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Soon, Biden Hosts Naturalization Ceremony to Celebrate July 4; Co-Conservator of Britney Spears' Estate Asks to Resign; Space Race Heats Up Between Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos; Naturalization Ceremony Begins at White House; 2 Million-Plus Americans Passed Through Airport Security Thursday. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 2, 2021 - 14:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Any moment, President Biden will host a naturalization ceremony at the White House to celebrate Independence Day.

The administration is introducing an unprecedented effort to encourage immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.

With us now, we have CNN chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, and CNN reporter, Priscilla Alvarez.

Priscilla, what's the plan here?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: In a nutshell, Alisyn, the plan is to reach millions of people who are legally residing in the United States to encourage them to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Now, this is a plan that stems from one of President Biden's early executive orders focused on legal immigration.

And what that executive order said, in part, was to develop welcoming strategies to encourage citizenship. And that is one of the strategies that we are seeing today.


So, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services unveiled this strategy that includes, for example, partnering with national parks to do naturalization ceremonies there to raise awareness or partnering with the U.S. Postal Service to create promotional posters.

All of this to really create a whole-of-government approach to reach out to those millions of residents -- one official estimated some nine million -- who are eligible for U.S. citizenship but just haven't started the process yet -- Alisyn? CAMEROTA: Kaitlan, a welcoming strategy. That could not be more

different than the previous administration's take on this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, also, Alisyn, I'm thinking, as we're waiting for this naturalization ceremony to start, the last time there was one of these at the White House was during the Republican convention last year when Trump was still in office, of course.

And that was sharply criticized as being used for political purposes. Because, remember, they brought in a camera crew and they taped the whole thing, unbeknownst to some of the people who were actually participating in that ceremony.

It was something that the acting DHS secretary, Chad Wolf, came under serious fire for at the time for participating in that.

But, yes, you're right. Overall, this is just -- highlights a sharp contrast in the way these two different administrations have approached immigration.

Whereas, Priscilla noted, they are trying to open it up and encourage and invite more people to join.

That is not the route that the Trump administration took in any sort of means.

Instead, they narrowed who could apply for asylum, tried to make it harder to become a permanent citizen, and all those steps that they took when it came to immigration.

So you'll just see today, not just how differently the last ceremony was compared to this one that President Biden is about to partake in, but also just their immigration policies overall.

CAMEROTA: OK, we will bring people to that live event when it happens.

Kaitlan Collins, Priscilla Alvarez, thank you both.

Be sure to join us this July 4th. America is open and ready to celebrate. So join Don Lemon, Dana Bash, Victor Blackwell and Ana Cabrera for a star-studded evening of music and fireworks. All the fun begins Sunday night, 7:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

OK, there's a new twist in Britney Spears' legal battle. After her explosive testimony, one of the co-conservators of her estate wants to quit. What is going on here? And who is telling the truth? That's next.



CAMEROTA: More legal twists and turns for Britney Spears. A wealth management company is asking if it can resign as co-conservator to the pop star's $60 million estate. The request is a result of the pop star's emotional testimony last

month about her 13-year, quote, "abusive conservatorship."

In court documents, obtained by CNN, the wealth management company, Bessemer Trust, said:

"The conservatee claimed irreparable harm to her interests in her testimony, and more specifically, the conservatee's objection to the continuation of the voluntary conservatorship and her desire to terminate the conservatorship. Petitioner has heard the conservatee and respects her wishes."

Earlier this week, a judge rejected the singer's request to remove her father as co-conservator of her estate.

Chloe Melas is our CNN entertainment reporter. She's here to help sort all this out.

Chloe, I don't blame people for being confused about all of this. What is happening? Is Britney Spears going to be in control of her own life and income?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: That's a really good question, Alisyn.

Good to see you.

And it is really confusing. So let me try to break this down for everybody.

So, Britney Spears has two conservators of her $60 million estate, Bessemer Trust, this bank, and her father, Jamie Spears.

She also has a conservator of the person that oversees her medical and day-to-day affairs. And that woman's name is Jody Montgomery.

Well, Bessemer Trust, oddly, the judge, Brenda Penny, just signed the order to make Bessemer Trust official a little over 24 hours ago.

