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Asylum Law, Trump’s Racist Tweets, Climate Change-Caused Wildfire

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Asylum-seekers in Tijuana expressed a mix of frustration and desperation over a new Trump administration rule that would bar most of them from declaring asylum in the U.S. Also, the Democratic members of San Diego’s congressional delegation have condemned Trump’s racist tweets. A new study links many California wildfires to climate change and how the San Diego Catholic Diocese is raising awareness about climate change, and the humble beginnings of the popular junk food, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Today is the day the Trump administration's new asylum ban at the southern border is scheduled to go into effect with only rare exceptions. Migrants will not be able to claim asylum in the U s if they've traveled through a so-called safe third country to get here. The La Times reports that documents have been swiftly distributed to u s asylum officers to try to explain the new rules just hours before they went into effect. The American Civil Liberties Union says it will file a lawsuit to try to stop the new policy. Meanwhile, the thousands of asylum seekers waiting into wanna remain in limbo. Journey. May is KPBS reporter Max Rivlin Adler who went to the Tijuana border this morning and Max, welcome. Good to be here. What was the scene like down there today? I mean, were people visibly upset about the changes?

Speaker 2: 00:50 The scene today was like the scene has been for much of the past few weeks were around 70 people waited online early at 6:00 AM for a chance to sign up for the list. This is the unofficial list that's kept in a book by migrants and overseen by Mexican authorities. That sets the waitlist for how long it's going to take for you to get one of the few spots to apply for asylum in the United States. Uh, so people were signing up early and that list is over 9,000 at this point. And people are facing a months long. Wait, the fact that now this new rule would bar many of them from even applying for asylum in the first place had not yet quite reverberated through the crowd. A lot of people are confused about the American asylum system to begin with. They don't know why they have to wait so many months to apply. Um, this policy was aimed at central Americans. Uh, this, this has been admitted by the Department of Homeland Security. However, uh, there's a lot of other people, especially at Tijuana who this applies to. You have Cameroonians Russians, Cubans, Haitians who are all getting online to apply for asylum. I spoke with one woman, Carla, who was from Venezuela and she said that she's been waiting around for months. Uh, she had seen in the news this headline about the new rule and she, she basically told me the following

Speaker 3: 02:18 [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 02:31 so she's talking about, you know, with this new law was to go into effect. She's been waiting for months that entire time and the time everybody else has been waiting would be lost. So we're beginning to see as, uh, the, the news trickles out, a sense of hopelessness and this is especially shared among the Cameroonian asylum seekers who have been waiting months and months and grown increasingly agitated as fewer and fewer people are being called off the list

Speaker 1: 02:55 now today, after days of silence, apparently as you say, this book containing names of migrants was taken out again and their numbers called for interviews. Tell us about that.

Speaker 2: 03:07 So four days had gone by between the numbers being called today, seven to eight names were called out that comprised around three separate numbers were called, each number contains 10 people, as has been the case for the book for several months. A lot of the names of people being called are not there either. They didn't show up in the morning or they found another way to claim asylum or they've gone home. Uh, so this was a subject of great interest. Everybody crowded around, it was really dramatic. You had a bullhorn, a, they literally held up the book so everybody can see it. And which names were being called. And you saw a family, a family of four with two young children being admitted as well as some single adults.

Speaker 1: 03:49 Okay, so do we know how this is going to work? In other words, we'll u s officials be telling these migrants who applied, tell them the new rules and them send them away. So in terms of

