President Trump’s Tariff Threat
KPBS Roundtable / June 7, 2019
President Donald Trump is threatening to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican goods as a way to force the country to take more action to slow migration to the U.S. Monthly increases could bring the tariffs as high as 25%. Both countries are trying to negotiate a solution. Pushback to the idea includes some Republicans in Congress who say the tariffs will damage the economy.
Speaker 1: 00:01 Cross border business might soon be more expensive if president Trump's threats to impose new tariffs on Mexico in response to the surgeon border crossings go through. San Diego has a reputation for being one of America's safest big cities, but some neighborhoods are seeing a rise in violent crime. And how quickly does the sheriff's department respond to complaints of misconduct? KBPS goes to court to try to answer that question. I'm Alison Saint John and the KPBS round table starts now.
Speaker 2: 00:30 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 00:39 welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories. I'm Alison Saint John in from oxo hour, and joining us at the KPBS round table today are Matt whole editorial and opinion director of the San Diego Union Tribune. Claire Trager, sir, investigative reporter for Kpbs News and Greg Moran, investigative reporter at the San Diego Union Tribune. President Donald Trump's latest strong arm political tactics are aimed at our immediate neighbor to the south. San Diego is in a position to directly feel the brunt of the terrorists that Trump says he may impose on Mexican imports starting Monday if Mexico does not take steps to reduce immigration from Central America. The Union Tribune's editorial team led by Matt Hall has been following this story and we would like to know, Matt, what you find out about how these tariffs would affect business in San Diego locally. If they were to go through, what sort of things would go up in price, what sort of jobs might be threatened, whether it be real impacts and they would get worse as, as the months go on, depending on how long this lasts.
Speaker 1: 01:42 The president obviously has said June 10th, Monday 5% tariffs escalating to 25% by October. And so you're talking about Avocados, tomatoes, you know, a lot of agricultural produce comes from, uh, Mexico, uh, medical devices, a lot of medical devices, uh, uh, go through Mexico and come up here. The regions are really interrelated and of course the biggest part of the economy. One of the things, part of the enemies is cars, right? A lot of people still drive around in cars, right? In southern California, uh, cars and car parts. There are some products that, uh, you know, come through, uh, across the board of 14 times as they build into bigger and bigger products. So there's no question it's a real impact. I'm not sure of the job losses in San Diego, but they're saying nationally it could be hundreds of thousands as a result of this. So the timing of this is particularly unfortunate for San Diego city, Mayor Kevin Fortner who, uh, is right at this moment in Los Cabos.
Speaker 1: 02:33 I'm talking with other North American mayors about increasing cooperation with Mexico, uh, must be very difficult for him to be doing that kind of negotiation with this as a backdrop. Yeah. Also a good opportunity though, right? I mean, uh, a problem, uh, you order problem means is that there's a solution, uh, possible. So we'll see. I think, uh, Kevin Faulconer has done a very good job of representing the region as one region, right? I mean, uh, Tijuana and San Diego are essentially one city. Um, and that's the way that the mayor, it looks at it. And I think he'll bring that point of view to, uh, conversations that he has with these hundred plus mayors down when they're not vacationing in Mexico today. Talking to the president of Mexico and the president of Mexico is actually going to be, uh, up until you want it tomorrow. So, you know, the Baja region as a whole and the San Diego, Tijuana region in particular, uh, is a really, should be a driver in this conversation.
Speaker 1: 03:29 And you saw it as soon as the tariff announcement came out from, uh, the president of the United States Chamber of Commerce was immediately on it. You know, they didn't delay in, in saying the pain that this would cause, and the problem that this creates, I mean, our mayor is in fact, we were Republican, so that must be a little awkward for him when his own Republican president is coming out with such a contradictory measure. I think the mayor has, has gone to the lengths to distance himself from the president of states, as many Republicans have. Me, the interesting thing about these tariffs, uh, is that it was, uh, a GOP senator from Louisiana, John Kennedy, who is one of many, uh, people in Congress who say that these terrorists are soul or just simply flatly a bad idea. He said, the president likes to play with fire this time.
