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Stranded Migrants to Dock Soon in Spain; U.S. Immigration Separate Families at Border; Moscow Taxi Plows through Crowd; Yemen Crisis; Inside Islamic Jihad Tunnels in Gaza. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2018 - 03:00   ET




IVAN WATSON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Exhausted and stuck at sea for days: hundreds of African migrants are now trying to find relief in Spain.

Plus more on an immigration debate in the United States. We'll tell you the story of one man facing deportation proceedings after nearly 50 years in the U.S.

Football star Lionel Messi in the spotlight again but this time for a penalty that cost Argentina a victory.

Live from CNN Center, I'm Ivan Watson. Great to have you with us.


WATSON: The second of three ships carrying hundreds of rescued migrants from Africa is due to dock in the Spanish port of Valencia this hour. It will be the Aquarius, the ship that plucked 629 people from the Mediterranean more than a week ago but was denied entry by Italy and Malta.

Earlier we watched an Italian coast guard ship begin offloading 274 rescued migrants in Valencia after Spain agreed to take them in. Some of the migrants were transferred to Italian vessels to ease the overcrowding on their way to Spain.

As they arrive in Valencia, the first order of business is to give them medical exams before beginning the immigration process. Now our Vera Catano is at the port in Valencia, witnessing as this process takes place.

What is the latest on the arrival of these people, many of whom include children, women, who are quite understandably exhausted after their ordeal at sea?

VERA CATANO, CNN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ivan, that's right, there are critical conditions in some of them. We are waiting this official report. Behind me we have the Italo, this Italian ship which has been the first one to arrive here at the port in Valencia.

Now we are awaiting the second one. It should be arriving right now, actually. We don't see it yet. But this will be the Aquarius.

Then the third one, it's expected at 12:00 pm local time, this will be the Orion. We have to remember that the original boat was the Aquarius. This boat actually rescued migrants from other boats, some of them in critical situations.

The boats filled with water. It was the Aquarius which rescued them and then they got this help from Italy with these other two boats because there were too many people, 630 people in one boat. That's the reason why they finally had this help from Italy.

Italy refused the Aquarius to dock at their port but they offered these two Italian boats from the marine and now we are expecting these three boats. We have the first one here in the port. It arrived like 6:30 local time in the morning.

And yes, we have this situation now, all these migrants, who have already arrived, receiving medical attention. This is the priority, to identify if there is an emergency. Then they will also receive psychological attention.

And now we were talking with a representative from Acanor (ph), one of the NGOs working here, and they were telling us that they will be giving all the migrants permanence in Spain for 45 days. After that, they will be given information about the asylum process.

And in those cases where this asylum can apply, then they will have this grant from the Spanish government, as the authorities told. So we are expecting this time because the authorities also said that they will study case by case, there are different situations.

We have refugees here, we have people who are -- who have been in wars, smuggling, trafficking. We have minors who came alone. We have seven pregnant women. There's a lot of different situations. One of them might be more critical than others.

So now this is the first step, this medical attention. Then we'll follow the other steps, Ivan.

WATSON: Such an unusual situation, where Italy refuses to accept these people while sending some of its own ships to help transport them to another European country.

And of course, Vera, this is just one dramatic example of a much larger tide of humanity trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe. Vera Catano from CNN, working through the morning there in the Spanish port of Valencia, thank you very, very much.

Now to the U.S. which is facing its own immigration debacle. President Donald Trump says children being taken from their parents when they cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico is out of his control.

He tweeted Saturday, quote --

[03:05:00] WATSON: -- "Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the border by working with Republicans on new legislation for a change."

While the president blames the Democrats, it's his own administration that has implemented the zero tolerance policy, prosecuting adults caught crossing the border illegally with federal charges, resulting in the increase of family separations.

Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, told my colleague, Ana Cabrera, that the practice is unsustainable and that he could not bring himself to separate children from their parents.


JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I object highly to this current practice of separating children from their moms and dads at the border. And it is something that I feel obliged to speak out about.

When I was in office, we removed, repatriated or deported a million people to enforce our immigration laws and secure or borders. We considered all sorts of things to lower the levels of illegal migration on our southern border.

