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US resumes controversial 'Remain in Mexico' policy

 January 7, 2022 at 3:44 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

The remain in Mexico policy resumes under Biden.

Speaker 2: (00:04)

We had some promises from the Biden administration that they would look to creating a more humane asylum system, but we haven't seen that mindset.

Speaker 1: (00:11)

I'm Jade Henman. This is KPBS midday edition. There are efforts to include women in the draft.

Speaker 3: (00:27)

She could also choose to serve in a cyber unit where she is sitting behind lines, where she's safe, but certainly working to disrupt the enemy. All of these jobs are important.

Speaker 1: (00:41)

A list of exhibitions to check out in your weekend preview that's ahead on midday edition.

Speaker 1: (01:00)

This week marked the return of controversial remain in Mexico policy. As two asylum seekers were sent back to Tijuana to await the resolution of their cases, the program, which began during the Trump administration and was later restarted by president Biden, highlights a frustration in the handling of asylum cases and approach that many thought would differ under the new P joining me now with more is San Diego union Tribune reporter Kate Morrisey. Kate, welcome back to the program. Thanks for having me it's. So Kate, bring us up to speed here. What led to the restarting of this program earlier this week,

Speaker 2: (01:35)

The program as a whole actually restarted in December, but it restarted here at the San Diego Tijuana border this week. And so this comes from a federal judge in a case brought by Texas and Missouri over the way that the Biden administration ended the program last year when they were initially trying to wind it down. And the judge decided that the program had been ended incorrectly and ordered that it be reinstated as part of that, the Biden administration has actually in some ways expanded the program. Particularly when you look at which nationalities they have said are eligible to be returned, that has grown to actually be the entire Western hemisphere, which was not the case when this program existed under the Trump administration. And so we have heard a lot of criticism for, from folks saying that the Biden administration is sort of using the judge's order as an excuse to bring back the program because it's reverting to this mindset of deterrence that is sort of a long standing way that the United States has addressed people coming to its border, including asylum seekers.

Speaker 1: (02:42)

And let's go into that a little deeper. Talk more about, what's been the reaction to the return of this policy. Well,

Speaker 2: (02:48)

Locally, a lot of the organizations that are generally involved in supporting asylum seekers in the San Diego Tijuana region, um, all of these legal services organizations are refusing to cooperate with the program. The Biden administration in Texas found a group of attorneys willing to sort of be a, a hotline for some of the people being returned there, but they have not found someone to do that work as far as I can tell in the San Diego read. And we're hearing, you know, just everyone is so frustrated that this program is coming back. This was a key campaign point for the president that he was going to get rid of this program. And I've heard a lot of people arguing that there were other ways that the administration could have responded to the judge's order. There are still court cases out there to get this program ruled as a legal anyway. And, and the Biden administration is still pursuing the previous administration's defenses of the program in, in those court cases. What do we

Speaker 1: (03:51)

Know about the asylum seekers who were sent back

Speaker 2: (03:54)

So far? There have been across the border more than 200 people who have returned the first day in San Diego, Wednesday. There were two people, it was two men from Columbia. I believe there were seven more the next day. And, and we have yet to see, um, how many are coming back today Friday. So it's sort of slowly increasing in, in the numbers that are being returned. What we do know about the larger number of returns at the Texas border is that these are largely nationalities who were previously being allowed into the United States to pursue their asylum claims. And that's significant because there is a second border policy from the Trump administration that has carried over and been continued and defended by the Biden administration. And that is the title 42 policy, uh, which started under the pandemic and gives officials this ability to expel people without allowing them to access the asylum system.

Speaker 2: (04:50)

And what we've seen lately is that policy being applied to certain nationalities, but not as much to others. So we see that happening to people from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and what we've heard from officials, and what we've seen on the ground is that people of those nationalities are still being selected for title 42, rather than remain in Mexico. So remain in Mexico is more happening to people from Nicaragua. For example, where you have a president, who's basically made him to a dictator. And so anybody who is politically dissenting there is not safe. And so we do see a lot of people fleeing here from Nicaragua, asking for protection. And in Texas, that's been the largest group returned.

Speaker 1: (05:33)

Some of the criticism is also that this policy has the stint of racism on it. Can you talk a bit about that?

Speaker 2: (05:39)

I think that goes back to this idea of de current that the United States has had for decades in its approach to border management, which is based in this belief that people arriving at the border is a bad thing. And a lot of that is based in some of the racism and xenophobia that dates back decades and centuries in our country. And so when you're looking at how these policies are framed and how they're thought of there are continuation of that legacy. In a lot of ways, we haven't seen anyone in these positions of power in our country, really try to fundamentally change that we had some promises from the Biden administration, that they would look to creating a more humane asylum system, but we haven't seen that mindset really change from what has been around for decades and decades.

