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DHS Issues New Deportation Guidance; Hostile Town Halls; Mixed Response After Trump Condemns Anti-Semitism; Iraqi Forces Advance on Western Mosul. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 22, 2017 - 05:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Concern gripping immigrant communities as Homeland Security has outlined how it will enforce President Trump's orders on border security. What the DHS orders mean nationwide, moments away.




[05:00:08] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: That is just a taste of some of the angry crowds greeting lawmakers at town halls across the country. We'll have some of the most revealing and awkward moments you don't want to miss.

CABRERA: And after finally denouncing anti-Semitism, President Trump still finds himself taking heat from Jewish organizations who say the White House is simply trying to cover its tracks now.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. We're halfway through the week. I'm Ana Cabrera.

SANCHEZ: Great to be with you again today, Ana.

I'm Boris Sanchez. It's Wednesday, February 22nd, 5:00 a.m. on the East Coast.

And there is growing concern among immigrants across the country this morning that their communities could be torn apart. Under the administration's newly outlined plans to enforce immigration laws more aggressively. Guidance just released by the Department of Homeland Security could pave the way for a huge expansion of undocumented immigrants detained and deported.

There's no doubt much of this will come up as DHS Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visit Mexico City today and tomorrow for meetings with President Enrique Pena Nieto and his cabinet to discuss border security and trade.

We're now joined by CNN justice reporter Laura Barrett. She has more on the broader impact of what is in those DHS memos.

Laura, what stands out to you?


So, the biggest take-away from these memos from Homeland Security is that they make clear that the immigration officers are now going to have much broader discretion to decide who will round up in the first instance. So, practically speaking here, if agents go on a raid to find a criminal undocumented immigrant, anyone else who happens to be with that person at the same time and who is also in the U.S. unlawfully may now also be deported.

That's what's really new here, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Now, Laura, the DHIS and supporters of this guidance repeatedly said that this is just enforcement of existing law, that there's really nothing new here.

But is that actually the case?

JARRETT: I think the better way to think about this is really a difference in priorities. So, President Obama focused on those who had been convicted of serious crimes. Whereas, President Trump is casting a much wider net, to include anyone even accused of a crime, Boris.

SANCHEZ: So, we're still waiting for this new travel ban to replace the earlier executive order that was shut down in court. We're told that it will come out this week, perhaps as early as today, more likely tomorrow.

Do you have any new details on that?

JARRETT: Well, we're waiting to see the details for sure. But two things we're hearing, is one that congressional Republicans, leadership on Capitol Hill has been more involved this time around. You'll recall the last time they felt like they were cut out.

And the second thing that we're hearing from sources is that Trump's political aide Steven Miller has had a little less to do with the second executive order, whereas Trump's lawyers are taking the lead this time, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, there were a lot of complaints of some people even within the Republican ranks that this was rushed out too quickly without consulting enough of the legal experts that are clearly helping to put this together.

Laura Jarrett, thank you so much for your time this morning.

JARRETT: Thanks, Boris.

CABRERA: And now joining us to discuss the latest political action, CNN politics digital managing editor Zach Wolf live in Washington.

So, Zach, let's start with the new guideline that was released by DHS yesterday. And what a lot of people are saying, this is likely to expand the amount of people who are now detained and then deported. What do you think, as far as your analysis? Is this a game-changer?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR: Well, I think we have to see how it actually ends up affecting people, in order to see what the ultimate political effect is going to be.

You -- there is certainly a change, as Laura said, in priority, a change in tone, the idea that they will have, you know, more leeway or reinterpret the law in such a way to ensnare more people.

I think we often forget, it's not like that the Obama administration was not deporting people. They deported millions of people.

CABRERA: Right. He was named the deporter in chief by La Raza.

WOLF: That's right. But he was also a president who was pursuing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

And it's clear that this president is, you know, he was voted into office to do quite the opposite, and this new executive order and reinterpreting the laws in this way show that not only is he not going to, you know, be focused on undocumented -- helping them, he's going to be trying to push them out at a greater rate.

SANCHEZ: Now, one of the things about this new guideline is that it gives law enforcement officers on the ground expanded authority.

Do you foresee problems coming up in that?

[05:05:01] WOLF: Again, we'll have to see exactly how it occurs. You know, a lot of this -- there's been this issue where people go to, you know, they're basically caught and released -- they call it catch and release. Are they going to keep these people for longer periods of time? Is giving officers more leeway going to sort of change even further their relationship between these millions of people who could potentially be targeted?

And law enforcement, is it going to force them farther into the shadows? There's so many open questions about this new interpretation. It's -- it could be a true game-changer.

