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Melania Trump makes unannounced visit to Texas border; The man who could unseat Erdogan. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 21, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, the US first lady shows up at the border as President Trump's executive order reversing family

separation raises even more questions. The Mayor of El Paso Texas, Dee Margo, tells me that he is horrified by the inhumanity of it all.

Also ahead, as Turkey gears up for a potentially game-changing election, I ask the main opposition leader Muharrem Ince why he thinks he can give the

all-powerful President Erdogan a run for his money.

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

First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to the Mexican border today. She toured a child detention facility in McAllen, Texas.

Reports indicate that President Trump's wife had played a major role behind the scenes convincing her husband to stop enforcing his own policy of

separating immigrant children from their parents.

He ended that yesterday under pressure, but it only further deferred the crisis. Local officials have no instructions on reuniting the more than

2,000 children who've already been separated.

And besides, a US court order prevents minors from being detained with or without their parents for more than 20 days.

Now, to see the crisis firsthand, a bipartisan group of mayors from across the country traveled to the border near El Paso, Texas calling for an end

to what they say is a moral crisis.

Their host was the El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. He is a Republican. And I caught up with him at the border in Tornillo.

Mayor Margo, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, you are visiting a facility that's detaining, holding children. It's not too far from you own city, El Paso. Tornillo, I

believe. You're there with a bipartisan group of mayors. What have you been seeing? What is your message today?

MARGO: Well, I'm joining the US Conference of Mayors, a group of us, to state publicly, to provide, to apply as much pressure as we can on the

administration to stop the incarceration of children, which he announced yesterday, president announced he wasn't going to do.

But at the same time, we want to remind people that this is only a symptom of the root cause, and that's the lack of immigration reform out of

Congress because, apparently, over the last 30-plus years, they haven't had the intestinal fortitude to take action properly on immigration reform.

AMANPOUR: Let me just take both of those issues. The executive order that the president signed does say that they are going to keep families

together. But do you have any idea what's going to happen to the more than 2,000 who authorities say have already been separated from their parents

over the last weeks or so and how are they ever going to get back to their parents?

MARGO: That's a question we've been asking as a conference of mayors and we haven't been given any answers. The city of El Paso is doing a

resolution next week in our city council on the same issue.

We want immediate - the children to be placed back with their parents immediately. As I say, this is symptomatic of a bigger problem. And El

Paso is the largest US city on the US-Mexico border.

We're one region of over 400 years. We're a region with a total population of 2.7 million. We are the border. We understand it, by nationally, by

culturally and by lingually.

So, anytime anybody wants to talk about immigration, they shouldn't be doing it in Washington. They ought to be down here in El Paso.

AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to get to the big picture in a moment. But what I do want to ask you is there even a database, these children who've been

separated from their families already? Does anybody even know who belongs to who? Have they taken the requisite names, dates, I don't know,

fingerprints, whatever you need to be able to reunite families in these chaotic conditions?

[14:05:02] MARGO: We have been - Christiane, we have been given no information regarding the children, where they are. All we know is they're

being distributed throughout the United States, which was a surprise to some of us.

We heard about them being placed in Michigan. We heard about being placed in New York, Rhode Island, elsewhere. That's the reason we came together

as a group of mayors to say enough is enough. This is ridiculous. This is not what we're about as a nation.

We needed rational immigration reform. We do need to protect our borders, but we need rational immigration reform.

AMANPOUR: What about people having access to these children? None of the press has been able to see them. We don't really know what's going on.

Even Congress people are told that they have to give the authorities two weeks' notice to be able to see these children.

MARGO: We were told the same thing, Christiane. We were told that we needed to - we threw this meeting together in about 48 hours. We thought

it was imperative that we speak immediately with because of the incarceration of the children, but, secondly, knowing that immigration

reform is supposed to be voted on this weekend in the House of Representatives. In fact, I think today.

So, we wanted to have a voice representing cities from both sides of the United States, East and West Coast and Central America - and the central

part of our country as well as the border.

