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Influx of asylum-seekers puts strain on border and immigration system

 September 22, 2023 at 2:42 PM PDT

S1: This week on Kpbs Roundtable. Thousands of migrants are being dropped off in San Diego as immigration officials are reportedly overwhelmed.

S2: The lull that we saw in the summer is is over and the numbers are shooting up.

S3: We've seen this off and on when the shelters are not able to take everyone who is arriving and being processed by border patrol.

S1: We have a trio of local immigration reporters with us who are diving into why this is happening now. And people will think the problem is here. But it really it's.

S4: A problem from top to bottom of our immigration system.

S1: Don't go anywhere. Roundtable is coming up next. Welcome to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. The past week has brought thousands of migrants to the San Diego region. This after being processed by federal immigration officials. Many have been dropped off seemingly randomly at local transit centers. The high numbers have created some challenges for local aid groups and shelters , as it appears that border agents have once again become overwhelmed by the number of asylum seekers along the US-Mexico border. Here to talk more about recent events along the San Diego Tijuana border region are immigration reporter Kate Morrissey is here. Kpbs border reporter Gustavo Solis is also with us. And Elliot Spigot is here. He's the US immigration team lead with the Associated Press. I want to welcome you all here back to roundtable. We appreciate you guys all coming back on again as we've done this at least a couple of times. Kate , we'll start with you first. You had a recent story for the Los Angeles Times. And in that story , you wrote about a group of migrants that were being dropped off in a San Diego parking lot and essentially being left there by federal immigration officials. So this isn't something new for our region. Right. But it's been ramping up in the last week or so.

S3: And so there's a couple of different things happening right now. One being that one of the shelter systems that has received some support from the state of California is seeing that state support decreasing over these these couple of weeks leading up to October. And so they have reduced the number of people that they're taking and are sort of triaging who is in the most vulnerable situation and trying to take those. The other shelter. The San Diego Rapid Response Network shelter is is maintaining its capacity but is not able to pick up , you know , all of the the people that the other shelter is having to to turn away. And so everybody's in sort of this vulnerability triage moment. And so people who are deemed to be less vulnerable when they're released by Border Patrol are taken on buses to transit centers , trolley stations around the county and left there.

S1: And , Kate , these are people that are coming to the US seeking asylum and they've kind of gone through initial processing and are awaiting further like court dates. Or do we know what that is ? Correct.

S3: They have come to the US generally to to seek asylum. They're coming from countries across the world that have a variety of of different human rights situations going on in them. And so they are being released with dates to show up in court around the country , wherever they told immigration officials that they were headed. A lot of people , for example , that I spoke with were headed to the East Coast , particularly to New York. And so they've got court dates. Then to go to immigration court in New York.

S1: And we'll get into exactly who is coming over here in just a moment. But Gustavo Elliot , we want to get your thoughts on what you're hearing about these recent drop offs , too. I know we're also hearing from San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond's office there saying that they've been told by immigration officials that more than 5000 people have been dropped off in about an eight day period this week and last week. And Desmond says that the county just doesn't have enough resources to help this many people.

S2: You mentioned the last time we spoke was after Title 42 ended and some new asylum restrictions took effect. They seem to have an impact immediate. You know , right away the number of crossings dropped. They started climbing again in July , very significant in August and well into September to the point now where , to use one of Kate's words , it's a triage moment. I mean , the Border Patrol is really just winging it across the border. The yesterday they announced some pretty , very significant measures , most notably to allow up to 500,000 additional Venezuelans who are in the United States to remain temporarily and get work permits under what's called temporary protective status. But a bunch of other measures like assigning more military to the border , expanding a home surveillance program for for families who are released during their during their first weeks in the United States. So it's really the Border Patrol. I mean , across the border , Eagle Pass , Texas , had 6000 people cross in two days this week , forcing a closure of the border crossing there. And El Paso had had to close a border crossing in San Diego West , which I believe accommodates about 12,000 pedestrians a day closed because in all these cases , the border. And CBP is reassigning people to handle this influx. So the lull that we saw in the summer is is over and the numbers are shooting up.

S1: And Gustavo , what are your thoughts about these recent drop offs we've been seeing ? Yeah.

