now cubans can travel to ecuador without visas, and that has created a new route to the united states. more than 17,000 cubans arrived in the u.s. through the mexican border. this year that number has nearly doubled until the borders were closed. at a recent summit the nicaraguan government closed the borders. and countries have refused to let them in. >> the argued reason is that this should be resolved through a regional treaty. >> central american countries have been under pressure to crackdown on migration sinc since 2014 when tens of thousands of children arrived in the u.s. unaccompanied. in the meantime, costa rican
president said they're running out of options. >> we request that the countries located to the south ecuador, panama, and colombia implement more forceful measures to prevent these immigrant flows. >> for now they stay in limbo. >> the president expected to arrive shortly. and make comments regarding isil and homeland security. we'll take a break and bring you those comments live when we come back.
briefly. we're going to bring you those comments live as we wait for the president. jamie mcintyre, who is in washington, jamie, the president speaking on the issue of isil and national security a week ago roundly criticized. is this a reset? >> well, this is one of the president's standard meetings at the pentagon, which he does every couple of months. the really symbolic to show that he's getting a briefing from top commanders and law enforcement officials. the president has said all along although he's criticized for not adjusting his strategy more dramatically, that he is open to ideas about things that are going to work. he said he wants to stop doing the things that aren't working so well, and focus more on things that are working. so for instance, the united states really has stepped up its bombing of isil oil facilities and fuel trucks in recent days. by the way, something that he also mentioned when he met at
the pentagon five months ago. in some ways this is symbolic to show that he's making the trip across the potomac river where they meet and talk about things they can do to battle isil. one area that the president continues to draw the line is any significant number of troops on the ground. the linchpin of the strategy is that it's built around building local forces whether that's the kurds in syria. or whether it's the iraqi security forces in ramadi and anbar province, which the united states has been working with for months now trying to get that offensive to retake ramadi. the president also mentioned some of the progress there. although it's been frustratingly
slow for the pentagon. in recent weeks iraqi security forces have retaken some of the ground around ramadi, a key bridge, a key command center they have taken, and they have pinned in a lot of the fighters there in ramadi. and iraqi forces on the ground credit u.s. airstrikes for doing a lot of the heavy lifting there. the u.s. claims more than 350 isil fighters have been killed in ramadi in recent weeks, but still they have yet to move into the urban city center and retake the city. i think what we'll hear from the president once he comes out of his now two-plus hour meeting that this is--there has been progress. it's going to be slow. it continues to rely on forces on the ground. the u.s. is looking for new ways to put more pressure on isil. and that in syria i'm sure once again he'll say that the only lasting solution in syria is to find some political solution that does not include bashar
al-assad as the leader of syria while continue to go enable some of those forces on the ground. since his last meeting at the pentagon there has been a number of complicated factors including russia's entry in a the war in syria, bombing targets which they say are isil targets but u.s. says they're forces opposed to bashar al-assad, and an increasing number of casualties that the u.s. says comes from a russian campaign that relies on unguided precision munitions that have a devastating effect on the various civilians that the u.s. is hoping to protect. a lot of ground to cover there, and with you suspect that the president will come out and make a statement shortly. >> is one of the reasons why there is so much confusion about this strategy is the issue of combat troops on the ground versus casualties coming back home, and civilians dying and targets that are hit in a for instance, if one candidate
remarked recently if they should incorporate bombs in places like iraq and syria, the president is trying to walk that fine line between not getting the united states involved in another warlike we saw in iraq, and also that 14-war in afghanistan that is showing no end in sight, and even though the president has been roundly criticized for the remarks he made a week ago, there are many that argue that there has not been a clear concrete strategy coming from any sector of washington. your thoughts? >> well, so the big criticism about the president's reluctance to put more--quote onquote/unqu- boot on the ground comes to the frustration of others that not a large number of u.s. troops but a large number of u.s. troops and troops from other countries could help turn the tide against isil, something that the president is very reluctant to
endorse. make no mistake, the u.s. does have troops on the ground. it has 35-troops on the ground in iraq, including a significant number of special aggravations forces that are based in erbil, in northern iraq, and those special operations forces are not just advising and assisting like most of the forces. they're actually going out on raids, conducting targeted missions, and the pentagon announced recently it is going to augment that force with additional special operations troops so they can conduct more raids into syria and into iraq. those are combat missions. they're in and out missions. they're not missions where the u.s. is going to take ground or directly be partnered with iraqi forces that are trying to conduct this offensive in ramadi, for instance. but they are combat missions and we did see one u.s. operations commando who was killed in northern iraq to free prisoners who were held by isil.
