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Holiday Weekend Marks Return Of Dining-In, San Diego Rape Kits Finally Getting Tested And Remembering Female Fallen Soldiers On Memorial Day

 May 25, 2020 at 11:54 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego restaurants offer dine-in with a difference and a report on the backlog of untested rape kits. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Mark sour. This is KCI V S mid day edition. Speaker 1: 00:23 It's Monday, May 25th. This holiday weekend has seen the return of dine in restaurants in San Diego. It's a big relief for many eateries that have seen their staff, their profits and their prospects shrivel during the two months when they've only been allowed to serve takeout. But the restaurant reopening is not a return to normal modifications and safety measures will make dining out quite different for the foreseeable future. Joining me is PJ Lamont, one of the owners of Raglin public house in ocean beach and PJ, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. How did the reopening go this weekend? Speaker 2: 01:00 Um, it went very well for us. We, uh, we have been planning for it for quite some time and uh, just running through different scenarios. So we were, uh, we were prepared when we did get the, uh, the, okay. So the week prior we had set up to go station outside of the restaurant for people that still wanted to do, uh, you know, take out and delivery. We had re organized our layout inside the restaurant and already had put into place our safe and clean action items. Speaker 1: 01:28 What kind of response did you get from people who were actually, uh, able to dine in a restaurant again? Speaker 2: 01:34 Oh man. For the most part it has been a great response. People were very excited to come, come back in a little, it was a little different, you know, with the masks, the gloves and then uh, also having to have the customers wear masks. I think that has been the most confused and for people I think. Speaker 1: 01:50 Yeah. Tell us a little bit more about that. What is the experience like now for patrons who dine at your restaurants? Speaker 2: 01:57 The experience is so much of what it was before. Just obviously what the barriers that we have now that customers do have to have a mask upon entry. And that is the, the county's rule. So, I mean we are enforcing it and some people question it, don't want to do it. We, we provide them in case they don't have one that don't know. But aside from that, I think most people are just happy to be kind of getting back to somewhat of a normal and getting some interaction with people. So it's been overwhelmingly positive. Speaker 1: 02:30 Do you do temperature checks on patrons? Speaker 2: 02:33 We do not. Not on patrons, just on staff and vendors. Temperature and wellness. Speaker 1: 02:37 And how much capacity have you lost because of social distancing and other safety measures? Speaker 2: 02:43 Quite a bit. Um, I'd say we're operating at about 30% of what we were operating at before. A big one is the bar areas as well. Not having patrons at the bars. Uh, cause that obviously is a lot of seating. Speaker 1: 02:57 And you also have using stuffed animals, you know, in a way in your restaurant. Tell us about that. Speaker 2: 03:04 That one has been probably the coolest, um, feedback we've gotten. So yeah, we just have oversized stuffed animals that we put at the tables where, uh, where there isn't a six foot distance. Um, and opposed to just taking the tables out, which makes it look kind of, you know, just bare we put the animals in and the amount of comments, photos, laughs that we gathered. It was, uh, it was pretty fun idea. Speaker 1: 03:29 Now last week the County shut down a PB bar and restaurant El pres after videos posted on social media showed crowds of customers drinking in close proximity without masks, no social distancing, et cetera. Are you concerned about restaurants that aren't complying and what that could mean for the local industry as a whole? Speaker 2: 03:50 Uh, hugely concerned. Um, because everyone's different and as far as that situation, I really appreciate how the County handled it by being case-by-case opposed to just doing a blanket ban back on everyone again, because you know, there's always going to be a couple of bad actors out there that give a a pretty rough look for the rest of us that are going above and beyond Speaker 1: 04:12 PJ because restaurants have been closed for so long and there's a significant amount of renovation and equipment involved in this kind of reopening. Is the cost of dining out going up? Speaker 2: 04:24 I believe it will be. Yes. I mean the margins in restaurants are already very fine and yes, the overall cost is going to be going up Speaker 1: 04:34 and uh, okay, so the cost may be going up and the, the industry experts say they expect to see as many as 40% of restaurants fail because of the hit they've taken in closing plus reduced dining space and patronage. How are you planning to survive this challenge? Speaker 2: 04:55 Um, I mean I agree. I think that 