S4: I think to me , one of the interesting parts is that this is the most maybe visual public facing aspect of our immigration system. And people will think the problem is here. But it really it's a problem from top to bottom of our immigration system. If you look at it after folks get into this country , asylum seekers get into this country , they're going to wait years before they see a court and a judge. And that's because of a backlog that's been growing in Democratic administrations and Republican administrations. Right. We are suffering from decades of inaction with federal immigration policies. And what you get now is Customs and Border Protection are really being put in a position to succeed. Right now , they're just kind of reacting to this big surge. They don't have the facilities to put people where they need to be. So so they're keeping them in suboptimal conditions. And it I think to me , just the important takeaway is that this is a visual representation of a much larger failure of our immigration system.

S1: And Kate , do we know where these recent migrants are from ? I mean , I think I was reading that this wave is not dominated by people from like Central America or Mexico.

S3: So whether we're talking about South American countries like Colombia , Venezuela , Peru , Ecuador , or whether we're talking about countries in Africa like Ghana or Guinea or Somalia or Burkina Faso , for example , people are coming from lots of different places. And I think that is a continuation of the trend that we were really starting to see right before Title 42 ended. And , you know , back then when I was first reporting on people being held between the border walls back in the spring , there were people from Afghanistan , there were people from Turkey , there were people from from all over the place being held. And we're seeing that , again , perhaps more heavily weighted towards certain parts of Africa in this moment. But it's it's definitely a much sort of broader range of nationalities than we've we've seen in the past.

S2: I would jump in on that because I you know , I was in Hot Springs where there are three different camps of migrants just waiting to be processed , saw quite a few Chinese there. I saw people between the border walls where Gustavo was. I saw people from Cameroon , lots from Colombia , Peru. Venezuela is like , you know , a massive problem that the country has been in a tailspin for a decade , but really only the last three years have they started coming in large numbers to the United States. And I happen to be in Chicago for my high school reunion last week and went to a number of police stations there where there are you know , every police station in Chicago has dozens of of families sleeping in the in the lobby of police stations because they have nowhere to go. You have to walk over the bodies almost to get to the to the front desk. It doesn't smell good. There's just inadequate sanitation. And these are like overwhelmingly Venezuelans. And so , yeah , I mean , it's just much it's a huge variety of countries , like Kate mentioned , Burkina Faso. I mean , just really a lot of different. I've seen Georgia , Kazakhstan , Uzbekistan. And I think it's like basically I mean , a number of reasons , like the threats to democracy and like places like Cuba , Nicaragua , organized crime spreading , maybe climate change and all of it behind it , The growth of technology and the smartphone is that it's become so easy for migrants to communicate amongst themselves and say , I've you know , here's here's here I am on my journey , here's how I got here. And so they can you know , we just did a story actually on Mauritanians crossing Big Spike that's mostly there actually was a fair amount in San Diego , but more in Arizona. But that was just something that spread almost virally over social media. So I think technology is a big part of it.

S3: And just to to jump back in on that , to illustrate one of one of Elliott's points , you know , when I was when I was down at the border wall in the past week , I met a man who was from Costa Rica , which at first surprised me. And then right after that , you know , there was the story published in the LA Times about how organized crime , narco trafficking is starting to even affect people in Costa Rica in terms of making neighborhoods there unsafe , making people feel that they don't have anywhere else to turn. And so I think in terms of of looking at. Reason this hemisphere that that issue is really starting to impact a lot more countries than we were seeing previously. You know , several years ago , we were seeing folks fleeing those kinds of issues from Honduras , El Salvador , Guatemala , and now , you know , you can add Colombia , Ecuador , Peru , Costa Rica , all of these all of these other places to that list where , you know , we haven't necessarily thought about that being an issue there , but it is very much a growing one.

S4: This is a historic shift in migration and the type of people who are trying to migrate to the US. Historically , it was mostly Mexican men , Central American men traveling by themselves. But we've seen not just this year but last several years , a shift to more diverse groups traveling men , women , children and from all over the world. And that impacts it impacts Border Patrol because the entire system , both in terms of how it was physically built , the holding facilities and the law surrounding them were built that were written and built at a time where the primary concern was men , not families and not long term stays and things like that. So that also impacts our ability now to to react to the situation on the ground.

