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Americans Trapped in Port-au-Prince Hotel Amid Violent Protests over Rising Fuel Prices; Trump Administration Resorts to DNA Testing Ahead of Deadline to Reunite Immigrant Families; Heat, Winds Intensify Wildfires Raging in Southern California. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 7, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: -- "The 2000s" premieres tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ryan Nobles in for Ana Cabrera tonight from New York. It is our breaking news right now, a terrifying race against time and nature. A mission to rescue a dozen young boys stranded deep underground in a cave, terrifying because the only way to save their lives may end up killing them.
Rescuers in Northern Thailand gave up on their more careful plans to rescue the boys. It's now desperate. Their air is running out, and the space where they could -- they are stuck could soon flood with water. Emergency officials say it's time to get moving.
CNN's Matt Rivers is near the entrance to the cave. And Matt, we've been hearing for hours that a rescue attempt could launch soon. Is there anything going on behind you that could support that idea?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ryan, look, officially, we had no confirmation that a rescue attempt has either started or is imminent. We were expecting one this weekend, but if you kind of take all the context clues and put them together, I mean, that green tarp went up yesterday.
That was not there. We've been here for several days. Last night, when I was doing live shots right at this, I could have walk down that lodge out right there. At the same time last night, there was way more activity on the other side of that net.
It is precipitously dropped. There's not a lot of rescue workers, authorities on the other side of that net right now, and when you couple that with the urgency of the situation, which we know entails oxygen levels dropping inside the cave and also the rains coming.
This is July in Thailand. It's going to rain a lot. The forecast is calling for way more rain creating a much more urgent situation, authorities have said that. When you take all those context clues together, it certainly looks like something here is happening.
But again, no official word yet, Ryan, from authorities that this very dangerous rescue mission, which would involve the kids swimming out of the case with divers assisting them using scuba equipment, no official word yet that it's begun.
NOBLES: All right. So, Matt, what do we know, particularly about the boys and their well-being? Are there any communication between them and their parents?
RIVERS: Yes, there has been. I mean, one of the priorities, Ryan, in the very beginning is to try and setup some sort of telephone communication between the parents and the boys inside the cave. That wasn't able to be accomplished.
So, what they did in lieu of that was exchange letters. We got word around midmorning yesterday here local time that letters from the boys had made it out of the cave. Parents read that. One of the boys actually wrote to his parents that he's looking forward to his uncle taking him for fried chicken when he comes out.
We actually went to speak with one of those boys' parents, his father and get his reaction to that letter. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TANAWUT VIBOONNUNGRUANG, SON TRAPPED IN CAVE (through translator): I felt better as my son said that he was fine and strong. I felt relieved after I've been worried about my son that he would be exhausted, tired. I felt better but I don't know whether he is tired or not. I just want to give him what he wants. Whenever he comes, we would go together. Before that he and his aunt had agreed to have those fried chicken at KFC together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: Look, what you're hearing from parents, when you speak to them, is this sense of extreme happiness that their boys, at least relatively speaking are OK for now, but at the same time, Ryan, there is this looming sense of trepidation, the reality of how difficult and dangerous any rescue mission will be, has certainly set in.
NOBLES: All right. Matt Rivers live in Thailand outside the spot where they're attempting to begin the rescue effort for those young boys. Matt, thank you for that report.
Now the weather obviously becoming a problem for the situation there and the approaching monsoon rains further complicate the urgency of this rescue. That could trigger flash flooding in the region, more importantly they could quickly raise the water levels inside the cave where the soccer team is trapped.
So, let's go now to meteorologist, Gene Norman. Gene, how much time do these rescuers have before these rains move in?
GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Ryan, we're probably looking at another four to six hours before the next batch of rain moves in. We're in that period, the monsoon period, where we see these rains move in, batch after batch, wave after wave.
The satellite picture is showing the brighter colors indicating the heavier down pours. As we zoom into the area, we had a break for much of the day today and over the last couple of days, but all of that is about to come to an end.
Our computer models are indicating that the next batch of rain should arrive later in the afternoon, again local time there, maybe around 4:00, 5:00, and on into the early evening, and we'll get then a break, and watch as another wave comes in, another break, and another wave comes in.