40% is probably spot on if not more. Um, again, we did plan ahead. So at our restaurants we did build these takeout and uh, take out in delivery sites outside of the restaurant and that is now giving us over 50% of our current sales. Um, just have this past weekend is our only only example to go off of. But uh, that, that's one of the major ones. We may have to increase prices in time as well, but labor kind of is what it is. Um, you need extra staff on to make sure all of the safe and clean procedures are being diligently taken care of. Speaker 1: 05:38 You know, this Memorial day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season. Your restaurant is in ocean beach. Uh, usually that means you know, weeks and weeks and months of, of, of partying. I mean, people having a good time and, and yet because of the new safety measures, they may make dining out more of a hassle for patrons. How do you balance those two concerns? Speaker 2: 06:03 Um, it's, it certainly is a hassle for people that are just kind of looking to escape, you know. Um, but we do our best about letting people know our processes, um, as far as like masks or if they would like to do reservations via open table or calling in the restaurant. Um, and when they do come in, where we may start limiting times to be at a table to say two hours. So yes, it is going to be, it's going to be a delicate balance on both ends. I mean, being a customer as well, you know, you, you want, you want to enjoy yourself without having so many restrictions and rules. But I think if you explained to people in advance and in a friendly way, people, people seem to understand Speaker 1: 06:50 now when and how are you going to know if this new normal is working out for your restaurants? Speaker 2: 06:55 Um, I mean if this weekend is an indicator, I'm confident that it will work out. Um, obviously like you said, it was Memorial day weekend and that is a giant influx of people. It was also the first weekend that we've been allowed. So I think a lot of people are eager to get out. Um, but if this weekend is, uh, a test of what's to come, I mean, I think that, I think that will be okay. Speaker 1: 07:19 I've been speaking with PJ Lamont, one of the owners of Ragland public house in ocean beach. PJ, thanks so much for taking the time. Thank you very much. Speaker 3: 07:33 [inaudible] Speaker 4: 07:36 a rape kit, which contains forensic evidence from the survivor of a sexual assault can be a powerful tool in a criminal investigation. Yet hundreds of rape kits have gone untested in San Diego more than in any jurisdiction in the state. The testing backlog, dating back years here is finally being cleared here to discuss that development is Andrew Keats, senior investigative reporter and assistant editor at voice of San Diego. Welcome to midday edition eight on Mark. We'll start with what a rape kit is and why it can be critical to criminal investigators. Speaker 5: 08:12 Yeah, so rape kit includes a number of different swabs that are put onto different parts of the victims body in search of DNA from the alleged perpetrator. It also might include things like nail clippings from the victim, uh, hair trimmings, uh, underwear, anything that from the crime that might help, um, leave trace DNA for the, uh, for the perpetrator. And they're really powerful when you use them and you can, you can find it a DNA sample from a, uh, typically a male. You know, it's a typically a male that commits the offense against a woman. Um, if you can find that male DNA, then track it against a federal DNA database. You can find a, you might not know who the DNA sample is for, but if you can track it against the case, there is a possibility that they might be a serial offender. Um, so not only is it a good way to potentially bring justice, uh, to an individual victim, it might be a way to identify serial predators who are, uh, who are really repeating offenses in multiple jurisdictions and confounding investigators by leaving their jurisdiction. And so when you link all those things together, it becomes a pretty powerful investigative tool. Speaker 4: 09:31 And what's been the problem in California with testing these rape kits? How historically is the San Diego police department handle testing and where do we rank among cities with rape kit backlogs? Speaker 5: 09:43 So San Diego is, uh, quite far and away the worst in California at testing the kits that they collect. Now, it is not unheard of in LA. Not too long ago, it wasn't even a uncommon that some of these kits wouldn't be tested. And there are various reasons for that. Um, some of which are agreed upon even by victims. Advocates are an acceptable reason not to test. Uh, things like the, uh, victim decided they did not want to go forward with the situation. They don't want to have it brought up again. Um, they'd like to move on with their lives, um, until a range of things that don't please victims, advocates, things like, uh, the prosecutor declined to prosecute for one reason or another and determined that it wasn't worth the resources. Uh, that gave way to a national