so there is a combat mission going on. there are u.s. troops in combat. the president is trying to limit that, and also as you pointed out very importantly trying to limit the number of civilian casualties. large number of innocent civilians being killed by the coalition is something that would just hand isil a propaganda victory in view of the obama administration, and is not worth what small military advantage would be gained from that massive bombing campaign. >> jamie thank you very much we continue to await the president to make those remarks from the pentagon. when he does we'll bring you those remarks live. in other news marking the anniversary of the mass shooting in sandy hook. town officials choosing not to hold any public remembrances.
family members are asking people to remember by doing acts of kindness. we take a look at five days in chicago. ash har quaraishi has more on the issues that continue to divide the windy city. [ sobbing ] >> weekend after weekend, shooting after shooting chicago has become infamous for its gun violence. >> in chicago ten people are dead, 54 others injured. >> it has dominated the headlines. >> in chicago seven people were killed. >> giving rise to its nickname chiraq. arguebly the city is safer than in decades past. in 1991 there were 998 homicide, but safety is realtive. >> it starts from the top down.
>> city worker is fed up. he took the day off to protest. >> it always has been divisions. it has always been in chicago. we've known that. our whole lives. we are shot almost every night. everybody is on pins and needles. and then after a period of time you become numb to it. i don't want us to be numb to it any more. >> ash har quaraishi, chicago. >> spike lee's newest film "chiraq" is a satire based on an ancient greek drama. he sits down to talk with al jazeera. he talked about the new town shooting and why it didn't change gun laws. >> let's be honest. if young white infants in a kindergarten first grade gets slaughtered, and nothing happens right away, then you know that
it's going to take a minute. i thought for sure, i put money on it, that president obama felt the same thing. but it hasn't been the case. we're aiding people. 80 people die every day due to gun violence. >> 80 people. >> which i think adds up to 32,000--i never was that good at math. >> i was told there would be no math in this exam. [ chuckling ] >> profit, it's profit. >> you can watch the entire conversation on al jazeera. it airs tonight at 6:00 p.m. eastern time, 3:00 p.m. pacific. a state investigation into practices ohio state's attorney
general found that planned parenthood improperly disposing of a fetal remain and said that it is contemplated to lead to all out bans on abortions. there has been a shake up. donald trump still leading in the nationwide poll that ted cruz is gaining. a poll finding cruz at 22% just five points behind trump. and in iowa cruz is winning. two separate polls put him ahead of trump anywhere between two to 10 points. now trump is taking aim at cruz. >> i don't think he has the right temperament. i don't think he has the right adjustment. >> what is wrong with his temperament. >> you look at how he has dealt with the senate, where he goes in, frankly, like a maniac. you're never going to get things done that way. look, i built a phenomenal business. i'm worth billions of dollars. i have some of the greatest
assets in the world. you can't walk in to the senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people. he'll never get anything done. that's the problem with ted. >> now for his part trump insists his own judgment has been sound. he also said that he can beat hillary clinton in a general election. >> ted cruz has made his political persona by thumbing his nose at the establishment. he doesn't work well with others and it's difficult to see how he would have the temperament, as treasure noted, to do the kinds of things that need to happen. senator cruz has been opposed to virtually at everything that president obama has done. >> also saying if donald trump is the nominee, it would demoralize the republican establishment. he said that a lot of republicans will not be excited about voting for trump. again we're watching the white house. we've been given the two-minute
warning that is 60 seconds ago. our national security correspondent jamie mcintyre has been watching things in washington. what will his message be? >> he'll be leaving the secure briefing room which is on the pentagon's outer e-ring and walk down to the briefing room, and he'll be addressing the press corp. the plan is for him to make a statement and not take any questions although last time did he take a few questions. we expect to hear a reiteration of his policy a progress report, a description of whatever new ideas might have been bandied about, in which three dozen national security officials will have had a chance to meet with the president. obviously not all of them can talk in that amount of time. but we're not expecting any big major changes in policy.
we're not expecting any announcement of any big additional troops deployments. we may get an update on what is happening with those special operation forces that the president authorized to be sent to augment u.s. troops in iraq. but at this point we're just going to have to wait and see what the president has to say. again, a statement expected to run ten minutes or so. >> if you're wondering why we're watching, it's because the president will be walking through that door at the pentagon briefing room. as we're awaiting the president it's important to point out when it comes to the issue of isil it has been described as a game of whack-a-mole. you have these lone wolf attacks as we've seen in san bernardino, which everybody decides it is impossible to stop because of the issue with guns. something that the president chooses to talk about, and something that the republicans choose not to.
