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South Carolina Congressional Candidate Katie Arrington Hospitalized after Car Accident; Democrats Visit Immigrant Detention Centers Near U.S.-Mexico Border; Protestors at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas Block Bus with Detainees from Leaving Facility; Interview with Florida Senator Bill Nelson. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 23, 2018 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:28] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with breaking news this hour. The Trump-backed Republican candidate that beat South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford in last week's primary has been seriously injured in a car crash. Here's what we know. Katy Arrington is hospitalized with serious injuries after a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction hit the car that she was in. She will undergo surgery for a broken back and ribs. Her campaign says she was expected to be -- she is expected to be hospitalized for the next two weeks. Arrington's friend, Jacqueline Goff, was also in the car and she was seriously hurt. The driver of the car that hit them was killed.

I want to bring in CNN political reporter Rebecca Berg. So Rebecca, what is the latest?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Thanks, Fredricka. Of course, Arrington just days ago catapulted to national attention when she defeated Sanford, but now an uncertain road ahead for her after this horrific car accident last night. What we know so far, we should not that the Sheriff's office authorities in South Carolina are still investigating this car accident, but what we do know is that a car swerved into Arrington's lane. She was a passenger. Her friend was driving her vehicle, but this car coming from a northbound direction hit Arrington's car head-on, very high speed head-on collision.

The driver of that other vehicle is deceased. We do not know the identity of that driver yet, but Arrington and her friend both with very serious injuries. We're told from her campaign to expect she'll have multiple surgeries over the coming days and, of course as you said, hospitalized for as much as two weeks, perhaps longer. Here is what her campaign manager had to say outside of the hospital earlier.


MICHAEL MULE, ARRINGTON'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: As we all know, Katie is an extremely tough, strong woman. She has tremendous faith and an incredibly supportive family. It's from her strong faith, from her support of her family, the prayers and support of our community, and the incredible doctors and staff here at this hospital that she is certain she will make a quick recovery and be back to work for our state soon.


BERG: So now her former rival Mark Sanford and the president did tweet their thoughts and prayers are with her today, wishing her a swift recovery.

In the meantime, what is happening with this campaign? Well, it's a relatively safe Republican seat. Not a toss-up race according to our race readings. But nevertheless her Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham, said today that he is suspending his campaign activities as she recovers. So we'll keep you updated on the latest developments here, Fred.

WHITFIELD: We're all wishing her a speedy recovery. Thank you so much, Rebecca Berg.

Many lawmakers are still focusing much of their attention today on the immigration chaos at the border. Today more than two dozen lawmakers are touring immigration facilities in Texas. Despite the White House ending family separations this week, thousands of families remain torn apart, and today many are still wondering when and how they'll be brought back together. CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is in McAllen, Texas. So Polo, what are lawmakers learning.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Behind me some of the latest visitors of one of the centers, these detention centers in south Texas, at least outside. Members of the civil rights LULAC.

But earlier today, as you mentioned, members of that Democratic delegation of Congressmen and women who have been traveling through south Texas which is one of the busiest border patrol sectors when it comes to apprehensions, and seeing firsthand what it's like. We've showed you what we assume they were able to see. We've shown you the pictures that were handed out by the U.S. government last week. Of course, our cameras not allowed in. The government citing privacy reasons.

But these lawmakers saying they saw some of what we've seen in those pictures, these people being housed behind chain link fencing, many of them sleeping under mylar blankets, and the sheer numbers that they've been dealing with as we heard from Representative Jackie Speier, who essentially led the delegation, to describe what's happening inside as heartbreaking. I want you to hear what the Democrat from California said about these ongoing efforts to try to reunify some of the children who were separated from parents after the implementation of zero tolerance.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: In terms of reunification, I have zero, zero understanding that anyone has been reunited with their parents. [14:05:00] I think these children have been sent off. They may have

an "A" number, but when they go through the Department of Health and Human Services, they get a different number. So the ability to match them, I think, becomes much more difficult. So I don't believe that they have been reunified, and you've got to show me proof.


SANDOVAL: The congresswoman talking about numbers. Let's keep on that topic right now. Here's where things stand right now. Approximately 2,400 children are still in the care of the U.S. government. Important to point out, though, Fred, that includes unaccompanied minors, which continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, and that also includes those who were separated from their parents so that the mothers and fathers would then be prosecuted for illegal entry, which, by the way, prosecutors here in south Texas have seen a significant increase, over 200 percent increase of prosecutions that we have seen for illegal entry, that misdemeanor charge. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval in McAllen, Texas, thank you so much.