Speaker 1: 04:13 He's playing with hand grenades, hand grenades. So take that for what you will. In fact, we go ahead. I'm just curious, you mentioned the effects that this will have, uh, the terrorists. I mean, how, how soon does that knock on effect kind of ripple through the local economy? There's growing them on entirely. Sure. I mean, we don't know how much of what Trump proposes his bluff and how much of it is reality. And if he actually follows through as his press secretary said, today is still the plan, uh, with this 5% tariff, whether that means that they'll actually happen quickly or, uh, over time or whether that itself will just be a way for him to leverage. Um, some concessions out of Mexico is, the reality is there is a humanitarian crisis at the border. This is a third straight month that 100,000 people have shown up at the southern border, the United States seeking asylum. And that's a huge issue. Um, tio question, Greg. You know, it seems like even the customs agents, so saying it couldn't possibly implement these kinds of tariffs by Monday, it's just too fast to turn around. So the timing of all this complicated issue, very open to interpretation. We had our San Diego Congressman Mike Levin in the studios, uh, yesterday and he was obviously not very pleased about, here's what he told us about his attitudes to these threatened tariffs.
Speaker 3: 05:29 We're in the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. It would cost our local community, our local region, $1 billion a year. Uh, so this is absolutely wrong. It's going to hurt, uh, California consumers, San Diego, consumers and businesses as well. Uh, there was a recent report that said it could cost 400,000 plus jobs a year. So this is just wrongheaded and for Kevin McCarthy or any other member, uh, Republican member from the California Congressional delegation to support these measures is highly irresponsible.
Speaker 1: 05:58 And I think they have to decide do they want to support president Trump or do they want to support at the state of California because there's really no middle ground. And Congressman 11 did actually say he'd been talking to people in his constituency who are both Republicans and Democrats and couldn't find anyone who thought this was a good idea. So, I mean, do you think that this might give him some ammunition in his campaign coming up next year to keep his seat? I mean, there's so many, uh, grenades that are going to come in that campaign in any campaign that I find it hard to believe that tariffs with Mexico will be an issue in a year. Hopefully. If, because if that happens and we had bigger problems, um, you know, so we'll see what happens. I mean, I think what's encouraging to me is that there are some Republicans in Washington who, you know, setting in Kevin McCarthy aside who realize that this is really a terrible idea.
Speaker 1: 06:48 Once you know, understand the economics of tariffs. Yeah. It means more money for your, for the government coffers. But that's passed through to consumers. And we're already seeing that, uh, you know, those costs are going up because of our trade war with China. So your smartphone cost more and all these other things are, are, are, uh, we're, we're seeing it's odd because terrorists are often used, are usually used as a weapon in a trade war, but here are, the policy doesn't have that kind of coherence. Right. He wants to get some sort of, uh, foreign policy or immigration reform in Mexico done by the use of the tariffs. I mean, is there any sense that you know, that these two can be linked or related like this at all? Well, I think the president has linked him, but I think, I don't know if it's unprecedented, but it's extremely rare that, that these two, uh, complicated issues are, uh, kind of mashed together like this because it's difficult to solve one on its own.
Speaker 1: 07:42 So if you kind of, you know, so, which is interesting for the president. I mean, he, he could get a win out of this if Mexico make some concessions and they strengthen, uh, you know, their southern border and they work, uh, to change immigration flows from Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador. You know, then all of a sudden this crazy idea that, that many people have a, you know, kind of, um, cast aspersions on could be seen as crazy like a fox. We'll talk a little bit about what some of the things that the Mexican has already said they would do. Yeah. And they've already made some concessions. They, they've said, I think that they have about 1500 national guardsmen at their southern border, um, to address the immigration flows from Central America. They're saying that they'll increase that to 6,000, which is a pretty major increase.
Speaker 1: 08:28 They're also saying that they'll work to keep this Romaine in Mexico policy. Where is opposed to how it used to be when immigrants come up seeking asylum, they get to stay in the United States before their cases are heard or has their cases are heard now they'll have to stay in Mexico. So those are two big issues. There's also this proposal called the safe third country that would, is pretty, uh, um, it's kind of a game changer that would allow, uh, the United States say we are not going to accept asylum seekers, that if you come from Central America and go into Mexico, that's considered a safe country. You have to seek asylum there rather than come to the United States. So we had a reporter, a NPR on NPR. We heard Carrie Kahn saying that she had been down and talking to people in Tijuana about what their attitudes to this is.
Speaker 1: 09:13 And um, her impression was that people were pretty dismissive and didn't seem to have much respect and just thought that the president would probably, you know, this was just cry wolf. Do you have reporters who are getting impressions from Tijuana? I haven't spoken to reporters who had been down there specifically. I think just judging by, uh, the president's track record, you know, he's pretty blustery and says some things, it doesn't always fall through. So I think when you first set up, people were like, oh, you know, this is crazy. But it probably won't happen as we get close to his deadline. I think the reality is, no one knows. That's kind of the president we have now is that he kind of, um, governs by a hair trigger. So we'll see what happens this weekend and whether by Monday these tariffs go into effect. Cahtos now, good tip.
