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California's Sanctuary State Law: Is It Working? San Diego Public Health Officials Preparing For Flu Season, And Art And Science Collide In Vanguard Culture’s Final Show Of 2019

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Two years after its passage, a new report looks at how law enforcement agencies are complying with California's "sanctuary state" law. The report finds that compliance in San Diego isn't as strong as it could be. The flu virus is here, and as more San Diegans are getting sick, county officials are preparing for the worse. Plus, this weekend, Vanguard Culture brings together an eclectic mix of treats as it hosts it’s final event of the year with the theme: Breakthrough:The Future.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It was touted as the strongest sanctuary state law in the country. Two years ago, the California legislature passed Senate bill 54, which was designed to limit cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities. But a new report finds local agencies continue to collaborate with ice and border patrol. KPBS is max Rivlin. Adler has been following the story and joins us now. Max, welcome. Hi. Remind us when Senate bill 54 said about what law enforcement agencies could and could not do when it comes to working with immigration officials.

Speaker 2: 00:32 Right. So SB 54 or known as the California values act, which was passed right in the aftermath of the Trump election, didn't necessarily say that local law enforcement agencies couldn't work with federal immigration authorities, but had tried to really cut down on the level of cooperation and the access that, um, federal immigration authorities had to people in the custody of local law enforcement. So that includes detaining people and handing them over to ice if ice puts in a request, uh, on several charges. That being said, there were carve out. So, you know, so it wasn't that this was ending cooperation entirely. There was definitely just a limiting factor that SB 54 made possible, uh, this included, um, that police could no longer be used as debt, as immigration agents. It cut down on when local law enforcement could join task forces along with federal agencies and specifically whether those taskforces focused on domestic immigration enforcement as opposed to larger crimes. And the other thing would be cutting down on actually having dedicated ice facilities inside of County jail. So that would be an office space that ice officers were able to work out of while they went and interviewed people who were being held in County jails as to their immigration status.

Speaker 1: 01:49 So how are San Diego law enforcement agencies doing when it comes to implementing the sanctuary state law?

Speaker 2: 01:55 Some are doing better than others and some we don't really know about. Uh, places like Carlsbad haven't really shared how they've updated their policies or told advocates and, and interested parties what they're doing to comply. Others are much, uh, stronger and have updated their policies really quickly and have conformed to the law. Um, and some are actively evading the law and not following kind of, kind of following the letter of the law but not necessarily the spirit of the law. So for instance, in San Diego, the Sheriff's department shortly after, they were basically kind of limited in the amount of people they could hand over directly to ice, began posting online the release dates of everyone in jail custody and basically making it much easier for ice to go and find somebody who's being released from jail, either picking them up in the parking lot or literally as they walk out the door of County jail.

Speaker 1: 02:54 The law also prohibited law enforcement agencies from providing dedicated space to ice agents inside their facilities. Is the Sheriff's office complying with that part of SB 54 they are

Speaker 2: 03:05 complying again in the S in the actual letter of the law, which says there is no longer an office that is used by ice, uh, specifically and exclusively, but there is a shared workspace that ice can come, bring their own computers to log onto the wifi on. So again, you've found these, uh, local law enforcement agencies that are interested in continuing their cooperation with ice, have found their loopholes. And again, SB 54 did not say that there could no longer be any cooperation with ice. It just meant to limit it, um, that cooperation a good amount.

Speaker 1: 03:38 And how does that compare to agencies elsewhere in the state?

Speaker 2: 03:41 Just like San Diego County represents a varied, um, sense of outcomes, uh, in terms of different attitudes. The same happens across the state. You have some, uh, agencies that are really at the front edge of complying with this. And I've even gone beyond it and Santa Clara, uh, North or even Los Angeles, their police department has been kind of at the bleeding edge of, of making sure that they are in compliance with this. And then you have other law enforcement agencies that just aren't kind of paying attention to this. And honestly, the enforcement mechanism would fall to the attorney general and local advocates who are trying to make sure that these are complied with. But that is a long and laborious

Speaker 1: 04:23 processed. Does this report from the California immigrant policy center make any recommendations to improve implementation of the state sanctuary state law?

Speaker 2: 04:33 People knew that because this law went into effect, um, less than a year after passage that it was going to take some time for, uh, law enforcement agencies to get up to kind of the standards and, and kind of narrow their interpretation. So everyone reached a consensus about what the law means and that would mean there would have to be an open Avenue of communication between the groups that helped draft the bill as well as the law enforcement agencies themselves. So they want to keep those, um, passive communication open and collaborating with law enforcement to make sure that they are in compliance. Uh, that being said, one other way that they would want to close the loopholes is maybe address them specifically like again, the posting of the public release dates and um, you know, kind of leaning on the attorney general to begin taking it much more seriously when local law enforcement is not following the law at all.