movement, uh, within the last decade or so to test all kits. Speaker 5: 10:41 Uh, and as that movement gained steam, many jurisdictions began to change their practices. Um, and the state legislature started passing laws to encourage them to change their practices. Federal, uh, law enforcement agencies changed their guidance to local jurisdictions about changing their policies. And even the city council here in San Diego allocated money to start the process of testing all the kids, even in face of all that SDPD for a long time until very recently had continued to say that their way of doing things was better that they believed the most, uh, fruitful way to handle this was to vet a kit as part of an investigation to determine whether it would be useful not to simply test all kits as a matter of practice. Um, they in September committed to changing that policy and getting all their kids tested. That was following an investigation I did that revealed the crime lab manager, um, had instructed analysts in the crime lab to test certain kids less rigorously and to handle DNA from certain kits less, uh, differently. And that was in service of clearing the backlog under the political pressure to get everything tested. They began implementing these policies once that was revealed, uh, and they, and critically they came under criticism from district attorney summer Stephan for those practices they committed the next day. This was in September, they said, we will now begin the process of testing every kid. Speaker 4: 12:12 And that's her stance. Now summer Stephan says, we're going to test every kit, uh, going forward here. Speaker 5: 12:16 Yeah, some are. Stephan had been leading a, a group already of all the other law enforcement agencies in the County and the sheriff to get all of their kids tested prior to, you know, this instance in September, SDPD had elected not to join that process and they were following their own process of kind of going bit by bit and saying, okay, well we'll choose, we'll test some of these cases, but not these. And then they were, they were kind of moving through it that way. Um, so then in September they decided that they would send all the kids that they still had in their possession to a third party lab for blanket testing. There was a state audit recently that came out just last week and that state audit said SDPD had, uh, almost 1700 untested kits in his possession, which was far and away the most out of any jurisdiction that was included in the audit. Uh, Oakland was the second largest. It had 1100 untested kits, lost the Los Angeles police department, which is, you know, obviously bigger than SDPD. They had only 500. San Francisco had none at all. Speaker 4: 13:21 And I should know, we reached out to the DA's office for comment when we did not get a response, but how did the San Diego County DA's office react to this California attorney General's finding? Speaker 5: 13:33 Um, so the DA's office chose not to respond. Uh, SDPD did she choose to respond? Uh, they said well that that audit, um, collected data that ended in July of last year. Uh, and obviously in September of this year, we had already committed to test all of their kits. So, uh, I, I guess the implication was that that audit was out of date. I asked further questions and basically asked them what the status was with all of those untested kits. Uh, and they told me that over the course of the first few months of this year, they began sending those kits to Bodie labs. It's a third party lab that does a lot of this testing for other agencies. And so all of those kids have now been sent away, um, but they still have not all been, not been tested. Um, by the end of this month, SDPD expects to get the results back for the first 25 kits of those nearly 1700 kits, uh, and they'll, they'll get 50 next month and 75 the month after that, and then they'll continue that way every month, um, which leads them to expect that all of those kids will be tested about two years from now. Speaker 4: 14:42 Okay. So that's the status. And th that's the unwinding of that. Do we know, um, the kits? Do we, do we know when they were collected, was there some confusion over old? Some of them are, Speaker 5: 14:53 the audit broke down the, the, uh, the date of kits when they were collected from when the crime took place, um, from before the start of 2016 and after. The reason for that is there was a state law passed last year that mandates the testing of all kids collect collected after 2016. So it's no longer a discretionary decision at all. SDPD was a unique in the, uh, audit. They were the only agency that couldn't say when those kits were collected from and every one of the SDPD kits was listed as date on clear. The SDPD did have, um, a response to that. They said, we don't know why our data was reported that way. They said they don't know who in their department submitted a response to the auditors. Um, and they don't know why they said that they don't know when those kids are from because they do. Speaker 5: 15:49 Um, they were able to provide me a tally from December, which