Speaker 1: 09:58 It's important to note that San Diego city's violent crime rate is lower than the national average, but an analysis by the San Diego Union Tribune, it shows a troubling trend of rising violent crime rates in some parts of the city over the past five years. Greg Moran was part of the team that looked into the data and analyzed it and you analyze police data and an interesting way you sort of broke it down by, by census tract and neighborhood rather than police, you know, the way they do it. What did you find about which cities actually have increased the violent crime and, and or decreased?
Speaker 4: 10:30 What we found was, uh, within the city of San Diego. And that's the only jurisdiction we looked at, that there are, um, a number of neighborhoods that have seen an inquiry or twice as much violent crime, uh, between 2014 and 2018 than they did between 2013 in 2017. So one year kind of made a difference. And that overall in the city, if you divide the city up into these small geographical areas that we did the census block groups, which are really kind of neighborhoods, um, you see that there's a greater percentage of neighborhoods with a doubling of violent crime.
Speaker 1: 11:06 Can you give us some specifics?
Speaker 4: 11:08 Like the, one of the neighbors we looked at it, that's in the story is a, the mountain view neighborhood, which is in southeastern San Diego down by, um, the border with national city. And this was a neighborhood that in 2014 had a total of five violent crimes. Now many in 2018, they had 22. Those numbers aren't huge or anything like that, but you have to remember these are small areas. These are clusters of streets, six, eight, 10 streets there, areas that generally have a few hundred to maybe a couple thousand residents that's other census divides these things up. So if you have, you know, 22 violent crimes, uh, in your immediate neighborhood, if you think where you live in a violent crime is usually going to involve some kind of police presence, lights and sirens may be police tape. You have, you know, 22 almost, you know, to a month for a year, you're going to notice that. And that was one neighborhood that really seemed to have a spike.
Speaker 5: 12:00 Well, I'm interested, sorry, go ahead Claire. Well, I was curious why you decided to look at such a small geographic areas instead of like maybe the bigger overall mountain view neighborhood or something like that.
Speaker 4: 12:11 We thought, uh, for a couple of reasons. One, overall we wanted to understand crime data, uh, kind of as close to the ground as we could. We wanted to reduce it a almost to the street level, uh, as much as we could. And that's because, you know, no one else really kind of looks at it this way, that police look at it in terms of police beats or whatever juris days. Governments tend to look at it and city council districts are zip codes or things like that. It was kind of my thesis that, you know, if you really reduce it down to what people understand is their neighborhood, which is the area directly around where you live, then then that will have more meaning to them. So because on one hand, when you, when you hear crime in the city is down. Yeah. Which we've heard often in which it is, the last year went up a little bit.
Speaker 4: 12:58 Um, you know that if you're in an area where there is 22 violent crimes or a chronic violent crime prom, you know that that isn't your reality. That isn't your truth. So we wanted to, to, to kind of get below the numbers in a way and get them as close to the ground as we could and then go talk to people about, about what they did. I think it's a pretty useful way to understand, you know, violent crime. It doesn't mean that the city data is wrong or Santa Ana is wrong, it's just a different way. So when you went to talk to people, I understand some of the neighborhoods were completely unaware of these trends. Yeah. Uh, there were, um, one that at a, a particularly large increase over the last five years, was it up in Claremont in the Claremont Nice neighborhood. And I talked to a couple of people there and, and uh, they were kind of scratching their heads and there was all, this is news to me, you know, uh, they weren't really alarmed by it, but they were kind of surprised by it.
Speaker 4: 13:49 And that was true even when we did this story last time, when you go into places that really had that, the data showed it had a significant number of violent crimes. They either said, well, I have, it's surprising to me. Or they would say, well, no, it's actually worse over there. You should go over there. Yeah. People don't really understand a, I have a perspective on what's going on. And there was never evolution of understanding. I mean, I guess the big question is why, why is violent crime going up in some of these areas? Did you correlate the data with some other factors like um, affluence for example, or I don't know. There might be some explanations. There might be. And that's, you know, one thing. No, it is short answer to the first part of the question is we don't know why and I don't want me to kind of throw up my hands and sort of say it's vague, but I mean it, crime is a kind of a complicated, uh, can be a sort of a complicated phenomena and it's difficult sometimes to isolate one reason or another.