Speaker 1: 05:27 Now the Trump administration has sued over the law siding, the constitution supremacy clause that States federal law preempt state law when the two are at odds. Where does that lawsuit stand now?

Speaker 2: 05:37 So back in April, it was struck down by the ninth circuit court of appeals. This lawsuit was kind of dismissed. Now we're heading towards the Supreme court. Last week, the Trump administration announced that it was going to appeal the case to the Supreme court. And it is possible that it will be heard before the end of term, which would be in June. So given the amount of momentous, um, decisions coming in the pipeline from the Supreme court, you might just add this one to the list. Max Rivlin Adler is a reporter for KPBS focusing on the border. Max, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It is flu season at time of year when more and more San Diego [inaudible] are getting sick and turning up in hospitals. KPBS health reporter Taryn mento tells us how medical facilities and County officials are bracing for an influx of patients ahead of a potentially severe season.

Speaker 2: 00:18 The garage behind sharp Chula Vista medical center houses crucial emergency equipment, portable sinks, room dividers, and military tested tents. Senior safety management specialist, Kathy Muth says it can all be assembled in a backpack for a sudden surge of patients increase a patient's that impacts our ability to take care of our patients like a disaster major accident or an outbreak of a common infectious disease. So primarily we've used them for exercises, thankfully, but we have also used them a couple of times for during the flu season. If the hospital notices more people are coming in with flu symptoms, it can divert them to the tents to keep them from bottlenecking the system. It gives the emergency room a little bit of breathing space. The breathing space is one part of the county's capacity plan to deal with the ebb and flow of the regions urgent medical needs from an unpredictable earthquake to the annual flu season. Officials monitor real time data to spot when the healthcare system is stressed and take action to prevent it from becoming fully overwhelmed.

Speaker 1: 01:24 This is a measure of how busy our hospitals are

Speaker 2: 01:27 inside the county's division of emergency medical services. Senior epidemiologist Joshua Smith is monitoring transfer of care data. That's how long it takes paramedics to hand off a patient to hospital personnel. Is that minutes? Those are in minutes. Yep. It was within normal range during a recent October visit. Little over 19 right. But the busier hospitals get the more it grows.

Speaker 1: 01:49 And so we're looking for a spike, a actually up above 21.33 is our, is our official level. Uh, that concerns us.

Speaker 2: 01:58 The medical services medical director, dr Kristie Canuck says data points like this serve as an early warning system that hospitals are reaching their capacity

Speaker 3: 02:08 because it's taking longer for the paramedics to deliver the patient to the health care staff at the hospital. It also means that it takes longer for them to be available to respond to the next nine one one call.

Speaker 2: 02:22 This tells her it's time to implement actions outlined in the capacity plan to alleviate the pressure,

Speaker 3: 02:27 potentially waiving requirements that I as the EMS medical director would have authority at the local level to waive for how many paramedics respond.

Speaker 2: 02:39 Instead of two paramedics, maybe one is sent along with someone who has less advanced skills. The plan is designed for any sort of disaster but was developed in 1997 to help manage a flu outbreak. And the plan is improved each year, especially since 2017 when the County experienced what senior epidemiologist Smith calls flu mageddon

Speaker 1: 02:58 our duty officers

Speaker 2: 03:00 were, we're being bombarded with reports. It was one of the most severe seasons on record. And after it peaked, Smith looked back at nine one one call volume, transfer of care time and other metrics to identify when it started.

Speaker 1: 03:13 But what we were able to do is take the data from that year and look at it retrospectively and then apply our current system of uh, using metrics and trigger points. And we realized we would have picked up the flu mageddon in about two weeks early that year and been a little more prepared this year.

Speaker 2: 03:32 Flu activity is above average, but well within the medical system's capacity. That means at sharp Chula Vista, the surge temps remain in storage. In the meantime, emergency room, doctor Karar Ali says the hospital already has an internal system to mitigate any patient surge from the flu. There's a separate emergency room team to triage less severe cases.

Speaker 1: 03:54 It became a, an asset, uh, an indispensable asset during the flu seasons.

Speaker 2: 03:59 Instead of waiting among patients in dire situations, people with flu symptoms are diverted to the team that addresses only mid-level patients.

Speaker 1: 04:06 I mean, they're in and out, you know, in a very short amount of time.

