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How are new immigration rules reshaping the US-Mexico border?

 June 28, 2024 at 3:03 PM PDT

S1: Welcome to KPBS roundtable. I'm Andrew Bracken. Earlier this month , President Biden took executive action to limit asylum along the US-Mexico border.

S2: The number of arrests for illegal crossings have dropped more than 40% since the announcement , since this took effect on June 5th.

S1: Another major change looks to provide a pathway to citizenship for spouses of American citizens. Then , the US women's national soccer team will be looking to capture gold at this summer's Olympic Games , but we'll be doing so without longtime star player Alex Morgan. That's all ahead on KPBS roundtable. There's been major changes in immigration this month. The biggest of all is President Joe Biden's executive order , which sharply limits asylum claims once border arrests reached 2500 per day , the processing of new claims stops and once arrests reach 1500 per day , processing can reopen again. The problem is the number hasn't gone down below 1500 since July of 2020. Elliot Saget from the Associated Press and KPBS Gustavo Solis have been on the ground covering the impact of these changes. And they're back now in roundtable to tell us what they've been seeing. Elliot , Gustavo , welcome to roundtable. Hello.

S3: Hello. Hello.

S2: Good to be back.

S1: So first off , Gustavo touched a bit about what these new asylum rules look like.

S3: Um , but , like , they went into effect immediately because they were already above that , uh , 2500 arrest number. Important to know that they apply only for people crossing in between the two ports of entry. Some people call it crossing irregularly , some people are crossing illegally. But essentially folks who are not crossing through the legal ports of entry. And it's kind of layered and you can kind of jump in. But , I mean , the big headline was that folks crossing that way , once this is implemented , are ineligible for asylum. There are some carve outs , you know , unaccompanied children or particularly of vulnerable cases. Um , and I think the second layer is sort of once , once they're in custody , it raises the standard of proof to establish credible fear. It makes it a little bit more difficult to do that. And there are some , uh , there's some language in the new rules that expedite deportations over there. Um , so the I mean , back to your question about what the impact is , I think we're still in wait and see mode. But I know at least in Tijuana , people are concerned that this comes after other limits on how people can ask for asylum. Right ? So if we go back to kind of how it used to be before the pandemic , before title 42 , before CBP , even before all this , it was more or less straightforward on paper. And , Elliot , I mean , you've been on the ground too , but but my understanding is people could walk to a port of entry , uh , raise a credible fear and kind of get processed that way. And that's how it was for a long time , until a Border Patrol started saying like , no , we're too full. Come back later. Um , but like , the whole system had just kind of changed. And that was the one and only way to kind of do it. And now there's all these barriers and blocks and , and different restrictions and loopholes people have to jump through. And it just creates a lot of chaos. And for the Mexican side of the border , a bottleneck of people trying to get to the US , but being kind of cut off in how they can get there.

S1: Elliot , before we started talking , you and Gustavo were kind of talking about some of these new restrictions.

S2: It's like , you know , they're very vague terms like , uh , you know , more likely than not to suffer persecution when you return home. This is a lower standard than that. Um , for the initial screening , it gets very complicated. But bottom line is it's much harder to , um , to , to , to , to get that screening to pass that initial hurdle. And if you do , you're eligible for , uh , alternative forms of asylum that are , that are harder to get , um , including , for example , the United Nations Convention Against Torture. And I think Gustavo described it , uh , but the brunt of it , uh , the one other change that's very important is that Border Patrol agents are no longer asking migrants if they fear a return from home. Before they were , they were asking them. And now the migrant has to bring it up affirmatively without prompting. There are some. I was in a Border Patrol processing center Tuesday and in Nogales. And , you know , there's signs up , uh , there's a video running that's sort of like if you've been in a DMV office , there's a video running , uh , that explains this new procedure , but they're hard to see. It was hard for me to see them. So the , you know , they have to express it affirmatively , saying , I am afraid of returning home or do what advocates call a shout test , which it means , like manifesting fear through some other way , like you're crying or you're obviously just in , you know , you can visibly be at your there's visible signs of distress , which is difficult to know how the , you know , that's being applied. Um , I interviewed Secretary Mayorkas yesterday and he said the asylum officers and the agents are have extensive training on this , and they're able to identify when there's these these visible signs of stress. And. Distress. And if that's the case , then there will be put into the screening for for these other forms of asylum or protection. Um , the other changes that now you have only a four hour limit on , uh , consulting an attorney or family members before your , your screening interview so that that's , you know , it's a major , major change being challenged by , uh , advocacy groups already in court. But we don't know when that , you know , that that legal case will come to , uh , to ahead.