So the immigration issue isn't just being discussed on the federal level. Many cities have a lot at stake in this debate. Joining me right now, the mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler. Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for being with me. So you tried to visit an immigration shelter earlier in the week but you weren't allowed to enter, is that right? Have you gotten an explanation or have you since been able to get in?

MAYOR STEVE ADLER, (D) AUSTIN, TEXAS: There was a group of about 20 mayors with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and we were not able to get in. We were told -- we had submitted an application we were told it was going to take another two weeks for it to be processed. So we had to look as best we could from the front gate. But I'll tell you, the mayor of New York and I, Mayor de Blasio, went across the border onto the Mexico side where we could get a better view of the facility. But still, we were not admitted.

WHITFIELD: So what's your concern? What does your gut instinct tell you when you hear the answer, no, you do not have access as an elected official? What does this make you think?

ADLER: Well, it's disturbing. Our community here and the communities that sent the other mayors to the border just want to have people that have eyes on the children and on the operation. I'm not sure exactly what security or administrative concern a bunch of elected mayors would cause, but it is disturbing just to see videos, to not really be able to see the facilities. The whole thing is disturbing. That we're using children as a deterrent for people legally seeking asylum in this country is just wrong.

WHITFIELD: Well, isn't -- one is led to believe that the inference is that no one wants you or someone to witness what is taking place, don't want you to see something. And especially when you're talking about your motivation is to see and observe with your own eyes the well-being, particularly, of kids, have you received any kind of explanation as to why it would be an endangerment for you as a mayor to see what's taking place inside?

ADLER: We were not given an explanation other than it takes longer, more time to be able to just process the application. But we were there, almost 20 mayors were there. I don't think we would have presented a risk, and I think we could have been able to answer questions for people back in my community and in these other communities. People are standing up. People are asking questions. The only reason that there's any measure of change even at this point is because people have finally stood up and said no, we're not going to do this anymore. People are invested in this issue. People want to know what's going on.

WHITFIELD: There were a number of lawmakers, of course, 25 or so, who made their way into a facility there in McAllen, Texas, today, and their descriptions were quite terse, using words like "barbaric" and "heartbreaking," it's shocking, outrageous, it's a prison, they are in cages. One representative, Congressman Himes, said he saw mounds of silver mylar and just thought it was a pile of the silver mylar until he saw it moving and then saw little girls emerge. It's a humanitarian crisis, describes Representative Esty. There is a need for consistency and compassion. So hearing their points of view, a variety of lawmakers after having witnessed these cages, these facilities, after walking through, tells you what about the urgency or immediacy of changing or addressing this?

ADLER: There's a real sense of urgency here. We have children that are not with their parents.

[14:10:00] Even with the executive order we have almost 2,500 children that should be with their parents, and they are not there right now. Diane and I are having our first opportunity to be alone with our new grandbaby, and I can't even imagine what it would be like to be in a situation where you would be separated from children this way.

There are 20,000 children, unaccompanied children, that many of them have family in this country. They shouldn't be in cages or detained or in foster homes. They should be reunited with their families. And parents everywhere, people everywhere, are feeling the urgency that you just have to know that these children and their parents are feeling. I've heard reports now that it could take up to four months to get some of these children back with their parents, and that's too long. There is an urgency for this issue.

WHITFIELD: So as the mayor of Austin, you have access and you have oversight, but do you feel powerless in this situation?

ADLER: Well, it's real apparent that this isn't a city call to be made because the decision would be different. But again, there is power in the cities. There is power in the communities. It is people that are standing up all across this country that are the only reason why there's been even the measure of change that we have seen over the last week. So powerless in a lot of ways, but powerful in many others. And I would just urge everybody that's continuing to watch this to recognize the movement that's happened thus far because people stood up, and to make sure that people keep their voices going, because there's still a lot of work left to do.

WHITFIELD: Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler, appreciate your time.

ADLER: Thank you. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, Sarah Huckabee Sanders kicked out of a Virginia restaurant, she says, because she works for President Trump. In the meantime, the president will be speaking outside of Las Vegas today. Will he address the immigration chaos? We'll talk about that next.


