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Roundtable: Immigration Crisis, Parole Law, Railroad Off Track

KPBS Roundtable

Roundtable: Immigration Crisis, Parole Law, Railroad Off Track

Audio

Aired 7/11/14

Immigration Crisis, New Parole Law, Railroad Problems

HOST:

Mark Sauer

GUESTS:

Chris Jennewein, Timesofsandiego.com

Tony Perry, LA Times

Dorian Hargrove, San Diego Reader

The Politics of Immigrant Children

The contrast between the ugly protests against Central American immigrants at Murietta and their welcome by sympathizers in San Ysidro is distinct.

The reactions of San Diego lawmakers to this growing crisis, however, are across the board.

Rep. Juan Vargas spent time with the families at the San Ysidro border crossing. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez expressed dismay at their treatment in Riverside County. Sen. Barbara Boxer said the surge of immigrants wouldn’t have happened if the House had passed the Senate’s immigration reform bill.

Rep. Scott Peters said they should be reunited with their families in their home countries in a humane manner. Susan Davis says we have to follow the 2008 law mandating evidence-based deportation hearings for Central Americans. Duncan Hunter is opposed to housing the immigrants anywhere. Darrell Issa wants an end to the President Obama's DACA executive order.

So far, no Southern California politician has called for the children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, to be granted refugee status. The Obama administration has let these countries know that the children will most likely not be allowed to say and has asked for nearly $4 billion to process the influx.

Big Test For New Parole Law

Among the approximately 6,500 California offenders serving lengthy adult prison terms for crimes they committed when they were juveniles is Jesus Cecena.

In 1978, when he was 17, Cecena was stopped for speeding by San Diego police Officer Archie Buggs. During the stop, a fellow gang member handed Cecena a gun He shot Buggs multiple times, killing him. Cecena is now 53 and eligible for parole under the new law.

The aim of SB 260, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2013, was to give youthful offenders serving lengthy terms hope for parole by taking into account their age at the time they committed their crimes, if they were under 18. It was also designed to ease prison overcrowding.

The case of Jesus Cecena is an early test for the new law. Cecena was married in 2008, his record in prison for the last two decades has been clean, and he has multiple job offers if he is released.

Lined up against giving parole to Cecena are SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmermann, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, the San Diego Police officers Association and many retired officers who served with Buggs. Dumanis wrote in her letter to Brown that Cecena was “still a ruthless cop-killer who was wrongly granted parole.”

The Still Impossible Railroad?

Congressmen Duncan Hunter, Jr., and Jeff Denham (R-Merced), both members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, want to know why San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System granted the Pacific Imperial Railroad a 99-year lease in to operate the bi-national railroad line from San Diego to the east.

Formerly — and most recently — called the Carrizo Gorge Railway, the famously problematic line was taken over by in 2008 by a group of longtime associates who rebranded it as Pacific Imperial Railroad.

Employees have accused the principals of skimming-off investments and using the railroad in a penny-stock scheme. Additionally, the CEO and President hired by the board have both left the company, expressing concern about questionable financial dealings by the board and investors.

The company was due to make a $500,000 lease payment to MTS on July 1. No dice. MTS has given it an extension until July 14. Hunter and Denham note that the lease, a sole-source procurement, appears to violate California law and was granted without addressing insolvency problems, allegations of improper spending or the ability of the group to run a railroad company at all.

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