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U.S. Immigration Crisis; Turkish Election; Six Killed in Ethiopian Blast; 2018 World Cup; Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Women Drivers. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired June 24, 2018 - 03:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unite the families now! Unite the families now! Unite the families now!

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): As some Americans protest U.S. immigration policy, president Donald Trump promises to be very, very tough at the border.

It is Election Day in Turkey as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tries to win another term.

Plus the comeback win. Germany score in the 95th minute of play to defeat Sweden in dramatic fashion at the World Cup.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It is great to have you with us.


VANIER: If U.S. president Donald Trump thought the executive order he signed on Wednesday would stop the immigration outcry, he was wrong.


VANIER (voice-over): This was the scene in Las Vegas Saturday as protesters braved the hot desert sun to speak their minds against Mr. Trump's immigration policies, especially the zero tolerance that led to more than 2,500 children being separated from their families.

Inside, the president was speaking to Nevada Republicans, standing firm on immigration and attacking Democrats.


VANIER: Las Vegas was by no means the only site that saw immigration protests.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Set the children free! Set the children free!

VANIER (voice-over): This was the scene outside a migrant detention center in McAllen, Texas. Protesters blocked a bus that was leaving the facility. Through the darkened windows our reporters could see children inside that bus.

Some members of Congress who visited that center on Saturday described conditions there as "cruel and inhumane." They said they saw children sleeping on concrete floors, behind bars. Connecticut Democrat Jim Himes describes what he saw.


REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Something happened this morning that I will never forget. My colleagues from Connecticut -- and four of us are here -- approached one of these holding cells and there were just mounds of silver Mylar.

And we asked to speak to somebody who was there. And as they opened the door, these 20 or 30 mounds of silver Mylar became little girls. They stood up. They were scared. Some had been crying.


VANIER: And then there was this in Homestead, Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut it down, shut it down!

VANIER (voice-over): Protesters there chanted "Shut it down," and called the president's policy, quote, "disgusting." Earlier this week members of Florida's congressional delegation were denied access.

Saturday they were allowed inside. When he came out, Senator Bill Nelson spoke with CNN.


SEN. BILL NELSON (D): 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?


VANIER: CNN's Dianne Gallagher was also allowed in that facility. Here's what she saw.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It kind of looks like a rundown community college. It's a vacant Job Corps site, complete with dorms. They're split down the middle. Six kids on each side, separated by gender for just about everything except weekend religious services or a few social occasions during the week perhaps. They was a pretty rigorous schedule that was posted on every single wall in the building.

Wake up at 6:30 am, lights out at 10:00 pm and in between that they have all sorts of school with history and math and art and music. And in between that, they also have some leisure. They were outside playing soccer yesterday. In fact, we saw most of the young boys out playing sports.

Today the weather isn't really good for that. So most of them have been inside. We're hearing music coming from the campus. But, again, the point here is finding out when they can either reunite the -- what we're told is roughly 70 kids that were separated from their parents due to President Trump's zero tolerance policy.

Or they can find some sort of sponsors or family members in the United States for the other kids who, the government says, came across the border unaccompanied. Regardless, lawmakers want more answers and transparency from HHS on facilities like this one.


VANIER: Diane Gallagher reporting there. We do have new numbers and new information just released by the U.S. government.

The administration says more than 2,500 children were separated since the zero tolerance policy went into effect. That means at least 522 children have been reunited with their families since then but 2,053 children are still being held, awaiting their return to their parents.


VANIER: The government says it knows the location of all children in custody and is working to reunite them with their families; however, those reunions will not happen quickly. They will only happen once the parents' legal proceedings are completed.

The debate about U.S. immigration policy often overlooks one critical issue: why migrants from Central America are fleeing their homes. CNN's Rafael Romo gives us a firsthand look.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): We found them just below a bridge connecting Mexico and Guatemala. When we first witnessed these scenes in 2015, it was clear that the border was wide open for migrants and anything you want to smuggle. Little has changed.