was the latest one they had available, um, which showed that actually the number of untested kits had increased from when the audit was collected, um, at about 1600 to the 1,627 until the end of the year, which was, uh, over 1700. And they were able to break down whether those were from before 2016 or after 2016 and it turns out they were from about 1200 of them were from before 2016 and about 500 of them were from after 2016. Um, now both of those numbers would still be the most in the state. So there before 2016 number is more than any other agency in this state, and their after 2016 number is also more than any other agency in the state. Speaker 4: 16:38 Now they'd been clearing the backlog of some of these untested rape kits. Do we know whether the evidence uncovered has led to arrest and prosecutions of rapists here or why would they be useful otherwise? Speaker 5: 16:48 Yeah, so we don't actually know if they have led to a wrestler prosecutions. That's certainly a question we would like to have answered. Um, what I can say, uh, I did a story last year with a freelancer, Kelly Davis, and we were able to find that there was one specific slice of time, um, between, uh, November the end of 2017 and November, 2018 so about a year, um, the department in during that time had screened 300 of their old previously untested kits. Of those 300, um, about 100 yielded a viable DNA DNA profile that they could put into the federal database. So that is in itself a significant from an investigative perspective. Uh, and of those roughly 100 that yielded a day in a DNA profile, 38 mashed one that was already in the database. So this is useful data when they do these tests. Speaker 4: 17:48 All right, final question. Speaker 5: 17:50 Uh, they're whittling this down now, the backlog about 75 cases a month as you say. Uh, is that due to financial constraints or what's the uh, the reason they can't do more than that? I the initial slow pace then, you know, 25 this month and 50 next month. That was a, as the SDPD explained to me that they've never had tests done by this outside labs. So they kind of wanted to, uh, ease into it to figure out how the data would be reported back to them formatting those sorts of things, which, which makes a certain amount of sense of the 75, uh, per month I do suspect is, um, funding. Speaker 4: 18:27 I've been speaking with Andrew Keats, senior investigative reporter and assistant editor at voice of San Diego. Thanks very much Andy. Speaker 5: 18:34 All right, thanks Mark. Speaker 1: 18:36 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Mark Sauer. America will recognize its fallen service members this Memorial day as it house for more than a hundred years, but for those wishing to visit memorials and cemeteries, there will be many limitations because of the covert 19 pandemic from Colorado Springs. Dan Boyce reports for the American Homefront project. Speaker 6: 18:59 What a difference a year makes Speaker 4: 19:01 Marielle day very special back home and I always like to be back in the U S as you do for that day. Yeah. Speaker 6: 19:07 Last year, president Trump honored Memorial day on the deck of the USS wasp speaking to a full ship of sailors off the coast of Japan where he was making a state visit. Yeah, Speaker 4: 19:17 there is precedent. I have no higher honor than serving as your commander in chief Speaker 6: 19:22 Trump will still honor the day this year amid the pandemic, he's set to visit Fort McHenry national monument in Baltimore. The defense of that Fort and the war of 1812 inspired the star Spangled banner for the rest of those wishing to visit memorials and cemeteries, there will be many limitations. National cemeteries are open for the long weekend such as Pike's peak national cemetery near Colorado Springs. The visitors may not congregate in groups. Speaker 7: 19:47 We have been sending out information to individuals to let them know that they can go as an individual so we still can go out and provide flags and stuff like that. That's Christopher Lynskey post commander for veterans of foreign Wars Pike's peak post 40 51 Speaker 6: 20:03 he served two tours in Iraq with the army this year marks 75 years since the end of world war II. Linsky says it's disappointing there can't be bigger ceremonies to Mark that his VFW post was founded by returning world war II vets also 75 years ago. Just this month, Speaker 7: 20:22 we had our 75th celebration scheduled for June, which we have had to cancel. Speaker 6: 20:27 Meanwhile, some other traditional observances carry on if altered in Eagle County, deep in the Colorado mountains and home to Vail ski resort veterans services officer Pat Hammond says local boy scout troops have still been placing flags at grave sites at four different cemeteries Speaker 8: 20:43 and so they go through the whole cemetery looking for graves that have markers that say that they're a veteran or a military headstone, which there are many Speaker 6: 20:53 all wearing masks, socially distant, no more than 10 gathered at a time, so no parents are involved. This year Speaker 8: 