So, the problem is this rain comes in batches and waves. They can accumulate very, very quickly, and the computer models are also forecasting a steady dose of at least daily rain over the next five to seven days. That could cause some real, real problems.
[17:05:04] I want to focus in on the topography of this area because it really helps illustrate the big problem. You get a little bit of rain, you may think that's not such a big deal. The problem is because of the topography, when that rain comes down the sides of the mountain, it can come into the caves.
There are streams and rivers around the area. The ground is pretty saturated even though there has been a lot of rain recently. All of that can rise up into the cave and cause the problems of the boys not being able to get out or not being able to get oxygen.
We're talking about anywhere from 4 inches to 6 inches of rain over the next couple of days. As that rain fills in and around the area, could get back into the cave, you see the jagged structure inside. Any water getting in there could be a big, big problem, Ryan. So, about four to six hours before the next batch of steady rain moves back in.
NOBLES: All right. Gene helps us to understand the urgency that they have if they want to begin this rescue in the near future. Gene Normal, thank you for that.
I do want to get some perspective now from a professional cave diver. Anmar Mirza is the coordinator for the National Cave Rescue Commission. Mr. Mirza, it appears that this very treacherous rescue operation could very well begin and starting noon.
Now diving these kids out under those conditions, I mean, what is your confidence level right now that these rescuers in Thailand can bring these boys out alive?
ANMAR MIRZA, CAVE RESCUE EXPERT: Just one correction. I'm not a cave diver. I am an open-water diver. I'm a cave rescue expert. My professional opinion here is that they are the best placed and the best possible choice, if the diving option is what they end up going with, which is sounding more and more like that will be it.
I don't see anybody better in the world to do the job. It is a very risky job, but they have to weigh that with the risks of area the boys are in being completely inundated and cutoff again for several more weeks. NOBLES: I mean, diving under any circumstances is not something that you can do without any specific training, and these rescuers are going to have suit these boys up in dive gear and wetsuits.
Can an experienced rescue diver swim a child out of all that distance and navigate those narrow crevices that they're going to have to in order to bring these children to safety?
MIRZA: Well, obviously they're going to try. The one thing to keep in mind is it's not like the entire distance has to be dived. It's only small sections of it, which is much better than if they are trying to dive the entire 2-1/2, 2 miles, whatever it is, but it is very risky.
I know that the divers -- especially I know a couple of them who are there. I know that was the absolute resort option, but if the people there who are evaluating the weather coming in and conditions in the cave decide that's the option that they have to do then that means that is the best option that they have currently.
NOBLES: So, what other factors should we be considering here besides just the dive mask and the equipment. I mean, should we also take into account the disposition of the children? I mean, what if they panic? What if there is some malfunction? What things could possibly go wrong with this risky proposition?
MIRZA: Well, any of those things could go wrong. The full0face masks that they used, they'll be strapped on fairly tight, would be my guess. If the child vomits inside there, that's not going to end very well for that child. It is very much a problem.
If the child panics in there and starts to hold on to the walls in the small areas and they could move them out, again, that's a problem. If there's any problem with equipment, the diver won't know. The diver assisting them won't know until the child starts to panic because they don't have air.
So, there's a myriad of things that go wrong. It can go right, which is why they're going to attempt it if they decide that that's the safer option and leaving them in the cave when the rain is going to bring it up high enough.
And I don't know if it's going to bring it up high enough to inundate the area they're at, but my look at the mapped says that if they're getting the amount of rain predicted, that the area that the children were sheltering may end up becoming inundated. It's a difference between diving -- certain drowning versus the possibility of getting out OK.
NOBLES: OK. Certainly, this is a very difficult situation. Anmar, thank you so much for highlighting that for us. We appreciate you being here.
MIRZA: You're welcome.
NOBLES: Coming up, North Korea calls the latest talks with the U.S. regrettable, even gangster-like. What about the president's art of the deal?
Plus, the White House says it may well miss a deadline to reunite immigrant families separated at the border, but this after saying they knew where every family was. Now the administration says that it's lost track of some of these children.
NOBLES: Breaking news, talks between the United States and North Korea are hitting a rough patch. The North accusing the United States of making a, quote, "unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization," and yet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded pretty optimistic after two days of negotiation, citing progress and productive conversations.
