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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments On DACA, How To Vote In California’s Presidential Primary, California Cops With Criminal Convictions And Tijuana’s Growing Craft Beer Craze

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Protection for almost 800,000 Dreamers is on the line this week as the U.S. Supreme Court takes on the case over DACA. The Trump administration is attempting to end the DACA program, which offers immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, a temporary reprieve from deportation. San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Michael Vu, joined Midday Edition with what voters need to know to participate in the upcoming presidential primary. Nonpartisan voters need to request a ballot, fast. Plus, a new investigation reveals dozens of active-duty law enforcement officers throughout the state are convicted criminals, including several in San Diego. And, a new national awareness campaign launched this week suggests, support for veterans should go “beyond the thank you.” Finally, San Diego’s craft beer boom goes south of the border.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 The U S Supreme court heard arguments today about the fate of the DACA program. The Trump administration is attempting to end the deferred action program for childhood arrivals. DACA has allowed nearly 800,000 young people to get jobs and go to school by offering a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation duel C Garcia is a San Diego immigration attorney and a DACA recipient whose own status is in legal limbo. She is suing to keep the DACA program alive and she was at the U S Supreme court hearing this morning, sitting next to California attorney general Javier Bissera. We spoke to her ahead of today's hearing. You'll say you're in Washington for this Supreme court argument. You filed your own lawsuit against the Trump administration after it ended the program, which has been consolidated into the case before the court today. What argument did you make that the DACA program should continue?

Speaker 2: 00:58 We made several arguments. One of them is that this administration rescinded the DACA program in an arbitrarily and propitious manner. We believe the program is always legal and the way that the administration went about resending the program was unlawful.

Speaker 1: 01:13 Now you were brought to the U S from Mexico when you were four. What kind of doors did DACA open up for you?

Speaker 2: 01:19 Yes. Oh my goodness. I lived in the shadows for many decades. I didn't want anyone to know about my status. I was always overlooking my shoulder. I lived in constant fear of being caught and deported. So having DACA gave me the peace of mind to be able to go into any office and apply for a job or, um, create my own law firm. Um, it gave me the security and peace of mind that I can sign contracts and walk into a government office to ask for the permits required to open my business and to employ people. It, uh, opened a, a lot of opportunities. Even the ability to get on a plane and fly to DC will not be made possible if an, if it wasn't for DACA.

Speaker 1: 02:05 You know, when president Obama announced the DACA program, he said it was just quote, a temporary stop gap measure. Why not end it as president and Trump has suggested in order to force Congress to come up with something more permanent,

Speaker 2: 02:21 Congress should come up with something more permanent. We have been demanding for it for decades now. This isn't something that we have been asking for in the last two years. We definitely need a path to citizenship, and that's the end goal. But in the meantime, so many lives are going to be disrupted without our DACA status. We are talking about families, uh, having the possibility of being separated. Children afraid that their parents are going to be deported. Without DACA. We were talking about disrupting the economy over a 700,000 jobs. Some of us job creators. So this impacts not, not only the, the economy, but also our day to day. I, it impacts and children that go to school that, uh, are, who are being taught by Docker recipients. Um, so it's the disruption that causes it in American lives, uh, that we believe is unfair. Um, the path to citizenship is something that we have been fighting for so long. Um, but in the meantime, we need our DACA status. Uh, not only for peace of mind, but so that we don't have the, the disruption that we're seeing and the chaos that we saw come about. Uh, in September 5th, 2017 when the president rescinded DACA.

Speaker 1: 03:33 And do you see any movement in Congress at the, they're moving toward coming up with something more permanent, something like a path to citizenship?

Speaker 2: 03:40 Unfortunately, this president has stopped any negotiations as far as a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. The house of representatives passed the bill, the dream act and promise act, and it is just waiting for Mitch McConnell to be put on the floor. If that bill goes to the floor, we are certain it would pass. The overwhelming majority of Americans see us DACA recipients as Americans and they want to keep us here in the country. Uh, we've seen polls that show that over 80% of of the people want to maintain DACA recipients here in the U S this is our home. This is where we belong. And it's unfortunate that this president is using our allies as political bargaining chips to obtain other things like the wall and cut legal migration in half. Um, but if it wasn't for this administration, I believe he would've had already a path to citizenship.

Speaker 1: 04:35 You outlined a lot of things that you think would, would result if the Supreme court decides it's time to end DACA, would you still be able to practice law?

Speaker 2: 04:47 I would have fear of being able to keep my practice open. I would not be able to step into an immigration court knowing that my opponent, the the U S government sitting right next to me also wanting to deport me. Uh, I practice immigration and immigration courts and I will not be able to do so if I don't have DACA.