21:00 it's been a change for everybody because usually there's a fair number of parents that join us and Cub Scouts and I just figured all these regulations were too much for the younger Cub Scouts Speaker 6: 21:08 and it's a lot of work for those who are left about 450 veteran graves like a member of Teddy Roosevelt's rough riders, a civil war, hot air balloon patrol soldier, the 30 or so Scouts visit everyone and it each grave, Speaker 8: 21:22 one of the boys steps back and says, John Smith, world war two and we thank you for your service and us the boy scout salute. Speaker 6: 21:30 Then one of the Scouts plants the small American flag. We take the flags and we do one boot length out in front of the center of the stone. David Ross is an Eagle scout and high school senior in Eagle County. He's been doing this flag planning almost every year since he started in Cub Scouts about a decade ago and today he serves as a mentor to the younger boys, Speaker 9: 21:50 not just to answer your questions as we go through. A couple of years ago, I had some kid asks what the civil war was and so I kind of talked to him a little bit about that and so it's a cool, it's a cool time to bond with the younger Scouts Speaker 6: 22:00 for those wanting to stay sheltered. During the holiday. This year, the us department of veterans affairs is promoting a website. They're calling the online veterans legacy Memorial described as the first digital platform dedicated to the memory of the 3.7 million veterans in VA national cemeteries. Visitors to the site can leave comments and tributes on specific veterans pages in Colorado Springs. I'm Dan Boyce. 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 4: 22:43 Memorial day is a time to honor and remember veterans. What usually comes to mind is the war weary soldier, the guy who defended this country and foreign battlefields. A man applauded on this day by a grateful nation. But what about the many women who served and are serving and all branches of the U S military? Our next guest is dedicated to honoring and helping women veterans. Jody Grenier is CEO of the nonprofit foundation for women warriors. Welcome to midday edition. Speaker 10: 23:10 Thank you so much for having me. Speaker 4: 23:12 Well, Jody, you want people to not forget about women who lost their lives protecting this country. Talk to me about that. Speaker 10: 23:17 You know, women for as long as we have existed in this country have served in many capacities, our war efforts. And over the years, uh, women have grown to serve an increasing numbers in the military. And that also means our sacrifice, uh, has also increased. There's a number of women who have been killed in action, uh, during the last two decades of conflicts that we've been participating in. And so it is ever so important to honor all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but also give special recognition to the women who haven't injured and sacrifice for our freedom. Speaker 4: 24:01 Now tell me a bit about one such woman, Shannon Kent. Speaker 10: 24:04 Yes. So, you know, as we look back on history in terms of women who have served, we don't have too many role models or pictures of women as warriors. I think everyone can identify Rosie the Riveter and the world war II effort. Uh, but today Shannon Kent is the symbol and the epitome of a warrior. Shannon served as a cryptologist in the us Navy. She served side by side with Navy seals and special operations. And her service played a pivotal role in the effectiveness and performance of joint special operations task force. Uh, it also led to the broader implementation of women and every specialty that the military offers. Unfortunately, Shannon Kent was killed in action on a mission in Syria in 2019. Her sacrifice and her service is an example to everyone, uh, of what it means to be a quiet professional. Shannon did what was debated and long, uh, argued about in terms of the capabilities of women. She did it quietly and really forged the opportunities that women have in the service today. Speaker 4: 25:22 And I understand Shannon left behind a husband and two young children. She did. And talk to me about the mission of your nonprofit, the foundation for women warriors. What does your organization do? Speaker 10: 25:34 So we honor the service of women veterans like we do today, honoring the service and sacrifice of women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. But we also provide services to ensure that our women that exit the service are able to enhance their economic wellbeing. And we do that a number of ways. We provide emergency financial assistance, childcare assistance, and then also women focused professional development. Speaker 4: 26:02 And can you give us an example of a woman veterans whose needs you were able to address? Speaker 10: 26:07 Absolutely. So Rebecca Ortega served in the United States Marine Corps. She deployed to Afghanistan. She came home, uh, served honorably, exited the service as a single parent and went on to pursue a bachelor's degree while she was finishing up her last semester. She