ROMO: This is how Central American migrants cross the border. As you can see, we are on a makeshift boat. This is the Suchiate River, which serves as a borderline between Guatemala and Mexico.

Something that caught my attention is that you can't really see any migration authorities or the military or police.

ROMO (voice-over): A former Guatemalan official told us their priority is not detaining migrants but fighting drug traffickers. There are more than 400 border crossing points where authorities have little or no control.

ROMO: We're flying over the Guatemalan highlands. We are on our way to the province of Peten. Peten is an area known by people in the region as a migrant transit point, not only for people from Guatemala but also El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.

ROMO (voice-over): Why are entire families fleeing Central America?

We traveled to a city in Honduras that has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

ROMO: This is the Chamelecon neighborhood in the city of San Pedro Sula. Authorities say that many people had chosen to leave because they were fleeing the violence.

Operations like this one by the military police are seeking to restore confidence in authorities so that people can return to their neighborhood.

ROMO (voice-over): But those who leave have no intention of returning. At the end of the day, they told us, they only have two options: facing a gun-toting, ruthless member of the criminal gang known as MS-13, who will kill your son and your family if he doesn't join in, or risking their lives to reach the United States, traveling by land through Mexico and crossing the border illegally.

The prospect of a life in America, albeit remote and even if they're temporarily separated from their children, will always be preferable to imminent death at home.


VANIER: Great reporting there from CNN's Rafael Romo.

Meanwhile, at the Nevada Republican Convention, president Donald Trump weighed in. He was in Las Vegas campaigning for Dean Heller, the state's Republican senator, seeking re-election.

Mr. Trump told the audience that he sees immigration as a winner for their party in the midterms and bolstered his position on staying strong at the border.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But if we did that, everybody come, if we did that, you would have -- you're right -- the word is overrun. We will have millions and millions of people pouring through our country with all of the problems that would cause, with crime and schools and you would have millions -- all I have to do is say, yes, we want to take care of everybody, we want everybody to come. Do what you want to do, even if they saw weakness, if they see any

weakness, they will come by the millions. We have to have strong borders. We're going to have the wall. We're going to have the wall. We've already started it. We've already started it. You know, we've started it in San Diego.



VANIER: Julian Zelizer joins me now, he's a CNN political analyst, a historian and professor at Princeton University.

Julian, we are just months removed from the midterm elections of November.

Do you think the events of the past week all told help or hurt Donald Trump and the Republican Party for the midterms?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Clearly in certain parts of the electorate, they hurt Republicans and suburban districts and some more moderate areas. The polls show that people are not happy with what happened over the last week.

That said, Trump supporters are still very positive about him and, in many Republican areas, there is overall support for the basic policy that he's trying to push forward on the border.

So I'm not convinced this will have as big an effect in a negative way on Republicans as some are expecting.

VANIER: The reason I ask you the question is because obviously, to some extent, Donald Trump had to back down this week because he reversed himself and signed an executive order stopping the separation of children from their parents.

However, he has doubled down at the end of the week, speaking to his supporters. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I don't think being weak on the border, being pathetically weak on the border is a good issue. I may be wrong. I think I got elected largely because we're strong on the border. I really believe that.


VANIER: So this speaks to what you're saying and he obviously has a point. Being strong on the border is one of the two or three core issues that defined his campaign --


VANIER: -- and it delivered the White House for him.

Why wouldn't it deliver the midterms?

ZELIZER: It's literally the very first thing that he said when he announced he was running for president and he's been very consistent on this. The only question is if the year-plus of President Trump and all the turmoil and all the chaos has left some Republicans less enthused about him and whether some won't turn out at the polls.

And on the other hand, does this stimulate more Democrats to come out to vote?

That's where it could be damaging. It's less about the Republicans and how does this affect Democrats.

VANIER: In his public rallies, Donald Trump has been saying that the expected and predicted blue wave for the midterms, which is the scenario in which Democrats take control of the House, is actually turning into a red wave.

