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Defiant Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY): I Am Not Going To Resign; Biden Pledges To Make All Adults Eligible For Vaccine By May 1st; Parents Sue To Get Students Back In Classrooms; Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation Of Teachers, Discusses Getting Students Back In Classrooms; Lawyer: Kids At Border Can't Shower For Days Or Call Parents; Grammy Awards Ceremony Returns After COVID-19 Delay. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 13, 2021 - 17:00   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And right now, the American comeback. One year to the day since the deadly coronavirus shut this country down. There are a few cautious signs that real recovery may be coming into view. Stimulus cash is on the way to millions of families right now. $1,400 checks, that much per person, already hitting bank accounts this weekend.

Plus, major progress to report on COVID vaccinations, more than 101 million doses have been administered in the so far, but health officials are still concerned that this progress could be upended by scenes like this. These are live pictures. Here from Miami Beach, spring break kicking off, the crowds out in full force, and in many cases, masks are hard to spot. Americans are tired of more than a year of restrictions and some are letting loose. The TSA reports that Friday was the busiest travel day since this pandemic started.

We're also following other major news today involving the embattled governor of New York losing more support as he struggles to stay in office. Even New York's two senators, both Democrats, are now calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. That's after yet another come has come forward with accusations of sexual harassment.

Let's begin there with CNN National Correspondent Athena Jones live in Albany, New York, the state capitol.

Athena, Governor Cuomo is quickly running out of support amid all these very serious allegations.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana, he is. And you mentioned those two big names in New York politics. Major Leader Chuck Schumer of the Senate and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand coming on board, adding their names to the list of the politicians who are calling for the governor to resign in response to these allegations. The very latest coming from a reporter named Jessica Bakeman. She had been a former New York Capital Beat reporter, covering the capital here in Albany for several years. And she wrote a first-person piece in New York Magazine, which she describes what it was like covering Cuomo, and accuses him of multiple instances of sexual harassment.

She writes, Andrew Cuomo's hands had been on my body, on my arms, shoulders, the small of my back, my waist often enough. She went on to say, Cuomo never let me forget I was a woman.

And now, Bakeman describes her job as someone who was meant to report on the governor's every move. And she says he often touched her without her consent, and that made her uncomfortable, so much so that she didn't want to go to events like the holiday party at the executive mansion that she writes about in 2014.

She describes this party, and what her interaction was like with the governor. She says, he put his other arm around my back, his hand on my waist and held me firmly in place and said, I'm sorry, am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady. I stood there in stunned silence, shocked and humiliated, but, of course, that was the point.

Bakeman noting that she was humiliated in part because the governor made these remarks, this joke about going steady in front of her colleagues. She says that the governor's actions, she didn't feel they were about wanting to have sex with her but wanting to show her that he had power over her and that she was powerless.

And one more important thing that Bakeman writes in this article. She says it's not that Cuomo spares men in his orbit from his trademark bullying and demeaning behavior, but the way he bullies and demeans women is different. He uses touching and sexual innuendo to stoke fear in us. That is the textbook definition of sexual harassment.

Now, CNN has reached out to Bakeman for a comment, and we have not heard back. We also reached out to the governor's office, her comment on this latest allegation, they have not responded. But the governor did talk about these allegations in total at a press conference on Friday. Listen to what he had to say.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth. Let the review proceed. I'm not going to resign. I was not elected by the politicians. I was elected by the people.

I never harassed anyone. I never assaulted anyone. I never abused anyone to the extent you get these people who say, well, he took a picture with me and I was uncomfortable, I apologize for that.

I have not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: So the governor continuing to deny any wrong doing, saying that women have a right to come forward, but urging the public to wait for the investigations to be carried out wait for the facts. Ana?

CABRERA: Athena Jones in Albany, New York, thank you. I want to bring in now CNN Political Commentator and Anchor for Spectrum News New York One Errol Louis, along with CNN Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers.