But we've been given no information. We've been told we had to make a two- week petition to see. And we know as much as the media knows and other congressional delegation members.

AMANPOUR: Which is pretty little. I hear you're distressed, mayor. I see you distressed. And it just sounds inhumane even in the way you're

describing it. Do you think that's - I mean, inhumane?

MARGO: It is inhumane. I mean, you had four living first ladies say the same thing this weekend. It's not what we're about. And the very idea of

- I understand the authorities were being instructed not to pick the children up. That's ridiculous.

I have a 6-year-old, 4-year-old, and a 2 week-old grandson. It's ridiculous. It's not what we're about.


MARGO: And we need to take action in Washington.

AMANPOUR: So, I mean, look, we have heard this dilemma, this cry, this complaint for years about lack of rational policy in Washington that the

two sides can't get together, that there's no solution.

But, in fact, there are solutions, there are rational immigration policies and the politicians simply haven't organized them. Do you think from your

experience and what you're seeing now in this amazing, tragic, heated moment that they can knock their heads together?

Do you think that these politicians sitting in Washington will finally come up with a rational solution to an immigration issue?

MARGO: Well, I think from the standpoint of our nation, I hope and pray we do. I mean, most of the time, congressional leaders and even many state

legislators do not understand the border. They've rarely been to the border.

We're a community for over 400 years. You cannot tell the difference between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. You literally cannot tell the

difference. And it's over 400 years. We have families on both sides. We have commerce on both sides. We've been traversing back and forth for 400

years. People just don't understand how it works.

AMANPOUR: So, you are a fourth generation El Pasoan, if I can put it that way. Your family came from Mexico. Just explain to people who may not

understand what you're just saying about the border, the incredible intertwining of lives and cultures and economies. What should people who

are not near the border think about it?

MARGO: Well, I think what they think is a bunch of criminals or illegal immigrants coming across, and that's not what we have. We have commerce.

We have people living on both sides.

We have an outlet mall in El Paso with 9 million visitors on an annual basis; 47 percent of those visitors are from Mexico. They're coming over.

They're buying goods and services from El Paso and going back.

El Paso is the 10th largest trading export with Latin America and Mexico. Texas has $97 billion worth of trade with Mexico. We have a trade surplus.

It's both NAFTA. It's immigration. It's all of the above. We're really one region. We are international.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Mayor, just tick off these two points for us. The president and his supporters say there are, in fact, in his words,

infestation. They're coming over to infest the country. That's a word he used in a tweet, implying that there are a lot of illegals, a lot of gang

members, a lot of criminals, drug smugglers and the like.

But we've seen graphs that show that actual arrests have been going down over the last several years. So, give us please the facts about the level

of crime.

[14:10:09] MARGO: All right. El Paso is the safest city in the United States by any FBI or other measurement that you have, and we have been in

the top three for many years. We are the safest city in the United States.

We do not have the issues that are being talked about that you're referencing. We haven't had them. We don't have them.

So, I'm in a quandary as to how they articulate or convey or portray from Mexico what's going on. That's not our issue here.

Every four jobs in Juarez, Mexico is one job in El Paso, Texas. We have 50,000 tied to the manufacturing in Juarez. It's just - it's not there.

We have a fence that was put in during the Bush administration. The fence was primarily for criminal activity. It wasn't so much immigration or

illegal immigration issues. It had to do with car thefts and things like that. It was done years ago. It's fine.

I'm against the terminology of a wall. That conjures up to me the Berlin Wall. I don't think it's conducive to our relationship with Mexico and

what we're about again as a nation and, of course, we shouldn't be incarcerating children.

AMANPOUR: And Mr. Mayor, the wall is really important because that, many people say, is a large part of what got Donald Trump elected and there have

been periodic surges of people coming across, particularly when the relationship with Mexico breaks down, coming across from Central America

and all the rest of it.

But I've heard law enforcement, I've heard FBI, I've heard engineers, I've heard Homeland Security - former Homeland Security officials say it is

dreamer vision to expect that there will ever be a successful wall, that this concept will not ever be a 100 percent or even close to it effective.