Speaker 2: 04:00 people waiting on the line, the u s does not acknowledge that there is a book or there is a wait or that anybody is, is spending time into Helena. That's not a policy that the u s kind of acknowledges is happening. Uh, so no one is going to go from the u s to everybody waiting for asylum and explain to them what's happening here and, and how they can no longer apply for asylum that might fall on the Mexican immigration authorities. But for the most part, they're just in the dark, as in the dark as the asylum seekers. So what will happen according to the rules given out to the asylum officers that, uh, the La Times and buzzfeed obtained is that they will be interviewing people at the ports of entry. Um, once they get through that line. And if they had gone through a third country that the u s deems as safe, which it looks as though they're using an expansive definition of safe, um, they will turn them back. And, you know, it's unclear whether it'll be on the spot. It's unclear how long that will take. And what's really unclear is, you know, people have expressed again and again the fear that they have of Mexico. Um, so, and of their home countries of course, cause they're fleeing, uh, for asylum. So are they then going to be detained and sent back to Guatemala or Honduras or are they going to be sent back to Mexico? This place that they're also expressing fear of?

Speaker 1: 05:17 And where does this new asylum regulation apply? Is this only at the southern border?

Speaker 2: 05:22 You're right now it applies only at the southern border, but it might be expanding in the coming weeks to include people who landed airports, people who obtain visas and and file an affirmative asylum claim. Um, you know, basically this, so up ends, American asylum law that um, the, the ways that it could be applied are, um, stunning, real hate to anybody who's followed immigration law over the past couple of years

Speaker 1: 05:47 with the new regulations to deny entry to asylum seeking migrants who have traveled through a third country. Apparently the asylum regulations themselves have been tightened.

Speaker 2: 05:58 Tell us about that. Yeah, so you need to pass a higher bar to a express what kind of fear you live in of your home country and why you're fleeing. Um, it's, it's really unclear exactly how these determinations are going to be made. There were spelled out in the guidance, but you know, you always have the opportunity to appeal that whether you're going to be deported before you have that opportunity, how long you have to appeal that, who you would talk to about that appeal. All of these things are still very much up in the air and underscores just how badly, um, just how difficult it is to follow through the US immigration system without legal assistance. And especially when something like this happens where even immigration lawyers are kind of throwing their hands up and going, how is this even gonna be applied? Even the asylum officers themselves have said, you know, this is being rushed and we haven't gotten correct training.

Speaker 2: 06:50 We've just gotten a memo that said, tells us what to do. And we still don't know whether that Acau lawsuit has been filed or not. We do not know at this point whether it's been filed or not. Of course the ACLU is ready to go, but a lot of times things need to be, in fact things need to be practiced. So it might be a case where they need to wait until somebody has actually been effectively denied and turned back. Or, um, you know, we could learn about, at any moment, I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Max, Revlon, Nadler, and Max. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 4: 07:25 Wow.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego's congressional delegation is speaking out against Donald Trump's racist remarks over the weekend. The president targeted for Congress women of color saying they should go back to where they came from Monday. He even doubled down on those remarks. Now lawmakers are preparing to vote on a house resolution today condemning those comments. So let's talk more about what he said. Go back to where you come from. The phrase has a long racist and xenophobic history in America. Joining me to talk about that is Roberto Hernandez, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at San Diego State University. Roberto, welcome. Thank you. Good morning. Thanks for having me. So where does this racist phrase come from? You know, the exact origins of the phrase are quite exactly known. However, it is one that has existed for a long time that has been used time and again, uh, not just here in the US, but in various countries, typically around, uh, immigration, but not solely.

Speaker 1: 00:58 And the, and that's important to make that distinction, right? Because, for example, here in the u s one of the first instances in which it really becomes popularized is actually in the context of, uh, trying to push for free, uh, African American, former enslaved peoples to go back to Africa, right? To go back to west Africa. There's, uh, early beginnings of the American colonization society that ultimately leads to the creation of Liberia. But again, the idea being that, uh, you have to get blacks out of the u s uh, on the one hand, both so that this could remain a white supremacists, white only nation, but also in particular the target was of freed slaves because the idea was if you get rid of them, those that are still in slave do not have an example wish to emulate in terms of seeking freedom. And, you know, of course this isn't anything new.