CABRERA: Zach, I want to play a clip from one of the town halls that happened in the last 24 hours. We're seeing growing frustration, a lot of protests out, a lot of the town halls for Republicans as they return to their home districts for this little recess.

Here's what happened in Tennessee, a town hall for Marsha Blackburn. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have in the White House now a notorious white nationalist as a special adviser to the president of the United States. I'd like to know your thoughts on that.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I don't speak for the president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to know how you feel about it. You're our


BLACKBURN: Yes. My interactions with him have all been fine. The things that have been policy directed have been specific to certain policies. And I am not aware that he's taken anybody's place on the NSC.



CABRERA: So, she was asked about Steve Bannon who is, of course, the right-hand man of President Trump, a controversial figure. How did she do in terms of her response in terms of dancing around the issue?

WOLF: Well, I mean, she certainly danced around it a little bit. She can only talk about her interactions with these people and that's what she's stuck with. I think that going forward, there is this, you know, idea about Steve Bannon, that he was involved with Breitbart.

And that they have put this sort of nationalist, I don't know that they would say white nationalist, but nationalist view. So, it's something that Republicans will have to answer and, you know, it certainly a sort of a segment of ideology that hasn't had such a seat of power heretofore.

SANCHEZ: Now, Zach, we're watching video as you were speaking of a town hall in Iowa where Senator Joni Ernst was forced out. She had to cut it short by about 45 minutes and ran out in the parking lot where she was chased by protesters.

Frankly, we haven't seen this much enthusiasm from Democrats in some time. We didn't really see anything like this during the campaign. What do Democrats now do to try to translate this into votes in 2018 and perhaps 2020?

WOLF: Well, I think it will be interesting to see to what extent this has to do with Obamacare specifically, as Republicans really try to take away that signature achievement of President Obama. Are these protests related to that, or are they just partisan sort of grass roots being frustrated? Or can they really turn it into opposition, to a real policy agenda that Donald Trump and the Republicans are going to have?

I think that will be really important for them going forward, if they can sort of keep that energy focused. You'll remember after 2009 which I think is the last time we saw this kind of energy at town hall meetings where Democrats are trying to pass Obamacare. And now Republicans are trying to take it away feeling the same kind of pressure. That two years later, Republicans were able to ride that to majorities in the house.

So, Democrats if they can keep that up, if they can keep that focus, it can equal electoral gains I think in the midterm.

CABRERA: There are some irony there, the same issue that's fired up both sides years apart.

Thank you so much for joining us, Zach Wolf. We'll talk to you soon.

WOLF: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: And speaking about what Democrats do in the future, you should tune in to CNN tonight. Eight candidates want to lead the Democratic National Committee and they are set to hold a vote just a few days away.

But, first, see the candidates are holding a debate live on CNN. It starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern moderated by our own Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo. It is a critical time as they try to build for the future and figure out how they're going to oppose President Trump. Don't forget, tonight, 10:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

CABRERA: Overseas, the fight against ISIS. Iraqi forces are making some gains as they try to force ISIS out of Mosul. But new obstacles stand in their way. We're live in Iraq, next.


[05:13:52] CABRERA: Iraqi officials say they are making progress in their large scale push to retake western Mosul from ISIS. U.S.-backed forced have now cleared terrorists from a key village overlooking Mosul's airport.

But the battle ahead is not an easy one. This war wages on with Iraqi forces now discovering tunnels dug by ISIS. They also discovered bomb making factories believed to be tied to ISIS.

I want to bring in CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman. He's live in Irbil, Iraq, with more.

They're making progress, Ben, but a lot of us are thinking about those hundreds of thousands of civilians who are in harm's way.

What do you know is happening with those people?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's about, according to the United Nations, Ana, more around 800,000 civilians living in the western part of the city. And, of course, they're essentially caught in the crossfire in this battle.

Now, even before the fighting began, we know that they were suffering from shortages of food, medicine, heating oil and safe drinking water.

Now, if you look at what happened in the eastern part of the city, the Iraqi army did establish what they called safe passage roots out of the city.

[05:15:06] The problem was that ISIS stationed snipers along those safe routes. So, they weren't really safe at all. And we spoke to many people who had fled eastern Mosul, and they said they came under fire from those snipers. So, those people are in a very precarious position. Now, in the past, the Iraqi government which wanted to avoid a mass

exodus of civilians out of the city have told people to stay put if they feel safe. But, increasingly, what we're seeing given the level of air attacks, artillery bombardments and whatnot, there's really nowhere safe in western Mosul. And frankly, there's not much where -- there's really nowhere for them to go.