MARGO: First of all, from a geographical standpoint, you can't do it. It won't fit all the way across. Most of the land behind me is all private

land on the border. It just won't work.

Now, I can see fences in certain areas like we have here through downtown El Paso on our west side and parts of it, but we do need to protect our

borders. I won't deny that.

But the idea of a multi-billion dollar structure makes no real sense economically or from an efficiency outcome.

AMANPOUR: I think every single nation knows that borders need to be protected, and that's not an issue. But I want to ask you as a Republican

mayor, what do you feel? I mean, how do you feel? Do you support your president? Do you support this administration on this particular issue?

And where do you want to see the deck fall when it comes to immigration reform in Washington? What do you expect Congress to do?

MARGO: Well, I've said before on other interviews that I understand what I think the president is trying to do to send a message. Incarceration and

separation of children from the parents is not the way to do it.

He may be trying to apply pressure on Congress to do what they need to do. We need to deal with DACA. We need to deal with the immigrants that are -

the undocumented immigrants that are already in the United States, who are actually probably productive citizens under false Social Security numbers

and other things.

We need to come with that, but a DACA for sure. Those kids didn't ask for it, especially those that served in the military. If you served in the

military as a DREAMer, you ought to be automatically given citizenship.

There are there a number of things that ought to occur. I just think the rhetoric has gotten out of hand and, in most cases, the people who are

espousing that incorrect rhetoric have never been to the border and don't understand the border.

And that's my point in talking about El Paso and our community of over 400 years.

AMANPOUR: Mayor Dee Margo of El Paso, thank you for joining us. And really, your plea for a rational conversation and a solution to this is

coming across loud and clear. Thank you so much.

MARGO: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And now we turn to Turkey. Over the last several years, Turkey has taken in hundreds of thousands of immigrants and refugees from Syria

and elsewhere in order to stop them coming into Europe. It is also a major US ally and it is also a NATO ally. It is also a country that, for many

years, was very much on the way to a democracy.

But now, there are fears that it is turning more into one-man rule, under one man, and that is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He's been in power

for more than 15 years.

But Sunday brings the first real challenge to Erdogan's rule in a snap election. Arguably, it's the most important one in modern history because

if Erdogan and his ruling AKP win, sweeping powers revert to the president and Parliament threatens to be marginalized.

[14:15:14] But Erdogan's opponents are stronger and more emboldened this year. The face of this new movement is Muharrem Ince, a man who

surprisingly seems to be resonating with voters. And I spoke to him during a stop on his whirlwind campaign trail.

Muharrem Ince, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: A lot of people are saying it's going to be really tough to stop Erdogan. What makes you think that your candidacy can be successful

against this president, who's been in power for 15 years and he has a real - he's really good at the polls when it comes to elections?

INCE (through translator): I believe in the power of the street. I believe in the will of our people for change. Our people are suffocated.

Turkey is suffocated. Our institutions are conquered. Democracy in Turkey has disappeared. One man is running the country. Turkey needs to find a

way out of this.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Ince, what is it like running this kind of campaign under a state of emergency. The country is still in that state since the attempted

coup a couple of years ago.

INCE (through translator): Erdogan is using the resources of the state, using the airplane and helicopter of the state, using the money of the

state. I campaign by using the money donated by the volunteers, but I set my heart on this.

Erdogan campaigns with the money of the state. I campaign with the heart of the people. Donations collected by the volunteers and the position of

the people will beat the money of the state.

AMANPOUR: When you said you will all be able to tweet freely if I'm elected, what did you mean? Why did you say that? It sounds like a weird

campaign promise.

INCE (through translator): University students of this country may not like some of the practices of the president. They should be able to

criticize the president.

But at the moment, if you tweet against Erdogan at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, police come to your home and put them in prison.

This is not going to happen when I am president. I will appear on TV channels not with partisan press, but with the young people to have

discussions with them on the issues. This is what I mean.