S1: And , you know , the last time that we had all three of you on here , it was like a couple of weeks after Title 42 was lifted. And that was a pandemic era policy which allowed border agents to quickly turn migrants away in the name of public health. Elliot Then you had mentioned there had not been this expected big influx of migrants arriving for asylum or otherwise at the border. But you write that that's changed. We've kind of been talking about it.

S2: And , you know , and Title 42 did go away in May. But remember , there was a new a lot of people thought the numbers were going to go through the roof after Title 42 , and that did not happen. On the contrary , they went down. New measures were announced. The administration was trying really hard to get the word out that it's , you know , they were going to they were going to crack down. And it seemed to have an impact initially. There's a new asylum restriction that basically makes it very difficult for people to get asylum if they cross if they don't go through these legally prescribed channels like the mobile app CBP one , they don't get parole if they cross illegally by going through another country like Mexico , they're less likely to get asylum. But , you know , think it was a wait and see thing. We saw this kind of during the first months of the Trump presidency where people were expecting a big change and they just sort of sort of just took a took a break. And , you know , you see that some some of the numbers are coming out. They have been been released in court filings. And and elsewhere. A lot of people are getting around these these new restrictions and they're getting released in the United States just like before. And then again , like I said , with the with the technology. So somebody you see somebody go across the border , maybe someone in your family , they get released in the United States and then you say , well , maybe I'll try myself. And that's how it that's how it happened. So I think it just sort of hit a point where people started saying , you know , I'm going to go for it. I'm going to cross. And the numbers have shot up.

S1: And Gustavo , you were recently out at a makeshift sort of outdoor camp in San Isidro near San Isidro , where migrants were sleeping between the two border walls.

S4: Last time it happened , what happened last year.

S2: But in May , I think , right ? Yeah.

S4: Well , the peak was in May , but it was happening. Yeah , it was happening as early as October with smaller groups and then it peaked in May before Title 42. I think just the optics , I mean , the United States is the richest country in the history of the world. And we're in a position where where we're keeping asylum seekers outside conditions have gotten a little bit better. When I went there the first couple of days , there were no porta potties , women using the restroom in bushes , going in groups for protection. That's not the kind of welcome the US. Should give to people regardless of how they got here. So I do think it's a sign of how poorly prepared the federal government is for this situation. I mean , it doesn't really bode well.


S3: And they're sort of saying , well , then , you know , they're not our they're not our responsibility. You know , we don't have to because when once somebody is in government custody , there are certain rules around how the government must care for that person in terms of hygiene and food and shelter and water and things like that. And so we've seen Border Patrol both back in the spring when I when I first covered this in April , and then everyone , you know , was covering it in in May towards the end of Title 42 and several members of Congress started asking questions about what's going on. And they eventually got a response from Customs and Border Protection , basically saying that the people being the people between the border walls had not yet been encountered by agents. But when you look at , you know , are they being they're being instructed by agents about where to go , they have wristbands being put on them showing which day they arrived so that agents can keep track of them. One woman I spoke to , the agents had already told her to remove her shoelaces to prepare for when she was going to be transported back in the spring. I watched agents. Um , there was a moment where one of the gates that appeared to accidentally open and migrants started moving out of the gate into , you know , into open space where they could go where they wanted. And agents brought them back between the border walls. So they were clearly not free to leave. And so when you're talking just legally , if someone's not free to leave , then they're in custody , they're under arrest or in custody. Those are sort of the rules that that law enforcement operates with. And so I think there's there's something going on here that that can be pushed on more by us journalists and looked at more closely by by the public and and investigated about , you know , what rules should agents be following around conditions for people and what will it take for those things to happen Because right now it seems like or the agency is is trying to maybe get around having to provide certain things. You know , folks are getting a little bit of water. They're getting a couple of granola bars or cereal bars to eat. And other than that , they're leaning really heavily on these , you know , nonprofits that have shown up on their on their own accord to try and provide humanitarian support. But none of that is government funded. Those are private donations from concerned people who want to try to help. You know , So that's a really important layer of the situation.