Speaker 1: 05:10 Now the Supreme court is expected to make a decision in this case next summer. What are you telling DACA recipients today? Should they continue to renew their applications?

Speaker 2: 05:21 Yes. We don't know what will happen with the decision at the Supreme court, but we are telling folks to renew their DACA if it expires within the next year, to consult with an attorney immediately to see if it's something that, uh, they need to do right away. Uh, but no one knows really what to expect from this decision. We are confident that we're going to win. But in the meantime, for those folks that haven't renewed their DACA and it's expiring within the next year, uh, please, uh, consult with an immigration attorney, consult with one of the various nonprofits around town that are, uh, able to provide these legal. Why was it important for you to be in Washington while these arguments were going on? Wow. This is, I, I feel like I need to be part of this very historical moment. Uh, it took us so long to get here.

Speaker 2: 06:13 DACA was won by other folks before me that were, uh, fighting for a path to citizenship and we didn't win DACA overnight. It was something that took a long time to get. And for, for, for now that DACA is threatened. Um, I feel it's important that we were present for this very historical moment to let the nation know that, that this is our home. This is where we belong, uh, that we should remain here. Uh, I'm just really privileged to be able to travel to D C and be in front of the Supreme court and hear the legal arguments and be present in the preparation that is taking place. Uh, just today we were all day, uh, in moot hearings and, um, having conversations with the various legal, the legal teams that are involved in this litigation, um, as, as a, as a way to ensure that we're as strong as we can be. I've been speaking with San Diego attorney. They'll say Garcia, they'll say, thank you so much. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 07:28 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 You've been hearing about the presidential election for some time now, but it is finally nearing that time when you will be able to weigh in on who you think our next president should be. This week the registrar of voters is sending out postcards to remind voters that if they haven't already, they'll need to pick a political party to vote in March. Presidential primary. Michael WGU is the San Diego County registrar and joins us now. Michael, welcome. Thanks for having Megan. As of October 1st 81% of Californians were registered to vote, which secretary of state, Alex Padilla said was the highest rates since 1952 are we seeing a similar trend here in San Diego County?

Speaker 2: 00:38 We are, uh, right now we are sitting at 1.8 million registered voters. We keep on fluctuating be low and above 1.8 million due to list maintenance activities. But uh, if you think about the last presidential election in 2016, we've added over 150,000 registered voters to the voter registration roles. Um, so we're seeing a high number of individuals registering to vote and that's as a result of various state policies that are out there that have come to fruition, that have been acted upon. And now we're seeing a higher number. So we're sitting at about the same amount as the secretary of state has has mentioned, uh, around 78 to 80% of eligible register voters are registered to vote.

Speaker 1: 01:14 And are you noticing any trends locally in terms of registration by party?

Speaker 2: 01:18 Well, what it comes down to is, is where we're sitting at right now is, is that 37% of the electorate that are registered to vote are considered themselves a Democrat. There's 27% that considers themselves a Republican. And then you've got a pretty big population, a growing population of nonpartisan voters or independent voters. And that's sitting in about 30%. So about 550,000 and individuals of the 1.8 million registered voters are considered themselves independent and nonpartisan voters. Uh, that population of voters will have an impact in terms of not only the administration of the election, but also how campaigns go out and, and, and seek those votes.

Speaker 1: 01:53 And, and that growing group have no party preference. Voters must indicate which ballot they want for the primary in March, right?

Speaker 2: 02:00 Correct. Is, is that every presidential election? It's really a political party's preference. Primary. And really what that comes down to is as the political parties gets to decide who gets to vote on their presidential candidates and who doesn't, particularly the nonpartisan voters. And so for this upcoming election, it's kind of a repeat of the 2016 presidential election where there are three political parties that is the democratic party, the American independent party, as well as the libertarian party that are opening up their presidential slate of presidential candidates to nonpartisan voters. And then you have three political parties that are closing. There are presidential candidates to non-partisan voters and that includes the Republican party as well as the green party and then the peace and freedom party.

Speaker 1: 02:39 So how does that work? I mean, what if those non party preference voters want to vote in the Republican primary?

Speaker 2: 02:44 Well, they all have to register to vote. If you are a nonpartisan voter and you want to vote on a slate of presidential candidates that are closing off their presidential candidates, that includes the president, a Republican party, the green party, and the peace and freedom you have to reregister develop for that political party a to be able to vote for their candidates. Now, if you are a nonpartisan voter and you want to cross over to vote on the democratic party ticket or the American independent or the libertarian that you have the ability to do so, there'll be a crossover ballot, uh, for you. If you're a nonpartisan voter and you do not have to reregister develop.