One thing we would not do is separate children from their parents at the border, something that I could not bring myself to do. This is just not who we are as Americans. This is just simply wrong.


WATSON: CNN's Ed Lavandera is near the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas and has more on this story for us.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While the Trump administration remains unapologetic in its support in the way it's rolled out the so- called zero tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants crossing into the U.S. southern border, there is a growing chorus of frustration and anger and protest that will start to be visible here on Sunday in South Texas.

There's a congressional delegation that will be touring several immigration facilities throughout the region, throughout the day. Most of the members of that delegation very much opposed to this zero tolerance policy.

There's a vigil protest also scheduled to occur here on Sunday in McAllen. And there's another congressman who is leading a marching protest over the newly opened temporary facility for undocumented immigrant children. That was just opened up in far West Texas.

So a lot of this starting to pick up as the stories that have emerged from these -- from the zero tolerance policy and people are watching this play out, really starting to pick up steam. But as I mentioned off the top, the Trump administration,

unapologetic; they continue to say that this policy is designed to deter undocumented immigrants from continuing to pour into the U.S. southern border.

However, when you report here on the ground and you talk to immigrants, who have just crossed the border, news of this policy isn't necessarily making it into every corner of these countries in Central America and Mexico, where most of these undocumented immigrants are coming from.

And when you do talk to them and they do know about the policy, they say it is a risk that they're very much willing to take, that anything is better than the homes and the hometowns that they're coming from.

So that's the latest here in South Texas, as the frustration and anger and the focus on this issue really continues to build up -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, McAllen, Texas.


WATSON: Now we're seeing the human impact of the Trump administration's hardline stance on immigration. And it isn't just affecting people crossing the border illegally.

This is 62-year-old Jose Luis Garcia. His family says he moved from Mexico to the U.S. nearly 50 years ago and is a legal resident. But now Garcia sits in a detention center.

He was arrested outside his California home last week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and is being held for possible deportation because, nearly 18 years ago, he was convicted of a misdemeanor for a domestic violence incident.


WATSON: Jose Luis Garcia's daughter, Natalie Garcia, joins us now from our Los Angeles bureau.

Thank you very much for coming in to speak with me, Natalie.

Can you -- I think you were there on the day that your father was detained.

Can you briefly describe what happened that day?

NATALIE GARCIA, JOSE'S DAUGHTER: He was -- it was just a typical Sunday morning and was drinking his coffee, watering the lawn. And he started screaming out my name. And I ran out and there was eight officers or agents arresting him.

And I asked for a warrant and they didn't show me a warrant. They said that they were going to take him and it was due to a domestic dispute that he had in 2001 and he had a misdemeanor.

And they didn't tell me where he was being taken or anything. They just took him.

WATSON: Have you been able to see your --


WATSON: -- father since then?

GARCIA: I just saw him today.

WATSON: How was he doing?

GARCIA: He's distraught. He's broken. My father is sick. My father has high blood pressure and diabetes. And he needs constant health care and right foods. And everything. And I just want to make sure he's OK and...

WATSON: This must be just terribly traumatizing for your family right now.


WATSON: Can you help fill in -- what do you think your father's legal status was at the time when he was detained?

GARCIA: He's a green card holder. He's a legal resident, permanent resident. He's been here for 50 years. He's paid his taxes. He's a homeowner. He's been here. He has nine grandchildren, two great- grandchildren. He takes care of my daughter.

WATSON: He's been --


GARCIA: He works three jobs like --

WATSON: He's been in the U.S. for half a century.

GARCIA: We have -- his grandchild is in the active military right now. He's deployed in Germany. He's distraught as well.

WATSON: All right. Natalie, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has put out a statement about your father's case, saying, quote, Databases reveal that Mr. Garcia has past criminal convictions that make him amenable to removal from the United States. Mr. Garcia is currently in ICE custody, pending removal proceedings."

Can you tell me what you know about these past criminal convictions?