S4: Yeah , I think that's a super important the idea that the official stance of of Border Patrol is that these people in between the border barriers are not in their custody , that I've asked them multiple times to explain to me how they came to that conclusion , because , as Kate , as you said. They get wristbands from Border Patrol , they get told where they can be and where they cannot be. Border Patrol brings them some water , so they acknowledge that they're under their care and anyone can just Google CBP detention standards and. It's very obvious that. These are in violation of that , right ? They're not sleeping in doors. They don't even have bathrooms in a lot of cases. And I don't know I mean , they wrote it in that letter to to Congress that they're not detained and they can say that. But I feel like the agency needs to back it up because what they're saying just does not match the reality that people are seeing on the ground every day.

S1: And Elliot , go ahead.

S2: Well , I would echo what everyone said mean these scenes of people , you know , out in the middle of absolutely nowhere in Hakamada , in in in between the walls of insanity without any without proper hygiene is just really not a good look to to put it mildly. It's unsustainable and rather unfortunate because the CBP has spent I don't have an exact figure in front of me , but a lot of money over the last three years to build these tents they call soft sided facilities. There's one in Brownfield that I believe you guys may know. I think it holds 500 people , but they've vastly expanded their holding capacity to about up to nearly 23,000 people. And these have not been inside well , I shouldn't say I've been inside one in Texas , but these these new facilities , tents , which are very expensive , are pretty , you know , a pretty good improvement from what I've heard in terms of showers and just just general living , living conditions. But they're not able to to take advantage of it. I mean , they're insufficient , obviously. So I would just also , you know , a point that we've made repeatedly is that San Diego is kind of a unique , not unique , but like all the border communities , people stay here for a short time , maybe two nights , three nights , and then they're they're on their way elsewhere. And I think something that's different this time around is that other cities throughout the country are really feeling the impact , particularly from Venezuelans who seem to not have as much family , family roots and people to live with. So they arrive and are filling up the homeless shelters in Chicago and New York. Mayor Eric Adams last week said that the migrant influx could destroy New York City. A bit hyperbolic , perhaps , but it just shows you how this has become a big problem for for for Democrats , for Biden. He's getting hit not just by Republicans , but by Democrats who say he is not doing enough. And he needs to he needs to , you know , ease work permits for people in these cities. But these are these are this is a population that unlike San Diego , where people are here for two nights , these people are planning to live there for for many years.

S1: Just ahead on Roundtable , our immigration discussion continues , including why we're seeing these upticks again.

S2: The problems , the underlying problems that are the issues that are driving people here , you know , organized crime , threats to democracy , climate. You know , these are seem like at times , you know , such intractable issues.

S1: That's coming up next just after the break. You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about the latest that's happening along the US-Mexico border. I'm speaking with Kpbs Gustavo Solis , immigration reporter Kate Morrissey and the Associated Press. Eliot Spigot. And Eliot , I think you mentioned this earlier , but to help with the influx of migrants here , you know , we know that troops and National Guard members are also being sent down to border regions. And Elliot , you also mentioned earlier , too , about how surveillance , you know , for those waiting for asylum screenings at home is increasing. But in an article that you had out this week , you wrote that the Biden administration is pointing the finger at Congress for lack of an action. Are they saying that , you know , we're not to blame here ? This is because the the whole system is broken , so to speak. Yeah.

S2: And I think Gustavo and Kate would probably agree. I mean , we've talked about it before , that Congress has failed , you know , utterly to do anything about immigration. So I think they do have some merit. I don't know how much weight that's going to carry with voters. But yeah , they are they have a limited. You know , they said in a statement overnight , they have very limited options.

S1: And we often hear about this term migrant surge that gets thrown around whenever we see things like this happening , influx of people coming to the border.

S2: You know , surges you know , you get into the the word choice and that that in particular is a somewhat controversial term. And we've discussed this internally about when to use it. And I don't generally don't have a problem with it. I usually use something like influx is better. You know , the rule in the AP stylebook is to avoid any kind of like anything that would connote suggest natural disaster or war like , you know , avalanche invasion , obviously tidal wave , anything like that. So surge. I mean , I think it's a pretty neutral word. But I think if what you're asking more , I mean , the numbers are way up. I mean , there's no no way to look in. No other way to look at it was it was much they were very high during the Trump years , which I think some Republicans overlook , particularly in 2019. But they've gone way up under the Biden administration. I don't remember the numbers offhand , but I think it was 2.7 , 2.6 million arrests last year. Don't hold me to that. But it was a it was the highest ever. And we're seeing these these sort of record high numbers. So , you know , whatever you call it. Yes. It's it's it's a it's a big , big deal.