All right. Let's talk it over with our Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne. Ryan, how is that we are getting two dramatically different account of this same meeting? What's going on?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems to be a fundamental disagreement about what exactly denuclearization of North Korea means. You saw the statement -- you referenced the statement from North Korea saying that the demands playing placed on them by the U.S. were gangster-like.
And they are saying that those demands include what they say was the complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of Korea and the declaration of what nuclear weapons and assets North Korea possesses.
They took issue with that. Most arms experts think those things are fundamental to any real meaningful agreement that rids North Korea of its nuclear arsenal. On the U.S. side you heard from Secretary of State Pompeo much more optimistic tone, saying, that both sides remained committed to the concept of denuclearization.
[17:15:08] And additional meetings and talks would continue, but hard to see right now given how far apart they are on each fundamental issue of what denuclearization. Hard to see how they reconcile that.
Now the North Koreans did say that they had faith and confidence in President Donald Trump, referencing his comments at the Singapore summit. So, seemingly while they expressed concern and complaints with regards to Secretary Pompeo, they expressed some hope that they could President Trump and move this thing forward. So, we'll have to see where it goes from here.
NOBLES: All right. The disconnect, probably not encouraging, but these talks will continue. Ryan Browne, thank you.
Meanwhile, President Trump's legal team sending a new message to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. If Mueller wants to interview the president, Trump's team has some new conditions. According to a reporting this weekend in "New York Times," one of those conditions is this, before the president sits down with the special counsel, they must prove he has evidence the president committed a crime.
Let's bring in CNN White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez. He joins us now from New Jersey, where the president is spending the weekend. Boris, tell us more about these new conditions laid out by the Trump legal team.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Ryan. Yes, Rudy Giuliani telling the "New York Times" essentially that Robert Mueller would have to prove that he has jurisdiction to investigate possible obstruction of justice and further that interviewing the president is the only way he can complete the investigation.
That is that he's determined that there is no other way for the special counsel to move forward and finish the investigation without interviewing President Trump. Here's what Giuliani told the times.
He writes, quote, "If they can come to us and show us the basis and it's legitimate and they have uncovered something, we can go from there and assess their objectivity." It appears, Ryan, that the White House is gearing up for a legal fight.
Because, of course, Rudy Giuliani told the "New York Times" that he does expect the special counsel to accept these terms for an interview even though President Trump has said that he wants to conduct an interview with Robert Mueller.
In that case, if the special counsel's issues a subpoena to try to compel the president to testify, Giuliani has said they will challenge it potentially leading to a court battle. Ultimately, it appears that the White House prefers a court battle over having the president testify.
And frankly, Rudy Giuliani made clear in this interview in the "New York Times," that this is about public opinion. They're essentially trying to keep the president from being impeached. The fear here is that if the Democrats win the House in the midterm elections that may happen.
Therefore, it is more to their advantage to try to attack the special counsel on grounds that it is illegitimate as we have seen them do many times before, claiming a series of conspiracy theories, and through the president's tweets about angry Democrats, et cetera -- Ryan.
NOBLES: And of course, Rudy Giuliani saying in the past the American people should be the jury in this case. All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you very much.
President Trump now on the verge of nine crucial days of his presidency. The president unveils his Supreme Court nominee on Monday. Tuesday is the deadline to reunite children separated from their parents at the border, children under 5.
And then the president is off to the NATO summit on Wednesday. Thursday, the president lands in the United Kingdom and he'll meet with Queen Elizabeth on Friday. Finally, on Monday, July 9th, President Trump goes face-to-face with election meddler, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pretty busy week.
Let's talk this over now with CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali, who is the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, Harry Enten, who is the CNN politics senior writer and analyst, and Steve Vladeck, who is a law professor at the University of Texas.
I want to start with you, Steve. First your take on President Trump's Mueller interview request. Is this an attempt to duck controversy before the president meets with some of the U.S.'s closest allies?
STEVE VLADECK, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS LAW SCHOOL: I think it might be, Ryan, but I also think that part of what's going on here is Rudy Giuliani is not really trying to convince Special Counsel Mueller of anything. I think this all part of a broader PR campaign to try to stir up some belief that the only reason why the special counsel is trying to meet with President Trump is to trap him that there isn't anything there already.