AMANPOUR: If you do win, will you revert Turkey back to a parliamentary system? Because if Erdogan wins, he wants to solidify a very, very

powerful presidential system.

INCE (through translator): My first task will be to lift the state of emergency within 48 hours. We will review the judicial system and we will

create an independent judiciary.

The management of the central bank and its chairman will be made independent. We will clear the path of investors and there will be a

transparent government.

The appointments in the public sector will be based on objective criteria. Whatever is available in the West, we will have the same system.

Our education will be secular, scientific and free. Whatever industries are available in Germany, for example, we will have the same industries.

This is what our aim will be.

Our aim is also to be in the European Union. We will start the negotiations with the EU again.

We want a free Turkey where the young can speak. At the moment, 210,000 people are in detention and 70,000 of them are students. Turkey doesn't

deserve this. We will soon make reforms and restorations to resolve these issues and we will soon go back to a parliamentary regime in Turkey.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Ince, the Turkish people have always depended and trusted Mr. Erdogan to take care of the economy. And for many years, it's been a

very, very rapidly growing economy.

How much trouble is the slowing economy and the devaluation of the lira? How much trouble is that for Mr. Erdogan right now?

INCE (through translator): During Erdogan's era, Turkish debt has increased by $333 billion. This is to say, at the moment, Turkish debt is

$453 billion. Erdogan has indebted Turkey. The current deficit is $55 billion. Inflation in the kitchen is about 30 percent. One in every four

educated young people are unemployed.

Turkey is holding elections under such circumstances. The recession is at our doorstep. Erdogan didn't run Turkey well. The growth is an artificial

growth. Erdogan buried the money in concrete. He didn't invest in factories, productions, and investments.

[14:20:00] I am going to work on agriculture-based industries. Stagnant industries will be reinvigorated. I'm going to use the labor force in a

correct manner. We will not allow Turkey to be robbed. There will be no corruption. We will develop Turkey in a short time.

AMANPOUR: All right. Thank you, Mr. Ince.

INCE (through translator): Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And with that ripping off his mic, taking out his earpiece, he was dashing off to another campaign stop, so I had caught up with him

earlier this week.

And as we just heard, of course, Turkey's economic woes are dominating the mood ahead of Sunday's vote.

Joining me now to put that and the other big election issues into perspective is Soner Cagaptay. He is a leading analyst on Turkey and he's

joining me now from Washington. Mr. Cagaptay, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: And so, first and foremost, on the hope of this sort of anyone, but Erdogan-style coalition or group of opposition that Mr. Ince, who we

just talk to, is counting on, do you think they have a better chance this time than in previous elections?

CAGAPTAY: In fact, they do. I think Erdogan's main challenge is that this time he faces a couple of competent opposition leaders, who have been able

to rally the base.

Both of these leaders are pious like Erdogan. So, it's easier for him to target them for being not religious or irreligious as he has done in the


And I think in this regard, Mr. Ince and Mrs. Aksener are both formidable candidates. So, he's going to have a really hard time comfortably crossing

the 50 percent to become president.

AMANPOUR: And I sort of asked him because one of his - you mean Erdogan is going to have a hard time with the 50 percent?

CAGAPTAY: That's correct.

AMANPOUR: So, do you expect there therefore to be a runoff?

CAGAPTAY: That's yet to be seen because he also has a pretty solid base that worships him. Erdogan's bright side is that he has delivered economic

growth in the last 15 years and lifted many people out of poverty. So, he has a very loyal base composed of mostly conservative Turks, many of which

he has lifted out of poverty that adores him. That's half of Turkey.

The other half of the country, and that's Erdogan's dark side, is composed of people that he has demonized and cracked down on in the last 15 years

and that's his liberal and dark side.

So, the debate is which part is bigger. And right now, they both seem to be almost equally large in the sense that Turkey is split nearly down in

the middle 50-50. And this is why I think elections still matter in Turkey.