What are the numbers, what's the data actually telling us?

ZELIZER: The numbers are it still leans toward the Democrats, all midterms lead toward the opposition party gaining seats and so far the numbers have been pretty good for Democrats.

That said, he is not incorrect, that in the past month or so, you've seen a narrowing of the gap between the two parties. You've seen President Trump's support within the GOP, regardless of what he does, pretty much stay where it is.

And so it's unclear that this will be a wave election to increase the size of the minority. But I don't think it's clear this will be a wave (INAUDIBLE) at all.

VANIER: One last thing real quick, in the final analysis, why do you think Donald Trump changed his mind, reversed himself on the family separation policy, because he's done other controversial things before. He's been criticized no end and usually he's just doubled down and not changed his mind. Here he actually reversed himself.

ZELIZER: I think he got his message across to his supporters. I think in some ways, all he wanted was the short term. He acted tough, he sounded tough, he showed that he's willing to do something pretty draconian to move forward on this issue.

And then he backs down without really changing the policy. So in some ways, even though it looks like a defeat, you can see it from another perspective, that he achieved exactly what he wanted and now can move forward. So my guess is there is a little bit of that in explaining what happened this week.

VANIER: That's really interesting. Even though he backtracks, there is a way to see this, where it's actually a win-win for him. Julian Zelizer, thank you very much for joining us on the show.

ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.



VANIER (voice-over): Voting is now underway in Turkey as its leadership faces a crucial test. Live pictures right there from Istanbul. We'll have the details after the break.

Plus they're out to prove a win against Germany was not a fluke. And Mexico show why they're serious contenders at the World Cup. Stay with us.




VANIER: Polls are now open for Turkey's landmark elections. Live pictures there from Istanbul, from a polling station. For the first time, Turks will be voting for both a president and a new parliament.

A few candidates are running in the presidential race, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of course. But if no candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff. Sam Kiley joins me from outside a polling station in Istanbul.

Sam, the polls opened a little while ago.

When are we expecting the results?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The results in Turkish elections come through pretty quickly because each polling station has to count a relatively low number of ballots. That means the results can come through quickly.

We should know by local time 9:30, 10 o'clock tonight is the expectation, at least for an unofficial idea of where the results have come out. But obviously it will be up to the national electoral commission to officially sanction them.

In this country there are restrictions on what can be reported during the polling process. But the local media tend to have also a tradition of competitively trying to beat each other to declaring, calling the elections, as you would in America or the United Kingdom. That would be unofficially announced around 10 o'clock tonight.

VANIER: OK. I'm glad you mentioned the reporting restrictions. It is useful for viewers to know we're limited in what we can say today because we are respecting the guidance, reporting guidance, from what Turkey has, similar to what other countries have on Election Day.

Regardless of who ends up winning, this is going to be a turning point for the country.

KILEY: It is. It's a constitutional turning point. If you have a situation in which the incumbent, President Erdogan, wins, he will be able to go on and solidify the constitutional changes that he brought in, in April, after the referendum last year, which really focuses power on one man in the presidency.

And he hopes that will be him. It will be an opportunity to rule almost by decree, a much-emasculated parliament beneath him. Now if he's forced to a runoff or if he loses his likely opponent in a runoff is Mr. Ince, who's promised to lift Turkey's state of emergency within 48 hours and roll back those constitutional changes that would empower whoever becomes president.

That remains to be seen, whether once somebody does get into a position when they can hold so many reins of power in Turkey, whether or not they're actually prepared to let them go. Nonetheless, that is, if you like, the campaigning position of the leading opposition candidate.

But it all really hangs on whether or not a bloody nose can be delivered to Mr. Erdogan in this first round. If he wins 51 percent, you're going to see Turkey move very strikingly to something that, certainly from the opposition perspective, almost reflects a degree of dictatorship in terms of control of executive power.