Speaker 1: 03:16 So, so then what are you asking voters to do specifically once they receive this postcard that's being sent out this week?

Speaker 2: 03:22 Well, it's a really important, yeah, I anticipate that this mailer is going to go out the latter part of this weekend and also into next week as well. So what voters should know is once you receive that, what we're asking them to do is learn about the presidential primary election. It's one of the most complex elections, uh, not only for elections officials like myself and administrators like myself, but also for voters because normally an individual just receives a ballot that has their specific contest that they're eligible to vote on here in this upcoming election because it is a presidential primary election and the political parties gets to choose who gets to vote on their presidential candidates and who doesn't. We want you to know about and learned the rules of the presidential primary. We want to have you verify your respective information. What will be on this mailer will be your mailing address, your residence address as well as your political party preference. Make sure you understand what those are, make sure it's accurate and if it's different than what you believe you are in particularly that political party a, then you want to reregister vote for the political party that you escalate the presidential candidates that you want to vote on resident's address, a mailing address. Make sure you verify that as well because if it's different reregistered about

Speaker 1: 04:28 and, and your re-registering is something that you've got to do online or do you just send this postcard back?

Speaker 2: 04:33 There is so many different ways@thispointtoregistertovoteandyoucandososimplybygoingtosdvote.com. There's a link there. There's five different screens that you have to go through to fill out, to register to vote. Um, you don't fill out the this card. Really the only individuals that are, are going to get a card are going to be the non pars and permanent mail ballot voters who have to make their selection before we send them a, their respective mal ballot. Uh, there is another piece to that mailer though, is which is what we're encouraging voters to do is, is to sign up to receive their sample Bello electronically as well. The last time we sent out a mailer like that, we had 80,000 individual signup. We're seeing a lot more people wanting to, to receive their material, extra material electronically and not their ballot of course, but their, the, their, uh, election material, um, via email. And so we're offering that and hopefully a number of individuals sign up to receive. It's a certainly a quicker way to receive election material about the respective candidates and measures that will be on the ballot, but also a more earth-friendly way of, of getting their election material then and then in the mail with all of the other campaign mailings that will, they'll receive.

Speaker 1: 05:37 And I'd like to switch gears a bit and talk about the registrar of voters, satellite offices. What was your reason for asking the County board of supervisors to fund these four offices at a cost of $900,000?

Speaker 2: 05:49 Well, the reason why is because of what we saw during the 2018 election. And then also Senate bill 72 which expands conditional voter registration too, not just at the respect of a local election officials office, but it's now expanded to all polling locations on election day. My concern is is that w what we saw during the 2018 election is, is a very long line at the registrar voters office and that's something that we want to avoid, are at least cushion or minimize that would occur at the polling location level. So the satellite location is to leave V8 some of that and to really redirect those voters to the satellite locations. Actually not, they're not even voters at that point. They're unregistered voters that want to vote on election day. What we're trying to do is have those individuals redirect them to the satellite location, register and vote there.

Speaker 1: 06:34 And the board of supervisors eventually approved funding for the satellite offices. But the first vote failed and the board's chair had to figure out another way to get the funding approved. Were you surprised that there was controversy over funding these offices?

Speaker 2: 06:48 Well ultimately it's the progress of the board and a really, there were differences associated with the uh, their stance on the satellite locations, particularly the funding portion of it. One of the things though as it did pass. And I'm happy that it did pass cause it allows another option, another tool for elections and administrators like myself to really address concerns that, uh, we saw during the 2018 election. And of course we're going into a much higher volume election with the presidential race that is on there. Uh, so I'm happy to have seen that. Yeah.

Speaker 1: 07:15 I have been speaking to San Diego County registrar of voters, Michael WGU. Michael, thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:00 More than 80 law enforcement officers working today in California are convicted criminals with rap sheets that include everything from animal cruelty to manslaughter. That's the headline from a new report about criminally convicted police still working in California. Their report is the result of an unprecedented collaboration between more than 30 newsrooms, including voice of San Diego, voice of San Diego reporter Jesse Marks joins us now. Jesse, welcome. Hey, thanks for having me. So can you start off by telling us about the list of criminally charged officers? It was released by accident a and that presented both insight and challenges early on, right?

Speaker 2: 00:38 So this project started when two reporters asked to state agency that oversees standards and trainings of police officers for a list of anyone who had been flagged as disqualified from serving in the profession because they had a conviction and what they got instead was a list of 12,000 names, but it didn't have really any information attached to it. So they tapped a media organizations across the state and they said, Hey, go to the courthouses, help us figure out who these folks are. Help us verify that these are actually police officers and let's look for any trends and figure out what the charges were. So we ultimately narrowed down the list from about 12,000 to 630 people who we could verify had worked in law enforcement either before, during, or after their criminal convictions. And then we started looking for certain trends. And so what we found was that there were a lot of DUIs and driving offenses, but the second most common offense was domestic violence. It was very prevalent among the law enforcement ranks.

