyond good and evil, went off about this. On Tuesday, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying let's pass judgment, so extremely strong reaction there.

And meanwhile, as you say, on the ground in eastern Ukraine, a cease- fire that is partly brokered by Russia and Ukraine is hanging by a thread, frankly. We've seen multiple cease-fire violations including another 200 overnight. We're only in the third day of the cease-fire. Of those 200, about 100 were explosions which suggest that heavy weaponry is still there on the ground in Ukraine.

One of the key tenets of the peace agreement, that Minsk agreement is that they withdraw those heavy weapons to a safe distance.

[04:25:01] And OSCE monitor, the head of them monitoring mission on the ground telling me that he believes that has not happened yet. So, a very fragile situation politically as you see and on the ground in eastern Ukraine, Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Thank you so much for the update, Clare.

Mandatory evacuations are now under way in parts of San Jose, California. I want to show you why. Crews are really in a battle there. Parts of the city hit by severe flooding, more than 2 inches of rain falling in the past 48 hours. You see overflowing creeks, submerging whole neighborhoods. There have been several water rescues, including one by helicopters, others by boat. We saw the children being transferred. Hundreds of people have had to evacuate.

SANCHEZ: And take a look at this, a Massachusetts man lucky to be alive after being stranded on a capsized boat for almost 12 hours. Arthur Moscufo was taking his new boat for a test drive on the river when something obviously went wrong. His boat flooded and flipped.

After she didn't hear from him from a couple of hours, Moscufo's girlfriend contacted the Coast Guard saying he went out in the afternoon, he was finally found shortly after 4:00 a.m. Tuesday. Somehow, he didn't really suffer any injuries, aside from being cold and scared in the darkness.

CABRERA: Can you imagine?


CABRERA: What a great man.

Well, Homeland Security says it's just enforcing the law. But this morning, people are afraid in immigrant communities. They are worried about their families being torn apart. We'll talk more about the impact in what some are calling a crackdown on immigration here in the United States, next.