[14:16:17] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The president is coming under fire from a prominent Republican congressman. South Carolina's Mark Sanford lost his primary, and in an op-ed in the "Washington Post," he says he lost because he isn't Trump enough, adding, I'm quoting from his op-ed, "We should all be alarmed when dissenting voices are quashed. President Trump is not the first executive to want compliance from a legislative body, but he has taken it to a new level. This is more than a problem, it's a challenge to one of the most basic American tenants, that we can agree to disagree."

Meantime, the president just touched down in Las Vegas for a rally and a fundraiser for Republican Senator Dean Heller. Nevada is a key swing state and also a state that Trump lost in 2016. CNN's Sarah Westwood is at the rally site. So Senator Heller's seat is considered to be on the endangered list for Republicans already, and this is a state where immigration is front and center, so is the president expected to double down on that immigration stance today?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, President Trump is known for doubling down on controversial issues, and so far he has stood by his zero-tolerance immigration policy despite a nationwide backlash. Here in Las Vegas, the president does have a packed schedule today. He is attending that fundraiser for Dean Heller who greeted him at the airport when he touched down just moments ago and whose seat Republicans are struggling to defend in November.

He will speak in this room to the Nevada Republican Party where he may touch on the issue of immigration while making a broader argument over why Republicans need to expand their congressional majorities in November. And, of course, he will attend a tax reform round table before jetting back to Washington later tonight. Of course, all this political activity is coming against the backdrop of confusion over how the administration plans to reunite those 2,300 children who have been separated from their families at the border. Trump is expected to potentially touch on that during his remarks, and it's something he's returned to this week as immigration talks have hit a snag in the House.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

Let me bring in my panel now. With me now is CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic" Ron Brownstein, and Amie Parnes, a CNN political analyst and a senior political correspondent for "The Hill." Good to see you both.


WHITFIELD: Ron, you first. This border issue has caused a lot of controversy, but the president likes to say his immigration policies are what got him elected. But there's a lot of chaos and confusion. It doesn't seem to be carried out or executed in an organized fashion, and these images and these eyewitness accounts are horrific, so will this battle help or hurt the GOP leading into the November midterms?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think there is a very calculated and coordinated choice here that the president is making, and it is consistent with the choice he has made throughout his presidency. He is governing -- over and over again when he faces a choice he almost always comes down on the side of trying to energize and mobilize his older, blue collar, and nonurban base, usually, a party -- at the price of accepting greater polarization in other parts of the electorate.

And I think the calculation they are making is that they can turn out more of their base supporters in November than you usually see in a midterm election, and the bet is that they will not provoke an offsetting turnout from the groups that are most unhappy about this policy, particularly Hispanic voters, young people, and college- educated white voters.

[14:20:00] To me the key kind of tipping point constituency on this are working class white women. We talked about this before. They were critical to Donald Trump's victory in 2016. They are probably critical to where the Democrats can extend their gains beyond white collar suburbs in 2018. And in the polling that has been done on the family separation, they opposed it by two to one. So can he hold them? They normally lean Republican. Is this the kind of thing where polarization aimed at his base drives away some of those more swing voters? That is the dynamic that is playing out, I think, between now and November.

WHITFIELD: Amie, how do you see it?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do agree with Ron completely. I think that he faces some troubles in that he lost a little moderate support this week. You heard a lot of people, even Laura Bush come out and say this was a problem. This was appalling. A lot of Republicans on the Hill that I heard from were saying the same thing, that this was problematic for their party going forward, going into a midterm. So I think he faces some problems there.

But this is a culture war to him, and this is why he feels he was elected. He feels like he can double down and move forward and that his supporters will agree with him and that he will win on this issue. And so I think he is going to dig his heels in and he feels like immigration is his issue.

BROWNSTEIN: Real quick, there is a challenge here for Democrats. Normally the midterm electorates are older and whiter significantly than the presidential year electorates at a time when older whites have become the cornerstone of the Trump and Republican coalition. The challenge they have is that the question is whether younger voters and Hispanic voters are going to turn out in larger numbers than they usually do in a midterm.

It's not just Trump. Eighty percent of House Republicans last week voted for a bill that would cut legal immigration by 40 percent, including a number of Republicans in highly diverse districts in places like Texas and California and Georgia. And what that says to me is they simply do not believe the voters who are most likely to be exercised about that are going to break the usual pattern and show up in large numbers in November. And it really is up to the Democratic coalition to see if they can, in effect, call the bluff of Trump and the Republican Congressional majority on immigration.