S3: Right. Almost like universally. So , um , there's a bit it's been a constant throughout the Biden administration , uh , particularly from immigration advocates that lean more towards the left , which which is most of them. Um , but in 2020 , if you remember to that campaign Biden ran against Trump , really calling out his immigration policies , called them inhumane , um , heartless. And he ran on a platform to reverse a lot of that. I think one of the big talking points was restore a humane asylum system. Um , advocates see this new action as a broken campaign promise , as going back on his word specific to to asylum and restoring a humane asylum system. Uh , they are not happy with what's going on , and they're communicating that unhappiness , um , through. A federal lawsuit challenging this new order. So there's just been a lot of , um , condemnation. Um , this idea that that he's turning his back on this part of this part of the party , part of his base right before the election , and they just feel a little bit disillusioned by Biden because of this action.


S2: I was in a processing center in Tucson , Arizona , on Tuesday. Well , the numbers are down dramatically. The number of arrests for illegal crossings have dropped more than 40% since the , uh , since the announcement , since this took effect on June 5th. They're down to 2400 a day , which is the lowest since before. Uh , it's the lowest since just before President Biden took office. Um , and they're they're dropping more and more each day. Uh , President Biden said last week that they were down 25%. Now they're down 40%. Um , in the Tucson sector , they're down by half. Um , it's it's had an immediately , you know , chilling effect on people thinking about crossing the border illegally. Uh , and the administration points out , rightly so , that , that it's early going that , you know , you remember , after the pandemic , uh , related asylum restrictions ended in May of last year. Uh , the numbers also dropped very sharply in the first month in June. And then they went back up in July and reached a record high in December. So it's it's early going , but the impact has been very , uh , very immediate and , and very big , uh , mostly on Mexicans , uh , because they're the easiest to deport.

S3: I think when you talk about numbers , I don't know how you feel about this , Elliot , but. I don't trust month to month numbers with some of this stuff. I mean , some of them are seasonal. We kind of expect the numbers to go down a little bit in the summertime. There's also the factor of Mexican , uh , National Guard enforcing the the southern border in Mexico. I , I think I mean , obviously the administration is trying to take a bit of a victory lap while saying , you know , it's preliminary numbers and they're just kind of starting. But there are so many factors at play here. I don't know if you can point to one thing or multiple things that are reducing the numbers.

S2: And the politics are very you know , it's hard not to view any of the sort of political lenses. It's it's you know , Mayorkas did this news conference in Tucson yesterday calling the policy a success. This was , excuse me , this was on Wednesday , uh , the day before the debate. You know that. That's for sure. You know , it's definitely a political story , but a 40% drop in three weeks. And remember , it was already down significantly from the record high in in December , which which defied seasonal trends. That was largely you know , people seem to think and I believe this due to increased Mexican enforcement. But , you know , a 40% drop in arrests in in three weeks is is is pretty astonishing , I think. And it's hard not to look at , you know , the the order had to have something to do with that. I mean I just don't know what else what what other factor. There's there's nothing else you could point to seasonal or any , any other issues. There has been no identifiable increase in Mexican enforcement. I do think this has had a very , very big immediate impact. Although , again , you know , the time will tell.

S1: And you've been you recently reported on how some shelters south of the border serving migrants are struggling to keep up with the increased demand as a result of these new rules. Can you talk more about your reporting there and what they're going through ? Well , I.