Then Bessemer Trust said, no, no, no, we don't want to be part of this anymore. We thought Britney wanted us. We thought the conservatorship was voluntary.

Which I don't really know how they thought that a court-appointed conservatorship that has a Free Britney movement was voluntary, but that's what they said.

Remember, Britney said last week, during her bombshell testimony in the Los Angeles County superior court, that she was forced on Lithium, forced to perform, that she has to change and undress in front of people.

That she's not allowed to ride in the car with her boyfriend, has no cash, no credit cards, has to ask someone to get her nails done, her hair done, and that she can't take her IUD out, Alisyn, to start a family. So that is why Bessemer Trust says, no more, we don't want to be part

of this.

CAMEROTA: That's the stuff that I want to get to. So Britney Spears's dad, Jamie Spears, has requested an investigation into all of those allegations you just laid out.

But who does she say is doing this to her? Who's not letting her see her boyfriend? Who's forcing her to be on birth control? Who's forcing her on Lithium?

MELAS: Great questions. So, the conservator of the person is Jody Montgomery.

Jody Montgomery issued a statement that I obtained yesterday. And she said that, actually, she has encouraged Britney to, you know, see her boyfriend, and that she has nothing to do with Britney starting a family.

And that, at one point, Britney was engaged during the conservatorship, which she was.

She said that, despite the fact that I oversee Britney's medical decisions, the buck stops with Jamie Spears, her dad.

Now, Jamie Spears has filed two petitions with the court as of two days ago. He wants Judge Brenda Penny to do an investigation.

And he said in the court filing, whether you find that it's true, if my daughter's allegations are true, there should be changes to the conservatorship. If they aren't true, the conservatorship should continue.


Now, he's also saying, in a turn of events, that he doesn't want Jody Montgomery overseeing his daughter's medical decisions anymore.

So, again, it's a back-and-forth situation. The next hearing is on July 14th.

But something I really want to point out, Alisyn, to the viewers, is that the only way that Britney Spears' conservatorship can be terminated is if her attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, that she's had for 13 years -- he's court appointed -- finally files the petition to terminate.

We heard Britney Spears -- you can listen to the leaked audio on YouTube if you don't believe me. She said more than once, she wants the conservatorship terminated. He needs to file the paperwork to terminate.

I have sources close to Britney telling me that she has been calling and begging him to please file that petition, Alisyn, in the days since last week's hearing.

Also, she wants a new attorney. She said it multiple times. She said to Judge Brenda Penny, "I want new counsel."

Well, Judge Brenda Penny -- I have spoken to many conservatorship attorneys in the state of California -- she could snap her fingers right now and either appoint a new court-appointed attorney for Britney or allow Britney the right to her own counsel, an attorney of her choice.

So, that ball is in Judge Brenda Penny's court.

As for termination, either her attorney or someone close to Britney, like her sister, her brother, or her mom, can file a petition to terminate. And nobody's done that in 13 years.

CAMEROTA: Chloe Melas, you have answered every one of my questions but raised so many more.

So thank you very much for following this. Obviously, this story is not going away. So many people care about her fate.

So thank you. We'll check back with you.

MELAS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Still ahead, the billionaire space race is heating up. Richard Branson is set to beat Jeff Bezos by blasting off into space nine days ahead of him. That's next.



CAMEROTA: Listen to this story. A San Diego-area high school has been stripped of its regional basketball title after fans flung tortillas at the rival team that was made up of mostly Latino players.

Video captured the crowd of the predominantly white Coronado High Scholl carrying out the racist act after the championship win. Witnesses said there had been several heated disputed on the court.

In addition to losing its title, Coronado's basketball team was put on probation until the end of 2024.

The athletic staff now required to finish a sportsmanship workshop that includes racial and cultural sensitivity training. The school's basketball coach was fired.

OK, now to this. The billionaire race to space has become even more interesting. British billionaire, Richard Branson, is making plans to beat fellow American billionaire, Jeff Bezos, to space.

Branson's company, Virgin Galactic, made a surprise announcement Thursday that Branson will attempt to fly in its rocket-powered plane on July 11th, which is nine days before Bezos had planned to on July 20th.