Speaker 2: 04:09 Keeps patients satisfaction up, emergency staff morale high, and can help keep the County from triggering it's capacity plan. Taryn mento KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 00:00 This weekend, you don't have to choose between events because Vanguard culture brings together an eclectic mix of treats as it hosts breakthrough the future. It's hopeful visioning of the future combines art, science, music, fashion and pop culture into one event. KPBS arts reporter Beth OCHA Amando speaks with UCS D professor Alison Moultrie at his lab about research on the human brain that he's discussing at Saturday's event. So

Speaker 2: 00:28 Alison, I saw you at the Starship Congress talking about one of the projects you're working on and I'll let you do the scientific explanation, but to me what I heard was you are creating mini brains in the lab and you've added like an eyeball to it and had it run a robot. So give us a rundown of what this is and what it's actually called. So we don't like to call them mini brains. We prefer the terms of brain organoid because we don't want to give the impression that what we have is a fully mature organized brain dish. So instead these a bring organized, they came from the STEM cells. These are cells that we teach them how to self aggregate in three D structures that resemble or mimics early stages of brain development. We do that because we don't have access to the material of the human embryo in nutritious.

Speaker 2: 01:21 So it's really hard to understand how the human brain is formed in a healthy living fetal brain because we really don't have ways to access experimentally that material. So that's why we rely on these artificial systems outside the body so we can recreate a human neurodevelopment and we can find instances where the process doesn't fully work in trying to fix it. Um, this is, uh, with the goal to help millions of people suffering from neurological conditions. Is there any point at which you look at these things that you're creating in the lab and you wonder, does it have any consciousness or how far are we going with it? So that's a great question and to try to words for that. Last Friday as a top, like a meeting here where we invited the three big philosophers to discuss this issue. So the first question is a valid question that I get all the time.

Speaker 2: 02:17 Uh, how far is too far for these organized? Do they ever reach a level of acquiring consciousness or self aware or can they suffer or few pain? So these are a good questions in, um, right now we have no evidence that is the case, but, uh, it is a possibility that in the future as we mature and we prove the model that they might acquire those things. And if they do, we have to agree in on, uh, what is, um, the, the level of consciousness that they have. And, um, probably we need to give them what we call a Moro status. What is the moral status of these organoids? So similar to, uh, research animals, um, that we have here as well as human subjects that participates in clinical trial. They all have moral status and we treated them all following a series of regulations so we can do experiments with them. And I believe that as soon as we give a moral status to these brain organoids, we have to come up with conditions, regulations, consensus platforms, that everybody agrees that this is the way to do it. So that might be a as simple as how you would dispose them. Or, um, we have to justify how many we should grow them to answer a specific research question. Things that we already do, uh, for both animal and human research subjects there are conscious,

Speaker 3: 03:42 we feel like in our present day, we've come a long way. We have a lot of science that explains things. But how much do we really know about our human brains?

Speaker 2: 03:50 Yeah. Yeah. So we don't know nothing about human brains. It is amazing. And that's part of the reason why I decided to become a neuroscientist is to try to, to give a contribution on how this very complex system actually happens to create memories, uh, feelings. Uh, the fact that I tell you now think about a white elephant in your brain projects, a white elephant. How, how'd that happen? We have no idea how that happened. And so this is part of the reason why I decided to do that. And I think for the past years we have been looking at the 40 mature brain and he studying it by admire, fascinating with its complexity. But what I think we should do is, is try to recreate it from scratch. And that's why I focus on these brain organized because we start really from the raw material, from single pluripotent cells. That's exactly how the angrier does. And then we can fully control all the steps in the learn how the cells do it because they do it by themselves is always genetically encoded. So if you learn what are the major steps on brain formation, uh, we will learn how the brain can acquire such a level of complexity

Speaker 3: 05:05 and you're going to be doing a presentation as part of Vanguard culture's event. And what can people expect from that? Where

Speaker 2: 05:12 would we expect to see what is, uh, the new technology that's coming from the STEM cells, how far we are, what are the potential applications? We, we discuss a few of them, but there are others, for example, can I use the STEM cells to understand how the brain evolves? How the our brain is compared to our, uh, relatives that are extinct such as the Neanderthals? Can we learn something about a what maker's humans? It is a lot of focus on, uh, on disease in how, how far we are to understand and to provide the new treatments. But also there is lots of fundamental, basic science, uh, that is done to get to that level that have also important implications. For example, can we use how the brain computes, create a new form of artificial intelligence that would be more humanlike. So these are the kinds of things that are cooking in the lab. And I think people would be fascinated by hearing about them. That was Beth Amando is speaking with Alison wooo. Tree about his presentation at Vanguard cultures breakthrough the future happening this Saturday at idea one.

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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.