S2: Was , um , you know , going to Tijuana , um , several days after this order took effect to try to find Mexicans who were deported there. San Diego is one of the busiest , if not the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. And so I thought it would be very easy to find people who were deported. And it wasn't a lot , though the advocacy group put up a booth and information booth right at the border crossing , where and then we're seeing like maybe five people a day. I went , I called , I kept calling all of the , you know , major shelters. And they were not receiving anyone deported. I staked out the , uh , immigration holding facility , uh , where people were being were people are taken after the deported and Tijuana , uh , and couldn't find anyone. Uh , I eventually went to Nogales , Arizona. Well , then Sonora , right across the border. I mean , there's the shelters in Tijuana. Uh , in. Gustavo may be able to add to this , but they're not. I mean , they're busy , but they're not. I've seen them far , far busier. And they're all. They're filled with people who are waiting for these appointments. The CBP , one application to to enter the country legally and then seek asylum. They're not people who are deported. And and so I went to this shelter , um , Tuesday in Nogales , Sonora , across from Nogales , Arizona , and they were getting about 100 people a day who were deported , uh , all Mexicans , uh , Mexico does also accept people from other countries , specifically Cuba , Haiti , Nicaragua , Venezuela , all countries that are difficult for the US to deport people to. But I didn't see anyone from those countries , just all Mexican women who were very upset about what happened and very , you know , the people from other nationalities , Colombia , India , Senegal were getting released in the United States despite this order , because the US lacks resources to deport them. And they were the Mexicans were getting deported. So they were very upset about this. You know , what they saw as a , you know , unfair , unequal treatment. That's what I saw.

S1: When roundtable returns , we continue our conversation on the new border rules and what they mean for migrants in and around Tijuana.

S3: So it's a lottery and the demand outweighs the supply , which means in Tijuana , people , the average wait time , according to the city government , there is seven months. I spoke to people that were waiting 8 or 9 months.

S1: That's ahead on round table. You're listening to KPBS roundtable , I'm Andrew Bracken. Today we're talking about changes along the border with KPBS investigative border reporter Gustavo Solis and Elliot Baggett from the Associated Press. And , Gustavo , you know , we talk about the numbers and how those change. But ultimately , it also often comes back to the experiences of people , many of them families , and what they're going through as a result of these changes.

S3: You're you're hearing it right. The policy looks one way on paper , and it kind of sounds abstract. The idea that you raise the standard of proof , right. Those are words. They don't really mean anything , but they mean a lot to the women that Elliot you were talking to in that shelter in , in Sonora , I mean. Right , that's kind of the impact of this. They if they had crossed maybe six months ago , they would have faced a totally different process. Like it sounds like they're pretty rightfully upset by it. Absolutely.

S2: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I mean , the issue is that , um , the US , you know , they've had we've seen a large , very large number of Chinese crossing in San Diego , thousands a month. But there's only been one deportation flight to China , uh , this year. So that means that the Border Patrol has to release them just like before. I mean , this order applies to , you know , all nationalities , but in practice , you know , it can only be be used on those who can be deported , like , who can physically be deported , that their countries will accept them. Um , you know , with China , Venezuela , although I mentioned Venezuela , Mexico will take them back. But many countries , you know , just refused to take back their citizens for , for diplomatic reasons. And there's also , you know , just just a many problems. It's very expensive to operate these charter flights. Some countries are very slow at issuing , um , travel documents. So for that reason , you know , the Border Patrol for many nationalities has to , uh , it finds itself releasing migrants as if this , this order didn't exist. But for Mexicans , of course , it just involves , you know , driving them a few miles to the border crossing in Tijuana , uh , or whatever the nearest border crossing is. It's a very easy and expensive process. And so that's why they're bearing sort of the they're , they're really the ones that are most affected by this.

