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COVID-19 asylum limits at US-Mexico border to end May 23

 April 1, 2022 at 1:19 PM PDT

S1: Title 42 end in May.
S2: The way Title 42 kind of incentivized the illegal entry because it closed the door on the only legal pathway available.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman and this is KPBS Midday Edition. The COVID 19 pandemic made it clear that people who are not computer literate are at a big disadvantage and can become very isolated.
S3: The good news is seniors are smart people with the right support and the right rhythm to the learning. They will be lifelong technology users.
S1: And on our weekend preview , visual art , R&B and soul music plus art inspired by classic literature. That's ahead on Midday Edition. The White House announced today that it will end a controversial border policy that allows the swift expulsion of migrants at the border. Title 42 allows border officials to use the pandemic as justification for turning away asylum seekers without a hearing before an immigration judge. Joining me now with more on this news is KPBS investigative border reporter Gustavo Solis. Gustavo , welcome back to the program.
S2: Hello and thank you for having me.
S2: Since then , that kind of pretext of public health has kind of been exposed as as a facade. Right ? This has mostly been about border enforcement. And we know that through reporting and even how people who created the policy have reacted to news that it will be rescinded in the coming month.
S2: We've got to keep in mind that Title 42 has just been in place two years. So we have a long history of what asylum looks like before Title 42. But it is worth noting that the Biden administration recently issued new processes for asylum , aiming to streamline the process. So after Title 42 is lifted , we will see how those new streamlined processes work.
S2: Right ? The damage has been done for a lot of families who have been turned away and were victims of crime after they were turned away. There's also a bit of frustration that while it was announced today , it won't go into effect until May 23rd. And I spoke with Ginger Klein , who's a staff attorney with a lot Rolando based in Tijuana , and this is what she had to say.
S4: It's long overdue. I'm definitely glad that Title 42 will be ending , but this should have happened a very long time ago. Title 42 has had devastating effects on migrant families across the US-Mexico border who have been forced to remain in dangerous conditions for far too long.
S2: I mean , on the left , like I said , it's kind of too little , too late. It should have been done a while ago. And now there's this kind of grace period where it will still continue to happen until May 23rd. From the right , there has been criticism leading up to it ending mostly on border enforcement side of things , not on public health side of things , which really tells you what this policy is about in the first place. Right. The criticism from conservative circles has been that this will spur migration and it will , quote unquote , open the border and make it easier for for illegal immigration to happen , which it should be noted. I don't see them as valid concerns based on reporting and just about conditions. Right. That's a point I want to make about the rhetoric. Seeking asylum at the southern border is legal. Right. That is a legal way to come into the process. So to categorize that as illegal is just wrong. People have the right to do that. For many of them , it's their only way of getting in the U.S.. And to be clear , just because someone request asylum , it doesn't mean that they'll get it. Most claims are actually denied , but they at least get that chance to do it legally. If anything , ending Title 42 may decrease illegal immigration between the ports of entry because data shows that asylum seekers who were repeatedly turned away by Title 42 were so desperate to cross that they just went through deserts and mountains. And that was an uptick in illegal crossing between the ports. So in a way , Title 42 kind of incentivized the illegal entry because it closed the door on the only legal pathway available to these asylum seekers.
S2: But we know that is it's also a political decision and that political decision on what goes into making and evaluating those factors. They're not really made public. We don't know what internal conversations are happening. But from the outside , as someone who's been reporting on this , there is a growing chorus of criticism around this policy coming from the president's own party and also just based on his campaign. Right. Biden Harris ran on this campaign promise to make the immigration system more humane. And you can't simultaneously make the asylum system more humane and keep Title 42 in place. It just doesn't work. You can't really have both of them going at the same time.
S1: What's expected to happen in terms of the number of immigrants entering the U.S. once Title 42 has been repealed.
S2: Is difficult to say. I mean , there's been a lot of reporting. Mostly the source of that reporting is DHS officials saying that they anticipate a spike in migration. I don't know if we can say that definitively. I mean , there's already a lot of people at the border. There's already a lot of asylum seekers at the border who for two. Years have been waiting , so I don't see it as a surge. I see it more of like as a backlog. Right. You have thousands of people who have just been waiting. They'll finally be able to get a chance to pursue their claims , whether it will increase migration or not. It's kind of speculative at this point. I will say for asylum seekers , their motivating factors to leaving isn't the US bureaucracy right ? It's their fear for their lives because they are directly threatened because of their political beliefs or ethnic identity or gender identity or whatever factors. They're afraid to live in their home and they're making the difficult decision to pack up everything with their families and seek refuge in the US. That is the motivating factor and that doesn't change whether Title 42 is here or not , and that is the main driving factor for asylum seekers. I suppose there could be a case where people hear like Title 42 is gone. You might have a fair shot at it now , and that maybe would be a factor in the decision. But it's not. I don't think based on the interviews I've done with people over the years , the driving factor.