Speaker 1: (06:24)

I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter Kate Morrisey, Kate, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks

Speaker 2: (06:30)

For having me

Speaker 1: (06:36)

Congress month ditched a controversial measure that would've required women to register for the selective service men must register when they turn 18 and can be forced into military. If the us ever reinstates the draft, but supporters of gender neutral registration say they'll keep working to include women, Desiree DeOrio for the American home front project. It was

Speaker 4: (07:00)

The closest the country has come to requiring women to register for the selective service, the house of representatives and the Senate arm services committee approved the historic change as they debated the annual defense spending package. Then it got stripped out during closed door negotiations support for the requirement has United unlikely political allies, democratic Senator Kirsten Gilland from New York, a member of the armed services committee calls it a gender equality and a national defense issue to say only men are needed in that moment of a national emergency is outrageous. And obscene Gilland says she's determined. And to get the law passed, whether that's through annual defense spending or a standalone bill Republican Senator Joanie Ernst from Iowa also backs the measure. The army veteran says a draft is very unlikely, but women would be essential in any future conflict. She could also choose

Speaker 3: (07:56)

To serve in a cyber unit where she is sitting behind lines, where she's safe, but certainly working to disrupt the enemy. All of these jobs are important.

Speaker 4: (08:09)

The call to include women in the selective service has picked up steam. As women have expanded their footprint in the military while congressional Democrats are largely United on the issue. Republicans are split Republican Georgia, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor green said at a September meeting of the house rules committee, that women would be unfairly disadvantaged if forced to fight men

Speaker 5: (08:34)

And women are not physically the same and women do not possess an equal opportunity to survive on the battlefield and direct combat with battle hardened men. And I can say that as a woman who can deadlift 300 pounds can do more pull ups than anyone else in this room and run faster than any of you.

Speaker 4: (08:54)

The push to require women to register with the selective service reflects a report last year from a commission Congress created it recommended Congress, keep the selective service in place as a last resort. In case the us

Speaker 6: (09:08)

Faces a threat too big for the all volunteer military to handle. And it said women should be required to register to Republican former Congressman Joe heck from Nevada served as chairman Congress has once again, sure. At their responsibility to answer an important question that they themselves raised, that they chartered a commission to review, which commission returned to report with a recommendation that both houses accepted in their spec of drafts only to have it taken out as a political maneuver.

Speaker 4: (09:38)

Meanwhile, some feminist groups are calling on Congress to dismantle the selective service system altogether. Code pink is an anti-war group that formed in 2002 during the run up to the Iraq war national director, Carly town says of expanding the selective service use false feminist language. It's

Speaker 2: (10:00)

Premised on the idea that gender equality means expanding the opportunity for women to be coerced into joining the us military. Our take is abolish it for everyone that is true. Gender equality.

Speaker 4: (10:12)

This summer, the Supreme court rejected a case that argued the all male selective service is discriminatory. The justices said the issue was for Congress to decide former Congressman Joe heck hopes. Now the Supreme court will revisit the issue. I'm Desiree DeOrio on long island. This

Speaker 1: (10:31)

Story was produced by the American home front project, a public media collaboration that ports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. You're listening to KPBS midday edition I'm Jade Henman in our weekend arts preview. We have some intriguing ensemble music and lots of new visual art from border artists, including an exhibition of painted renditions of celebrity mugshots. Joining me with all the details as KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Welcome.

Speaker 7: (11:14)

Hi Jade. Thanks for having me first

Speaker 1: (11:16)

Up. Let's talk about two new exhibitions opening up at best practice gallery and Logan Heights, both by Mexican artists who are longtime partners and collaborators. Tell

Speaker 7: (11:26)

Us about them. Yeah. One is a work by Mauricio Munos and these are paintings that they based on celebrity mugshots. And then there's also a video installation, a separate exhibition by Andrew Roberts. Roberts work is informed by this pretty unusual connection that his family has on both sides. Both of his grandfathers, one in America and one in Mexico were involved in arms manufacturing during the Vietnam war, working with the same company in different countries. The Mexican grandfather opened a factory of his own only for it to be completely lost to fire. And the American grandfather, after he fought in the war in Vietnam, he came home with severe PTSD and he burned down his own home. So Roberts is drawing on a lot of family trauma and connects it to these really bigger issues of interventionist policies and the arms relationship between us and Mexico using video game software. He rendered 3d models of his grandfather's house and his grandfather's factory that burned. And he created this two channel video work with narration for that show. Mm.

Speaker 1: (12:43)

And I wanna hear more about those celebrity mugshots and why that was important to turn into artwork.