needed additional childcare assistance and was really at a crossroads as to whether she should, uh, delay her graduation and work more hours so that she can afford her childcare or reach out to us. I will tell you that, you know, being independent, self-sufficient folks in the military asking for help can sometimes seem more of a task than going to war for your country. Uh, she reached out to us and we were able to provide her with childcare assistance and then she went on to graduate with honors, uh, from Cal state San Marcos. Today, Rebecca lives on the East coast. She was employed or received a job through the department of transportation as a government employee all while working on her master's in public health, which is ever so timely given Covin 19. Hopefully she will be on the front lines protecting us and solving the issues that we're seeing today. Speaker 4: 27:23 And tell us about your own military service. Speaker 10: 27:26 I served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2005. I joined right after high school and I was an intelligence analyst. So I was stationed at camp Pendleton during nine 11. That quickly became the day, uh, or a pivot point in my own professional history that I knew nothing were, would be the same. And I wasn't wrong. Shortly after I was a part of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 moving from Kuwait up to Baghdad. And then I redeployed again in 2004 to 2005. And Ramadi and Fallujah, Iraq. I was part of the first Marine division under general Mattis. I'm really, my job at that time was to fuse all different sources of information intelligence into a picture to provide unit commanders with an assessment to allow them to mitigate their troops from threats. A very critical role at the young age of 2021 and 22 getting out of the service, uh, immediately after my second deployment, uh, was a bit challenging. There weren't as many resources as there are today for veterans that are transitioning out. And there was especially, uh, nothing focused on women. So I found myself met with a bit of frustration and you know, bias as to whether I served in the same capacity or had the same effectiveness as my male counterparts. Um, I, uh, you know, I, I luckily then went to college and found myself back in the intelligence community, but I do often reflect upon my service and that initial transition when we're providing, you know, our programs to our women veterans Speaker 4: 29:13 and your organization helps to meet that need for others. The, uh, you were referencing bias against the thought that women had actually served and uh, and getting women together and, and uh, following their service, which seems that there's a lot of organizations for men, but not so many for women. Speaker 10: 29:30 Correct. We're the only organization in Southern California and I would go as far as saying we're the only organization in the country doing exactly what we do. We absolutely the service of every veteran, however, we intimately know that women have historically been underserved and that there's a number of issues that compound the complexity of being a woman. That transitions out of the military. And so, uh, we really try to hone in on what we do best and that's meeting the needs of our women veterans. Speaker 4: 30:07 Now, how has the covert 19 pandemic shifted the focus of what the foundation for women warriors is doing? Speaker 10: 30:13 Right? So we've operated in a hybrid between an office and remote work, so that hasn't necessarily impacted our operations. I will tell you what has impacted us is the shift in the needs of our women veterans, those who were once stable and living successful lives, uh, that we helped, uh, through some obstacles. Some of them are now in the situations where their financial futures are very uncertain. We historically had, uh, eligibility requirements where you either had to be employed or in school in order to receive our assistance or agree to work with a partner agency to attain a job. We have shifted our eligibility because we know finding work right now is difficult. Uh, also if you've been laid off and, uh, there's a delay in unemployment, you're, uh, working hard to meet that gap. And then you also have additional issues with women who are single parents and they served in San Diego. They love San Diego and they didn't necessarily want to go back. So they're here as single parents without any family nearby, which just adds to the complexity of the issues that they're facing. So, um, providing them with emergency stipends for rent, utilities, insurance, uh, that's really what we're, we're doing to be impactful in this moment. Speaker 4: 31:41 I've been speaking with Jody Grenier, CEO of the nonprofit foundation for women warriors. Thanks Jody. Thank you so much. Speaker 1: 31:49 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Mark Sauer. Dulce Garcia is undocumented, but her status has mostly fueled her ambition, not stifled it. Garcia is an immigration lawyer and she's recently become one of the most high profile immigration advocates working on