Speaker 1: 01:51 Can you give us some other examples of how it's been used over generations in this country against other immigrants? Yeah. So whether it be some, um, southern European immigrants, eastern European, um, Italians, Irish, I mean, oftentimes just the assumption is newcomers are a problem. They must go. Uh, but again, it's not just solely immigration, right? Uh, say other examples in this country of what we've seen also say for example, during the civil rights movement where both African Americans and others were in the south were arguing for freedom and just this and the assumption was, well, our African-Americans here behave if you're demanding just as you must be an uppity negro from the north, right? So the assumption was get out of the south, you aren't necessarily an outside agitator. Right. And ultimately what this kind of rest upon is the idea that whether it be the south, the u s as a whole, the idea that this society, this nation is perfect already and anyone that necessarily point Saudi criticism, we with the nation, the problem was be with them.

Speaker 1: 03:01 And we have a clip that actually speaks to that. President Trump has defended the use of his comments. Here he is at a press conference yesterday at the White House. If you're not happy here, then you can leave. As far as I'm concerned, if you hate our country, if you are not happy here, you can leave. And that's what I say all the time. That's what I said in a tweet, which I guess some people think is controversial. A lot of people love it by the way, given all the variations of the phrase, do they all convey the same meaning? Well, I mean, I think fundamentally I would point to this idea of the theodicy of the state, right? And, and in the case of president Trump and his own, um, narcissistic personality, you know, most of the theodicy of, of himself, right? He thinks himself, God, anyone that critiques him must be the problem.

Speaker 1: 03:52 It's important to point that out because this is where then you get these variations from an immigration context to say the civil rights example that I mentioned, or, uh, you know, the American condensation society that ultimately is about preserving the assumed pristine, um, godlike status of the country, the society, the community, the nation would have for you. Do you feel the unders underpinning of this statement or the statement itself is rooted in white supremacy? Yes, definitely. White supremacy, which imagines itself like, God, this is what I'm trying to get at. That underneath white supremacy is these feelings of superiority that likes to imagine it one oneself in this got like a position vis-a-vis the rest of society because of the other communities we live color or otherwise. I'm wondering if anyone has ever used the phrase against you? Oh yeah. Oh, unfortunately is a quite common, you know, I grew up here in San, she drove right near the border.

Speaker 1: 04:55 So being near the border, it's, it's not uncommon to hear that. Can you give me a specific example of something someone said to you? Ah, yes. And actually it's a moment that was captured in a documentary called the new world border, uh, which was in 1994 in the midst of the California debate around proposition one 87 we had a group of white nationalists that were busting from out of town and the held a good fences, make good neighbors rally down at the border. And I was there, um, fairly young high school at the time with a goop of counter demonstrators, if you will, uh, against this rally. And this is this perfect moment, this captured in the documentary where this guy, uh, shout said us, uh, go back to the stinking swamps that you came from. You know, and I show that film often in classes and you don't see me in the film, right?

Speaker 1: 05:54 But I th afterwards tell the students, you know, that guy that screamed that you'll actually screaming that at me and my sister and a group of people that, that were there as part of this, uh, counter demonstrator group. How did that make you feel? Uh, again, I mean, you could only, it's insulting is racist, but you could only, you can let it affect you, right? Because again, the irony is I come from this land and this is, these are comments that are made out of racism, out of ignorance, uh, out of, you know, we think of the word idiocy in, in idiot is one who is divorced from reality, right? So to me, these are comments made by idiots and you can't let that really affect you.

Speaker 2: 06:39 Why do you think these kinds of comments and sentiment heavens

Speaker 1: 06:42 do word in, in my work in particular, I look at the creation of nation state borders, uh, and the in sewing national identities and these borders that we erect, not just physical, national, territorial borders, you know, and this idea of build the wall. But that replicates in terms of, uh, of how we build the social borders between humans, between different communities. Right? So I think, I think it has to do with that mentality of, uh, wanting to erect border walls and ultimately, like we were talking earlier, um, superiority and white supremacy.

