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Border & Immigration

Roundtable: More Visas, More Raids; Women Sue Salk Institute; Imperial Beach Sues Big Oil

Roundtable: More Visas, More Raids; Women Sue Salk Institute
Roundtable: Work Visas, Immigration Raids; Salk Lawsuits; IB & Big Oil
Work Visas, Immigration Raids; Salk Lawsuits; IB & Big Oil PANEL Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune Gary Robbins, The San Diego Union-Tribune Joshua Emerson Smith, The San Diego Union-Tribune

MS: President Trump orders the increase in fees as well they are targeting anyone here for deportation. Biologist Sue the salt biologist for gender discrimination and constant flooding causes Imperial Beach. I'm Mark Sauer, the KPBS Roundtable starts right now. Welcome to our discussion. Joining me at the roundtable today all from the San Diego Union Tribune reporter Kate Morrissey , Gary Robbins, and Joshua Smith. The Trump administration has declared this made in America week the perfect time it seems to invite thousands more immigrant workers to the U.S.. Donald Trump has been in his sustained for immigrants. That's why a move by the Trump administration this week brought harsh criticism from some of his conservative supporters. What was the action taken by the Department of Labor question mark KM: The Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor announcing that there would be an additional 15,000 H-2B visas . MS: What was the reason for the invitation to hire more foreign workers? KM: In the announcement they said that the need from some businesses could not be met by American workers to do these jobs. They didn't say who specifically had been lobbying them. They made several references to small businesses. MS: What jobs are we talking about? KM: Landscaping, workers who come and work at the fairs, hotels restaurants and construction as well especially places wall construction is more seasonable. MS: What are critics saying about this move given his whole platform during the campaign? KM: Some organizations were not happy with this decision. They took to Twitter criticizing it and saying that it was going against his promises to American workers and sort of they were very distraught with the way that they saw that going. They also said that it was something that they've seen in the past with immigration policies thing sometimes there are compromises that have been with business and things like that in the different conservative viewpoints. JS: Is this the normal ebb and flow of things? KM: Someone that I spoke with said that he has seen compromises like this happen with immigration policy even those who would be taking a more strict leaning on it. He wasn't in tears or shocked about it but he was not pleased. MS: You interviewed San Diego employers and what do they say regarding the criticism over cheap labor? They are saying when businesses bring in these workers that they are able to do it for lower rage and they say you'll probably find an American worker who would do it but the businesses themselves counter and say this is temporary work. MS: So the fair would be a good example. You come in and you have intense work for that time but that is it was right? KM: Exactly. They need workers to come in and help with that time and for people who are coming from some of these countries that have weaker economies can he paid for that on American dollar is a good thing for them because it's better than what they would make back home. GR: Is it true that they can't find people to work at places like the fair? I keep it here -- I keep hearing stories over and over again. KM: That is a criticism that you hear from the folks who have been critiquing this policy. I heard why are they reaching out to unemployed seniors? That is a criticism that's been leveled. MS: I did want to -- before I switch to the related immigration issue this is happened in recent years under the Obama administration. KM: I think that they would have done it without enough voices saying that it needed to happen because it is so different from what policy has been. There has to a been a push from somewhere for this to happen. MS: Let's switch to this immigration issue. Use of the number of immigration arrest has jumped. KM: It you look at since he signed his first executive order if you look at the numbers from then until the end of May we are at about 500 and 50 target arrest by the group so where they say we are going after this particular individual as we believe they need to be removed from the country as opposed to just sort of a scattered shot. So previously under the last two years those numbers were in the 200 so we've seen them double in that time back to levels from earlier in the Obama administration and they were doing more enforcement work. They have restricted the priorities on who it could happen to. MS: They set the records for deportation did they not question mark KM: He was known as the deporter for long time. GR: I was reading your story and it's not just criminals that they are deporting. KM: The executive order called out a couple of groups beyond just those with criminal convictions which was Obama's party was is a people with these convictions are who we are going to target. Trump's policy was to focus on convictions so not necessarily someone with a conviction on the books. As well as those who have removal orders. MS: What kinds of checks and balances are replaced regarding how agents are operating question KM: Part of that has to do with a removal order. They can't just pull somebody the person has a right to go to a hearing before immigration judge. So if they have that order, that is when they can take quick action. MS: They are down in terms of appointments and they can't move them through very quickly at all. So coming back full score -- full circle some pieces we talked about their likely to