S1: I've been speaking with KPBS investigative border reporter Gustavo Solis. Gustavo , thank you very much for joining us.
S2: Thank you. Really happy to be here. You.
S1: The American digital divide is nothing new , but the COVID pandemic shined a bright , new light on the gap between those who could use the Internet and those who couldn't. KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge tells of the effort to get seniors and other people digitally connected to protect their health and reduce their isolation.
S5: Tish Fleming lives in San Diego's Gaslamp District , and she remembers the beginning of the pandemic when everything seemed to be closing down and the only companions people had were the ones they lived with. If there was anyone at all.
S3: I couldn't see my family , my granddaughter , you know , everybody was separated. And it was very , very difficult for me not to be able to be with them , not to be able to go to church.
S5: Fleming , who's 78 years old , says that social isolation ultimately forced her to learn to go online. The health risk of the pandemic may have been the greatest concern for isolated seniors. They were among the people most likely to suffer hospitalization or death as a result of a COVID infection. In fact , many of them didn't know how to get the things they needed as retail stores and other services shut down.
S3: And then the pandemic was just dragging on and on and on , and it became very , very difficult to accomplish the basic daily tasks. Get your medication refilled.
S5: Simona Vaillancourt is president of San Diego Oasis , which helps seniors stay engaged in healthy activities.
S3: Seniors are often , you know , not so technology oriented. They like to come in and say , I would like to make an appointment. They love to come in and make a joke and talk about the weather with their banker.
S5: With the pandemic. San Diego Oasis created online versions of their classes and programs. The next steps were to get the clients computer tablets and teach them how to use them. They got grant funding to purchase new tablets and they were careful to get ones that were very user friendly.
S3: So that , you know , you give this tablet to a person who's never had Internet or a smartphone. There's not 200 icons on it. So we cleared it out. We made it very simple , and we dedicated one full time staff member to do nothing but deliver these tablets and do one on one training.
S5: The situation was similar for San Diego County officials who were responsible for reaching people who needed COVID 19 tests and later vaccinations. Nick McKeon , director of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency , said the lack of computer skills and access for some people was a primary concern. In terms of our COVID response. There were two groups when we started and we were looking at initially those that had the ability with technology and how to use that , and then the other groups that did not. The state and the county provided information about COVID testing and vaccination online , but the pandemic required additional efforts to reach people who weren't digitally connected. The key thing was connecting with people where they're at , where they were living , so literally the old fashioned knocking on doors or going to markets or going to different civic organizations or places of worship like oases. San Diego County took steps to try to connect people to the Internet. It created how to video is to teach seniors how to order groceries online or set up a Facebook account. Today , Mashiane thinks San Diego has a much more sophisticated elderly population when it comes to technology. Fallon Chou agreed and added that today's social realities demand that elderly people work to join the online world.
S3: Human to human connection is sort of diminishing over time. But again , the good news is seniors are smart people with the right support and the right rhythm to the learning. They will be lifelong technology users.
S5: One of those seniors who has had to learn to use a computer tablet provided by San Diego Oasis is Bernadette Kubuqi. She says using the Internet has opened up her world.
S3: I started taking art classes , the teachers talking about some part of a painting , and I'm able to spread it out and take a look at it.
S5: Still , life with a computer only gets you so far.
S3: I wouldn't be someone who would be sitting in front of it all day. There's a lot of other things to do in life.
S5: Thomas Fudge , KPBS News.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. In our Weekend Arts preview , we have a couple of works pairing performance and visual art , some R&B and soul music art inspired by classic literature and more. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , welcome.
S6: Hi , J. Thanks for having me.
S1: So first we have a local contemporary dance company that's paired up with the San Diego Museum of Art. Tell us about this. Right.