S4: And I do want to echo a little bit of what Elliot said regarding the term. I mean , the the facts don't change. It is going up. The numbers are increasing. But. I am also hesitant to use words like surge , even wave. I think influx is spine. But. But the reason behind that is because there is very real fear and this happened before that people will use terms like surge and wave and they will become invasion. And that word invasion is particularly harmful because , I mean , it was used by the El Paso shooter that was written in his manifesto as why he wanted to shoot up that Walmart. So I do think it is our responsibility , the media's responsibility , but just that the public and politicians responsibility to. Use words that are accurate but also can't be twisted and used for nefarious means.

S2: Yeah , I mean , neutral language really as much as you can.

S1: And there's been additional fallout locally from an increase in migrants arriving along the border. Elliot touched on this a little bit earlier , But Gustavo , we know that you covered the temporary closure of PED West , and that's a pedestrian crossing in San Isidro that has been pretty busy in the past. We know that Elliot was saying it's happening because there's a , you know , an influx of people at the border.

S4: Besides , you know , they're working on it and they want to do it as soon as feasible. I think it's the language that they used , but it really impacts the local community. I mean , there are more than 60,000 people who live in Tijuana and work in San Diego every day. And all over the county up in the North County , South Bay , obviously. But throughout they work in hospitals , restaurants , hotels , dental offices. They go to school here. They're school bus drivers. I've talked to a lot of them. That closure really impacts just the people that live every day on the border. And I do think it hasn't become the narrative. I hope it doesn't. But I don't like this idea that the port of entry is closing because of people trying to seek asylum. It kind of pins two groups of people against each other , which I hope it doesn't become a thing. But but that's I'm kind of starting to see it a little bit.


S4: They need to change shift resources from from one area to to respond to to this influx that we're seeing. And as Elliot mentioned , it is happening in other parts of the border , too , right ? Yeah.

S2: In El Paso last week , in Eagle Pass yesterday , there was a call that CBP had today with business leaders about there's a bridge in El Paso where cargo traffic is is being stopped northbound. But that rail rail line in Eagle Pass is , you know , Union Pacific put out a statement today that they have thousands of cars , railcars going through there each day. And it's the CBP said kind of echoing what you what they told you , Gustavo. It's like they it's a very fluid situation. All hands on deck. We don't know what's. We can't really predict what's next when when these places are going to reopen.

S1: And , you know , guys , we've talked about the ever changing immigration rules and policies that , you know , seemingly every administration has. But this week , the Biden administration announced temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans. I think , Elliot , you touched on this a little bit earlier. But , you know , Kate , we've talked about how this is constantly changed in terms of different policies applying to different people of different nationalities.

S3: You make a specific instance for a specific nationality , and it's for people who have crossed before a certain date. And that's the way that that program works. We have seen it expanded pretty greatly under the Biden administration , their use of temporary protected status. And we also see , you know , advocates for people from specific places calling for that place to get temporary protected status. And so when one place gets it , you know , you see hope increase that maybe another another nationality that's also sort of waiting in a limbo that has has , you know , very complicated conditions back home that they will also get it. Um , I don't I don't see as much of the you know will you gave it to them. Why aren't you giving it to us. But but that can always happen in these situations when when you have programs that are nationality specific. And it definitely is something that , that could raise eyebrows depending on which nationalities are selected and which aren't. We have seen a pretty wide variety over the last couple of years who have had either a recent re designation or a new designation of temporary protected status. So in this particular case , it's not , um , not something that we see , you know , loud accusations of of prejudice or discrimination or racism necessarily. Like we , like we have in some other policies that are very nationality specific , but I do think that's something that that any administration is going to have to be careful about with this program , because there's always the potential for that when you're singling out a specific group.