Speaker 1: 01:27 Hmm. So, you know, like you said, ultimately the reporter's identified 630 current or former officers, uh, with criminal convictions in the past decade in California. Some of those officers are or have been employed locally. Can you tell us about some of those cases?

Speaker 2: 01:42 Yeah. So what we found was that at least six officers are still employed in San Diego County, at least one in Imperial County. And again, domestic violence was a fairly common, uh, offense that we found on that list among the officers who are, who are still working. And, um, we realized very quickly while going through the court files and from talking to attorneys and even some of the, the officers themselves was that they were pleading down to charges that allowed them to keep their jobs. So if you're convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, you usually lose your, your job as a police officer in the state of California. But oftentimes these guys were pleading down to what were property damage crimes because the domestic violence cases had ultimately fallen apart.

Speaker 1: 02:22 That's interesting that they were allowed to just plead down because you know, in California, convicted felons can't be law enforcement officers. You know, how does California compare to other States when it comes to dealing with officers with criminal records?

Speaker 2: 02:35 So what we found out is that the state of California is only one of five in the United States. That doesn't automatically de-certify police officers. It doesn't strip them of their badge if they've been convicted of certain types of misconduct or even lesser misdemeanors. So like for instance, a States like Georgia, a States like Florida, they have rules on the books in which they can take your badge away if you've been, um, if, if you've committed perjury for instance, or, uh, I remember Kansas actually will strip you of your badge if you've been found to have used racially biased policing. It's questionable whether or not that's actually being enforced. But in any case, the standards here are not the same in California. And that means that local local police chiefs and sheriffs are essentially responsible for figuring out who to fire and who to keep on the job.

Speaker 2: 03:23 And um, it sounds like there's going to be a larger conversation about this in the legislature and the police unions across the state have signaled to us in the course of reporting this story that they're prepared for that discussion. They're prepared for the legislature to come back and, and potentially say we should look more closely at the state taking a bigger role in the certification of police officers. Talk to me more about that. I know you mentioned it, you know, is there any support in the legislature for changing laws regarding the employment of officers who have been convicted of serious offenses, even if they're not felonies? I imagine there will be support for that. Over the last couple of years there there's been quite a few criminal justice reforms. I could see somebody like Shirley Weber potentially assemblywoman, Shirley Weber picking up something like that, although I don't know for sure whether she would in any case the police unions are preparing themselves for that possibility and what they've already told us.

Speaker 2: 04:11 Actually the head of the state's largest police union is an officer here in San Diego. And what he told our reporting partners in the Bay was that, uh, he's not immediately opposed to that, but he wants to be a part of that conversation and he wants to make sure that the appeal process is still in place for officers so that we can properly balance their due process rights. What is the San Diego police department done to flag potential misconduct? So there was a rash of police officers who got arrested in 2011 and then in 2014 there were these two waves and the police department wound up filing charges against uh, many of its own officers. Uh, fairly scandalous, exploded into the headlines. It was very embarrassing for them. And what they did was they tapped an outside research firm to come in and identify any structural problems that they might've had.

Speaker 2: 04:56 And one of the things that the outside researchers flagged was that, uh, sergeants weren't keeping a closer eye on their, their subordinates. So since then SDPD has implemented a system in which they will monitor and track. It's a computer system. Any officers who have a substantial number of complaints or civil litigation racked up against them and then it, and then it alerts the supervisors so that they can take a closer look at that person. They've also implemented a mental health programs and wellbeing programs for their, for their officers. So that if somebody is involved in a traumatic experience or if somebody even has a death in the family, there are people within the police department who make a point to go reach out to them to go see that they're okay. And this is all a way of monitoring them so that any potential misconduct or or suspicious behavior doesn't actually manifest itself into criminal behavior.

Speaker 2: 05:44 And then finally, what they also did was they, they reinstated the professional standards unit, which is a, a part of SDPD but it works somewhat independently of the system and it accepts complaints or tips about suspicious behavior or criminal behavior from other officers and then investigates it separately from the internal affairs side of things. So it's supposed to be this specialized unit within SDPD that that monitors it's own. And it was actually instrumental this summer in bringing charges against a, a Sergeant who was accused of, um, soliciting a minor online. I'm curious to know, has the relationship you and your colleagues, uh, have with local law enforcement changed since this story came out? And if so, how? I actually think that, uh, STB SDPD was fairly helpful in, in reporting this. Um, initially they were resistant. They declined my request to talk to the police chief, but I did sit down with their spokespeople to talk about this and, and their position was, look, people make mistakes and we understand why you're interested in this information.

