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Mother Reunited with 7-year-old Son After Being Separated at the Border; Father of Allison Parker Speaks Out on Newspaper Shooting; 3-year-old Toddler Ordered to Appear in Immigration Court; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 29, 2018 - 10:30   ET



[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you're looking at live pictures of a mother named Brenda Ramirez Garcia who is about to be united with her son. They were separated at the border back in May. They have not seen each other for about a month.

Our reporter Polo Sandoval is there with more. Polo, what can you tell me this morning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let me tell you a little bit about this 25-year-old woman. We'll call her Brenda right now. I'm not using her last name for her own protection, We are anticipating this moment. If you walk with me, Poppy, I'll tell you a little bit about her case.

She's from El Salvador here and has been waiting to hold her son in her arms, her 7-year-old little boy, hasn't seen him for a month. And this is the first time as we see together that this 25-year-old woman is able to hold her child.

Let's go ahead listen in, Poppy.


SANDOVAL: So, Poppy, as we wait to see what comes next, let me tell you a little bit about the woman in that light colored T-shirt, walking with her son now. They were separated on the 27th of May. She and her son have crossed the border illegally according to what her legal representation has told us. And she had her attorneys believe they were separated so that Brenda, who you see here, could face criminal charges under President Trump's zero tolerance policy.

These charges for illegal entry, her attorneys telling me that that never happened. But they say the damage was done when this child was taken away from her mother. I can tell you that this is a moment that they have waited for, for a very long time. Especially as Brenda has been separated from her son for a while now. They tell me that they were separated not long after that, after she was detained at the border. She was taken to Colorado. And that eventually taken here to the Washington, D.C. area.

As for her child, well, he ended up in Florida, one of the many children who had been taken care of here by the government. And her mother has been searching for weeks now to be able to reunite with her child and here we are, Poppy, this is a moment that many of these immigration attorneys have told us does not happen enough. And so as we step back here for a little while and give Brenda some time with her son, just important to see these pictures here, these are these family reunifications, that again many people say are just not happening fast enough.

HARLOW: Polo, let me -- it is remarkable to see. Let me ask you if you know anything about how this happened because one of the big questions right now facing the administration is how are you going to reunite all of these families by the 30-day deadline, that that federal judge imposed this week.

Do you have any details on why and how this family was reunited where 2,000 more children wait to hopefully have the same fate?

[10:35:01] SANDOVAL: Well, Poppy, I can tell you that her lawyers tell me that this was certainly a logistical nightmare that they were having to deal with, is that they were struggling to find out exactly where this child was. And this is what -- this is why they work so hard to make this happen here, is to deal with the databases, work with the government.

Information has been very hard to track down obviously. And so her attorneys telling me that this is something that was weeks in the making, trying to find out exactly where their child -- where Brenda's child was and finally able to determine that they were in Florida and that this family reunification could actually happen.

And sorry, Poppy, something that we definitely want to soak in here and to watch as we try to speak to mom here in a little bit, just talking about how everything has been for her.

HARLOW: And is that -- Polo, is that his sister, the little girl with the yellow bow?

SANDOVAL: That's what we're trying to find out. My understanding is Brenda only has one little boy and this is him right here.


SANDOVAL: And so she definitely has a support system here as they try to get their life back to normal here.

Let me tell you what happens next for him as you see them here together, mother and child, their attorneys will now work to consolidate their asylum cases. That way they can stay together regardless of what happens. Whether a deportation happens or their asylum claim goes through successfully. So that is what many attorneys have been working for is for these children to stay with their parents, so that they can navigate through the court process at least together instead of being states apart, which is what we saw in Brenda's case.

HARLOW: Polo Sandoval, again for our viewers, this is happening live at Dulles Airport, this mother Brenda being reunited with her son, who she was separated with back in May 26th when she crossed over the border from Mexico undocumented. She says she was seeking asylum and now they will go through the judicial process of their asylum claims being heard, but they are at least together.

Polo Sandoval, thank you for being there. We'll be right back.


[10:41:35] HARLOW: Before the "Capital Gazette" shooting, the last time multiple journalists were killed while just doing their job in this country was in 2015, when a former colleague attacked two members of the WDBJ news crew during a live report in Virginia.

Adam Warren and Allison Parker died in that shooting. Adam was 27, Allison just 24. And Allison's father Andy joins me now.

Andy, we have spoken too often because of tragedies like this. When you learned of this news, and you learned journalists, again, murdered, what did you think?

ANDY PARKER, FATHER OF ALLISON PARKER: Poppy, you know, every one of these mass shootings is difficult. This one hit me harder, I think, than any.


PARKER: And the reason is that because they were journalists, because Allison was a journalist, and Allison was born in Annapolis, so it was a double whammy for me.

HARLOW: Remind everyone about your daughter, because they called her the A-team.

PARKER: She was the quintessential journalist. She wanted to do everything the right way, and the ethical way, and she always wanted to break the story and she was just, you know, I couldn't have asked to raise a better daughter than Allison. She lived a life that was fuller than most people lived in a lifetime and she died at 24.

HARLOW: Yes. Sadly you know the reality that these families and loved ones and parents and children are living through in a way that most of us don't. What do they need from all of us right now?

PARKER: Well, you know, they need some space right now, I think. Just to sort it out and to grieve. You know, we've heard the typical thoughts and prayers from the president and thoughts and prayers are great, but we need action. I think that the best way to honor these victims and honor Allison is for this country to take action doing sensible gun legislation because this kind of thing is tearing this country apart. It is not the Mueller investigation. Gun violence is tearing this country apart.