how do you defeat one without addressing the other? >> the pentagon strategy, and we've heard defense secretary ash carter use this phraseology in the last week or so, he keeps making the point while the threat of isil has ma it was at the sized in parts of the world, the tomber is in iraq and syria. so the strategy is to take out that quote/unquote-- >> jamie, i'm going to have so interrupto interrupt you politely. this is the president of the united states. >> obama: good morning, everybody. today the united states andorra remembered forces continue to lead our coalition to destroy the terrorist group isil. as i outlined in my speech to the nation last weekend the strategy is moving forward with a great sense of urgency on four fronts: hunting down and taking out these terrorists, training
and equipping rake and syrian forces to fight isil on the ground, stopping isil's operations by disrupting the recruiting, financing and propaganda, and finally, the dimcy to end syrian civil war so everyone can focus on fighting isil. i just had a chance to meet with my national security council, and i want to thank secretary carter, chairman dunford for their leadership of our men and women in uniform. we heard from general austin, who is leading the campaign in the region, as well as others who special operation forces are playing a vital role in this fight. i want to provide and give a brief update to the progress in the isil core against syria and iraq. as we squeeze its heart we'll make it harder for for isil to pump its propaganda to the rest
of the world. even before the revolting attacks in paris and san bernardino i asked for actions to be intensified in the war against isil. these actions including more firepower and special ration forces well under way. this continues to be a difficult fight. as i said before, isil is again in urban areas and they hide behind civilians using defenseless men, women and children as human shields. even though we're relentless we have to be smart targeting imsurgically and with precision. at the same time our partners on the ground are rooting isil out town by town, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block. that's what this campaign is doing. we're hitting isil harder than ever, coalition aircraft, our fighters, bombers and drones have been increasing the pace of their strikes, nearly 5,000 as of to date. last month and november we dropped more bombs on isil targets than any other month
since this campaign started. we're taking out isil leaderrers, commanders and killers one by one. since this spring we removed one of their top leaders, isil's second in command, and ton online recruiters, and in recent wreaks, finance chief, senior extortionist and weapons trafficker. the list goes on. we're going after isil from their stronghold right down in downtown raqqa to libya, where we took out the isil leader there. the point is that isil leaders cannot hide, and our message to them is you are next. every day we destroy as well as more of isil's forces. their fighting positions, bunkers, and staging areas, their heavy weapons, bomb making factories, yo compounding and
training camps, in many places they have not been able to maneuver because we know we'll wipe them out. since this you remember isil has not had a single successful major offensive operation on the ground in either syria or in iraq. in recent weeks we've unleashed a new wave of strikes on their lifeline, their oil infrastructure. destroying hundreds of their tankers, trucks, wells, and refineries, and we'll keep on hammering those. isil also continues to lose territory in iraq. isil had already lost across kikuk province and isil lost on oil refinery. we saw forces, so far isil has
lost 40% of the populated areas that it once controlled in iraq. and it will lose more. iraqi forces are now fighting their way deep center ramadi, they're working in fallujah and to cut off supply routes in mosul. these are urban areas where isil is entrench: our partners on the ground face a very tough fight ahead. and we're going to finance to back them up with the support that they need to ultimately clear isil from iraq. isil also continues to lose territory in syria. we continue to step up our air sport and supplies to local forces syrian kurds, arabs, turk men are now having success. after fighting isil in kobane they've pushed isil back from almost the entire border region with turkey, and we're working with turkey to seal the rest. isil has lost thousands of
square miles that it once controlled in syria, and it will lose more. we began supporting local forces that push south, cut off supply lines and tighten the squeeze on raqqa. meanwhile people are seeing isil for the thugs and the thieves they are. we've seen instances of fighters defecting, others who have tried to escape have been executed, and they continue to repel local populations and help to fuel the refugee crisis. so many people are migrating, said one syrian refugee, isil will end up all alone. this said, progress needs to keep coming faster. no one knows this more than the countless syrians and iraqis who live under isil, as well as those who grief the loss of their loved ones. just as united states is doing more on this fight.