Rachel Crane is CNN Business innovation and space correspondent. She talked to Branson about that upcoming mission.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION & SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, while it certainly seems like a billionaire race to space from the outside, Richard Branson telling me he doesn't see this as a race.

And that his addition to the flight manifest of this upcoming space flight in just 10 days is not dictated by hubris or a desire to be first.

Branson saying this flight of his is 17 years in the making.

And that a successful test flight just six weeks ago, coupled with an updated FAA license allowing Virgin Galactic to now fly space participants, not just crew, in addition to his engineers going through their paces and giving them the all-clear, have enabled this updated timeline.

Branson will be joining three mission specialists in addition to two pilots on this fourth crewed space flight for the company.

They will travel more than three times the speed of sound to an apogee of over 80 kilometers above earth, experiencing a few precious minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to earth and earning their astronaut wings, according to the company.


CAMEROTA: Our apologies to Rachel there.

We're joining President Biden at a naturalization ceremony that he is about to hold at the White House for these soon-to-be U.S. citizens.

We just heard from our reporters that this is a big push of the Biden administration, that he wants to get as many eligible immigrants naturalized as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the national anthem performed by Petty Officer First Class Dan Likwinka (ph) of the United States Navy.





TRACY RENAUD, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Thank you, Ms. Likwinka (ph). That was a beautiful rendition.

Good afternoon. My name is Tracy Renaud. I'm the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It's an honor to be here today with you to welcome you as new citizens

to the United States.

Before I begin, I'd like to thank President Biden for hosting this very special naturalization ceremony. And Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, of the Department of Homeland Security, for joining us.

I have the privilege today of calling the countries of the nationalization candidates.

Before I begin, can the audience all please be seated?

Candidates, when you hear your country of nationality, please stand and remain standing.

Afghanistan. Canada. China. Colombia. Egypt. El Salvador. Ethiopia. Ghana. India. Iraq. Nepal. New Zealand. Panama. Philippines. South Korea.

CAMEROTA: OK, we will continue to watch this naturalization ceremony at the White House. And we will bring you back to it as soon as President Biden speaks to these soon-to-be U.S. citizens.

Hi, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Victor Blackwell is off today.

So after more than a year of masking up, hunkering down and postponing travel, millions of Americans are on the move this holiday weekend, marking one of the busiest days for U.S. airports in 16 months.

Yesterday, alone, more than 2.1 million travelers passed through airport security. And TSA says today could bring even bigger crowds.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is at LAX.

So, Stephanie, some airports are reporting an even higher volume now than before the pandemic. What are you seeing behind you?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's not exactly the case, but not that you could tell that, Alisyn, if you take a look at these lines behind me.

We have been here all morning long. These lines have been long and chaotic. It's taking people a lot of patience to get through this.

What they are saying here at Los Angeles International is that this is 65 percent of normal. But Sunday was a post-pandemic record. Some 85,000 people making their way through security check points.

Normally, that would be above 120,000. They are saying they may set new records today and Sunday because of the holiday travel here.

One thing I can tell you is part of the reason why the travel is so much lower is because international travel is not back yet. Because of that, they're saying it's still a little bit lower.

Still, all these people, close together after a long time of not being close together. They are asking that people to pack their patience.

In fact, the FAA has a new PSA out. They have children telling us adults how to act. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Fighting, is not good when you're on plane.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: They'll go to jail if they keep doing that stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I would be really scared.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I would not like that if someone did that to me.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: They should know better if they are like adults.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: They are grownups and they have to play a good role model.


ELAM: I like that. They should know better because they're like adults.

So, Alisyn, as you see, lots of patience. And also just get here early. It's a holiday weekend. You may be out of practice on getting here.

CAMEROTA: Stephanie, what about the Delta variant that we hear so much about? And that some COVID cases are spiking now? How is that factoring into all that travel?

ELAM: Right. Here in L.A. County, they say they are monitoring and they very much concerned about this spread of the Delta variant.

One thing you'll notice is we're outside right now. Not everyone has on a mask. But as you enter the terminal, everyone has to have the mask on and going through security, getting on the plane.

You cannot make any movements without having your mask on. That will be for all the airports now. That has no changed.


You see people are not social distancing. It doesn't matter if you're vaccinated or not. These precautions are something they are concerned about.