I think the problem is that if this actually does end up in court, the law is most likely going to be on the special counsel side, and not on Rudy Giuliani. So, I think this is really just posturing, trying to get this off the radar given all the other news as you mentioned that we're going to have in the next week.
NOBLES: Harry, we were talking about of we came on the air about the public opinion of the special counsel investigation, and if Rudy Giuliani's effort was to raise some doubt with the American people about it, it seems like it's working.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: It definitely does. There's a "Washington Post" poll that came out on Friday that showed that the investigation negative feelings towards it were way up, up to 45 percent from 31 percent in January.
[17:20:06] And it's Republicans who were rallying around the president, in his attacks against Robert Mueller, so yes, it certainly seems if there's a play for public opinion, that the Giuliani strategy does seem to be working.
NOBLES: But Tim, Robert Mueller hasn't had the last say yet, has he?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Of course not. I mean, this could all change once Robert Mueller comes out with new indictments, should that happen and once he comes out with this report. The question for the president right now is whether he wants -- how he wants to continue giving the impression of cooperation while in fact denying cooperation.
At a certainly point some people may begin to say it's no longer a cooperation. It's very good politics for him to say he wants to meet Mueller. It's better strategy for him not to meet Mueller.
And for his lawyers especially Giuliani to come up with obstacles and reasons why that can't happen. So, maybe at a certainly point some Americans will begin to say, wait a second, the president doesn't really want to meet Mueller. Why not? NOBLES: So, the president has a big week overseas as well. He's going to travel to Europe, meet with members of NATO for the first time in quite a while. He's been demanding more spending from NATO members for some time. Tim, is this NATO's biggest test yet, face to face with the president as he demands more money from them?
NAFTALI: Well, to make a very long story short, what is at issue here is not a demand, but it was a hope and expectation that NATO members would spend 2 percent of their -- I believe it's of their GDP, a year on defense. They were given 20 years -- I may be off a few to do this.
A number of them have already reached that threshold. NATO has tried to seek achievement of this in five more years. It's not like money is owed to anybody else. It's an issue to all of the participants spending the same amount of money comparatively.
So, it's not like the United States has a bill that Canada and other countries haven't paid to their fair share to the United States for the defense of them that the United States provides.
So, President Trump has mischaracterized what's going on. I anticipate that the NATO countries will say to President Trump, please, you're asking for something that isn't part of our alliance, this is not fair, it's not true, and we will see the kind of tension at the NATO Summit that was seen at the G7.
NOBLES: But Harry, isn't this a perfect example of the president using his America first policies to really rally his base? I would imagine die-hard Trump supporters love the idea of him going to Europe and, for lack of a better description, getting in the face these NATO leaders?
ENTEN: Absolutely. It does seem to me when you look at the numbers that are in fact more states that are contributing more of their GDP. So, it's an argument that perhaps Trump's strategy is working in some ways and if it works with the base and he's actually pulling something off, then it's a wonderful political moment for him.
NOBLES: So, Steve, let's get back to the implications of all of this. You know, obviously the president would like as much public support as he can when it comes to these issues, but does it really matter at the end of the day in terms of his legal strategy whether or not the American people are behind him?
VLADECK: So, I think it matters at least with respect to the upcoming elections in November. You know, if the Democrats retake the House, obviously all of a sudden you'll have folks like, you know, Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, all these members of Congress now with subpoena power over the president.
So, I think that would be the referendum. That's we'll find out just how much this PR campaign is working. But to tie these threats together, Harry mentioned "The Washington Post" poll about disapproval of the Mueller investigation. You know, one of the things that Republicans are happiest about with regard to President Trump is his impact on the Supreme Court. So, if we get a very popular at least among Republicans nominee on Monday, I think a lot of sins will be forgiven even by those Republicans who are more critical of the president's attitude toward the special counsel, who are more critical of the president's attitude toward NATO because they're getting their judges. I think we ought to not lose sight of that.
NOBLES: Harry, I talked to a lot of conservative Republicans this week. It might not be necessarily Donald Trump fans, but said to me, when I see Justice Kennedy step down, that makes me feel a lot better about my vote for Donald Trump.