just as france, germany and the united kingdom, australia and italy are doing more, so muc must others. secretary carter will go to the middle east to work with our coalition partners on securing more military contributions to this fight. on the diplomatic front secretary kerry will be in russia tomorrow as we continue to work to end the syrian civil war. meanwhile, here at home the department of homeland security is updating it's alert system to help the american people stay vigilant and safe. and as always our extraordinary men and women in uniform continue to put their lives on the line. in this campaign and around the world to keep the rest of us safe. this holiday season many troops are once again far from their families. as your commander in chief on behalf of the american people we want to say thank you. we are grateful, and we're proud for everything that you do. because of you the america that
we love and cherish is leading the world in this fight. because of you i'm confident that we're going to prevail. thank you very much, everybody. >> the president of the united states not taking any questions from reporters, and a blunt statement the president saying today that the u.s. needs to cut off the flow of blood to isil saying they need to be relentless and smart, he was preferencing saying we're taking out isil leaders and we've dropped more bombs this month than ever before, isil leaders cannot hide, and our message to you is you are next. on infrastructure, oil wells, refineries have been struck saying that isil has lost 45% of its territory in iraq, and they have been seen as thugs, thieves and killers. jamie mcintyre listening to that speech as well. the president talking tough, dispatching secretary of defense ash carter to the middle east,
but is this what they want? this tough talk, is this what the united states has been demanding because after the last dress his poll numbers have plummeted. >> i would like to call your attention to a couple of specific things that the president said. the president said, quote, we're intensifying our efforts. he said that the coalition is now hit isil, taking up thousands of fighting position, tanks, convenience, bom vehicles, bomb factories and the reason why i'm reading that is that's not from today's speech. that's from five months ago when you had a very similar event at the pentagon and essentially made all of the same points, that back then he said there were 5,000 airstrikes. now it's 9,000 airstrikes. back then isil had lost about 20% to 30% of its territory. now he says it's 40% of the
territory. back then the ramadi was about to fall. had just fallen. now he says there is still an effort to take it back. i guess the point i'm trying to make is that the president is trying to outline and highlight the progress, but it's very slow incremental almost methodical progress, and today he said it's clear people want the strategy to work faster. last time he said it was moving too slowly. one of the reasons why he has dispatched defense secretary ash cart for the region to convince the allies that they need to be doing more. this is 60-plus countries who are fighting isil, but only 20 are involved militarily, and of those 20 only a handful are doing much of the heavy lifting, and most of the heavy lifting is done by the united states. if the united states is going to succeed with this strategy of doing more on the ground, it needs more partners, that's one of the things that secretary carter is going to try to do in
the region. >> jamie mcintyre stand by. i want to replay a brief segment of what the president had to say a moment ago when he said they were going after isil and saying they're going after isil more aggressively. take a listen. >> our strategy is moving forward with a great sense of urgency on four fronts: hunting down and take out these terrorists, training and equipping iraqi and syrian forces to fight isil on the ground, stopping isil's operations by disrupting the recruiting, financing, and propaganda, and finally, persistent diplomacy to end the syrian war so everyone can focus on fighting isil. >> let's go to senior fellow of the center for american progress, and he also served as assistant secretary of defense during the reagan administration. your reaction to the president's comments and specifically the fact that this is a very difficult battle because we are not fighting the united states is not fighting an organized army with uniforms, tanks and
strategic positions. >> well, that's right. we're not fighting an organized army, which would play to our strengths. and the other is--and he was trying to make this point--we're not going to defeat them on the battlefield completely because they have this ideology which gets them to expire people, and he mentioned san bernardino and paris. i think he was trying to say that, you know, we've made a lot of progress, but that's not what you would get when people panic because of paris or san bernardino, but we're moving in the right direction. we're becoming--taking away a lot of the territory that he had. and he mentioned a number--not only bombing but the number of key leaders, which people have not paid much attention to, and he said, you know, we're going after you, so we're going after the leaders of isil.
>> larry for us in washington. stand by. we're 12 seconds away from the top of the hour. we want to reset in case you're joining us, the president coming out and addressing reporters for the second time in recent weeks concerning the threat of isil, especially in the wake of the san bernardino, california, attacks. the president, in his speech, without taking questions just a moment ago saying that the united states is hitting isil harder than ever before. take a listen. bla bombers and drones have been increasing the pace of their strikes. nearly 9,000 as of today. last month in november, we dropped more bombs on i.s.i.l. targets than any other month since this campaign started. we're also taking out i.s.i.l. leaders, commanders and killers one by one. >> we've got larry korb in washington and our national correspondents jamie mcintire there. larry i w