Speaker 2: 07:17 I've been speaking with Roberto Hernandez, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at San Diego State University. Roberto, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: 00:00 July marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of a campaign by Pope Francis to rally the world's 1.2 billion Catholics in the fight against climate change. The Pope's 2015 in cyclical on the environment was titled Laudato Si on care for our common home as part of coverage from the KPBS climate change desk. Round table host Mark Sauer interviewed father emit Pharell. He's the priest charged with implementing the Roman Catholic diocese of San Diego's Laudato. Si. Here's that interview.

Speaker 2: 00:32 Father Farrell, welcome to midday edition.

Speaker 3: 00:34 Thank you. Good to be here.

Speaker 2: 00:36 Pope Francis made it clear in his encyclical that climate change is the greatest threat to life our earth has ever seen and that it is caused by humans. And as a priest, the pope said he stands in protection and care for his flock, especially the poorest. So you leave the San Diego diocese implementation of Laudato. Si. Tell us what that means here in San Diego.

Speaker 3: 00:58 Well, I'm the director of what we call the creation care team ministry, which is the outreach to the, what do we have? 97 or 98 parishes. So I'm trying to reach as many as possible and we've gotten to about a third of them through workshops or homilies.

Speaker 2: 01:13 Okay. And some of the initiatives at the San Diego who dices is embarked on in implementing this call from the pope.

Speaker 3: 01:20 I guess the big one would be the solar panels. Over half of our churches parishes have solar panels and that started probably four years ago. And they're still working, you know, giving incentives. There's a whole program to help parishes install the solar panels. So that's, that's a big help to their economy. That also lowers the carbon emissions now.

Speaker 2: 01:42 So a very practical project in that. Yeah. Now, how have parishioners across San Diego and the Imperial Valley reacted to the pope's call to action?

Speaker 3: 01:50 The prisoners themselves usually respond quite well. And I think as time goes along, there's more and more openness to it. I mean that if few people would deny it's true, most people would say, well, what could I do? I'm just one person. But sometimes it's a little hard to get into a parish because there's so many programs going on.

Speaker 2: 02:08 But when it comes from the Pope and you have some folks who were reluctant in, if the pope hadn't done this, perhaps would be in the denial category as it were. And does that change their minds?

Speaker 3: 02:19 Doesn't seem to because they're, I think, I don't know. Uh, I asked a group of pastors one day, I just said, well, you know, I send out emails and what's going through your mind when you don't answer? And they said, well, it's just another program and we got too many now. But I think also that could be like, they might be a little afraid that it'll divide. They consider it a political issue, which is not, it's very spiritual radio. It's a stewardship of the earth. No, but they don't necessarily see it that way. And if they have a few people say like, don't touch that or that's, that's all a hoax, then that would probably weigh heavy.

Speaker 2: 02:55 I see a long as you brought up politics, uh, it hard in our society too at large to distinguish between politics on this issue and, and science and spirituality, uh, Republicans and Democrats. The change on climate change is quite stark. Uh, is the church at least by implication, backing a party with bold plans to curb heat trapping pollution, that would be the Democrats.

Speaker 3: 03:19 We are not as a church doing that. I say this is not a partisan issue if not Democrat. It's not Republican, it's not Catholic or Muslim or Jew. It's global and it's human. Francis says I address my words to every living being on the planet. So really it's not more political than anything else of life. No, but it may become that w what? That's not the churches thrust.

Speaker 2: 03:41 Okay. And in a, in a, you in the, in the Bishop, uh, in trying to get this message across to priests as they deal with their parishioners, what do you tell them in, in terms of how to talk to congregates about climate change?