GARCIA: What I can tell you is what -- they only specified this one conviction to me. They only specified this one conviction, this misdemeanor to the congressman, Tony Cardenas, to Senator Kamala Harris. They only specified this one misdemeanor.

So and it doesn't matter, because they're trying to portray something else to the media. And what they're really saying is false. And they should not even be separating families. They should not be driving people from their homes and kidnapping them.


WATSON: If your father is deported, presumably he would go to Mexico.

Has he lived there?

Does he know anything about living in Mexico today?

GARCIA: This is his country. This is my father's country. He's been here almost his whole life. We were all born here, we all live here. He's been a model citizen. He has three jobs, like, he's paid his taxes, his home -- he came here for the American dream. And now it's a nightmare.

WATSON: Natalie, this is a terribly difficult time for you and your family.

What does what you have experienced in the last week, what does it tell you about immigration policy in the U.S. today?

GARCIA: There has to be some change. There has to be laws. There has to be reform. There has -- you cannot separate people. You cannot just come to people's homes with no warrant, with no where -- no identification. My father carried his green card in his wallet, his driver's license. They took that from him.

They took it. They said it was government property. They didn't even ask him for an identification. They just took him into a car and didn't even tell us where he was going.


GARCIA: -- tomorrow, it's Father's Day tomorrow and I'm not going to even have my father.


GARCIA: This it the first that I've -- would -- I'm not going to be with my father. And my daughter, that's her father. And I don't even know what to tell her.

WATSON: Natalie Garcia, thank you for speaking with CNN.


WATSON: And in a nation of immigrants, founded by immigrants, where nearly everyone's a descendent of immigrants, one wonders how many more families are being wrenched apart like this.

Now to South America, where a heartbreaking scene has taken place in Venezuela, as people try to come to grips with a deadly stampede at a nightclub in Caracas. Some 500 students were packed into a club for a pre-graduation party when a brawl reportedly broke out and one of the partygoers detonated a tear gas canister. That triggered panic and a stampede as they tried to escape. When it

was over, at least 17 people had been killed, eight of them minors. Outside the club, the sidewalk is littered with shoes and socks, reminders of the panic.

Police say at least 11 victims died of asphyxiation. Venezuela's justice minister says seven people were detained. The club has been shut down and the owner arrested for not preventing weapons from getting inside the club. It's being reported the person who set off the canister --


WATSON: -- was a minor.

And to Russia but, first, we warn you about this next story. Some of the video you're about to see is graphic. Russian officials are trying to find out why a taxi plowed through a crowd near Moscow's Red Square on Saturday. The incident injured seven people and comes as Russia hosts the World Cup.

This amateur video shown in state media appears to show the crash. A driver veers wildly onto the curb and slams into pedestrians. The driver then runs across the street. Officials say he was detained and the situation is under control.


WATSON: Now Iceland had a powerful World Cup debut Saturday in Russia. They took on two-time champion Argentina superstar Lionel Messi. That should have been an easy win for Argentina. But Iceland had other plans. For that game and more, here's CNN's Kate Riley.


KATE RILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A busy Saturday in Russia, an unprecedented four back-to-back matches to share with you. Perhaps the biggest of the day, Iceland playing in their first-ever World Cup, held the 2014 runners World Cup Argentina to a 1-1 draw. However, Argentina's superstar Lionel Messi had a penalty save. The Iceland keeper preserved an historic draw there.

Earlier in the day, one of the pretournament favorites, France, also saw history made in their match against Australia. Video assistant referee or VAR was used for the very first time in a World Cup. It happened in the second half, after the Australian defender Joshua Risdon challenged on the French side Antoine Griezmann.

After consultation, the Uruguayan ref gives the penalty and Griezmann converts in a 2-1 France win.

Peru's 36-year wait for a World Cup match is over. But it was bittersweet as the South American side fell 1-0 to Denmark in group C. In Kaliningrad it was a nightmare start for Nigeria. They gifted the European Croatians the lead after their first (INAUDIBLE) goal. Croatia then were able to double their lead when Luka Modric converted

a penalty in the second half. That is now the fifth straight game with a penalty this tournament. Extraordinary stuff. That's your FIFA World Cup update. I'm Kate Riley.