S3: And most of the folks I've been talking to are kind of on the other end of that. Right ? They're migrants still in Mexico waiting to to come into the US , and they're mostly doing it through the CBP one app. Right. Which is kind of what this policy is about. Right. Part of the reason the Biden administration announced these restrictions to access to asylum , if you're crossing illegally , is to encourage people or really force them to use existing legal pathways. He calls it , uh , what that looks like is a phone app. Um , you sign up and you , you register for it , and you try to sign up for an appointment , um , to come into the country every day. There's between 1400 and 1500 appointments throughout the southern border available every day. But tens of thousands of people , if not more , hundreds of thousands of people trying to get the appointments every day. So. So it's a lottery and the demand outweighs the supply , which means in Tijuana , people , the average wait time , according to the city government , there is seven months. I spoke to people that were waiting 8 or 9 months. And the stress of just waiting , the uncertainty of will it be today ? No. Will it be today ? No. The uncertainty , the stress. Uh , remember , these people are kind of , by definition , already very vulnerable. They left their home. They don't have a lot of money. There's an unstable living situation in a shelter. Many of them have children. And just the stress that you see , I mean , you can physically see the manifestation of stress. There are women who whose hair is falling off. There's a there was a gentleman with a I forget the name of it. It's a skin. Um , vitiligo stress aggravates it. Right. So when he left Cuba , it was only a little bit in his hands. And by the time he was , I talked to him in Tijuana. It was all up and down his arms. And you can just kind of see how he showed me pictures of before he left to now. And he's just aged more than a year , you know. Uh , so it I think that's something key to keep in mind while we're having these conversations , just the impact that these policies have on human beings.

S1: Well , and you mentioned that the CBP one app , which is something you've been covering for , I think , over a year now at this point , are you surprised because there's still multiple problems with it ? There's still technical issues with it. Right. So even before you can get in the line , you have to be able to connect through that app.

S3: I mean some of it are just innate , right. To having a smartphone. Do you have a good enough smartphone ? Do you have a smartphone of this generation that can access the app ? Um , do you have access to Wi-Fi and reliably so , um , the app is only available in three languages , right ? Spanish , English , and. Haitian Creole. If you don't speak one of those , can you navigate the app ? Do you have the right amount of tech savviness to use the app ? Um , I spoke with folks from like Elliot Toledo , who are challenging the app on the basis of how it impacts people with disabilities. Right ? If you're blind , you probably can't use the app , right ? They talk to people with , um , you know , their handshake and they can't use it , things like that. And that's just like barrier to entry from the beginning , right ? The other part of it is the long wait times and living in uncertain places in Mexico , I mean places along the border that our own State Department says do not travel to. Um , that's another problem of it right there. So there's kind of multiple layers to it. And one of the complaints after this , uh , wave of executive actions was that , look , you're you're kind of funneling even more people to this app that's already kind of overburdened and not working very well without opening up more spots. And I think that's something like Andrew Mayorkas was very clear on that. There was no plan to increase the number of appointments available every day. Um , so that's been a challenge. And I think to be fair to CBP , I mean , I think the last numbers were , uh , 630,000 people had come into the country through the CBP. One app actually waited and made requests. They say they're working on fixing glitches throughout throughout the process. Every day. They're trying to make it a little bit better. Um , they prioritize a certain percentage. They haven't told me what that percentage is , but they say a certain percentage of daily appointments are prioritized to people that have been waiting the longest. So I think they're at least listening to some of these complaints and addressing the ones that they can't. But like I said , there are some just innate built in problems with the methodology.

S1: And one of the people you did speak to in your reporting on CBP , one app , you spoke with immigration attorney Jeremy Jang from Otro Lado. And here's a little of what he told you.

S4: What you're doing is you're funneling everyone into one line , and the line is is already longer than any line you've ever seen in your life.

S1: So , Elliot , you know , Gustavo was just talking about how long this line is getting and funneling , you know , into the app. Are you getting any indication the way they'll manage the line or that that line will be dealt with better in the future with these changes ? No.