I'm often asked if Turkey is like Russia and if Mr. Erdogan wants to be Putin. And I say whether or not he wants to be Putin, Turkey is not

Russia. In Russia, where Putin wins majorities with 60, 70 percent support, in Turkey Erdogan can still barely win 50 percent support,

although he has very tight grip on the country's institutions and media.

And I think that means that, despite everything, Turkey is a democracy, it's hopeful for the future, the country is still very pluralistic and I

believe in Turkey's democratic traditions going forward.

AMANPOUR: So, that's really interesting because you've said a lot of the things that people are worried about, the number of journalists in jail,

the fact that the vast majority of the media is beholden to him, the fact that he gets the lion's share of airtime on the state media and uses - or

presumably has the services of facilities like transport and all the rest of it around his campaign.

What did you make of Mr. Ince saying as part of his promise that, if I'm elected, you will all be able to tweet freely again?

CAGAPTAY: And that's probably true because when Mr. Erdogan came to power nearly 16 years ago, his promise was to deliver more freedoms to all Turks

and that's what made him appealing.

But, of course, in a matter of nearly two decades, he has now become the establishment, the establishment against which he was fighting once upon a


So, he's no more identified with freedoms, rather with limitations and curbs on freedoms and liberties. That's why I think Mr. Ince's campaign

is refreshing because he has now become the anti-establishment candidate. He is offering freedoms.

And I think maybe the blushes off the rose for Mr. Erdogan this time. Even if he wins, it looks like he not only has a competent opposition

leader who will challenge him, but also that he's no more shaping the narrative of making Turkey more free and more equal. That baton is now

passing into the hands of his opposition.

AMANPOUR: Why is this important for the West, for the United States, for Western Europe? I mean, as I said, it's a major Western ally, a NATO ally

and he did bring immense democratic and economic and judicial and all sorts of reforms when he first came to power.

But the West sees him not as a rival, but as increasingly non-democratic now and almost obstructionist in many policies. Why is this election

important for the West and for the region in fact?

CAGAPTAY: Well, it's important because, if he wins the elections, Mr. Erdogan will become Turkey's most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal

Ataturk established Turkey nearly 100 years ago.

[14:25:00] The new powers that Mr. Erdogan gained as a result of the referendum last year, if he wins the elections, that will make him head of

state, head of government, head of the military, head of the police, which is a national force and head of ruling party. He will become the most

powerful Turk in recent memory.

The problem with that, of course, is that while half of the country loves him and adores him, the conservative half, that includes many people he has

lifted out of poverty.

The other half mostly composed of leftists and secularists despise him. And if he wins, Turkey's crisis, which is a direct result of his

trajectory, is not going to end. It's, in fact, going to be exacerbated.

So, I fear that unless Mr. Erdogan goes back to becoming a politician who unites the country again, his victory, unfortunately, does not promise

stability for Turkey. It actually, in my view, threatens to make Turkey more instable.

AMANPOUR: So, we were just seeing some banners and they were for Demirtas, who is the main Kurdish party leader, and he is actually in jail and he was

allowed to make a speech from jail, but people have described the election as sort of Kafkaesque, you can't really have a free proper election under a

state of emergency where one of the main leaders is in jail and all the rest of it.

Do you think it will be a credible election?

CAGAPTAY: I think that so far the campaign has not been fair, and that's unfortunate. Turkey has been having free and fair elections longer than

has had Spain. Turkey's first multi-party free elections go back to 1950.

Thus far, the campaign has not been fair. Mr. Erdogan has stacked all odds in his favor. Pro-government businesses control nearly 90 percent of

the media. The government controls and censors online content.

On top of it, the elections are held under a set of emergency that was put in place after the failed coup of 2016, which Mr. Erdogan has extended

seven times. So, it's hard to speak of a fair campaign, but I hope the vote will be free.


CAGAPTAY: And that's because Turks have been doing elections for nearly 70 years. They know the value of their vote. And I think, ultimately, what

matters is that, if this is a free vote, we're going to see an extremely competitive race as a result of that.

AMANPOUR: Really fascinating. Mr. Cagaptay, thank you so much for joining us with that analysis.

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

Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.