Speaker 4: 14:38 I mean, in some of these cases, some neighborhoods we've looked at, you can isolate it. You know the story we did back in March found an area where there was literally one house that was a troubled house where the hedge candidate for a huge number of the calls, once they kind of cleaned up the house and the renters moved that are the people who are there, they're moved out that neighborhood now in the next five year period completely fell off the chart. It's way, way down. So it could be something as simple as that. Others are more complicated. You know, a lot of the neighborhoods that have very high crime rates, crime and violent crime increases are close to parks or adjacent to parks. And so there's a lot of people, maybe people coming from out of the community that do that. Another thing you see is that, um, in this analysis that we did from 14 to 18, a lot of the, the neighborhoods that had an increase in crime or next to or very close to areas that have long had a problem with violent crimes. So there's kind of a leakage or sort of a spillover echo. The way,
Speaker 1: 15:35 I'm curious because I'm, Sandy puts out crime statistics for the whole region, for the whole county, not just the city and says that there was an increase but that it was matched by the increase in the population. So they were suggesting that perhaps the crime rate hasn't gone up. It's just that the number of people have gone up and so the numbers of crimes have gone up. Could that part, they explain any of those yet?
Speaker 4: 15:55 Yeah. Uh, but again, that's kind of a different metric right there. Looking at rates and per capita we looked at just percentage increases. Number of crimes. Yeah. We kind of normalize for population across the data set, but our emphasis was just really looking at what I think are we thought was kind of the most understandable metrics for people. The number of crimes and the percentage of change and we didn't rate it out. I think it's great journalism. I mean I, it's, it's one thing when you hear of a massive spike in crime, every journalist is in town. It would be like, why is that? And ask these questions. When you hear crime is at historic lows. One way to approach that story is to not cover it, but you know, my colleagues on the new side that you need to Tribune and have really taken a deep dive into this. And I think, I do think it's smart. I do think that's how people approach their neighborhoods. I don't know how you guys look at yours, but you know my neighborhood, I know the people on my street, people two streets over. I know some of them, right? And fewer and fewer as you go on. And, and that's I think a definition of community that, that people should be interested in.
Speaker 1: 16:58 Yes. Living in an area that does have one of these higher, you know, number of crimes in that small area, you may not care that overall crime is down. You really only care what's happening in your particular neighborhood. However, the question still remains. You know why I think that's always the most interesting question. And I wonder if you think that there's a way that one could correlate the data so that you could see if it may be drugs or gangs, right.
Speaker 4: 17:24 What other metrics can we haven't done that yet? And there's a number of different ways you can do, you know, we know some basic demographics from these areas. So in like in the four neighborhoods we kind of looked at or we looked at in this, uh, in this iteration of the story, um, you know, all four of those have median household incomes well below the median for the city. Uh, yeah,
Speaker 1: 17:47 they tend to be increased as well. And notice as a side, yeah, it's not, it's not isolated. Only two parts of La and the Claremont is, you know, Pacific beach, right. Quite a bit in some places. And that's not, so I'm sure you'll probably be evolving this, this is the second year you've done it, right. So you will probably continue. Yes. We've got some more stories coming in. Great. Thanks Greg. So a young investigation by KPBS into how the San Diego Sheriff's department handles citizens complaints, reveals the agency has inconsistent policies. And lacked accountability. Many complaints had to wait weeks for a response and one in six complaints. Never got an answer or a response of any kind. So KPBS investigator, reporter Clara Traeger, Sarah has been following this. And Claire, I was wondering what is it that originally that you've been following this for more than a year? I understand. What is it that got you originally interested in the topic?
Speaker 5: 18:39 Well, it started with, um, some women coming forward with stories about, uh, sexual assault by a particular a sheriff's deputy, Richard Fisher. And one woman especially said, you know, I tried to report this, I sent some letters to the sheriff's department, Internal Affairs Department, and never got a response. The sheriff's department says they never received the letters, but that just made me wonder, okay, you know, how long does it take them to respond to complaints? And so I put in a request for that information and I thought it was going to be a pretty straight forward request. And they said no. Um, we tried to negotiate and ended up having to sue to get the records. I mean, it does raise the question. I guess is if they had received these complaints earlier, would they have apprehended Richard for sure earlier and prevented because there was, he was accused of a number of crimes.
Speaker 5: 19:29 Right. So, um, the, the records request that you filed was very specific. Can you quickly summarize what it was you asked for, why they refused it and why that didn't really stand up in court? Well, so I didn't ask for the complaints themselves. All I asked for was the date that they received the complaint and the date that they responded and that was it. And the sheriff's department refused that request. And they cited a couple of different parts of the law. Um, California law and other laws that say that police investigations in general are exempt from public records requests. Um, but we made the argument back that even the, the part of the law that they were saying had an exception written in that said, uh, you have to provide basically what we asked for that, the dates of complaints and the response to those complaints.