S2: I mean , as Gustavo pointed out , they've been very emphatic. Mayorkas repeated it yesterday that they're not raising the level from 101,450 a day , about 400 of those , I believe , for a little under 400 are through through San Isidro. Um , uh , you know , they do have an additional I believe it's like 150 slots about roughly per day along the border for sort of extremely dire situations , exceptions. So call it 1600 that , you know , are getting allowed in daily. Um , and that's a very large number. I mean , 630,000 , I think , Gustavo said so far since it was introduced in January 2023. And then in addition , they have um , the CNV , the acronyms that they love , the Cubans , Haitians , Nicaraguans , Venezuelans who can , uh , up to 30,000 can come through by applying online and flying into the United States with a financial sponsor. And that number is also in the many hundreds of thousands. So they've opened up these legal pathways and say , we're cracking down. Um , you know , um , the app is my sense is that , you know , Gustavo's pointed out a lot of the issues , the ongoing issues. Um , it's an improvement from the beginning when it was really a mess. But , um , you know , um , I think that , um. It's probably and it's also probably better than what was before in many ways where it was just this ad hoc system where migrant shelters. And I remember in Piedras Negras , Mexico , the owner of a local steakhouse was deciding who would get these limited slots. So it just varied. There was in Tijuana , there was a notebook , a tattered notebook that was managed by. We're really not sure who. I think it was the migrants themselves , but we don't know which ones. So it was just very subject to , you know , corruption and mismanagement. And so now CBP , you know , in January 2023 , stepped in and said , okay , we'll we'll manage this. Yes , problematic. But I think it has eliminated it , has addressed some of the other very , very serious problems that were happening in in terms of deciding who , you know , who gets to the front of the line , who gets these limited slots.

S1: So aside from the changes to asylum we've been talking about , President Biden also announced the US would open up a pathway to citizenship for spouses of American citizens.

S2: Um , I think in some ways you could even argue it's bigger than DACA. Um , and , and , you know , we've all been living through this policy whiplash where , you know , one policy after another. But this was pretty remarkable where , you know , in the span of two weeks we've had these two major , major announcements , one which infuriated many , you know , in Biden's base and was , uh , sort of an unprecedented , uh , move to restrict asylum. And then two weeks later , I think it was or less than 2 or 3 weeks later , he's announcing , uh , that spouses of people in the United States illegally can , uh , do not have to leave the country to gain legal status. So , uh , the way it was before. And now , even for those who are getting married today , they have to leave the country. And for Mexicans , they have to go to Ciudad Juarez to get their their papers processed. And it's usually up ten years. Um , so up to 500,000 spouses are believed to benefit from this , where they won't have they'll be able to get their their legal residency and , and eventually citizenship , uh , work permits everything , um , you know , without having to leave the country. So there's 500,000 plus 50,000 , um , children who who are who don't have legal status. That's a , you know , it's a big deal. And the reason I say maybe bigger than DACA is that it's citizenship or it's a path to citizenship.

S3: Yeah , that's a big point because that's one of the things folks with DACA right now are experiencing is the the lack of the uncertainty. Right. There's no pathway. It's just kind of temporary. You renew it. And if somebody like Trump comes along it challenges it in court. That actual pathway to citizenship is massive.

S1: Elliot mentioned this term policy whiplash. And Gustavo , you alluded to it a little earlier about how the Democratic Party is is , you know , handling immigration and how that's been shifted.

S3: Right. And that's one of the things , the talking points that the Biden administration has been pushing and a lot of Democrats have been pushing , is that these executive actions were kind of forced on them after Republicans killed the bipartisan bill. Um , so it's all being framed as in the absence of , uh , legislative solutions , we have to do these these kind of one off policies , which has been immigration since , I don't know how long. Elliott. Definitely Obama. I don't know if Bush kind of handled it that way , but immigration has just been kind of like immigration policy in the US has been executive actions and lawsuits and court decisions , and it's just kind of made up like that. Um , to your question about , oh , go ahead. Well , to to to your question about where this is going , I do think , uh , and I've been hearing it from a lot of folks , a lot of sources that the , um , they're concerned or they're viewing the actions as the left slowly going to the right when it comes to immigration , that a lot of the conversations and where people stands in their viewpoint have really since 2016 , since Trump made immigration such a big focal point of his campaign and political career , he's kind of dominating the conversation in the discourse. And and the Democrats haven't really found , uh , response to it. And they're just kind of embracing some of the , the obviously not the rhetoric , um , and some of the harsher policies , they're still rejecting that , but you are seeing them embrace some of the Trump era policies.