Of course, there's no guarantee he will continue to be dominant or his party will be dominant within Turkey's parliament. There's a lot of action likely to be there in the next 24 hours.

VANIER: Sam Kiley, reporting live from Istanbul. We're about 10 hours removed from actually finding out the results of this first round of voting in Turkey. Thank you very much.

Two African leaders escaped injury on Saturday in a pair of explosions thousands of kilometers apart.



VANIER (voice-over): The government of Zimbabwe says that blast at a campaign rally was an assassination attempt on its president.

And in Ethiopia, six people reportedly have been arrested for a deadly explosion, where the new prime minister was speaking to supporters. We get more on both events from CNN's Farai Sevenzo.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two blasts in two countries thousands of miles apart threatened the lives of two African leaders on Saturday.

In Ethiopia, the prime minister Abiy Ahmed had just finished speaking at a rally when an explosion went off.

And in Zimbabwe's Bulawayo (ph) city, President Emmerson Mnangagwa had just finished his rally when an explosion went off there. It's too early to say, the Ethiopians are telling us, whether this was an assassination attempt.

But the Zimbabwean authorities are saying this was an assassination attempt on the life of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Remember back in November 2017, Mr. Mnangagwa, when he was fired by Robert Mugabe, claimed there had been several attempts on his life. He said that this is normal for him in reaction to this blast in Bulawayo, that his life is constantly under threat.

But as to who would have done this at such a --


SEVENZO: -- juncture in time, when the country is heading toward an election on July the 30th, is a mystery no one can quite unpick at the moment.

In Ethiopia, the problems are much more severe because Mr. Ahmed has been seen as a champion of reformism in that country. He took away the state of emergency that had been gripping it for the last two years. He's unblocked blogs and news sites on the Ethiopians' Internet services which had been banned by the previous government.

And he's also the very first leader from the Roma people of Ethiopia. So there's much speculation and a great deal of conspiracy theories about who would have wanted to take his life.

Now to Zimbabwe, what does this mean for this election?

Is the government trying to whip up their supporters into a frenzy of loyalty before the election?

And then who could possibly have tried to take Mr. Mnangagwa's life?

These questions remain unanswered -- Farai Sevenzo, Nairobi.


VANIER: Saudi women can do something today they could never do before now without fear of prosecution and jail.


VANIER (voice-over): They can drive legally. Sunday, the kingdom lifted its long-standing ban on women drivers. This is part of reforms pushed by Saudi Arabia's crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

Even though Saudi women can now get behind the wheel, several Saudi activists who championed the change remain detained as part of a crackdown on women's rights groups.



VANIER: With me now, Manal Al-Sharif. You've been a long-time advocate for Saudi women's right to drive.

You were arrested. You spent nine days in jail after you posted a video of yourself driving a car in Saudi Arabia. That was back in 2011. I want to play some of that video.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).


VANIER: I think, to a lot of viewers, that seems so innocent, so banal. And yet doing that and filming it landed you in jail.

How do you feel today?

MANAL AL-SHARIF, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I feel so happy that women of my country can experience what I experienced that day. It was May 19th, which is (INAUDIBLE). It's the same day the government arrested those female activists who'd been advocate about (INAUDIBLE) ban women driving, May 19th, 2018.

VANIER: And that's something that I should point out and I'm glad you did that. Several women activists, including activists for this right to drive, have actually just been thrown in jail just last month.

Did you expect -- when you were in jail, what, seven years ago now, did you expect you that would see this change in your lifetime?

AL-SHARIF: When I left jail, I remember the government asking me to stop campaigning and talk about it. I just wrote a book about it and I talked in every single place about it and I said it's my life mission. I will stop only when the first driver license is issued to a Saudi woman.

And this day came, was June 4th. And now my life mission is to have women -- to have the man guardianship in Saudi Arabia abolished.

