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One Dead, 15 In Custody After Suspected Smuggling Boat Dropped Passengers Off La Jolla Coast

 May 20, 2021 at 10:19 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 For the second time in a week. And the third time this month, a suspected smuggling operation has occurred off the coast of San Diego. Early this morning, eight people were rescued from the waters off of the Hoya and the San Diego fire department has reported one death related to that incident. As these events become more common, there are more questions about why so many people are making the dangerous journey in the first place here to discuss the larger issues at play is university of San Diego professor of Mead F welcome. Hi Jay. Nice to be with you. This morning's incident is the third of its kind this month. Why are we seeing such a marked increase in these kinds of incidents? Speaker 2: 00:38 Well, we've got what we've got is an overlapping set of crises and a really challenging situation. On the one hand, we've got a regional refugee crisis in central America and that, and that we've seen little bits of, uh, going back several years now, you know, you could go back to 2014 when we had all the unaccompanied minors for the first time. You can think about the caravans from the fall of 2018. Uh, and we're seeing kind of another wave of that, but on top of that, we've got the crisis caused by the pandemic and the fact that the economic impact of that while it's what seems seems to ease here in the United States, it's still really, really acute in Mexico and in central America. So we have sort of a new driver, um, uh, of migration. And on top of that, we've got some stuff that's very particular to, um, uh, specific places in the region. Speaker 2: 01:28 So we've got a series of hurricanes, uh, in central America and we've got an ongoing security crisis in Mexico that seems to be getting worse rather than better. Uh, and then we've got a whole lot of political uncertainty in the region. So you sort of add all that up together and we have, you know, kind of a classic existing refugee crisis. Then we have a, more of an economic situation that's forcing people to migrate. So a lot of the single adults we're seeing right now, I think if they're much more economic migrants than refugees, and then you have the fact that the border was shut down for a year and you have pent up demand and you have pent up demand in an immigration system. That's really overwhelmed to the breaking point. You know, we have 1.3 million pending immigration cases, uh, in the United States right now. That means that, you know, the wait for an individual hearing in a lot of places is five years. So if you put all that together, you've got some really desperate people, uh, who don't feel like they can wait and very, very little opportunity for them to come, uh, in a safer way. Speaker 1: 02:31 And as you mentioned, these maritime crossings are incredibly dangerous. Is there any particular reason why someone would attempt to cross by sea as opposed to over the border? I mean, what are the comparative dangers of those two methods? Speaker 2: 02:45 Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's hard to show like sort of like a real honest risk analysis, but I think that's actually the point, the point is if you're a prospective asylum seeker, prospective migrant in Tijuana, you don't actually have the tools make a rational risk assessment. What you have is a low level representative of organized crime coming to you and offering you a service it's as dangerous as crossing on foot in the desert and maybe in some cases more. So, I mean, there's a little more luck I would say at play in crossing Etsy because of the importance of weather conditions, you know, cause if you cross in a panga and you happen to make it, it might be a relatively smooth, but herring voyage. But if the weather goes wrong or an outboard engine goes out and you're in an open boat with no positive flotation out of sight of land on the Pacific ocean, you're in real trouble. Speaker 1: 03:39 It's important to note that these kinds of events don't come out of a vacuum and that an increase in activity at our borders is the result of everything from regional political instability to policy decisions made here in the United States and short, what kind of lessons can we learn now to ensure that we're not dealing with similar issues in the years to come, Speaker 2: 04:00 We've got to be less reactive and more proactive. I mean, I think that's the simple answer. I mean, in a situation like this, we should be declaring a refugee crisis. We should be mobilizing the full resources of FEMA to house and secure people. Uh, the reality is that most of the people who are coming here are either coming, seeking our asylum or coming to work. So it's not a threat to the United States. And if we look, continue to look at it through a security framework, and we're always worried about apprehending people, that's a really expensive and inefficient way to do it. Uh, we've got a set up some, you know, we need, we need refugee camps in Mexico, frankly, we need positive screening of refugees. We need the ability of people who really feel like they need to flee their home countries to try to get help in a U S consulate or embassy abroad or in another third country. Speaker 2: 04:45 Uh, and we need to get together with our regional partners and deal with this for the crisis that it is. You know, the one thing that the pandemic has taught us more than anything else. And it's the lesson we seem not to want to learn is that we have a common interest green one world, a pandemic by definition is something that affects the whole world. This migration is not only related to the pandemic, but it's, but it's the other side of the same question. We're part of an integrated world. We cannot wall off this problem. And the seaborne migrants are a great example of that. If you want to live in an interconnected world and click to buy stuff and have it show up at your doorstep. And if you want to have somebody who's going to harvest your vegetables and clean your house and work in your restaurant, and you want to be part of a global civilization that we have to take care of the people who are on the margins of that, this the one good thing about this. If there's any silver lining, is that it shows us that lesson, that we're talking about a refugee crisis. It's not far away in some other continent that you know, comes up at the end of the news when ITN breaks in to talk about some, some someplace that none of us could find on a map it's right here right now, uh, in our neighborhoods on our backyard. And we have a moral responsibility to deal with it. Speaker 1: 05:53 I've been speaking with university of San Diego, professor ed Mead, professor Mead. Thank you so much for joining Speaker 2: 05:59 Us. Thanks very much for having me Jane.

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One person died and 15 people were in custody Thursday morning after a suspected smuggling boat dropped its passengers off the coast of La Jolla, authorities said.
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