S1: Elliott , your thoughts on the political ramifications ? Yeah , I mean , I.

S2: Think Biden has sort of found his footing. Politically on this issue ? Uh , to some extent. Um , I'm not saying , you know , anything about the merits of it or whether it's going to resonate with the American public , but this is an issue that has really had him on his heels from the beginning. And he's he's he's been all over the place , you know , at the beginning. Remember , on his first day he had legislation to provide legal status for , you know , 11 million people and and reverse many if you know not not all but many of the Trump era policies and then the numbers just shot up and and the polling has really worked against him on this issue , which is why Trump is , uh , seizing on it. And Gustavo is absolutely right. And , you know , they make this point. Biden folks do that , that Congress has done nothing. Um , and so it leaves it in the hands of the white House. But I think now they have this , um , you know , Biden has a response. He says , we're cracking down on asylum , you know , taking these , these , these. I don't want to say extreme , but really drastic , drastic measures against asylum and , um , at the same time opening up legal channels. And so that's his response. You know that. And Congress is doing nothing. So we're doing something. So whether or not the people , you know , the voters agreed with his vision or Trump's , which is more , you know , I would say to the right , you know , uh , set mass deportations , um , you know , he's talked about ending asylum. Asylum is a sham , is what he said. So , you know , that's the choice that voters have. It's a stark choice. And Biden , you know , whether whether or not voters will buy it , at least he has , you know , an answer now , um , that that will we'll be seeing in the next few months.

S1: As we wrap up here.

S3: One , as Eliot said , it's been less than a month since this new order took took in place. So I think it's on , on all of us collectively to keep looking at it and really see what the long term impact is. I'm starting to look more on the San Diego side of the border and kind of see how it's impacted. For months now , advocates have been calling for the city of San Diego , the county of San Diego , to step up and help the response. There's been some funding allocated , but it hasn't. It's still going through the RFP process for another shelter here in San Diego. And I have heard more troubling reports of people , uh , asylum seekers coming into San Diego , kind of falling through the cracks and ending up in our this homeless population. Right , is not having it's not big numbers , but just a few. Like I think it's impactful. Right ? I think on the ground here in San Diego still well over 90% of them leave and move on to other parts of the country. But I think more and more are staying in San Diego , particularly those who don't have sponsors or friends in other parts of the country. And to date , the region , I think needs a long term plan of how to address this. And I think that lack of plan , lack of leadership is something I do want to keep an eye on.

S1: Elliot , you have the final word here.

S2: Well , you know , I'm just looking to see how this order plays out is temporary , but , you know , it could be permanent. Who knows ? Um , and so I'm curious to know whether people are getting a fair share , a fair hearing , and also , like , more broadly , like the future of asylum. Like , what is it ? I mean , uh , it's clearly not working right now as it was intended to , but you know what ? What is what is this measure ? If it has any staying power , what's it going to do to asylum ? And , um , and also just , um , how it's going to , you know , be enforced on the different nationalities on the Mexicans versus is the word going to get out among the Colombians and the Chinese and so forth that , hey , you know , the it you're going to get. There's no change. It's business as usual. You're going to get released. And so that's something that that I'll be watching very closely.

S1: I've been speaking with Elliot Padgett , San Diego correspondent and U.S. immigration team lead with the Associated Press , along with KPBS investigative border reporter Gustavo Solis. Thanks , as always , for joining us. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.

S1: When we come back. The US women's national soccer team will have a different look at this year's Olympics , when it will play without legendary player Alex Morgan.