Errol, the walls are closing both of New York's U.S. senators, almost all Democrats in New York's delegation in Congress, and at least 60 state legislators have all called on Governor Cuomo to resign. The governor says, no. But if he's lost even his own party, how does he survive this?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, he survives by simply not leaving, Ana. Honestly, we've only impeached one governor in the whole history of New York, going back a couple of hundred years. That happened in 1913, and this may or may not be a repeat of that. But it's unlikely.

And so the governor is going to test his ability and our ability as New Yorkers to see if he can govern anything resembling an affected manner without any help from his congressional colleagues, from the Senate delegation, frankly, from the mayor of New York City, who has also called on him to resign, from the state controller who has called on him to resign. Can he be governor pretty much on his own? Andrew Cuomo is basically daring the rest of his colleagues in government to see if he can do it.

CABRERA: Did he have good relationships with all these people who are now calling on his resignation before these allegations came out?

LOUIS: He had terrible relationships with all of them, and, frankly, people on the government staff, I think, would acknowledge this. They had a ten-year period during which they have been abusive, they berated people, they have driven people out of politics. They've been harsh, they've been unpleasant. It's greatly documented and, frankly, they took a perverse pride in how, quote/unquote, tough they were.

But the consensus is that he went from tough to toxic and there are a lot of people now, former staffers and certainly his colleagues in government and even members of the media who are saying, this is not the way to govern.

The end does not justify the means, that you can't be this bad to everybody all the time, come up with no friends in the ends and call yourself effective, especially if, and it's important to keep this in mind, Ana, this is what got the whole ball rolling, if you make a mistake, and he did make a mistake on nursing homes and how it should have been handled during the COVID crisis. That's what really sort of opened the door to all of this.

And people are saying if we're going to get all of this abuse, all of this bad treatment, at least be effective. And it turned with the nursing homes, it was not.

CABRERA: Jennifer, the governor and his supporters are saying, wait for the investigation to run its course. How long could that take?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think, Ana, we're talking about a matter of months, maybe three months. They have to speak with everyone. They have to follow where the investigation leads to other witnesses, to corroborating evidence. So it's not going to happen in a matter of a few weeks, but it is a closed universe. We're not talking about it and less investigation or millions of documents. So I think it can go around the three-month mark, we should see the report.

CABRERA: The New York attorney general has now appointed a couple of outside lawyers to lead this investigation and has also set up a website that gives a phone, text, an email option for those who have information relevant to this investigation. Jennifer, do you think it's wise to cast that wide of a net?

RODGERS: Well, they will obviously not be speaking to every person who calls in. They will vet the information that comes in and proceed accordingly. But they want to do a thorough investigation here and cast a wide enough net that anyone who really has information that is useful. And that is mostly going to be people who have worked with the governor.

There have been accusations by women who did not, including this latest by a reporter, and those are pertinent as well. But the most relevant accusations are going to be the ones by people who worked in the governor's direct orbit, and that is not an endless number of people.

CABRERA: Errol, this impeachment investigation that's begun in the New York State Assembly, Democrats hold the majority there, of course. Why do you think they are taking this route and that they're not waiting for this investigation by the A.G.'s office?

LOUIS: There are two schools of thought about that, Ana, and Democrats don't just have a majority, they have a super majority. They really do control and have control of the assembly for quite some time. One theory is that there are a lot of younger, more progressive members who are absolutely appalled at all of this and they want to see the governor go, and they put a lot of pressure on the speaker to take some kind of an action.

The other theory is that the assembly speaker, in his own way, is actually helping Governor Cuomo with the thing he needs most, which is to buy time, to put another investigation in motion, to cool things down, to slow things down a little bit, to give him a chance to over and over again, let's wait for the facts to come in before anybody rushes to judgment. And to the extent that that happens, he is giving Governor Cuomo what he most needs right now.

CABRERA: Jennifer, from a legal standpoint, what do you think is more problematic for the governor? These sexual harassment claims or the allegations about the nursing home deaths? RODGERS: It's interesting. Before yesterday, I would have probably said the nursing home allegations because the sexual harassment allegations didn't really fall within the criminal realm.