Speaker 3: 03:53 If I get the chance, I would say that a, as you said, it comes from Fort Francis. It is a church's official teaching and people need to be informed about it and what they can do. That's the basic question. Most people will be saying, well yeah, it's real. You can't deny that, but what can I do? I'm one person and there's a whole concentric circles of you want to start with myself, what do I eat and throw away in a waste and how much energy and so on do I use what? What's my mode of transportation? Do I raise anything that I eat my vegetables and getting rid of that red meat or as whole lot of, then you go to the next circle, which could be the community, which in our case would be a parish, you know, a church. And how about the rest of the parishioners? I mean, is there a way we can reach them? And then there's the far out circle, which is the political, if you want to call it that. I mean, I call it a public voice. Francis says in his article one 79, he says, unless citizens control political power, national, regional, local, it will be impossible to avoid damage to the environment. That's pretty strong statement.

Speaker 2: 04:59 It certainly is. Um, now let out of c was the topic of a conference. Both you and San Diego, Bishop Robert McElroy attended late last month. What ideas have you take away from that conference that you could plan and implement here in the San Diego Diocese

Speaker 3: 05:15 as ideas? A lot of it is already known to me. Uh, the diocese of Atlantis, archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia. They have a climate action plan just for the archdiocese of, uh, Atlanta. And they have gotten grants to implement that in all of their churches in their parishes. But my big takeaway from that three day conference, which our bishop was at, he was the keynote speaker Thursday night. He stayed with us all three days. But my big takeaway was context. Uh, there were about 16 of us from California and we got them together. The last I asked them to come together for a picture. Well then I got their emails so I could, you know, uh, not work with them yet. Work with them. And then also the same thing at the national level. And then there were others, there was a leader from the California Catholic conference, uh, who lobbyists in Sacramento on these issues, all church issues. Uh, by the way, the California Catholic conference just published a 22 page pastoral. I think it's the first state to do so echoing the teachings of law that to see praise be to you, Lord. And now it's up to us to try to get that also out to the pews.

Speaker 2: 06:23 Now, as a, as we know that it's been four years since the pope delivered this important message, have you seen in the, in that short time, have you seen a change among, uh, your colleagues across the country, people at conferences such as the one you're describing?

Speaker 3: 06:36 I think so. The conference itself was very upbeat. It's kind of like there's change in the air and everyday it's clearer. Every day there's more, uh, news, more people wanting to get on the bandwagon.

Speaker 2: 06:49 Well, I've been speaking with Father Emmitt, feral of the diocese of San Diego. Thanks very much, Father Farrell. You're very welcome. Thank you.

Speaker 4: 06:59 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 These days. Some folks can't seem to get enough of flaming hot Cheetos, this spicy California born snack as a devoted following, and for people who consider them a snackers Nirvana, the story of the man who invented them will give you more to love. His name is Richard Montana's. He worked as a janitor at a Frito lay factory for nearly two decades before he came up with this concoction. KQ Edis Bianca Taylor shows us, he grew up picking grapes, living on a farm from migrant workers near Rancho Cucamonga with his 10 siblings, flaming hot Cheetos in one way or another, have always been part of my life.

Speaker 2: 00:38 Gustavo Adriano is a features writer for the Los Angeles Times and author of Taco USA, how Mexican food conquered America.

Speaker 1: 00:45 So before the invention of flaming hot Cheetos, what we Mexican kids would do would just get a bag of Cheetos and put a bunch of [inaudible] on it so they already flaming hot.

Speaker 2: 00:54 Richard Montanez was one of those kids. He was born in Mexico, but grew up in southern California picking grapes on a migrant labor farm with his 10 siblings. He dropped out of school at a really young age and in 1976 without knowing how to read or write, got a job as a janitor at Frito lay in Rancho Cucamonga

Speaker 3: 01:14 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 01:16 he had been working there for nearly two decades when one day Richard was mopping floors when he noticed something was wrong, Cheetos were getting pumped out without their signature neon orange flavoring on top. So he decided to take a few of these blink Cheetos home to experiment with some of his favorite spices, things he had grown up eating on the burritos. His mom made them and on the lot he bought from street vendors. Here he is describing that day in a talk at UCLA.