ENTEN: Indeed, if you looked at the exit polls in 2016, when people said the Supreme Court was their most important issue, those people went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. Indeed, if you look at the first six months of the Donald administration, it was the Gorsuch appointment and then confirmation at the Supreme Court that was the big victory for the Trump administration.
NOBLES: But, Tim, isn't it a little early to crown even Neil Gorsuch's victory for conservatives? I mean, Justice Kennedy was appointed by a Republican judge. That didn't necessarily turn out the way Republicans expected.
NAFTALI: Well, the situation is different now from what it was in 1980s. As a result of the David Souter appointment when George H.W. Bush was president, movement conservatives have said we cannot allow a blank slate to become a justice of the Supreme Court.
[17:25:03] So what president of the United States, this president has done is basically to have delegated to the federalist society and other activist groups the vetting, and those groups are only giving him the names of people that they are absolutely convinced are going to follow the movement conservative line.
This is not the same as choosing someone with a conservative temperament. This is a choice of someone with a conservative ideology. The times are quite different from the 1980s and early '90s.
NOBLES: OK. So Monday night we'll get the answer to question as to exactly who the president will pick and we'll see how conservatives react. Great discussion from all of you, guys. We appreciate you being here. Harry, Tim, and Steve, thank you so much.
Still to come, breaking news out of Haiti. Violent protests over rising fuel prices have trapped Americans at a hotel in the capital. This story is just developing. We'll get the latest information when we come back. Stay right here.
[17:30:22] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news that's coming out of Haiti. That's where Americans are trapped in a Port-au-Prince hotel amid violent protests over rising fuel prices that have killed at least three people since yesterday. Take a look at his video taken in the capitol. Cars are on fire. Smoke billowing throughout the city.
At least three U.S. airlines have canceled all of their flights into Haiti so far. And others are expected to follow.
While things are calmer now, at one point, there was rioting, looting and fire at the Oasis Hotel. And 50 Americans, children, tourists and missionaries, are all staying there. We're being told no one is allowed to leave the hotel. Also, there were roadblocks in front of the Oasis. Evacuation plans are being made in case the violence erupts again.
Stacy Lombardi Borne is on the phone with us. She's a guest at the Oasis Hotel.
Stacy, first, tell me, are you and the folks you're traveling with safe? Give us an idea of what the situation is like there right now.
STACY LOMBARDI BORNE, AMERICAN TRAPPED IN OASIS HOTEL IN HAITI (via telephone): (INAUDIBLE) -- at the moment. The situation right now is calm. We have a security plan to fortify the perimeter and evacuate as needed if the situation becomes worse again.
NOBLES: Is your plan to wait things out, to see if the situation calms down for the long term, or at the first opportunity to be evacuated will you take advantage of that opportunity?
LOMBARDI BORNE: Right now, the plan is to wait and only leave at a last result. (INAUDIBLE) -- coming into the hotel, we will do so.
NOBLES: So kind of talk to us about how this all developed. We know the prime minister there announced an increase in gas prices as a way to raise revenue for the federal government there in Haiti. Obviously, the citizens of Haiti did not take kindly to that. How quickly did things escalate?
LOMBARDI BORNE: Things escalated pretty quickly. I think it's understandable sometimes when people have a difficult time affording it, an increase on a price like that. But it sounds like the government is doing everything they can to call for peace and compromise and try to get back to restore calm. We're seeing a bit more calm right now. There's still rioting, things like that going on, but I think it's possible that right now some peace might be restored because of the most recent announcement by the prime minister that he was going to delay things, the price on the gas.
NOBLES: The prime minister did announce that at least they'll temporarily suspend that hike in the gas prices. But obviously, that's a short-term solution. From your perspective, being there over this period of time, I mean, are you concerned that even something small could ignite the violence again? LOMBARDI BORNE: It's definitely a concern. (INAUDIBLE) -- on the
streets right now. We're just hoping it will start to calm down and find a solution and that's delayed and some kind of peace can be created. (INAUDIBLE).
NOBLES: Have you been in contact with the United States government, the embassy there. Do you feel as though the government, our government has done enough to help you in this situation as best they can?
LOMBARDI BORNE: Yes. The U.S. embassy makes it really clear when you trail down to Haiti that they provide a certain set of services and they are excellent at providing those services. But -- and we're expected to have your own contingency plans in place. So, yes, I think they're doing everything they're supposed to be and can be doing.