There likely will be civil implications. But now with an accusation, which I will say anonymous at this point and fairly sparse on the details but that did trigger a criminal referral to the Albany Police. Now, we have an actual potential criminal matter coming out of the sexual harassment allegation. So, that, I think, is going to be obviously a top priority for the governor and his legal team moving forward.

CABRERA: Errol, I have got to get your take on how New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has responded to all of this, saying, quote, unfortunately, what we're seeing here is a pattern of cover-ups and pattern of lies, adding, the governor must resign. He can no longer do the job. De Blasio is clearly referencing the ongoing investigation into nursing home deaths, in addition to these latest allegations related to sexual harassment.

We know there's a history, there's no love lost between these two. What do you think de Blasio is thinking right now?

LOUIS: Well, to say the least, there is no love lost. And, look, I think Bill de Blasio is saying in a somewhat amplified level, what a lot of people in government have been saying, which is that we cannot trust the governor and his staff. They have not been straight with us. They hid information from us about a vitally important matter involving 15,000 deaths. That is real serious stuff.

They've had any number of negative interactions, again, the unprofessional conduct, calling and berating people, threatening them, going behind them and sort of interfering with them as they're trying to work --

CABRERA: So you think they are relishing in this a little bit?

LOUIS: They're certainly enjoying it. I mean, look, a political blood bath is not a pleasant thing to look at, and that's what you've got going on. There is blood in the water, the sharks are circling and people are trying to settle scores. Because, again, there's been a decade's worth of abuse that came out of the second floor of the capitol, and now people are trying to sort of hit back to the extent that they can.

CABRERA: Errol Louis and Jennifer Rodgers, the plot thickens, thank you.

President Biden has ordered states to open up COVID vaccinations to all adults by May 1st. And my next guest says it needs to happen even sooner. We will discuss next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: This week marked one year since the coronavirus outbreak became the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we also saw an encouraging milestone of more than 101 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered here in the United States. This comes as President Biden announced he is directing states to allow all adults to be eligible to receive a vaccine by May 1st. And July 4th might be extra special this year, because that is when the president says the nation may be able to begin to begin to return to normalcy.

But experts are warning that we are not out of the woods. Variants, increased travel over spring break and premature easing of restrictions could all trigger another surge. That's going to slow things down.

With us now is Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University and a CNN Medical Analyst.

Dr. Reiner, we are seeing COVID cases drop. Hospitalizations are dropping. The number of new deaths continues to drop. What do you say to officials and residents who are seeing progress and they want to fully reopen?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, what I would say is for people who are fully vaccinated, they can start to do some of the things that none of us really have done in a year. If you're fully vaccinated, you can start to go to restaurants.

Someone asked me today if you're fully vaccinated, can you go to a gym? And, yes, of course, wearing a mask in all these venues, but I think we should start to open. And I think the CDC needs to be more proactive in providing these guidelines.

But vaccination not only prevents youth from acquiring severe illness but we now know with certainty that it largely prevents transmission.

So we should be cautiously opening the economy to people who have been fully vaccinated. That's not the same as saying that people who have not been vaccinated can go about their lives as if nothing has happened.

CABRERA: But what you're saying, I think, is an incentive for people to clamor to get the vaccine when it is their turn. And you say it's time to start vaccinating younger people. Explain your reasoning.

REINER: So, there are two reasons to vaccinate a population. One is to prevent serious illness and death, and the other is to prevent transmission. And we know the vaccines do both. So we have already vaccinated about 75 percent of our population over the age of 75, and about 65 percent of the population over the age of 65 and a vast majority of people in long-term care or nursing homes. So we have vaccinated our highest risk population already largely.

Now, let's go after the population that is transmitting the virus. Last month in the Journal Science, there was an article that showed that the summer surge, 72 percent of the transmission of cases for the summer surge, were caused by people between the ages of 20 and 49. And when you think about, it makes sense. These are the people that are out and about. Who is traveling now? Who is getting on the plane to go to spring break? It's young people. So let's vaccinate them and start to cut down transmission.

We have 32 million doses of vaccine that have been distributed to states but have not yet been given into arms with 16 million doses to be delivered next week. So there is a lot of vaccine available.