S5: I would say she sort of planted the seeds for her own replacements , because she was such a magnetic figure early in her career that a generation of players was captivated by watching her.

S1: That's coming up after the break. You're listening to KPBS roundtable , I'm Andrew Bracken. Next month , the United States women's national soccer team heads to Paris seeking gold in the summer's Olympic Games. But for the first time in several Olympic Games , it'll do so without star player Alex Morgan. The San Diego Wave FC forward was left off the Olympics roster in an announcement earlier this week , and that announcement left many San Diego soccer fans disappointed. Adding to a so-far disappointing season for the San Diego Wave FC overall. They returned to Snapdragon Stadium Friday night hoping to end a seven game winless streak. Tom Creswick joins me now. He covers the wave and a lot more for the San Diego Union Tribune. Tom , thanks for being here.

S5: Glad to be here , Andrew.

S1: So , you know , this week with this news Alex Morgan left off the Olympics roster. You wrote a column about that decision. You called it tough but fair.

S5: In 2027 , you have the pinnacle event , the World Cup , and this experience should prepare them simultaneously. Alex Morgan has had a difficult year with an ankle injury. She has done some things well , but she's not in peak form. She's only played in eight matches with the wave and she hasn't scored a goal. Not all her fault. She's still doing good things. She's still a good player , but that works against her a little bit.

S1: And on those younger players you mentioned , two wave players have been selected for this Olympic team. Can you tell us about them and what they hope to be bringing this year in Paris ? Sure.

S5: Naomi Girma is a central defender , arguably was the best player for the United States at last year's World Cup. Naomi will almost certainly be one of the starters for the American team in every match. And then Jaden Shaw , who's only 19 years old , she'll play. I would imagine off the bench as a forward or a midfielder , and is a terrific prospect to who joined the national team last fall and had a lot of success , so it'll be fun to see if she can keep that going.

S1: And you kind of alluded to this earlier , but this sort of idea of an aging superstar being replaced by younger mentors , it's a pretty common sports narrative.

S5: And in Alex's case , I would say she sort of planted the seeds for her own replacements because she was such a magnetic figure early in her career that a generation of players was captivated by watching her 2010 and 2012 and just helped make the US program a collection of of all stars and superstars that that people wanted to watch. Their TV ratings were really good in the big events. Well , a lot of those players turned out the young youth players turned out to be excellent players in their 20s. Jaden's 19 and they're ready to help out and they need to play. And so it is a good comparison you make.

S1: Where does Morgan go from here ? You mentioned some injury struggles this season.

S5: That is pretty important match. If they were to win that match , they would climb in the standings into the playoff picture for now. And I'm sure she wants to finish this season on a good note. This isn't how anyone would want it , but the fact that she's not going to the Olympics will bring her a some some needed rest perhaps , and some time to line it up for the last stretch with the wave. And that could help her out. And don't be surprised if she plays very well down the stretch.

S1: Well , in turning now to the wave , who you mentioned has a match , a pretty big one on Friday night. There was some big news for the wave as well as the US Olympic roster , and that was on Monday. The club fired its first and only head coach , Casey Stoney. Um , what led the team moving on from the coach and who just a few months earlier signed a contract extension. Right.

S5: The move was made by. Jill Ellis , the team president. Andrew , she was the coach at UCLA for a number of years , very successful. And she won two World Cups with the US women's national team. So she has a background in this. And from what she said on Monday , she she was very praiseworthy of what Casey Stoney has accomplished , built the foundation a lot of success here. But. She made a comment that she would like the next coach to have a team that's built on attacking. Those are the three words. And Casey Stoney's approach was more predicated on a strong defense. Doesn't mean you can't have both. You know , that's the goal is to be really good at all these things. But the identity of the wave under Casey Stoney , who is a former defender herself , was the captain of the English national team , was defense and they're very good at it. So Jill has to sort of take a detached view of things and see what going forward would be the best approach. And she wants more offense. Of course she wants victory. That's assumed. But I think there's a stylistic component to this as well.