NOBLES: Stacy, please stay safe. Continue to keep us updated on the situation there. If things take a turn for the worse, please let us know. And if things get better, let us know that as well if you're able to escape there safely. We appreciate you providing your view of what's happening there.
We should point out that the State Department has just responded to the protests, saying, quote, "We are aware of reports that a Best Western Hotel in Port-au-Prince was surrounded by demonstrators and vandalized. At this time, we have not received any reports of any U.S. citizens injured or killed in the incident. The U.S. embassy advises U.S. citizens to take the following actions: Shelter place. Do not attempt to travel at this time." That's something we asked Stacy about and she isn't hearing that.. "Avoid protests and any large gathering of people. And do not attempt to drive through roadblocks."
Let's talk about the situation with CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd.
Sam, you have been though before in a different respect. You were at the White House during the Arab Spring protests where Americans were caught up in that and the United States government has to respond to that. What's going on now? How would the U.S. respond to something like this and how would they help folks like Stacy in a very difficult position?
[17:35:33] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Ryan, as you mentioned, this is not the first time there have been protests in a country where the United States has an embassy. I lived through this during the Arab Spring. We had multiple protests in countries where we have very large embassies. The number of Americans in Haiti is much smaller, for example, than the number of American citizens in the countries in the Middle East during the Arab Spring.
There's something called a regional service officer, or RSO, at every embassy, including in Haiti, that is the lead security adviser to the ambassador. At this point, what I would imagine is the RSO, the regional security officer, is advising the ambassador on how to communicate with all American citizens in country, as Stacy just alluded to. There has been this shelter-in-place warning that's been pushed out via Twitter. It's on the State Department's home page, to give instructions to all American citizens about what they should do at this moment to avoid danger. So the instructions right now are to shelter in place, not to go out into the streets where the violence levels are higher. Longer term, the RSO, the ambassador and other members of the embassy are talking to the White House and to the intelligence community and to the host government, in this case, the Haitian government, about what to expect tomorrow. Is this going to get better or is it going to worsen.
NOBLES: OK. Sam, thank you for that. We appreciate it. We'll continue to keep a close eye on this situation as it develops. Obviously, not over by a long stretch.
Still to come, the growing immigration crisis. With three days to go before a big deadline, pressure mounts on the Trump administration to reunite immigrant parents with their kids. And now word they're resorting to DNA testing.
[17:41:45] NOBLES: Welcome back. A federal judge has given the Trump administration until the end of the day today to provide a list of all the children under 5 years old who have been separate from their parents at the border. That comes ahead of a bigger deadline, three days from now, to actually reunite those children with their families. The Trump administration now conceding it may not be able to meet the July 10th deadline for children under the age of 5, or the July 26th deadline for older children in custody.
So that begs a simple question about the HHS Secretary Alex Azar, whose department is responsible for caring for these children. What was he thinking when he said this less than two weeks ago?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: There's no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located. I could at the stroke of -- at key strokes. I've sat on the O.R. portal with just basic key strokes, within seconds, could find any child in our care for any parent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Basic key strokes? It turns out it's not that simple.
CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us now He's live in Texas with the story of one migrant mother desperately trying to get her son back.
Miguel, tell us this story.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're meeting quite a few migrants who are now getting out and wanting their kids back. And I can guarantee you, they would love to meet Secretary Azar, have him put in a few keystrokes and figure out where their kids are. They are now out. They have bonded out of the detention, and some of them still do not know where their kids are.
One woman who does is in this facility here. This is Southwest Keys Facility in Brownsville, Texas. She bonded out of a facility in Taylor, Texas, about 72 hours ago. She knew her son was here. They had had a couple conversations. He's 10 years old. She wants him back. She doesn't want to go through the process the government is telling her she has to do, which is 32 pages, treating her as though she is an unknown to this child. They took her and her son's birth certificates, all of their documentation. She has copies of it. She's walked into this facility with it. We are told, we believe she is meeting with her son in this facility. They are going to interview her, but we don't think she'll be able to get out of this facility with her son.
We have also met four other individuals from Honduras and Guatemala that have bonded out from another facility. Today, they are trying to figure out how they find their sons.