S2: I think another thing they need to be careful about , and I haven't looked into this fully , but , you know , when he when he Mayorkas announced yesterday and this is like really , you know , huge news , five 500,000 Venezuelans , um , getting temporary protected status , which importantly means that they'll get a quick authorization to work. When you're seeking asylum , you have to wait six months or 180 days. But what does it say to people who are in Venezuela and thinking about coming ? Because you remember when you know , for months Mayorkas has been saying to Venezuelans , don't come , don't come. You can't you know , if you come go , go , go through CBP one or parole. But if you cross illegally , you're not it's not going to work out well for you. Well , it worked out pretty well for them if they're here as if July 31st , no matter how they got here , they're going to get temporary protected status. So I just wonder what kind of message that sends. He said last night he was saying very emphatically that , you know , this doesn't mean that that more people can come. But I wonder , you know , I wonder about the effect of of that message when he keeps when they keep granting TPS.

S1: And we know that Mayorkas is the Homeland security secretary. And Gustavo , go ahead.

S4: Yeah , I just wanted to add one thing that Elliot just touched on. The work authorization is huge because , as you pointed out , Elliot , what is it , six months , right ? If you're applying for asylum , you have to kind of hang out for 180 days before you can work. Yeah. Yeah. So and that kind of ties into what's going on in cities like Chicago , New York , LA. You have a lot of people who are in the country and would probably like to work and be able to earn enough money so that they don't sleep in a police station in Chicago. But because of the way our immigration laws are written , they don't have that option right now.

S1: And Kate , go ahead and then we'll go to final thoughts.

S3: Yeah , I was just going to piggyback on on what Gustavo was sort of getting at , which is that I think , you know , this this TPS solution that's that's being used over and over again really points that another part of the system that has not been working well for quite some time. And that's this law that was passed in the 90s that you cannot get a work permit right away. When you apply for asylum , you have to. The idea back then was that you would have your case processed within three months or so. And so it was only if you reached the six month mark of waiting for your case to be processed that you would get a work permit. But the system has not processed people that quickly for a very long time. And so you have , you know , people relying on , you know , the kindness of strangers. Locally in San Diego , there are several sort of grassroots groups that organize together to host people in their homes. There are some , you know , religious organizations that are working to do the same thing with their congregations. Um , there's but , you know , in every city that that situation is different. And , you know , there are people in San Diego who who are asylum seekers who stay in San Diego who don't have anywhere to go and end up in , in , you know , unhoused situations or end up in our our shelters that are not migrant specific. Um , you know , and we see that happening all across the country. And if people were allowed to work , they would , you know , be able to , to take care of themselves , which is which is what they want to be able to do. But , um , you know , the way the laws were written in such a way that they , that Congress hoped that that would be enough of a deterrent to keep people from coming. But I think , you know , what we're seeing is that that's not really deterring people from coming coming here. But now we're seeing many other sort of effects of that particular law that's been around for several decades now.

S1: And TPS , as you mentioned , their temporary protected status. What we're talking about that the Biden administration gave to Venezuelans. So we've covered a lot here , everyone. But what else is on your radar or what are you going to be watching for ? And if we could get some quick final thoughts here. Elliot , we can start with you.

S2: Well , I feel like this has been pretty depressing. I mean , it's there's just no end in sight , really. The problems , the underlying problems that are issues that are driving people here , you know , organized crime , threats to democracy , climate , you know , these are seem like at times , you know , such intractable issues. So I wish I could be more encouraging , but I really don't have a lot to say because I don't know what's going to happen. I mean , it's just become the policy. The pace of the changes and the policies has become so quick and the different demographics that move in and out and move around and the way the smuggling networks operate , it's become so fast moving and unpredictable that I'm not going to really say what I'm looking at. I'm just trying to stay on top of things.

S5: And Gustavo , go ahead.

S4: Yeah , I can't be any more optimistic than Elliot. And it was just now it doesn't look good , at least in the near term , especially with a presidential election coming up. Something I found interesting. Like you would think , there is a simple solution , right ? We have a lot of employers talk about how hard it is to find workers right now because unemployment is so low. And here we have a lot of people who are coming to this country to try to find a better life , who would like to work. And I don't know. There should be a way to marry or mix to , you know , like one one problem is a solution to another problem. But there just doesn't seem to be any appetite for this from our federal representatives. And there hasn't been for decades. I don't know if , you know , gerrymandering has anything to do with it or the partisan divide has anything to do with this. But but leadership out of DC just does not inspire confidence on this issue.