the border today. She's the new executive director of border angels, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian aid to migrants. She's also one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme court case involving DACA recipients. They are suing the Trump administration over its decision to end the program that allows people brought to the U S as children to apply for legal status. Garcia recently joined host Allen Lillian Thall on only here KPBS podcast exploring life at the us Mexico border is the, with his lawsuit Speaker 11: 32:40 that DACA will be reinstated or, or something that's a little more permanent. So since September, 2017 there were folks that never applied for DACA but would have applied for DACA that were left out of the program because it closed on September 15 2017. If we are able to get a favorable opinion, that means we might be able to open DACA so that these folks can apply for it. Last year we had over a hundred thousand people graduate from high school without DACA, without any protection from deportation, undocumented folks wondering what their future is gonna look like in this country. We, we hope that, um, the Supreme corporate tax DACA so that we are able to keep it in, in the, in the books that we were able to take advantage of, of being here in the U S without the feeling of overlooking our shoulders because we might be deported next. Speaker 11: 33:35 This administration was really smart to use us as political bargaining chips. Every time we go to DC. And I've been in these conversations with both Democrats and Republicans. They keep asking what we're willing to compromise on in exchange to protect dreamers in exchange for DACA or dream act. And if we lose this case, we come with a disadvantage at the bargaining table. How does it feel to be a client rather than a lawyer in this? It's strange to be a client. Um, I keep telling myself, be a good client. Don't be that client. I place a hundred percent of my trust on these lawyers, but I, I am, I don't often keep quiet, so I do voice my opinion. Um, just because I know this is much more important than any one person. This is about a movement. This is about not only 700,000 DACA recipients, but it's a UN, a movement of hundreds of thousands of people and really all 11 million undocumented folks that need this win. Speaker 11: 34:40 And so it's a little strange to be a client and I hope that I haven't overburdened the lawyers, but because I do understand the nuances in the brief, the arguments, I do understand what the technical language is. I'm able to offer a different opinion and I think you should ask the lawyers how much they welcome that. But from my perspective on trying my best to protect our folks, our undocumented folks, our movement, our momentum and so hopefully you haven't done too much damage, but it feels strange. It feels strange to be part of a, of a litigation as a client because there were times in both at the district court level and at the Supreme court level where I just wanted to stand up and screaming and clarify their reality of being deported. The idea of being deported is very real. It's terrifying and it's not just, we're not talking in the abstract, we're seeing ice deport DACA recipients. Speaker 11: 35:46 That is something that I feel was not exactly emphasized in the courts, how terrified we are, how scared we are of not just losing our jobs, but primarily being deported. Especially for those of us that are here in the border where we have the double deportation force, where we have border patrol and ice and now we're hearing talks of the military or constantly being told the national guard is going to be deployed, you know, whatever. This administration comes up with two terrorizes and so I think that feeling, being scared wasn't exactly told to the judges in a way that it was compelling or at least that's not how I heard it. And so a part of me wanted to get up and scream and say, no, this is about deportation. This is about hearing the words I'm ordering you removed and actually going through the process of being put in a detention center and eventually deported. Speaker 12: 36:49 It seems like that fear is, you're really using that fear as motivation. It's not paralyzing you and because now you're working even outside of the legal space, you are now also the executive. I don't know how you have time for all this, but yet now you're also the executive director of border angels. How did you first get involved with border angels? Speaker 11: 37:07 The very first time I heard about people dropping water at the desert was when I was 18 years old in a church group and I didn't have DACA then. And so my parents prohibited me from going on the water drops. Yes, for going on a water job. Um, when I received DACA, that was the first thing I did. I signed up to do a water drop with border angels and we went up to the wall and I remember there was a border patrol agent there looking at us. And I remember when I saw the wall for the first time I was impacted and I started sobbing because the, that wall had been the