Speaker 5: 20:19 So after about a year, you actually did get the documents and you found that some of the letters never got a response at all. Um, and I don't know, I mean, did you find that out from the data that they got complaints and they just didn't get a response? Right. Yeah. So all that they provided was a pdf, not a spreadsheet, but turned it into a spreadsheet that um, that showed just the dates that the complaints were received in the dates that they responded. And so then there were a number about one in six that just never had, um, a response at all from the department. The lawyers there give you some reason for why that was? Yes, they said that, um, there are some complaints that they received that maybe don't have a return address. Um, the, the lawyer for the sheriff's department also said that some of them maybe don't make sense.
Speaker 5: 21:07 Like people are complaining, he said that Martians have landed on their front yard and so they don't respond to those complaints. Um, or if someone maybe writes in over and over and over again, they'll, they'll stop responding. Um, because it's just a serial complainer. I'm, and I'm sure that that does happen. And there, you know, maybe people who don't have a permanent address, so there's no way to really write back to them. But then we also do have other examples of say, this woman who said, you know, I sent in a serious complaint, um, and I never got a response. Did they respond to that? Well, they said that they never got her letters. Hmm. Um, so yeah.
Speaker 4: 21:45 Right. The ones that they did respond it was very bad. If they're not responding, I don't have somebody saying Martians landed on my thing. They were public agency to respond. But for the ones they did respond. Um, did they find any of these complaints to be found? The, these are complaints about officer conduct or just a,
Speaker 5: 22:01 if they don't, they didn't provide me any of the information on the complaints themselves. It's just when they responded. So I've been, you know, I'll put the cod again. If, if anyone has had an interaction with the sheriff's department and either sent in a complaint and didn't get a response or did get a response, I would love to hear about what that experience was like. Um, because all I have is the dates
Speaker 4: 22:23 basically that you went to court to get those. Any sense that the, the uh, defense or the argument from the sheriff's department? I mean, it doesn't sound like it had much merit did that
Speaker 5: 22:33 well, we settled so we never actually got to to argue in court. Um, it seems, I mean it's, it's interesting to me that we had to go through this process to have them in the end, just provide the records and have to spend some money on attorney's fees in the process. Um, when they could've just provided the records in the first place. [inaudible] they're all flat with say, it seems like you have no merit as it was ridiculous. It seems ridiculous. So again, $80,000 of yeah. Of Attorney's fees because you do, let's just turn over the records. Yeah. You did not get the same response from the city police department. I understand they have a very different way of responding to what we even, I mean, in the, before we filed the lawsuit, we were attempting to negotiate and their argument was it'll be a lot of work because basically we don't, um, we track the dates that we receive complaints, but then we don't track the dates that we respond.
Speaker 5: 23:30 So we'll have to go into each individual file and look at that complaint and then say, okay, here's the date that we responded. And so we said before we filed the lawsuit. Okay. Then just do it for part of them. Like, just give us a random sample. You don't have to do it for every single one. When we settled, they ended up doing it for every single one. So they also could have saved themselves some work. Um, but the, but the police department in San Diego Police Department was willing in the negotiations to work with us on that. So we have something to compare. Right. Yeah. It seems like there just wasn't a very consistent policy. Well, you spoke with a former commander, sheriff's commander, Dave Meyers, who actually ran for sheriff. And here's what he told you about what he thinks of this policy of their policy.
Speaker 2: 24:13 Yeah.
Speaker 4: 24:13 Yeah. The way the process is set up now, um, it is ripe for abuse. It's ripe for abuse to summarily dismissed with that documentation, complaints from the public. And it's also ripe internally for it to be used against those that uh, certain individuals in power want to, um, want to, uh, taint want to, um, perhaps get rid of a without cause.
Speaker 2: 24:47 Okay.
Speaker 5: 24:48 So Claire, did he give you the impression that he thought this was part of a bigger sort of institutional culture that can be problematic at the sheriff's department? Yeah, his point there was, he was saying that in general complaints are handled at the lowest level possible. So it may be that someone comes into a station with a complaint and the person can just take that complaint and then maybe not even necessarily file it or you know, just try and dismiss it as quickly as possible. And so you can see if, if that is the system that these, you know, bigger complaints about problem deputies are not going to make it up to the top. Okay. So you have said that you were inviting people to let you know if, because you would like to keep following up on this and see if they have actually changed their policies. Thank you very much. Clearer. So that wraps up another week of stories at the KPBS round table. Thank you to Matt Hall from the San Diego Union Tribune, Claire Trager, Sir from KPBS news and Greg Moran, also from the San Diego Union Tribune. I reminded that all of the stories we discussed today are available on our website, kbps.org I'm Alison Saint John. Thanks for joining us today on the round table.