oversee the pieces? KM: That is a concern of the folks who are having criticism of this. There have been his day. Is a program that's been around for a long time. I don't know how many from that program are have -- known to have overstayed. We can track you if you leave by airplane or by bow and we have some things being put in place by the new administration to start more of that but it's a little bit hard to follow. JS: Is in at the overstaying of these is that's a major contributor? KM: Is a combination of people coming without permission and people sing longer than they are supposed to. MS: It is not an issue that's going away. We will move on. We are used to seeing promising stories about scientific breakthroughs but there was news of a different sort this week as female scientist sued the institution which was founded by polio vaccine founder. GR: All three women are very prominent. Yet to be elected in its elite organization in the world. So they sued the Institute last week. There claiming the same thing that they are not being paid fairly when it comes to pay and promotions and not being allowed to have the same access to grants. Two of the scientists had been there for 30 years. They have said that this is a problem that they've brought up by the Institute. There were studies in 2016 that we haven't seen. The lawsuit says it's pointing out that there's a problem and they are not dealing with it. The Salk Institute responded in a strong way. The first case the president came out and directly said that these were women who were not performing the same level of work in same quality work as some other scientists and they weren't publishing in the same journals. MS: That was a fascinating part of your story. We have a clip from the union Tribune explaining why they filed this suit. [Clip] It really came down to I was just keeping quiet about stuff I just felt was so wrong and I lost respect for myself. That's what I meant when I said I could not do this. That was the tipping point. I thought really am I going to step away from my science which is the peak of almost there in order to fight this? I thought I had to. My first thought was you're going to get scooped and lose echo I thought if I don't, I'm going to be made extinct. MS: It sounds like they are reluctant. It just came to a head. GR: It did I talk to them on the matter of why now and both had been reluctant but by the -- they said they would regret it for the rest of their lives. MS: How do they say that discrimination -- you mentioned some of that here. GR: They've been getting private donations. And he said we did not get any of that and they made it difficult for women to get in front of fundraising operation or for getting the right to go to foundations and apply for money. There are opportunities to apply for money to operate robust labs. MS: You said earlier that the Institute has an unusual pushback and they got criticized for reacting to this. GR: The Institute is almost unheard of for them to come out and question the quality of work of someone. They got immediate blowback from that in the strongest came from Carol. She's known very well. They shelled -- shared the Nobel Prize. MS: That carried a lot of weight. You did set up our clip. [Clip] I understand that institutions want to get a lawyer they will need to protect themselves but the real surprise was that they wanted to somehow despair the quality of the scientist that came forward. MS: You said she carries a lot of weight. GR: She is not the only one. Major figures from John Hopkins Harvard university are coming out in saying you are not only doing something that you're focusing on something that may not be important. There sing these women do not publish for 10 years but there's a lot of debate over whether that should be a metric at all. Some scientists produce paper slowly over time and have great impact. Some produce little impact. So as a guideline to go by? MS: There was criticism that even that could be in old boys network were women don't have an opportunity to publish. GR: That is very to. Their studies -- what I'm hearing is being crossed -- she even went to the point of measuring to say I don't get as much space as others. In the end they found that most of it was true in the Institute president came out and said we are wrong. In this case, the Salk Institute is saying this is not true and they are being dismissive. We don't know what is true. There is real confrontation here. MS: A lot of women in certain fields like newspapers and certainly broadcast news but what is among scientist is mostly a man's profession? GR: When it comes to doctors women earn more. The pipeline now is for a whole bunch of reasons that haven't been worked out. Many women leave for a period of time and have children and that slows down their careers. The field of science has not really figured out how to deal with this and a lot of people question whether science wants to deal with it. MS: Is is really likely to go to trial? And we see this aired with discovery and lots of details? GR: Doctor Emerson said she wanted a jury trial. I don't know what will happen in all three are in their 60s. That doesn't mean they are at the end of their career. Are they trying to press an issue or do they want a settlement or do they want something else? Is it a matter of changing entirely how they are operated? JS: I was going to ask is this an effort to kind of influence the larger institution? There has been some social science that says they may be somewhat oblivious. GR: I think the most important thing will be is to see how everybody reacts to present Blackburn. She talks a lot about the need to get women in. There will be questions about her leadership style. Was as a way to cut people off at the knees. There will be questions on whether she's following the right path. MS: Me with that response will