WHITFIELD: And then as you might have noticed earlier, President Trump is coming under fire from at least one prominent Republican congressman. He lost his seat, Mark Sanford, in the South Carolina primary, but he also wrote in "The Washington Post" in his op-ed that he believes this was part of the penalty for not being Trump enough, Amie. So does that highlight something about a real consequence of loyalty or lack thereof to the president?

PARNES: Yes, I think it does. Loyalty is huge to him. Every politician -- it's big to every politician, but especially to him. But I think he did suffer the consequences. His opponent was actually saying he was making this issue, that he doesn't support Trump. And so I do think that he suffered the consequences here.

But Trump was also -- when he was faced with when he went to Capitol Hill this week, he didn't read the room correctly either, and he kind of insulted Sanford in front of his colleagues. And I think that hurt him, as well. He didn't know how to remain quiet about this issue and let him sort of lose and let this issue go away.

WHITFIELD: So, Ron, how powerful is this pledging of allegiance to the president, to a man, that it's being -- that's superseding the pledging the allegiance to the flag, to country?

BROWNSTEIN: Trump's approval ratings among Republicans are sky high. By some measures, in some polls they are the highest we've seen for a president among voters in his own party. And I think part of the reason for that is because he is such a confrontational figure and he has taken on all of these tendencies in the Republican Party over the last 20 years and pushed them, turned them up to 11, as they would say in "Spinal Tap." And he's fighting all of the cultural enemies that the party has accumulated. It's made it tough for individual Republicans to oppose him.

On the other hand, the reality is his overall approval rating is still well below 50 percent. And if you look at the diverse and white collar suburban districts that are ground zero in the 2018 election, by and large Republican members have chosen to stand with the president on all of these major votes even though he is under water in their own districts. And that is the gamble. They don't have a good choice because obviously if you break from him, you could face a primary challenge or just disgruntled core Republicans. But the reality is if you look in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Minneapolis and Chicago and New York and L.A. and Miami, you have a number of Republicans who have voted over and over with Trump in districts where he is under 50 percent, and that is the gamble that we are going to see how it plays out in November.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ron Brownstein, Amie Parnes, good to see you both. Thanks so much.

Straight ahead, lawmakers are visiting several immigration facilities demanding access and action to end the chaos of families being separated at the border. A live report from Florida next.


[14:29:33] WHITFIELD: Now several lawmakers are in Florida to see the conditions of a facility in Homestead, Florida. The group includes Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson. Their visit comes after Nelson was refused entry earlier in the week to go inside of a facility. CNN correspondent Dianne Gallagher is there right now. So Dianne, what are the lawmakers there hoping to find out and see?

[14:00:01] DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than anything I think they just want to see for themselves, because it has been so secretive. Just finding out what's going on in this facility that the government has contracted a contractor to operate this. We do know from the time we went on the tour yesterday that there is roughly 1,200 kids from the ages of 13 to 17 inside there right now.

Now, all of the talk and all of the concern right now about those children who were separated from their parents at the border because of the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, roughly 70 members of the children who were there of those 1,200 fall underneath that. The rest of the, we're told, arrived unaccompanied.

I'm being told right now that it looks like the members of Congress are just coming out of their tour. They were in there for about an hour, which is about the time I got to spend in there, as well. And it sounds like a long time, but this is a massive facility. This campus is a former job corps site, and so we got to go into lots of rooms and see the dormitories. But it felt like we were rushed and briskly taken from room to room. I didn't talk to a single child while I was in there, and I toured the centralized processing center in McAllen, Texas, last weekend, and I got to talk to people in there. They wouldn't allow that here, and it would have provided some much needed context for me.

Now, Marco Rubio toured this facility yesterday. He said they also told him he would not be able to, and some of the images you're seeing from inside are probably these government issued images because they won't let us bring cameras. They won't let us bring phones, or recording devices citing privacy reasons. That's the same reason they're not going to let us talk to the kids, they say. And we'll see. The Democratic delegation that was here, you mentioned some of those members, they said they are going to try to talk to those kids, because, again, their voices are important, learning their stories and why they are in there and how they feel, that is important. I didn't given the opportunity to do that. We're going to hopefully in just a few moments because it looks like they're coming out here, I'm going to let you guys go so I can go and talk to them, figure out if they were able to talk to any of these kids inside there.