Still ahead, CNN goes inside Islamic Jihad's tunnels in Gaza, as militants fight for the Palestinian resistance against Israel. An exclusive look -- just ahead. Stay with CNN.




WATSON: Welcome back.

ISIS says it carried out a deadly suicide --


WATSON: -- bombing in Eastern Afghanistan. The terror group says it was targeting Taliban and government forces as they gathered to celebrate Eid during an unprecedented cease-fire.

The attack killed at least 25 people, including civilians and wounded dozens more. The violence came amid scenes of celebration across the country, with Afghan and Taliban forces joining hands, hugging and joyfully celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast. That is so unusual there.

And in Yemen, violence is threatening to engulf the city of Hodeida, a strategic port on the Red Sea. A Saudi-led collation is fighting for control of the city from Houthi rebels. The battles are getting close to civilian areas.

Aid workers say that's making it too dangerous for them to operate. There are hundreds of thousands of people already suffering from lack of clean water, food and medical care.

Now to Gaza, where CNN has gotten rare and exclusive access inside Islamic Jihad's military tunnels. Fighters say they use them as a shield for defending the Palestinian people but Israel doesn't see it that way. Our Ian Lee has this exclusive report.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tunnel opening, somewhere in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad militants guide us through. It's hot, humid, narrow and low-hanging. It feels claustrophobic.

LEE: As you can see, many of these tunnels are reinforced with concrete to protect them from caving in but also from potential airstrikes.

LEE (voice-over): Israel has a different name for them: terror tunnels.

ABU ABDULLAH, ISLAMIC JIHAD (through translator): We use them a shield against heavy missiles fired by F-35 and S-16 aircraft, as well as helicopters so that our fighters can move and play their role, defending the Palestinian people.

LEE (voice-over): They've proven effective for smuggling arms and launching attacks into Israel. Abu Abdullah gives the fighters a pep talk, telling them not to be afraid, God is with them.

Then a recital from the Quran. It's the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Today's movements are tightly controlled; access for journalists is rare. They blindfold us and we prepare to be driven on to the next location.

Islamic Jihad is one part of the complex, faction-based society that is Gaza. It is smaller than Hamas, the militant group that runs the Strip. But late last month, Islamic Jihad triggered the biggest exchange of fire over Gaza for four years, Israel bombing 60 targets in response to about 100 rockets and mortars, fired from launch sites like this one.

LEE: He's telling us this weapons system here has the range of about four to six kilometers. It was recently used against Israel.

LEE (voice-over): Abu Abdullah says the attack was revenge for the deaths of scores of Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli soldiers on the Gaza-Israel border.

ABDULLAH (through translator): The world hears the conflict only through Netanyahu's voice. We try and make it hear us, through the sound of these simple missiles, to say that we are here, we have land, we are human beings, we want to live in dignity.

LEE (voice-over): But one projectile hit a kindergarten in Israel. No one was hurt but only because no one was around.

I ask Abu Abdullah why they target Israeli civilians.

ABDULLAH (through translator): The world needs to know that the resistance never plans to target children.

LEE (voice-over): He admits to me mistakes are made and yet, time and time again, they fire rockets indiscriminately.

The U.S., Israel and European Union designate Islamic Jihad, just like Hamas, a terrorist organization. The group has few friends abroad. But it's not totally isolated.

ABDULLAH (through translator): Israel is proud of its support from the United States. And we are proud of Iran's support of the Palestinian resistance on the moral and logistical level. There is nothing wrong with it. And it is not a secret. LEE (voice-over): Gaza's tragedy can be described in a host of different ways. Having militant groups in charge, committed to Israel's destruction, is just one of many. But for as long as Israel and Egypt maintain an iron grip from outside and the rest of --


LEE: -- the world wrings its hands, it's hard to see how anything will change -- Ian Lee, CNN, Gaza.


WATSON: OK, let's do something very different. New Delhi residents have been choking on higher than normal levels of dust and pollution this weekend. Fortunately there could be some relief coming in the coming days.


WATSON: And thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ivan Watson. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.