Let's start opening up these vaccine slots to the young people who are propagating this vaccine around the country. We should -- Michigan is going to do this by April 5th. Alaska is already doing it. States all over the country should start allocating the vaccine to younger people.

For colleges that have students in residents now, I would try and vaccinate those students before they go home at the end of the school year.

CABRERA: Those are some great ideas, and I know a lot of people are saying, yes, yes, let's do it, and there are obviously cases where we've heard vaccine doses having to go to waste because the person who is eligible didn't show up and they weren't allowed to necessarily give this dose to just anybody.

I want to get your take on this new CNN poll found that 92 percent of Democrats say they have gotten a dose of this vaccine or they will try to get one, but among Republicans, that number falls to just 50 percent. Why do you think that is?

REINER: Well, first of all, there is an enormous amount of vaccine hesitancy in a variety of populations, but probably not higher than among Republican men, where, as you say, it's about 50 percent.

The vaccine has not been promoted to this group, and indeed, for months and months and months, the pandemic was presented as a hoax to this group by the former president. And in a similar vein, the former president has not promoted this vaccine to the people who revere him. So there is an opportunity to reach out to Republicans and explain that this vaccine is for them.

Earlier this week, the former president issued a statement basically claiming credit for the vaccine, and that is fantastic. His administration deserves a lot of credit for facilitating these vaccines, but they had nothing, he did nothing to promote vaccinations among people who really rally around him. And if he wants to do something in his post-presidency, he should get on his soapbox and start to get his accolades to get vaccinated.

CABRERA: It couldn't hurt, that is for sure. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, I appreciate your expertise and your time as always. Thank you.

REINER: Thank you. CABRERA: Parents fed up with online learning are suing to get their children back into classrooms. Why they believe this step is necessary, that is next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: School reopenings remains one of the most hotly debate parts of the pandemic. And for some parents, the outraged over school's not offering in-person classes is now at the point where they are going to court.

CNN's Bianna Golodryga reports.


BRANDON MICHON, PARENT: The garbage workers who pick up freaking trash risk their lives every day warning anyone in this school system.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Across the country, exasperated parents, like this Virginia dad, are demanding more of their school boards.

KERI AVENELLI DONOHUE, ATTORNEY: It's maddening because why is my kid suffering when the other kids get to be in school. It's a game and the kids are being used as pawns.

GOLODRYGA: Attorney Keri Avenelli Donohue was representing 17 equally frustrated families pro bono in lawsuits against two New Jersey school districts, Montclair and South Orange-Maplewood. It's been almost a year since students filled the classrooms in these districts.

DARYN SIROTA, MOTHER: This has been such a tremendous battle for all of us.

GOLODRYGA: The suit asserts that students have been denied their right to an in-person education.

SIROTA: I myself is a teacher. Children need to be in school with their peers, with their teachers, working collaboratively.

GOLODRYGA: For Donohue, these cases hit close to home.

DONOHUE: The department not responding to my own child's specific needs and realizing, oh, not that they're not going to open the schools and it was kind of like, I can do this. I'm going to speak up for her because no one is speaking for the kids.

GOLODRYGA: Her 11-year-old daughter, Mary, has not set foot in a classroom since last March.

What grade are you in?


GOLODRYGA: Do you worry about when you can possibly return back to school?

MARY: Yes. I always ask, when am I going back to school. She said she doesn't know.

GOLODRYGA: Diagnosed with ADHD, Mary had been on an individualized education plan or AIP prior to the pandemic, and had been thriving.

DONOHUE: She did so well that they said, when she goes into middle school, she no longer needs like the intense special services.

GOLODRYGA: Today, Donohue says her daughter is a completely different person and refuses to participate in online class.

DONOHUE: She's progressively declined to the point where she is diagnosed with high levels of anxiety and depression. And it was recommended that we put her like on antidepressants to help her get back to somewhat normal state.

It's heartbreakingly sad.

GOLODRYGA: The families she represents and the lawsuit describes similar setbacks.

