Roundtable: Cars, Taxis And Walkers At The Border, Housing For Refugees
Friday, August 4, 2017
Border Crossing Issues, Refugee Housing
Jean Guerrero, Fronteras reporter, KPBS News
Sandra Dibble, border reporter, The San Diego union-Tribune
Tarryn Mento, Speak City Heights reporter, KPBS News
VIDEO OF TEEN DRINKING METH SURFACES
Video of teenager Cruz Velazquez Acevedo drinking liquid methamphetamine in 2013 at the apparent urging of customs officers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry aired on ABC News last week.
The 16-year-old boy from Tijuana told the officers the liquid was apple juice. He died of an overdose later that day.
The video spurred some in Congress, including Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, to call for better training of border agents. U.S. Customs and Border Protection spent a year investigating the death and did not discipline the officers.
CARMAGEDDON IS COMING
For 57 hours in September, all cars will be barred from entering Tijuana through the San Ysidro. The crossing between the San Ysidro and El Chaparral Ports of Entry is said to be the busiest land crossing in the world.
The closure, to realign part of I-5, begins Saturday, September 25 at 3 a.m. and lasts until noon on Monday, September 27, thus ensuring that tens of thousands of people from all walks of life - shoppers, business people, students, tourists – will be affected. The aim is to double the number of southbound lanes in the U.S. from five to 10.
Those headed into Mexico by car will be re-routed to Otay Mesa, where Mexico has just five inspection lanes.
The impending mess may be alleviated somewhat by the new PedWest pedestrian crossing into Tijuana, which opened on Monday. 14 million pedestrians cross the border - north and south – each month.
NOT-SO-BIG YELLOW TAXIS
The yellow taxis were everywhere in Tijuana for decades, especially thick in the 40 blocks near the El Chaparral Port of Entry.
But now the Taxis Amarillos are greatly diminished, replaced by other cabs and services like Uber and Lyft.
After a violent confrontation on June 30 between the cab drivers and passengers who wanted to take Uber - which sent one Chula Vistan to the hospital - the city of Tijuana told the cab drivers they had to stay away from nine of those 40 blocks. And they sent in the police to see the new rules were followed. A judge ordered the city to give the sidewalks back, but the mayor refused, saying the judge is corrupt.
The Tijuana police continue to enforce the ban.
HOUSING REFUGEE FAMILIES FORMIDABLE CHALLENGE
Some recent Syrian refugees have alleged that the San Diego office of the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement agency, told them to lie about their families’ size on rental applications.
As difficult as it is for anyone in San Diego to find a house or apartment to rent these days, it is much harder for large families of refugees.
If discovered, such a lie could get them evicted.
Resettlement agencies like the IRC must try to fit families in housing within federal guidelines, which stipulate two people to each bedroom and up to two in the living area.
The IRC denies they told anyone to lie. The State Department says it is looking into the claims.
To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.