VANIER: Do you feel -- so this is now your new campaign. In fact, you have a website; we can put up. You're still an activist. But since this -- your first cause, driving, has actually been accomplished, you're now aiming for something else, which is to ban male guardianship. And I think it deserves some explaining.

Essentially women in Saudi Arabia are minors and they need the approval of their male guardian in their lives to do things like go to college, get a job, leave the country, get certain even operations done.

You think you're going to achieve that campaign?

AL-SHARIF: Male guardianship, you can summarize it in one word, citizenship for what are second-class citizens in my country. And male guardianship always, from the start, the women to drive was part of that, indeed, the male guardianship campaign by the way. It wasn't something separated from it.

We use the driving because it really brings media attention and it provokes the (INAUDIBLE) Saudi Arabia, we use it to shift the line on woman -- the male guardianship in my country.

VANIER: What's your view on what just happened?

Is it the beginning of more social reform in Saudi Arabia or not?

AL-SHARIF: Can I say something? The first car into Saudi Arabia, it was 1945 when President (INAUDIBLE). So it took 73 years for a woman to be able to drive these cars and 28 years of campaigning.

And my hope is that the driving -- the car keys are really the key to change in women's status in my country because now a woman, they have -- the day I got my driver license in New Hampshire, I remember that was my day of emancipation.

It was the day that I felt independent and free. And I know now those woman will have this feeling. Susan B. Anthony said once that --


AL-SHARIF: -- she never -- she always encouraged women to ride bikes. And she said nothing emancipate women more than riding bikes.

Just 100 years later, I say nothing will emancipate a woman in my country than driving her own car.

VANIER: What do you think brought about this change?

Do you think it was the campaigning and women such as yourselves, who were the faces of this movement?

Or do you just think the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has a plan for the country and he needed to do this?

AL-SHARIF: I think a lot of journalists been asking the same question. I just want to say if the campaigning wasn't really effective and influential in Saudi Arabia in bringing down the ban, why do women rights activists, who campaigned, who are prominent in campaigning against this ban, are in jail today?

I think that answers the question.


VANIER: Germany's World Cup dreams came down to the wire Saturday in Russia. After a stunning loss to Mexico, they faced Sweden in what was a must-win match in Sochi. For more on that match and other Saturday action, here's CNN's Patrick Snell.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an utterly pulsating Germany-Sweden World Cup group game in Sochi on Saturday, a loss would have seen the reigning world champs Germany out of the tournament and it looked that way after Sweden took a first half lead.

But Marco Reus had other ideas, dragging his country back into this match early in the second half, tucking away the team of Rainer Kraft (ph) and then the real drama.

Five minutes of stoppage time had allowed for Real Madrid's Toni Kroos with a breathtaking free kick that flies in the Real Madrid staff, providing a sensational finish, the world champs still alive.

Germany's sensational comeback meaning Mexico, despite 6 points from their first two matches, still aren't sure of a place in the last 16. Tricolor facing South Korea and Rostov-On-Don and they took a first half lead on Saturday, thanks to Carlos Vela's penalty.

And it will get better for the Mexicans as they double their advantage, Javier Hernandez without a second goal for El Tri, his 50th goal for his country, Chicharito also becoming the third man from Mexico to score at three World Cups.

Group F, it will all come down to Wednesday's final group games. Elsewhere on Saturday, we witnessed another dazzling display from the latest Golden Generation of Belgium's top football stars. Romelu Lukaku scoring twice in their opening game and it was more of the same for him against Tunisia.

He would add two more to level Cristiano Ronaldo's tally of four in the race for the golden boot. Chelsea's Eden Hazard helped himself to two as well, though Belgium was running out winners 5-2, (INAUDIBLE) Lukaku finish once more.

So here is what's on tap for Sunday then in group G. England, the '66 winners, taking on Panama, a win would see the English through to the next round and eliminate the Panamanians, sending group H Japan clashing with Senegal while Poland face Colombia.

That's your FIFA World Cup update. I'm Patrick Snell.


VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. Back with the headlines in just a moment.