evolve. -- Maybe that response will evolve. Start by telling us about the lawsuits. Who are they against? JS: All the major oil and coal companies in the world from Exxon to shall. Everyone's named.. What their thing is we have a special injury and so we need to be compensated as a local government municipality for the cost that we will incur for the special injury. That injury is sealevel rise and coastal flooding. Not necessarily large storms that will be rolling through but just high tides coming through in flooding homes and flooding government infrastructure and then all of the costs associated with dealing with that. MS: They filed this in Superior Court. JS: Three different lawsuits all in their local and that's for technical reasons. Some lawsuits that we are trying to bring similar claims on federal grounds. You can bring federal -- state law cases in federal court but saying this is on state law grounds. MS: We do have Imperial Beach Mayor he came in and talked about some of the damage and expense caused by the flooding. Here is what he had to say. [Clip] A couple of years ago we had the worst flooding that we've ever seen. His work flooding along our bayfront was underwater. So we know what we have experienced in the big issue that we have to deal with is moving our infrastructure and lead. For example, we have a sewer line that will be covered with water into the future with the rising seas. Will cost over $10 million. MS: $10 million is a big deal. JS: They say sealevel rise is already contributing to flooding and only going to get worse. We don't know how much worse. Places like San Mateo county specifically have done vulnerability studies were the show projections into the billions going out. GR: Are the other cities in the county that would join? JS: Probably not at first. Imperial county -- beach is the most impacted city in the county. Is going to be the most impacted under the current predictions. If they prevail in this will take some time, the thinking is that other cities from around the country may want to follow up with similar lawsuits. This is considered an uphill battle but with large implications. Other places like Miami, South Carolina, Boston my all want a piece of this lawsuit as well. KM: What you think there and -- and goal is -- end goal? JS: Maybe they want a settlement to actually pay for this. Another situation is they want to get to discovery because a big piece of this lawsuit would be finding out how much these oil companies knew and when. Part of the claim is they knew as early as the 70s and 80s that they knew that fossil fuels were going to contribute to climate change and they didn't speak out and take appropriate action. MS: It is a powerful tool. You saw that against the tobacco companies. JS: There is a lot of parallels between tobacco lawsuits and this one. There's been reporting that is happened in the last couple of years and brought some of this out and exposed documents from Exxon. So that is opening the door and given them what they think is the leverage to force this thing forward and then if it goes to the discovery process, we may see a lot more information and expose about what they knew and when. MS: In the interview she asked what were the chances of success. [Clip] The chances are no worse than what we are facing now. We have no capacity to pay for what's coming at us. The reality is you just never mess with Imperial Beach. MS: You don't mess with Imperial Beach. We will turn to a related topic from Governor Brown's cap and trade bill. The idea of making fuel companies pay for the damage they cause. California is a different story. How does California's cap and trade program work? JS: You get credit and some of them you buy an auction and some are given away for free if you are major polluter. Then if you don't use them, you can trade them. It accounts for all the pollution from large sources in California and then over time they are ratcheted down facing out the amount of pollution that can be emitted in the state. MS: This was a battle in Sacramento because they enjoyed a super majority. It is a bipartisan situation. JS: Yes, they did not need it but the previous program was challenge as a tax and they said you need a two thirds majority to pass. They lost that lawsuit and they declined to hear it but since then, I believe it was proposition 26 that expanded when it means. The governor was afraid if they did not get the majority that this could be challenge again. So they wooed a lot of folks into supporting this and that frustrated some of the justice groups but in the end, he worked his magic and got the two thirds majority. GR: This is likely to be the most important piece of legislation in the era? JS: There is a lot of legislation in the area -- era. The criticism has been that it has not reduced admission that much but the real reductions would be seen in the next decade as the cap gets ratcheted down. So far it's just raise a lot of money. MS: That's why they wanted it extended out so far. We have a very ambitious climate action plan. This is a critical element. JS: Displayed into the negotiations. What they said was we are trying to help you ratchet down the admissions in the most cost-effective way possible. If you block cap and trade, we go to commanding patrol which is them saying you have to reduce admissions in a harsh way which could cost industry a lot more. That was the argument that this is the most efficient way to ratchet down these omissions through a market-based approach. MS: We are out of time. That wraps up another week of stories at the KPBS Roundtable. I would like to say thank you to my guest Kate Morrissey, Gary Robbins, and Joshua Smith. A reminder all the stories we discussed are available on our website. This week's roundtable is also available as a podcast. Thank you for joining us today on the Roundtable.