WHITFIELD: Right, before you go, though, quickly, Dianne, I do want to ask you, so when we look at these images, and again many of the images inside the facility are images that have been supplied by the government, right, so you're looking at some of the kids, at least from the back, it looks like they are all wearing the same t-shirts and even shorts. Is there anything you've learned about the process when they get in? How are they processed? There is this uniformity in terms of what they are wearing. We see the pictures of the art activities, et cetera. Can you give us a kind of thumbnail sketch of what they go through?

GALLAGHER: Oh, sure thing. So, what we were told by the director here at the Homestead facility is that when the kids arrive, first they go through medical --

WHITFIELD: I am so sorry, Dianne, I know you're going to run off to talk to some of those lawmakers, but I need to now go to breaking news out of McAllen, Texas, there. Polo Sandoval is on the line with us, because I understand, Polo, that there is a bus with children trying to leave but the crowd of people that have gathered there are not letting that happen. Explain.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we're trying to find out exactly who is aboard that bus. Right now these are the buses traditionally used to transport detainees in and out of border patrol facilities as they are processed. You can't actually see inside, except to see just some silhouettes and some of the people who are detained in the bus.

Let me tell you what happened five, ten minutes ago here. There was what was a peaceful demonstration initially that was being led by a civil rights group LULAC right in front of the processing facility in McAllen, Texas, only a couple of miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. As this bus began to pull out of the facility, that is when these demonstrators essentially spilled out onto the street and then blocked the path of this large bus.

Border patrol agents had to clear the roadway unsuccessfully, and now police officers with the McAllen police department have been called to try to clear the route here. But as you can imagine from some of these pictures that we're bringing to you live right now in McAllen, that's certainly going to be challenging. I'm looking at a human -- basically, a human rope -- a human chain of border patrol agents in front of the facility making sure there would be no actual protesters that make their way to the facility itself. So again, some fairly tense moments that are unfolding here in the city of McAllen, Texas, as demonstrators block the path of what appears to be a detainee transport vehicle, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Polo, stay on the line with me, because we do have some of the images and sound taken just moments earlier where people were yelling near that bus. Let's listen in and perhaps you can tell me what is being said since you were there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going anywhere! This is our country! Our people have fought and died for this country! Leave the children alone!


WHITFIELD: So, Polo, I could make out one, a little portion there. He says we are there for them, justifying why he and others are there. Is he presumably, I guess, one of the leaders of the group that you just mentioned who have gathered there?

SANDOVAL: That's correct, Fred. That's the messaging that we heard this morning. Keep in mind, this is following what was a visit by some representatives, some lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers to this very facility just a couple of hours ago. They, obviously, have since cleared out.

And so a couple of hours later what we have are these demonstrators that were, it's my understanding were led by LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens that were members here in Texas who came in to basically have a demonstration. And I do have to tell you what I'm looking at right now, Fred, and I'm not sure if you can see those images with me, but looking into the bus, and you can make out the silhouettes of people that are behind the cage structure that is installed in this bus, and those people are waving, I can see what appear to be men and women, and a small hand. There is a small child in that bus, which is, obviously, why many of these people are here.

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. Again, Polo is on the phone there and we have our live cameras there. As you see a number of people in McAllen, Texas, who have gathered. Many of them have been demanding the release and the reunification of children to parents, and now Polo is describing there is a bus there. He described it there was a small hand that was seen. But we don't know all the details about who was on the bus, where they are being taken to or entering, et cetera.

But I do want to bring in Donna Abbott. She is the director of refugee and immigrant programs with Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So, Donna, what you're understanding -- well, McAllen, Texas, is one place, but there are dozens of facilities across the country that have either children or parents or both. But what's your understanding about the kind of treatment, services, aid, counseling, supplies, all of that that some of these kids who have been separated from their parents are receiving in these facilities?

DONNA ABBOTT, DIRECTOR, REFUGEE AND IMMIGRANT PROGRAMS, BETHANY CHRISTIAN SERVICES: Sure. I can't speak for the other facilities. I can speak for what Bethany provides. Bethany provides children with a case manager, with a clinician. They attend a school where a teacher has been informs on trauma informed teaching. And the children are in foster care. So those are the kind of services we provide, and the case manager works very hard at identifying not only the parent but other potential family members who could provide care and be ensured that the child has communication with parent and/or other family members.