Speaker 4: 01:45 What if I put some chiller? I made my own Chili. It just wasn't my idea. I'm making my own Chili there. I wasn't made at night. Oh, tish grape took it to work. What do you think? What do you think? Everybody loved it.

Speaker 2: 02:00 Frito lay had just launched a campaign to empower its workers. So Richard took those words to heart and called up the CEO of Frito lay. He told him he had an idea for how to break into the Latino market before they met. He read a library book on market strategy and bought a $2 tie. At that meeting he sold the idea of flaming hot Cheetos. Here's Gustavo Adriano again,

Speaker 1: 02:24 Montana. His genius was that he was bold enough to go up to his bosses and say, hey look, this would be a really great idea. And the bosses were smart enough to, uh, run with the idea

Speaker 2: 02:34 decades later. His creation is when a Frito Lay's top selling products and Richard is an executive at Pepsi Co. By the way, I reached out to Richard for this story, but he never got back to me either way. This is an insane rags to riches tale, but it's not where this story ends these days. Flaming hot Cheetos are completely ingrained in pop culture from hip hop shout outs. This song is appropriately called hot Cheetos and talkies

Speaker 5: 03:02 [inaudible] hot Cheetos and copies of this [inaudible] offering to Ebay.

Speaker 1: 03:09 Well, this just goes to show people spend money on anything or at least try to a cheeto shapes like the famous gorilla Harambe Bay just sold on Ebay for nearly $100,000

Speaker 2: 03:19 and Katy Perry's Halloween costume, the 30 year old pop star went to Kate Hudson's Halloween party Thursday night, dressed as a crunchy, flaming hot cheeto. It hasn't all been good publicity though in 2012 schools in Pasadena band, flaming hot Cheetos from their campuses, citing nutritional concerns, but that hasn't stopped staffs from creating dishes inspired by the red hot snack like steaks and Burrito's Sushi and even pizza. So how long were you eating hot Cheetos before you came up with this idea?

Speaker 6: 03:52 Long time. Yeah. I used to kind of save my lunch money and eat hot Cheetos instead. So

Speaker 2: 03:57 agrarian is the owner of Amaechi Pizza Kitchen and Glendale and claims to be the inventor of the flame and hot cheeto people.

Speaker 6: 04:04 Exactly the secrets really in all three combined with the sauce and cheese and the dough. And then we kind of just crush up the hot Cheetos and then we bake it in the oven. And then afterwards we put the regular like original hot Cheetos on there,

Speaker 2: 04:21 hikes those people, see the photos of the hot cheeto pizza on social media and come from all over to try it. So of course I couldn't leave without trying some myself. All right, I'm going to take a bite.

Speaker 6: 04:30 Cool. It's really good. I like that.

Speaker 2: 04:37 The most surprising thing to me about the story of flaming hot Cheetos, besides the fact that people are putting them on pizzas, is Richard Montañas his story. It hasn't been co opted by. Big companies claiming the invention as their own and it hasn't been misdefined or whitewashed. Gustavo says this is pretty rare

Speaker 1: 04:54 when it comes to Mexican food. There is so many, uh, origin stories, myths really, and almost all of them are fake. Almost all of them are just a bunch of lies. And so the flaming hot Cheetos, uh, origin stories, one of the very few that has actually been verified.

Speaker 2: 05:10 Not only is it verified, Richard Montañas has written an autobiography. There's a feature film about him in the works. Ariano says Hollywood doesn't have nearly enough stories featuring Latino's in a positive light, but Richard's life is kind of the perfect inspirational tale featuring and incredibly unique snack. What flavor is flaming hot is not

Speaker 1: 05:32 a flavor. It transcends flavors. It transcends food. That's why it just, it hits people and it stays with people so much

Speaker 5: 05:40 you. That's text me. I'm ACO. I'm Bianca Taylor.

Speaker 2: 05:50 I wasn't eating hot Cheetos in talkies before. I'm on it now. Lunchtime.

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KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.