Speaker 2: 06:46 Uh, from our perspective, uh, California has very secretive laws when it comes from it's w when it comes to its police personnel and its records and what the public can see. And they said, we understand where you're coming from, we understand why you're doing this project, just let us give you our perspective on it. And we totally heard them out. And I think, I think it was fair on both sides. And the position from SDPD was essentially, look, people make mistakes and local jurisdictions deserve some flexibility and being able to decide who's worthy and unworthy of continuing to, to carry a gun and wear a badge. So any strengthening of these rules at the statewide level would just take away our local control. I had been speaking with Jesse Marks with voice of San Diego. Jesse, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 3: 07:31 Uh.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Not everyone in uniform will be considered a veteran someday, including potentially some national guard troops who served along the border. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh looks at how Congress is fixing and trying to fix some of those disparities.

Speaker 2: 00:16 In April, 2018 president Trump ordered 2000 national guard troops to the us Mexico border to aide Homeland security. During a tour in October, 2018 border patrol spokesman William Rogers complimented the California national guard. We're working inside a border patrol station in San Diego acting as dispatchers and monitoring cameras.

Speaker 3: 00:38 What's most important about it to us is the fact that prior to the national guard soldiers filling these spots, we had to have sworn agents filling these spots

Speaker 2: 00:49 despite the kind words. Some of these guard troops working along the border in uniform may never meet the federal definition of a veteran. One of the things guard troops need to qualify for VA benefits like healthcare or the GI bill is to serve 180 days continuously on active duty. That means being requested by the federal government under specific circumstances. It says Daniel Elkins, a special forces operator with a guard unit in LA. I reached him via Skype from the place in Utah where he's training to deploy overseas.

Speaker 4: 01:20 This affects many members of the national guard. For example, currently there's a federally declared border crisis that's going on right.

Speaker 2: 01:29 Even though the president asked for the guard and the federal government paid for the operation, their orders don't count toward being considered a veteran. Under federal law. Elkins also works with the enlisted association of national guard United States, which is lobbying to bring greater parody between active duty and the garden reserve troops like making it easier for them to qualify to become veterans by letting them add up all the times they spend on federal orders instead of just serving 180 consecutive days,

Speaker 4: 01:56 those should be added up and when you meet that threshold, you should be considered a veteran and rate the same level of benefits and services and active duty counterpart.

Speaker 2: 02:05 Most of the time, guard troops are under the control of the governor who can call them up to help with natural disasters like the wildfires in California. But there are a variety of missions. States like California also worked with the U S drug enforcement administration on counter-drug operations. Guard troops working in those missions can earn enough credit to be considered a veteran. Congressman Mike Levin, whose district covers parts of San Diego County chair's a veteran subcommittee, which recently held hearings on these parody issues.

Speaker 5: 02:33 We haven't followed a very basic principle, which is if you are expected to be doing the same sort of thing, putting your life on the line for whatever particular mission, uh, I believe you ought to be able to get the same pay and benefits.

Speaker 2: 02:45 11 says, Congress has been slow to respond to the changing role of the guard, which has been used more consistently since September 11 2001

Speaker 5: 02:53 the expectations and the demands place on our national guard and reserves that perhaps weren't there previously. We have to make sure that federal

Speaker 2: 03:00 policy reflects that cost is a factor. More troops would qualify for federal benefits. Congress changed the law, so anyone who retires from the guard reserves after 20 years is officially a veteran. The law didn't allow them to qualify for federal benefits. Elkins, the guard, special forces operator preparing for deployment, says he's talked with former guard troops who applied for benefits under the GI bill after reporting to disasters like hurricane Katrina on the Gulf coast or hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Speaker 4: 03:29 And these members, uh, they serve, they deployed, they're being pulled, that they're being deployed. Um, and they assume that they have the same level of benefits,

Speaker 2: 03:41 but they don't. He says that impacts retention in the guard, but the consequences can run much deeper. Those federal benefits include longterm mental health care at the VA. The VA estimates how many veterans die per day from suicide. That grim statistic doesn't include the 919 suicides in 2017 among guard and reserve members who never achieved veterans status. The VA says that adds another 2.5 people a day to those who kill themselves. All former military but not considered veterans. Steve Walsh KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 04:18 This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.

Speaker 6: 04:32 [inaudible].

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KPBS Midday Edition

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.