S1: Well , you mentioned , you know , Jill Ellis's history and pedigree in the sport of soccer. We do have a clip from the announcement of the coaching change. And here's what Jill Ellis , some of what Jill Ellis had to say then.

S6: In sport. We don't live in the past. Um , it's how we perform in the moment. And in this moment. We felt , uh , you know , and again , it was very hard. We needed an inflection point. So we made a very hard decision to change our head coach and , uh , begin a search for a new one.

S1: You mentioned earlier how Jill Ellis , the president of the wave , is , you know , a World Cup winning coach. She's in Hall of Fame. Uh , I imagine that must have been a challenge for Coach Stoney.

S5: And Jill went on the recent trip where they went to three cities in eight days hot weather and had two games in the last couple of minutes. A goal allowed that really put a downer on things. And then a scoreless game in Houston in the third of those games. And it was a rough trip. The schedule indeed was not fair to them. Which was something the coach pointed out. But Jill had away all these various factors , and that's the decision she made. It wasn't an easy situation for us. Casey. Stoney.


S5: No team had gone to the playoffs as an expansion franchise. Most of those teams were uncompetitive the first year. Clubs. Well , they went to the playoffs. And then the second year they led the league 12 teams in the regular season and won the regular season title. So very impressive. Bottom line results. This year has been a big disappointment. Stylistically , I would say most soccer fans would like a little more of an attacking style. But can you pull that off without sacrificing defensive quality ? That's a tough trick to pull off. Overall , I'd have to give her a very good grade for what she accomplished.

S1: You mentioned earlier this idea of turning to a more attacking offense.

S5: She used the term broad. She wants to let it play out. I don't think she's in a hurry. I think , uh. It could take a number of months. And that's I think if she gets the person she wants. She's fine with that. And then you have to see if the players you have are compatible with what the new coach wants to do. And if you need some changes there. That's where glass comes in. And they hired a new general manager , uh , recently , who was with the Kansas City team that now is tied for first place. Uh , Camille Ashton's her name. And. You know she's going to have a different perspective as well. The Kansas City team has scored three times as many goals as the wave this year. So that's I would say that's an attacking style. So a lot of things going into this over the next several months.

S1: And what are the prospects for this season ? We're a little more than halfway through this NWSL season. Um , and the wave are not there yet. I think earlier you mentioned there still is playoff possibilities here for this team.

S5: There are 14 teams in the league. Eight of the teams get into the playoffs. So it's a very forgiving format. They're now in ninth place so they're only one spot out. And if you get a victory that's worth three points. So you you if you were to get a few victories almost certainly you get into the playoffs. And I think that's a very realistic outlook for the wave , for the simple fact they do play good defense. Their defense is , uh , near near the very top. So most of their games are very close. That leads to sort of a randomness at times to the outcomes. And I would assume over those 12 games they should be able to come up with a few wins and make this very interesting.

S1: So the wave , they're returning to the pitch Friday night for their first game since the coaching change.

S5: That's one thing. And then of course Alex Morgan , you know , I would expect Alex assuming she's able to play and all that is going to be very determined. She always is. But you never count her out. Never count out a player of her competitiveness and her stature.

S1: Well hopefully the wave can get back on the winning track and we'll see how they do this weekend and going forward. Tom Creswick covers the San Diego Wave FC for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Tom , thanks for being here.

S5: My pleasure.

S1: That'll do it for our show today. Thanks so much for joining us. You can listen to KPBS roundtable anytime as a podcast. The KPBS roundtable airs on KPBS FM at noon on Fridays again , Sundays at 6 a.m.. If you have any comments on today's show or ideas for a future one , we'd love to hear from you. You can email us at roundtable at , or leave us a message at (619) 452-0228. Roundtable's technical producers are Rebecca Chacon and Brandon Truffaut. This show is produced by Laura McCaffrey , along with me , Andrew Bracken. Brooke Ruth is roundtable senior producer and I'm Andrew Bracken. Thanks so much for listening and have a great weekend.

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