WHITFIELD: So, Donna, help me understand. Now we're looking at a tighter picture. You can see the silhouette of people who are onboard that bus, by the way, as you and I are talking, so if I have to interrupt you to get more information about what's happening here, my apologies in advance. But tell me, then, how is Bethany used? Are you contracted to assist in some of these sites? Are you contracted to actually service some of these sites? Are you carrying out some of these detention facilities? Help me understand your role.

ABBOTT: We don't see ourselves as a detention facility. Children go to school, they move around the community, they're with families, go to movies, parks on the weekend. We feel that if children can't be with their own family, then a family-like environment is the most appropriate placement for any child, let alone a child who's experienced trauma.

So we work very hard to make sure that children and their foster family understand it's a transitional placement. It has always been the intent to reunify children and parents whenever possible. This is a program that has been in existence for a number of years helping unaccompanied children. Those are children separated unavoidably either in the chaos in their country or in flight. So we have well trained foster parents in assisting children who are looking to reunify with family members when have been separated. And certainly this is --

[14:40:00] WHITFIELD: Hold on real quick, Donna. I'm sorry to interrupt, real quick, I want to bring back Polo here, because Polo, as we're looking at these right pictures of the silhouettes, I feel like I got a glimpse of what appeared to be a little girl in the window of this bus. Is the bus in motion? Because the camera is in motion, but I can't tell. Is the bus in motion? Where's it going to? What are you understanding what's happening here?

SANDOVAL: We can only speak to what traditionally happens here, at least what we've seen all morning long. We've seen these white unmarked buses leave this facility in South McAllen, and transport many of these people who have been detained and oftentimes charged with entering the country illegally. It's very important that we point out that we are not aware of the circumstances of the people who are aboard this bus here.

But when you look inside, you can see the silhouettes, you can see hands, you can see adult hands and, obviously, the hands of children as this bus is forced to take a different route to another facility. Fred?

WHITFIELD: So just to recap, if I can get a better understanding, so you're saying this bus was trying to enter this facility at McAllen, or was it exiting?

SANDOVAL: Fred, when all of this happened, this bus was in the process of leaving this processing facility, the facility that many of these families are brought to, are taken to, rather, to be processed before they are taken to other detention facilities. So in this case what we saw was this bus was leaving the facility when the civil rights group had noticed it and then tried to get in the way of the bus and were able to do so and force the bus to then go the other direction.

WHITFIELD: Right. And we don't know after it has left the processing facility, we don't know where it's going, whether it's going to a detention facility, whether people are being transported to somewhere out of state. We just don't know.

SANDOVAL: Fred, if you would like, we can hear from some of the demonstrators. Hello, ma'am, you're live on CNN. What did you see, what happened? Who do you think was in there?

She says she was, obviously, struck with emotion what she saw inside, and she saw the small hands of the children. Tiny hands. Larger adult hands. Fred, that will give you an idea of what played out here in south McAllen. The group is, obviously, being pushed back now. We know that federal agents are up in the air. I recognize that helicopter up there is a helicopter that's operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Authorities here have certainly had to call in reinforcements when all of this took place, having to rely on local police, as well, to try to clear the road. I did see during a few moments that some heavily armed and prepared law enforcement officers did get called in and stood by, just watched, as they tried to bring this to a peaceful end. It appears that that may have been the case. We're going to try to find out if anybody had to be detained or arrested as a result of this.

But just to put a button on this, it certainly shows you emotions are certainly high. This is an emotionally charged issue. Add children into the mix here and to the immigration debate, and people are certainly going to feel extremely strong about their positions.

WHITFIELD: Yes, OK, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. Very clear it's very upsetting just by way of the woman that you just spoke to who was very moved over the vision of kids that were on that bus. Still unclear where that bus will be going after leaving this processing facility there in McAllen. Thank you so much.

I want to take you now to Florida, to Homestead, where Senator Bill Nelson described earlier in the week he wanted access to the facility there to see for himself by way of being an elected senator, being in the parameters of your responsibilities, oversight. You were denied access. You came back this weekend. Senator, good to see you. You were granted access this time, and you were also accompanied by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson. What did you see in the one hour, we understand, one hour that you were inside the facility?