ANNA FERGUSON, MOM OF 2ND GRADER: He was a star pupil a year ago, thriving, happy. All of his in-school supports were helping him. My son is in emotional mess now. He is depressed. He is not interested in anything. He doesn't talk.

PAMELA KIM, MOTHER: He wasn't even participating. He wasn't turning his camera on.

And this is a kid, who had tested as "Gifted" in the 99th percentile, now getting essentially D level grades.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Similar lawsuits have been filed against school districts and Teachers' Unions in over a dozen states, from Maryland to Kentucky, Wisconsin and California.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Getting our schools back open safely. Right now --

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): But while the push to reopen schools has garnered national sympathy from the White House, there's little the federal government can actually do. The majority of the country hinges on decisions made by local school districts.

For these moms, the battle is halfway over. On Thursday, the Montclair School District, one of the two named in Donohue's lawsuit, reached a deal to return to the classroom April 12th.

DARYN SIROTA, MOTHER: And I'm so, so grateful to her.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): You know your mom is out there fighting for you.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New Jersey.


CABRERA: Both school districts declined CNN's request for an interview, citing the pending litigation.

But in a statement, the South Orange Maplewood district said, quote, "We shares that goal consistent with the New Jersey Department of Education's public policies to open schools safely to the greatest extent possible as soon as possible."

Joining us now, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten.

Randi, it sounds like peachers are going to have children going back to classroom at all different learning levels and social levels. That has to be stressful for teachers.

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: It's -- look, Ana, I think I was with the weekend right before all the school districts closed. And we were in studio.

And part of it was that we were never given the kind of information that Trump had about what the severity was. So you saw all the districts close at the same time in March without much of any preparation.

And since that point, teachers have been doing everything they can to actually meet the needs of kids.

But I agree with all of those parents that we -- our union has been trying to figure out how to reopen schools for in-person learning since last April.

And give it to President Biden. He has finally created the guidance he can rely on. He's given us the resources. And we're now having shots in the arms.

So you're seeing at this point almost 60 percent of K through eight schools that have either reopened in March or will be reopening in the next couple weeks.

CABRERA: You heard the frustration and desperation of mothers. What do you say to parents whose children haven't been in school this whole time and they think teachers unions are to blame for letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?

WEINGARTEN: As I said, we have been trying since last April to reopen schools. And while unions are not monolithic, take the New York City school system, which is my home union, we figured out ways to doing the right thing.

You need to actually not have safety be in opposite with in-school learning, which means districts needed to spend last summer and this fall working on ventilation issues.

They need have the staff. They needed to have the funding so if they had staff that was at risk, they had additional staff there.

And New York City made it happen. There were ups and downs. But we have a road map now. And hopefully, we can do that kind of work with the mitigation strategies, the testing, the vaccines.

We have a lot of work to do together to meet the needs of kids as they are coming back to school, not just this week, but in the summer and fall.

CABRERA: I mean, initially, better safe than sorry was the mentality when it came to schools and the vulnerability of children and teachers.

But now, study after study has found that as long as the mitigation efforts are there, it is safe to reopen schools now.

Do you think there's any reason for students and teachers not to be back in the classroom at this point?

WEINGARTEN: I think the only issue is going to be the variants, and/or spacing. Because the mitigation requires the spacing that some of the school districts don't do.

Our view is that in-school learning should be open with the mitigation testing, testing, and vaccine access in place.

And what you're seeing is place after place is doing that right now.


WEINGARTEN: And that is for the good. It's needed.


CABRERA: Absolutely. And space is going to be an issue for a lot of school districts.

But I think it's also worth pointing out, in a huge analysis, school districts in Indiana, Virginia and Massachusetts, they have a three- foot standard instead of six feet. And these states have not seen a surge in cases.

We know the World Health Organization guidelines suggest three feet of distance in schools. Is that more doable?

WEINGARTEN: I don't think so. What you saw with the CDC guidelines is, if you have a lot of community spread, you need to use six feet or have barriers. Because this is still a respiratory disease.

Indiana is not making sure the cases are being collected. And what you saw in the Georgia situation is, when the mitigations were not fair, we saw a real spread.