HARLOW: You know, it is believed that this was a shotgun and many would say, look, you know, the Second Amendment argument here, or gun legislation argument, may not have changed what this individual did. We don't know if he had the gun legally or not yet, we just don't know. But I want you to respond to what the mayor of Annapolis told me this morning.


MAYOR GAVIN BUCKLEY (D), ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND: We questioning why people are so tightly wound these days, why people are so angry and how could you be angry at just a local newspaper like this?


HARLOW: I mean, he's talking about the division that is pervasive in this country right now. How do we bring people closer together, Andy?

PARKER: That's a good question. You know, I've been reading John Meacham's book "The Soul of America" and --


PARKER: And he suggests that we have to reach out to our better angels. And hopefully we haven't crossed a Rubicon here where it is too late. But, you know, there is that intransigence on the other side that there are people on the right that are rejoicing because these people are dead, because they're journalists.

[10:45:03] And somehow we have got to find a way to overcome that.

HARLOW: My gosh.

PARKER: That's just disgraceful.

HARLOW: I hope that's not the case. I certainly haven't seen anyone rejoicing over this, this morning, but this is an environment where the media has been called by the highest office the enemy of the American people.

Andy Parker --

PARKER: Sure, and that's what he does. He enables this kind of -- this kind of violence to take place.

HARLOW: Andy Parker, thank you for joining me this morning. We all remember Allison.

PARKER: Thank you, Poppy. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Attorneys say that undocumented toddlers, 3-year-olds, are being ordered to appear in court for these deportation proceedings. A lawyer who represented a 3-year-old in immigration court will join me next.



[10:50:16] SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: When it comes to reunification, there wasn't a word about it in the president's executive order. And as we listen to them today, it doesn't sound like they have any plan whatsoever.


HARLOW: That is Democratic senator Dick Durbin slamming the Trump administration over what he says is no plan to reunite families with their children that were separated at the border.

Attorneys say they're seeing even more young toddlers in these deportation hearings in front of judges and immigration court. A lawyer who recently represented a 3-year-old in court joins me now, Lindsay Toczylowski.

Lindsay, I was stunned when I read your account in the "Texas Tribune" this week. Tell me what it was like in a courtroom with the 3-year- old.

LINDSAY TOCZYLOWSKI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IMMIGRANT DEFENDERS LAW CENTER: Sure. So when we have very small children like this coming into court, it's really difficult because these kids are coming into a place that is really just not set up for them.

There is no minimum age for children to appear in immigration court. So even infants can be given a notice to appear and brought in front of a judge. In the past, that would be done with their parents. But what we saw in this case and what we anticipate will keep happening because of the repercussions of the zero tolerance policy is that more children will be given this notice to appear to come into court and when they do, these courts are just ill equipped to deal with them.

HARLOW: A, why are the courts ill equipped? And, B, it's important to know the fact that this 3-year-old toddler had your representation makes them one of the lucky ones. Undocumented immigrants are not guaranteed the right that all Americans are afforded which is a right to legal representation in court.

TOCZYLOWSKI: Exactly. And so what we have seen in courts when we're there with our own clients are very young children appearing on their own. Some so little that, you know, in court there is no booster seats, there's no teddy bears, it's a cold immigration court. And so these kids are sitting in chairs that are too big for them, their feet don't even touch the floor, just little things that I think parents would really understand.

They can't bring snacks into the courtroom. You're sometimes sitting there for two hours during the docket and you have very small children who can't even have a snack during that time. The courts are often -- the dockets are when these kids would normally be napping.

HARLOW: Right. But does -- let me ask you this, does the court look differently at all, Lindsay, on the asylum claims of these children, of these toddlers, of these teenagers, some of them going through this without representation or are they held to the same exact standard as the adults seeking asylum? TOCZYLOWSKI: So children do have some -- there are some changes made

for children in terms of what they need to present in their cases. But they still are, you know, expected to present a claim that gives them a cognizable right to asylum. And so without their parents there, that's very difficult. Oftentimes these children don't understand the reasons that they fled their country, they don't understand the intricacies of, you know, the political situation that they fled.

And that's information their parents have and when they have been ripped apart from their parents, it makes it exceedingly difficult for us as attorneys to be able to build a case for them, to be able to get them asylum. And so that's why, you know, our offices working hard to reunify families so that we can actually represent the family unit.

HARLOW: Lindsay, thank you very much.

Lindsay Toczylowskiy, I appreciate you being here. Please keep us posted.

TOCZYLOWSKI: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right. We'll be right back.


[10:58:15] HARLOW: This Sunday on CNN, our new original film "AMERICAN JAIL" takes a provocative look at the United States criminal justice system, what is working, what is not working and how to fix it. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Julian's mom is frightened for his future. Julian had to wear a restrictive ankle bracelet which makes it practically impossible for him to get a job. But the courts will only remove the ankle bracelet when Julian gets a job. He's trapped in an inhumane cycle that perpetuates his criminalization. It is almost impossible to get out.

ADAM FOSS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Prison is a supply problem. If they don't have the supply, they can't run their business. And they have no way, no way of actually taking people from the street and putting them in the building. It requires the police. It requires the prosecutors. It requires judges. And it requires probation officers.

The police, prosecutors, judges and probation officers don't make a dime off of prisons. We have no incentive to send people to prison. The reason we do is that that's the tool that we were told will make us safer and make people better. But we don't profit off of sending people to prison. And so if we can change what happens down here, police should be trying to reduce crime in their neighborhoods, prosecutors should be trying to improve public safety in their neighborhoods using data and science that we know works.

Probation officers should not be probation officers. They should be probation liaisons, they should be helping people stay out of jail.


HARLOW: You can watch "AMERICAN JAIL," it premieres this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Only right here on CNN.

Thank you for being with me today. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan begins right now.