SEN. BILL NELSON, (D) FLORIDA: Fred, what I asked to see were the 70 children which are part of the 2,300 that have been separated from their immediate family. I was denied that request. What we did find out, that those 70 are separated for purposes not physically, but for purposes of being able to contact their parents. I asked how many of the 70 have not been able to be on the phone with their parents, I was told just a handful. So that's good news.

[14:50:03] But the fact is that I said what are the plans immediately to get these children back with their parents, and, of course, they don't know at this level since the president's executive order ignored the 2,300 that have been separated from their families. And so it is in a wait and see.

Now, this I did learn. I said, now, how are in the world are you keeping those children here violating the judge's order, which was the Flores settlement, and which says that a child can't be kept in detention for more than 20 days. Lo and behold, they don't consider this a detention facility. This is a shelter.

WHITFIELD: So how long have some of the kids been staying there, as far as you know?

NELSON: They would not say, but obviously it's a lot longer than 20 days, including the 70 that were separated from their parents. And so I have the name of the person who is doing this regrouping them with their families. Now it's just on the telephone, but that person only works Monday through Friday, and it's Saturday now.

WHITFIELD: So are you satisfied with what you saw, or are you more frustrated?

NELSON: Of course, I'm frustrated, because when a child is taken away from the arms of a parent, that's not a good situation. I ask them about the emotional and mental condition of these children and the trauma that they are going through. They say they have counselors, but it's not, if it's a mental health thing, then they have to refer someplace else. That's what's going on.

As far as the facility is concerned, I will say good things about what I observed and the way the children are being treated, but that doesn't address the policy. Why are 2,300-plus children in this country, including 70 in this facility, why have they been taken from their parents, and why are they not being immediately reunited?

WHITFIELD: And one of the most perplexing and perhaps even upsetting elements about this is because no one has been able to express how when a child is separated from their parent, how are they being matched up? How are they being cataloged upon entry to make sure that a child who may be months old or just a couple years old or even 13 years old, that they are able to communicate and know where their parent is and vice versa so they can be matched up. Are you getting any closer to an answer to that perplexing and very troubling question?

NELSON: They say -- we asked that question, and the answer is, that they are given an identification number, and it's through that identification number when they were separated from their parents that they have been able to locate their parents and to get most of those, she said a handful not, but most of those 70 here on the phone with their parents. Now what we want to see is them reunited with their parents as is required by the law.

WHITFIELD: Senator Bill Nelson, thank you so much for your perspective. I appreciate your time.

NELSON: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.


[14:53:19] WHITFIELD: Right now a manhunt is underway for the driver who plowed through protesters in Pittsburgh. This is a moment as a black sedan was captured on video going through a group of people overnight. Authorities say no one was hurt. This comes after protesters shut down the streets for a third night after an unarmed black teen was shot and killed by police in a borough outside the city. Seventeen-year-old Antwon Rose was shot by an officer three times as he was running from a car that had been pulled over. That car matched the description of a vehicle involved in an earlier shooting.


DEBORAH JONES, WITNESS: He shot that young boy for running. I said is he alive? Yes, he's alive, but he's bleeding. I just can't understand how anybody can shoot anybody for running.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Ryan Nobles joining me live now from Pittsburgh. So more protests expected today. Still looking for that vehicle and the shooting in and of itself still perplexing.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt about that, Fred. There's a lot of unanswered questions here in Pittsburgh, and that's why the city is still pretty tense. Things are quiet right now, but protest organizers tell us they do plan to at least regroup tonight and decide what their next step is, and we do expect some protests to take place tonight.

Essentially they have promised city leaders that they are going to continue protesting and continue to shut down aspects of the city until they get what they perceive to be justice. What exactly does that mean? At the very least they are asking for the district attorney in Allegheny County who's right now charged with investigating the death of Antwon Rose to recuse himself into the investigation of the police shooter, Michael Rosfeld.

[14:55:05] At this point the district attorney says he has no plans on recusing himself. So Fred, we do expect those protests to continue as folks here in Pittsburgh try to make their way through this latest controversy.

WHITFIELD: Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. Of course, we'll continue to watch that story and others.

Thanks so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom with Ana Cabrera starts after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us. We have breaking news right now in south Texas. Shouting, chaos, anger, protestors putting their own bodies in front of a bus at a migrant detention center.