So the bottom line is --


CABRERA: But if people are wearing masks -- we should say, it's people wearing masks, the three-feet guidelines have been working.

WEINGARTEN: What I'm saying is the CDC, this new CDC has said six people or barriers where there's a lot of community spread. And I think we need to actually not make the science convenient. We need to use the science.

But the bottom line is this, we are seeing more and more and more good evidence about how you can actually reopen schools and those are -- that's what we need to lean into, and that is what is going to happen all across the country.

CABRERA: This is such an important discussion. Our children are the most important as parents, and I know as teachers, that is a huge priority helping the children --

WEINGARTEN: Absolutely.

CABRERA: -- become great individuals and growing in every capacity.

Thank you, Randi Weingarten, as always for your time. Good to hear from you and hear your perspective on this.

WEINGARTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Up next, CNN is learning of harrowing claims from the southern border where lawyers say some children in a government-run tent facility haven't been able to shower for days or reach out to their parents. We have a live report, next, here in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: Terrified children not allowed to contact their parents. Not allowed to shower for days in some cases.

This is what we are hearing from lawyers about how dire the situation is at an overcrowded government-run tent facility in Texas right now as the U.S. sees an influx of migrants, among children coming in the U.S.

CNN's Rosa Flores is here now.

Rosa, you talked to some who made the trek here. What are you hearing from them? And what have the lawyers told you?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, I will get to the people I've talked to in just a moment.

But first, about the overcrowded conditions. In the facility behind me, the lawyers were able to talk to said there's overcrowding, the children are terrified. Some of them are not able to shower. Some have been there five to seven days.

We're not allowed to go in the facility. But according to the lawyer we talked to, she was able to go inside, granted access to an area is for lawyers.

The lawyer was not able to tour the entire facility where the children are housed. But the children told them their story.

According to the lawyer, they were handed a manifest of all the children in the facility. It was about 100 pages long. And according to the attorney, every page had children under the age of 10.

The children say they are divided in pods of about 50 children. The pods are divided by age and sex. Which means, if there's a brother and sister, that family would be separated in the different pods.

And Customs and Border Protection, they are not allowed to hug the children. They are not allowed to console the children. So the children say children are taking care of other children, consoling other children.

According to the attorney, hygiene is an issue. They are not able to shower every day. Sometimes they are able to shower once a week. Sometimes, they go to the shower facilities and there's only shampoo and the soap has run out.

I talked to families who were from a processed and released. It's unclear to me where they were processed because these individuals didn't know exactly where they were.

But they described some of the same - some the same conditions, saying they hadn't showered in days.

Here is their story.


FLORES (voice-over): These are the faces of the immigration surge on the U.S./Mexico board.


FLORES: Maria is from El Salvador and hopes to reunite with her family in Maryland.


FLORES: Roxanna is from Honduras and lost everything to a hurricane.


FLORES (on camera): She said her dream is to have a house. And that's why she made the trek to the United States.

(voice-over): Maria and Roxanne are among the tens of thousands of migrants encountered by U.S. border authorities in recent weeks. One area, alone, saw over 5,000 migrants enter over an five-hour period last week.

According to a federal source, to expedite processing, authorities started fingerprinting them under a bridge.

Many of the unaccompanied children and families are bused to this new immigration processing center in Donna, Texas.


FLORES: Maria Del Rosa lives across the street and says buses packed with people arrive around the clock. And at night, she hears children crying.


FLORES (on camera): You're scare?


FLORES (voice-over): From there, some migrants are dropped off by immigration officials at bus stations like this one in Brownsville.


That is where we met Roxanne, Maria and her 6-year-old daughters, Kaitlyn (ph)


FLORES: She said she had seen a snake in her journey to the United States and fell off a raft while crossing the Rio Grande.

(on camera): Why is there a surge right now, you think?


FLORES (voice-over): Both Maria and Roxanna said they heard in news reports --


FLORES: -- in their home country that the Biden administration is allowing migrant women with children to enter the U.S.

(on camera): And you believe that that is true?