And the battle does seem to be intensifying. The day before yesterday, Iraqi forces took control of Albu Saif (ph), which is a village just to the south, about a mile south of the southern perimeter of Mosul. Now, there are Iraqi artillery on that hill pounding that airport, which is the first major objective of this operation.

But even if they take the airport, they still haven't gotten to the narrow alleyways and streets that are really going to be a challenge to the Iraqis when they enter the city. Because, we know, for instance, that ISIS has dug an extensive network of tunnels in many parts of the city -- Ana.

CABRERA: And just the image that you paint with your words it definitely sounds like an intense situation and certainly a challenge for Iraqi forces and civilians in that area. Thank you so much, Ben for the update.

SANCHEZ: From that conflict in the Mideast to one we've been following in Eastern Europe. The deepening divide between Russia and the Ukraine on full display at the U.N. as more ceasefire violations are reported.

We'll take you live to Moscow, next.


[05:21:26] SANCHEZ: There are growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine at the United Nations following the sudden death of a Russian ambassador. The Ukraine is blocking a formal U.N. statement of condolences on his passing. And now, officials are confirming about 200 cease-fires violations in Eastern Ukraine, just overnight.

Let's go to CNN international correspondent Matthew Chance. He's live for us in Moscow.

Matthew, how is Russia responding to this blocking of condolences?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They criticized it. In fact, in a statement yesterday from the Kremlin, the Kremlin spokesman here Dmitry Peskov said that it would be up to God to punish the Ukrainians for that.

Certainly, he's been widely celebrated here. And his career has been here. Vitaly Churkin is the U.N. ambassador. And there's been condolences covered here on national television here.

So, this is a loss to the Russian community that the Russian authorities are feeling very acutely. SANCHEZ: And, Matthew, what is the situation now on the border

between the Russian-occupied portion of Ukraine and the parts that are still technically Ukraine?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, there's been a lot of tension in those eastern regions of Ukraine. There's been a cease-fire that's been enforced now for a couple of days. It's being monitored by the organization of security and cooperation in Europe, OSCE. Over the past 24 hours. there have been 200 cease-fire violations, which sounds like a lot. But when you consider there were thousands of violations at the height of the fighting just a couple of weeks ago, that's a significant improvement.

There is still importantly, heavy weapons being used, though, according to the OSCE, 100 of the violations involved explosions, indicating that things like tanks and artillery pieces are still very much in the conflict, despite an agreement by both sides to withdraw them well away from that region.

So, it's still a difficult situation. But the flare-up of fighting certainly seems to have diminished somewhat in the past couple of weeks, couple of days.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it's disconcerting to hear that 200 cease-fire violations in some ways progress. But, Matthew Chance, we thank you so much for your reporting.

CABRERA: Back here in the United States, rescue are under way right now in parts of San Jose, California. And you can see why. Parts of the city are hit by severe flooding. People having to get around in boats, entire villages completely swamped there.

You can see all of that rain producing a pretty scary situation for the folks. Overflowing creeks submerge whole neighborhoods with more than 2 inches of rain falling in the past 48 hours. Several water rescues. Including one by helicopter, again, many by boat have taken place. Hundreds of people have had to evacuate.

SANCHEZ: Now, this guy is lucky. He got stranded on a capsized boat for nearly 12 hours. This is Arthur Moscufo, he was taking his boat out for a test ride when something went wrong. His boat got flooded and then flipped.

After his girlfriend didn't hear from him for several hours, she contacted the Coast Guard saying he went out Monday afternoon and had not gotten back. He was finally found 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday amazingly, without suffering any injuries, though obviously shaken up and probably very cold as well. Frightening situation.

CABRERA: Happy ending to that story, though. We like boats.

Homeland Security says it's just enforcing the law. But that really has provided little comfort to the immigrant communities, as families are still worried about being broken apart. We'll talk about the impact of this new guidance on enforcing the president's immigration orders, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:29:14] SANCHEZ: There is growing concern in immigrant communities nationwide. Homeland Security outlining how it's going to enforce President Trump's orders on border security. As two of Trump's top officials prepare to visit Mexico.




CABRERA: Those angry constituents greeting Republican lawmakers at town halls and other events all over the country. We have the moments that you'll want to stick around for with members of Congress heading for the exits.

SANCHEZ: And was it too little too late? The president's denunciation of anti-Semitism not sitting well with some groups who think he's just trying to cover up a bad mistake.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CABRERA: I'm Ana Cabrera. Great to have you with us. About half past the hour now.

And there's growing concern this morning among immigrants across the country over President Trump's plans to enforce immigration.