Speaker 7: (12:48)

Well, these are pretty incredible. And for me, what was actually of unsettling was how instantly recognizable these paintings are. Despite the fact that Munios uses really thick brushstrokes. These paintings are like abstract swirls of color and texture, but they're still unmistakable there's Paris, Hilton's mugshot, there's Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber. And what Munia is trying to get at here is the way we have this kind of hunger for what they refer to as celebrity misery,

Speaker 8: (13:21)

I found like the roots of today's obsession and eagerness to consume and see like the misery of the celebrities. It's almost like, um, well you thing see like all with celebrities like suffering or seeing them in some kind of trouble or they, they always arrested for, you know, driving under the influence or possession or, or some, something like that, that at end, all these celebrities just get away with whatever they they did.

Speaker 7: (13:58)

And you can see these works during the opening reception for both exhibitions on Saturday from five to eight or during best practices, open gallery hours. They're located at bread and salt and Logan Heights. And they're open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 to four. And there's a, a lot to see at breads salt this weekend. So it is worth popping in Roman DeSalvo has just reinstalled his 2019 tree sculpture that was originally constructed inside the Timkin and the San Diego art prize show is also closing this weekend. So it's your last chance to see that on Saturday also, Maggie, she is doing a morons hier edible installation called scape, but definitely check out those best practice exhibitions. That's Mexico

Speaker 1: (14:43)

Based artists, Mauricio Munos and Andrew Roberts on view at best practice from Saturday through February 12th, let's stay with visual art up in Oceanside. There's a new exhibition of photography by Tijuana based artist. Andres Hernandez. Tell us about

Speaker 7: (14:58)

This. Yeah, this is called crying on the blue line trolley, and it is such an evocative idea. It's analog photography, some collage and some poetry and video works as well. I'll based around the landscapes and the architecture of this route between her home in Tijuana and in San Diego using public transit. There's a lot of bridges there's overpasses, but also the natural boundaries to like the estuaries and the fields. And this is all really intimate and vulnerable work to new. You can view it at hill street country club at an afternoon, reception on Saturday from one to four masks are required and they're only light in group six at a time for short 15 minute viewings. So after that, it's viewable by appointment and you can easily make a reservation for that online

Speaker 1: (15:48)

That's Andre's Hernandez, solo exhibition at the hill street country club, which will be open Saturday through February 28th. Now for some music, the sound on festival turns for their 14th year with a reality, what can we expect?

Speaker 7: (16:01)

Yeah, this is a joint venture of San Diego, new music and the Athena music and arts library. It kicks off last night and has performances tonight and Saturday night. And each show features a pretty broad range of what's considered new music compositions, including the winning selections from sound on's call for scores from 2020, it's all performed by the ensemble in residents that standing on new music, that's called noise conducted by Robert Zeman. There's flu cello, percussion, piano, and guitar, and looking at Saturday evening's performance in particular, I'm drawn to this brand new work for electric guitar. That sounds like it's for a full orchestra. This is by Anthony tan called revealing the divide Masks are required and the Athenas Jacob's music room in Lolla will only be at 70% capacity or less. And if you can't make the show at I've put a few streaming links in the article where you can listen to more of the tan composition and some of the other works in the program on your own time.

Speaker 1: (17:22)

The sound on festival has concerts tonight and Saturday at 7:30 PM. And one more music event, Liz salon day musics performs a concert Sunday afternoon at the LA Jolla woman's club. Tell us about this. Yeah,

Speaker 7: (17:36)

Let's start with listening to Mozart's piano quartet in E flat major,

Speaker 7: (17:56)

And this is a beautiful work it's for piano quartet. So for piano and three strings, and this was a form that Mozart was particularly good at, and he kind of spearheaded the popularity of the, of the form, a piano quartet, and Launi mus is a chamber performance group. That's new in town, just this last year and their structures intimate. There's no stages. And the concerts are kicked off with a musicologist talk. This one will be Newby meta, who you may have heard the symphony as well. They'll play them outside as well as works by Rossini and Beethoven. They usually also have a champagne reception, but due to the current COVID surge, they're creating these fancy little take home snack boxes. That way guests will be able to keep their masks on the entire time at the performance Las and

Speaker 1: (18:46)

Lawn day. Mus takes place Sunday at 4:00 PM at the low Hoya women's club, given the uncertainty of the current COVID surge and the possibility of event cancellations, be sure to check with event organizers before attending for details on these and more arts events or to sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts newsletter, go to I've been speaking with K PBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia, thank

Speaker 7: (19:13)

You. Thanks so much, Jade. Have a good weekend. You too.

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This week marked the return of the controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy, as two asylum seekers were sent back to Tijuana to await the resolution of their cases. Plus, Congress ditched a controversial measure last month that would have required women to register for the Selective Service — supporters of gender-neutral registration say they'll keep working to include women. Also, our weekend arts preview has some intriguing ensemble music and lots of new visual art from border artists, including an exhibition of painted renditions of celebrity mugshots.