FLORES (voice-over): Which is not entirely true. The Biden administration says it's allowing unaccompanied minors to remain in the U.S. pending immigration case. And some families are allowed in on a case-by-case basis.

That perception could be driving some of the surge, which has over 3,700 unaccompanied children in Border Patrol Customer in jail-like facilities. Health and Human Services is caring for about 8,800 minors, while

they're reunited with families. And is even considering using a NASA site to expand bed space.

And some non-profit migrant shelters have seen a spike in the flow of mothers, children --


FLORES: -- and pregnant women.

Cindy Johnson has volunteered to help migrants across the river in Matamoras and collected postcards with their story.

CINDY JOHNSON, VOLUNTEER: This child is saying they have witnessed people dying, people getting beaten.

FLORES: Cindy says she scanned them and sent them to then-candidate for president, Joe Biden.

(on camera): What was the goal of sending the letters to Biden?

JOHNSON: The goal was, they wanted to see the humanity.


FLORES: And back to the facility that you see behind me, and its overcrowding conditions. Ana, my team and I arrived earlier this week.

And we have been asking the federal government for access to the facility here in the Rio Grande Valley so we can get eyes on situation and get an objection view of what's going on. And our access has been denied -- Ana?

CABRERA: Keep up the good work, Rosa, keep telling those stories.

Thank you.

We'll be right back.



CABRERA: The Grammys are looking a lot different this year, like everything else in the pandemic.

Here is Stephanie Elam.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Bad Bunny to Black Pumas, the Stallion to Styles --


ELAM: -- hit makers are lined up to perform live at the 63rd Grammy Awards.

ANNOUNCER: Hosted by Trevor Noah.

ELAM: But who will be watching? The pandemic-era Golden Globes and Emmys were far from ratings gold. Yet, the Grammys has one advantage.

JEM ASWAD, DEPUTY MUSIC EDITOR, "VARIETY": You've got a whole lot of performances interspersed with the awards, which is awesome because it's what people want to see.

ELAM: The show is also coming off a tough 2020, which saw the Recording Academy accused in a series of scandals, including questions about its nomination process. The Recording Academy denied the accusations.

The controversy had been eclipsed by the death of Kobe Bryant the morning of the show.

This year, the noms controversy is back, swirling around The Weeknd.

ASWAD: The Weeknd not getting a single nomination is the biggest snub in Grammy history.

ELAM: In response, the singer, in response, calling the Grammys corrupt.


ASWAD: The song "Blinding Light," it's been in the Billboard Top 100, the greatest metric of a song's success, for a year and no record has ever done that before.

ELAM: The Recording Academy responded, saying they understand his disappointment.

The interim CEO adding, "I was surprised and can empathize with what he is feeling."


ELAM: Queen Bay leaves the nomination race with "Nine."


ELAM: Roddy Rich --


ELAM: -- Taylor Swift --


ELAM: -- and Dua Lipa are each up for six Grammys, including song of the year.

(on camera): Moving from its usual home here at Staples Center, most of the Grammys will be filmed in and around the Los Angeles Convention Center right across the street.

And the only audience members that will be in attendance will be the other performers and some of the nominees.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


CABRERA: This week's "CNN Hero" became paralyzed from the waist down, struggled for years to attain a healthy lifestyle. But now, motivated by his own successful journey, he provides an adapter training and nutrition program helping people with disabilities push beyond their limitations toward fuller lives.

Meet Wesley Hamilton.



My main goal is to teach people how to take control of their lives.

Yes, there you go.

Take full accountability and embrace your reality.

Slowly. All right you can stop right here.

When we go through our program, it's only the beginning. I want to be there through your whole journey because I want to see you successful.

There we go. One more.

I gained so much from my injury. And I want other people to have that same mind set.

You're learning that you're about to do more.

I believe that, once we help someone, now they have the ability to help someone else. This is something that has to have a ripple effect.


We are coming together, empowering each other, being an inspiration for one another.


CABRERA: Such a great guy. To see Wesley's full story and learn about his work, go to

That does it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks so much for joining us.

Pam Brown takes it from here.

Have a great night.