S6: Right. So this is Disco Riot , who they do a lot of collaborative movement based art. And it's often that they pair the choreography with an interdisciplinary art form like this one , where they're being inspired by a work of art at the San Diego Museum of Art. They're going to be reflecting on Colleen Smith's 2020 video work called Flori Canta , which is itself a work inspired by another piece. It's an early 1600s masterpiece. Also in the museum's collection , it's one Sanchez contains still life with quince cabbage , melon and cucumber. It's one of those hyper realistic food still lifes. He had foods hanging from strings in this scene. And I interviewed Colleen Smith a few years ago , and she was inspired by the way that realness kind of melts away and it dissolves the more you look at it. The shelves are angled in a way that's actually impossible , and each food item has a totally different shadow , as if each had its own light. Source and Disco Riot will perform today in the museum's atrium with two short performances just 7 minutes. There's one at 330 and another at four , and it is free with museum admission , which is always free for youth 17 and under or for members. And the Collins Smith video and that one Sanchez curtain painting , those are still on view at the museum as well.
S1: And sticking with the theme of crossover art and performance events , the Grammy winning Silk Road Ensemble is coming to the Conrad in La Hoya in collaboration with a visual artist.
S6: And in this case , it's a collaboration of Syrian Armenian visual artist Kevork Mourad and with Syrian composer and clarinet player Kenan Azmi. And they have a small ensemble of other musicians performing as well. But Mourad will use live projections for his illustrations. He works on the stage alongside the musicians and the works. Explore Syria's recent history and the strife and what ho means for refugees are people living in war torn places surrounded by loss ? You can actually watch a previous performance of this collaboration from the Kennedy Center that's on YouTube , and it's really powerful , especially right now as the world faces even more conflict.
S1: Silk Road Ensemble performs Home Within Live on Sunday at the Conrad in La Hoya at 7 p.m.. It's the fifth anniversary of Courtyard , the East Village event , space and venue. And all of this month they're hosting special shows and events to celebrate starting on Saturday.
S6: Who are the latest local success story ? They're playing with Dev Love and Khalil Nash. And this is an outdoor show at Courtyard and it's an early show also starting at four , which is kind of nice for those of us who forgot how to stay out late during the last few years. And the Sacred Souls , they are fresh off of a national tour supporting Saint Paul and the Broken Bones , and they're going to head out again supporting Balanced Sebastian and Tennis later this summer. I'm also pretty excited to see Khalil Nash , who may not be on as many people's radar. But he did win a San Diego Music Award in 2021 for his EP Transcendence , which is brilliant. And this is when we were young.
UU: Would have been to us.
S1: You see , that's Kahlil Nash performing with Dev Love and These Sacred Souls on Saturday at Courtyard and Visual Art. Local James E Watts is set to open a new solo exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art on Saturday and tell us about his work.
S6: This exhibition , it's called James E Watts Storyteller , which is a perfect title for his work. He is a San Diego based sculptor , and he makes these really character driven works. They're often inspired by characters from classical literature. Some of these are figurative works , and some of them are flat works , but they're all still really sculptural. He uses a lot of reclaimed wood and tin and collage elements , a ton of intricate details. One of my favorites is to figure sculpture based on Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And one of the things people talk about when they talk about James Watt's is his studio. It's called the James Watts Institute for Artistic Behavior. And it's a street level studio downtown where you can peak in and you can see so much of his work in progress and on display. And this exhibition will be on view at Oceanside Museum of Art beginning Saturday through mid-July.
S1: And one more visual art recommendation from you. This one is a major group show across two galleries. Tell us about Bounteous. Yeah.
S6: Yeah. So both of Quint's La Hoya galleries are currently full of work by Quint artists. There is sculpture , photography , drawing and painting and it all represents this really impressive swath of time in contemporary art , including stuff from the California Light and Space Movement. And you can also watch for the really whimsical Tom Driskell installation. There's embroidered collage from Griselda Rosas , a really mesmerizing Christopher Pico sculpture , and then a pretty recent acrylic monolith by Robert Irwin. There's also work from other Quint artists like Gene Lowe , Ryan McGinnis , Kelsey Brooks and plenty more. There's 20 artists in total and both galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 5. And they're almost right across the street from each other on Girard and La Hoya. So you can head them both up in one trip and tastic.
S1: And of course , you can find details on these and more arts events or sign up for Julian's weekly KPBS Arts newsletter at KPBS Saugus Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thanks.
S6: Thank you , Jade.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's ending Title 42, a policy that limited asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. The change will go into effect on May 23 to give border officials time to adjust. Plus, the American digital divide is nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic shined a bright new light on the gap between those who could use the internet and those who couldn’t — including some seniors. And, performance and visual art pairings, some R&B and soul music, art inspired by classic literature and more in this weekend arts preview.