The Trump Administration increased the number of temporary work visas (H-2B) by 15,000 this week, under a joint rule from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor.


The reason: the harm to employers unable to fill jobs is greater than the harm to American workers if someone fraudulently gets a visa.

Some Trump supporters are not happy, saying employers merely want to hire workers as cheaply as possible. They are concerned the program won’t be sufficiently monitored, and workers will overstay their visas.

Requests for H-2B visas have exceeded the cap for the last three years.

RELATED: Trump supporters see broken 'Hire American' promise in Trump's loosening of visa caps



The Story

The number of targeted arrests for immigration violations in San Diego has returned to pre-2014 levels. That was the year President Obama changed Immigration and Customs Enforcement's priorities to catching and deporting people convicted of felonies or multiple misdemeanors.

President Trump’s policy has ICE focusing on those charged with any level of crime, including unauthorized entry to the U.S.

From February through May, 2017, ICE arrested 547 people, more than double the 242 arrested in the same period last year.

RELATED: Targeted immigration arrests in San Diego area have more than doubled under Trump


The Story

And now there are three.

Biologists Vicki Lundblad and Katherine Jones were joined on Thursday by biochemist Beverly Emerson in filing gender-discrimination lawsuits against the Salk Institute, which Emerson described as "an antiquated boy's club."

They allege systemic gender discrimination, including toward Elizabeth Blackburn, the Nobel laureate who is the Salk's current president.

All three are full professors, well-known and well-respected in their fields. They believe Salk pays its women scientists less, promotes them more slowly or not at all, and offers them far fewer opportunities than it does male scientists.

The Institute came out swinging this week and said Jones and Lundblad perform in the “bottom quartile” of their peers, have failed to obtain adequate grants and have poor publishing records.

RELATED: 2 top female scientists sue Salk Institute for gender discrimination

Related: Gender discrimination controversy grows at fabled Salk Institute

RELATED: Salk Institute Gets Pushback Over Response To Gender Discrimination Lawsuits


The Story

The small (29,000), relatively poor town of Imperial Beach has joined San Mateo and Marin Counties to sue more than three dozen oil and coal corporations for damages caused by rising seas.

They allege that the rising seas caused by global warming from carbon emissions in turn cause continuous flooding. They are suing for compensatory and punitive damages.

Imperial Beach, for instance, says Seacoast Drive floods often, and the city will eventually have to move a sewer line inland at a cost of $10 million dollars.

Other efforts to force oil and gas companies to pay up have focused on reducing greenhouse emissions and have failed so far.

RELATED: Imperial Beach, two counties sue fossil fuel companies for money to deal with sea level rise


The Story

Eight Republicans joined with the Democratic majority in the California legislature this week to extend the state's cap-and-trade program on climate change.

Governor Jerry Brown had lobbied hard for this tool to fight emissions, and this vote keeps it in place until 2030. It also provides funds for the bullet train.

Cap-and-trade sets a firm limit or cap on greenhouse gasses, which will decline approximately 3 percent each year. Trading creates incentives to reduce greenhouse gasses below allowable levels through investments in clean technologies.

California's is the only program of this type in the United States.

RELATED: California Legislature extends state's cap-and-trade program in rare bipartisan effort to address climate change