We saw one woman, Brenda Avararo (ph). She's looking for her 6-year- old, Jordy (ph). This was them as they were gathering to meet with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENDA AVARARO (ph), ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
MARQUEZ: So she's saying that she wants her son back. They have been separated too long. That he's praying for the days to be shorter so that they can be together again.
She believes her son is in San Antonio, Texas. She wants to go there, much like the woman who is here wants to do right now.
The problem is that the government can't track these people once they leave their system. So there seems to be two tracks here. Those that are in detention, they will try to get together with their children and keep them in detention together. Those that are out of detention, like these people, the government says, we can't keep track of them, we have to treat them like they are no longer their parents, to their kids, and they have to prove to us that they are their kids' parents. It is not -- it can be summed up in one word the process for getting these kids and parents back together -- confusion -- Ryan?
[17:45:44] NOBLES: And confusion that doesn't appear to be cleaned up any time soon.
Miguel Marquez, live in Brownsville, Texas, with the view there. Miguel, thank you.
Coming up, soaring triple-digit temperatures are making it difficult for firefighters in California to stop several fires in southern California. Now a state of emergency is in affect as hundreds are forced to evacuate. We are there live, when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:50:34] NOBLES: Some breaking news in California. That's where wildfires have claimed one life in the northern part of the state. Ten wildfires are forcing thousands to flee their homes. Scorching temperatures and strong winds are making it tough for firefighters to control the flames. You can see here, they're working together to keep each other safe. The governor declaring a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County today. That's where the Holiday Fire has destroyed 20 structures and threatens infrastructure.
Our Sara Sidner is there. She joins me live from the city of Goleta.
Sara, are people heeding the evacuation orders at this point?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This place has already experienced in December an extremely dangerous fire called the Thomas Fire that burned dozens of homes. People really, according to authorities here, have post traumatic stress disorder from this, going back and forth, worrying that their homes are gone. This one, unfortunately, has one of those signs that says, "danger and total loss."
Firefighters have literally been here for hours, because every ember matters. They want to make absolutely sure that nothing moves from this house on to the next house, which is obviously right next door. We are in a very highly populated neighborhood.
And I want to give you some idea because not everyone had bad luck. Some people did. It is very dependent on what sparks. And then it's dependent on how much vegetation perhaps you have around your home and where the winds are. You can see a lot of work being down along this road here in Goleta, a lot of work by the firefighters being done. But you also have the PG&E folks out here to make sure the lines from the electricity are taken care of. The gas company is out here as well. That can be quite a danger. Look, this home here, the gas company here is trying to make sure that the gas is turned off so it's not a danger to the people.
But this house is a total loss. You can see almost nothing left of the structure that was here. Unfortunately, this homeowner not only losing the structure itself, but also losing a car here as well. This is just one of several homes in this road alone that have been burned by this one fire. At one point, there were 14 fires burning. We understand there's a fire in the hills of Burbank. There have been evacuations to a recreation area there. And right now, firefighters are aggressively dumping water there.
But look at this. Whether you're in a garage, whether your home is here, another huge home here. And this area, by the way, is lovely. It is a sweet community. A lot of people here know each other. They are helping each other out. But devastating to them as they've already dealt with some of this back in December from the Thomas Fire -- Ryan?
NOBLES: Sara Sidner with some unbelievable pictures there in California. Sara, stay safe. We'll check back with you a bit later tonight. And we'll be right back.
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NOBLES: In the state of Texas, more than 40 percent of kids that go to jail once, will be back within 12 months. But this week's "CNN Hero" is working to stop that revolving door by allowing young offenders to serve meals instead of time. Meet Chad Houser. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAD HOUSER, CNN HERO: I remember consciously thinking that the system is rigged based on choices that were made for him, not by him, the color of his skin, the part of town he was born into, the schools he had access to. And I thought, it's not fair.
He deserves every chance that I had. And I thought, if you're not willing to do something yourself, then you're being a hypocrite, so either put up or shut up. That was it for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:59:46] NOBLES: To learn more about this story or to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," log on to CNNheroes.com.
I'm Ryan Nobles, in New York. I'll see you one hour from now live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Stay tuned, though, because "SMERCONISH" is next.