reason why I was so sheltered and constrained. And as much as I love every opportunity that has been offered in this country, that while it's also the reason why I couldn't leave the country, I was encaged and still am today Speaker 13: 38:17 [inaudible] Speaker 11: 38:17 for folks like my parents, those walls are even closer in. And so the side of the wall was a reminder of how constrained my life has been as a result of my undocumented status. And I remember sticking my hand through that wall and part of me was in Mexico. Part of me was here in the U S and at that time there was a little dog in a rancher on the other side and the Mexican side. I was talking to us and the little dog was crossing back and forth through that wall, through the slots. And I remember saying, man, that dog has more rights to travel than I do. Speaker 13: 39:04 Mmm. Speaker 11: 39:05 And so I knew I wanted to be involved with border angels from their own. Speaker 13: 39:13 Uh, Speaker 11: 39:24 it must be wild that you went from being a volunteer on the border angels water jobs to now being the executive director. How does that feel? That must be, that's quite an accomplishment. Thank you. Yes. Uh, I served on the, on the board, uh, for a year and a half. The executive director today, we have a lot of beautiful programs and really that's what I'm doing it because, uh, border angels does such beautiful work, not only the water drop program, but the ability to do good in the world. I think that was the most enticing part of the job to be able to provide direct humanitarian aid to folks in Tijuana border. It also supports like 16 migrant shelters in Tijuana. That's about 15,000 people in Tijuana and the MPP program and the remaining Mexico program being housed in about 32 shelters. We provide assistance to 16 of them. Speaker 11: 40:14 We, we help them with pain, things like the water bill or their electricity bill. We provide donations in kind like food. Uh, every two weeks we line up our cars at the office, we load them up with donations, and then we take them across to the Quanah. I say we as an organization because obviously I can't travel, but I see these, these videos and these pictures that folks come back with to show when the moment when we provide, um, toys or shoes for kids. You know, I see those images and it reminds me, it takes me back from when I was a child, when I was a newly arrived here. I remember at one point, uh, receiving here in San Diego, a used toy for Christmas and it was missing parts. It was a, it was a game and it was missing parts, but it was just so excited to receive a gift that, that Christmas that I was just so grateful and that gratitude. Speaker 11: 41:16 I see it when, when folks come back to me with the images after providing something as simple as shampoo or toilet paper, these kids are just so grateful for the little that they have. They're just so grateful. And then we also have our newly formed, um, immigration bond fund program by [inaudible]. And that is to help folks like my brother was in one point and detention without being able to pay for their Liberty. Essentially. We've been able to so far to help eight migrants, uh, some that have been intention for eight months. You know, these folks have nothing. And so they remain in, they're in detention and until their cases heard, uh, sometimes with the minimum bond of $1,500 in the socket come up with it. It's a lot of money for people that are knocking on our doors asking for help. And so border angels has been able to allocate $50,000 to help these folks. And so I've had the privilege to go into the ice offices and ask them to bond out folks. And so that is surreal to me that the idea of an undocumented person going to ice offices and signing the paperwork to release a migrant and asylum seeker for example, it makes my day every time. Speaker 11: 42:41 It gives me hope that even if we're able to help one person at a time, we're doing good in this world. Even if we can't help all 30, 2000 people or, um, I think now it's closer to 56,000 people in the MPP program along the Southern border. Speaker 11: 43:01 The silver lining, I guess with this humanitarian crisis that we have here at the Southern border, is that we've seen an influx of volunteers, people wanting to get involved. And so we're experiencing some growing pains, which is a good thing because people have responded to this call for help. There's families now crossing through the desert. They cannot go through the SLM process and they have to wait nine months or 12 months. And the Quanta, which is now the most dangerous city in the world, based on the murder rate. And so they see the desert and they become so desperate and they try to cross it. And so we see that migration pattern. And luckily people across the U S have come to help with that. Speaker 1: 43:50 That was Dulce Garcia executive director of the nonprofit border angels. Here are the rest of this episode of only here online at kpbs.org/only here, or you can listen wherever you get your podcasts.

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