S1: And Kate , you have the final word.

S3: So one of the things that I am going to keep watching and I'm very curious to see what happens is what will happen when the folks who are arriving now and being held between the border walls and released to these trolley stations , what will happen when they do get before those immigration judges ? Because as far as I understand it , this rule that was described earlier in the conversation about people being found ineligible for asylum if they crossed through a third country between their country and the United States , and they didn't use the app to get an appointment to request asylum , it is very possible that that rule will be adjudicated at that point in their case , so that the judge will then have to say , you know what , you're ineligible because X , Y , Z. Or they're going to have to try and prove that they qualify for some very complex exemption to that law. And so we already know and , you know , can point you to my my reporting over the last several years. We already know that the system , even as it existed before this law , was very capable of deporting people back to harm , deporting people back to death , deporting people back to torture , which are the kinds of things that asylum law is supposed to protect from.

S1: It's been another good one. We appreciate all three of you coming on. Again , I've been speaking with immigration reporter Kate Morrissey , Elliot Baggett from the Associated Press and Kpbs , Gustavo Solis. All of you , thanks so much for being here.

S6: Thanks , Matt.

S4: Thank you.

S3: Thank you.

S1: When Kpbs Roundtable returns. We're taking a look at some other stories in our weekly roundup with producer Andrew Bracken. That's coming up next on Roundtable. You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. It's now time for the weekly roundup. It's where we take a look at some other stories that are happening in and around San Diego. And here with us , as always , is Kpbs roundtable producer Andrew Bracket. Andrew , what's up ? Hey , Matt. Good to have you here. All right. I know you've been compiling a list throughout the week. What do you got ? Yeah. First up , San Diego Union-Tribune. Bryce Miller wrote a feature about a local sunglasses company which kind of.

S7: Got a lot of national attention this week because of a college football coach , Deion Sanders , who's in the Football Hall of Fame. He's the head coach of the University of Colorado , and he kind of got into a little rivalry with an opposing coach , Colorado State , that called out his sunglasses that he wears. It's kind of like one of his signature looks. He has these sunglasses specifically from this local sunglass company founded by an Sdsu grad named Chase Fisher. And he says their sales have spiked 1,000% as a result of all this national attention. And coach Deion Sanders , he got a lot of media attention by buying his whole team pairs of sunglasses , buying members of ESPN's like college football crew glasses. And it's just funny to think that it all started with this local entrepreneur selling sunglasses out of his backpack , basically at San Diego beaches.

S1: I really like supporting local San Diego companies and blenders I've bought in their sunglasses before. There's another one here called Knock Around. I've bought in those ones before two. But you know , very cool story , obviously , you know , it just goes to show getting on national TV. I think Sanders even said like when he gave the players the glasses , like , you know , they don't know how much marketing that they're doing for me here , but I think they're about 67 bucks to buy. 67 has some significance. I can't remember exactly what it is , but very cool for local company. Yeah.

S7: Yeah. And they do have a partnership. And I know Coach Sanders , they have a specific type of sunglasses for him , specifically.

S1: Prime 21 , I think they're called. Right. All right.

S7: We talked about the cross border sewage situation and sort of the crisis there. There was an effort by local politicians , some local leaders , to get an emergency declaration from the state and from the national level , neither of which have happened yet. Voice of San Diego's Mackenzie Elmer wrote a piece kind of just looking into why Governor Gavin Newsom has not declared that situation there in emergency and just talks a little bit about the messaging there , but also how just sort of vague the rules are of like what constitutes an emergency and how leaders make that decision.

S1: Yeah , that was the main question. They were trying to get him or her staff to answer. Right. Is like , what exactly constitute an emergency ? And they sent her a bunch of different definitions for emergency , but they wouldn't necessarily they wouldn't say that this isn't an emergency , but they haven't declared. But obviously , we know we've talked about that on this show many times with Eric Anderson , our environment reporter. McKenzie , as well , to about just the millions , maybe even billions of gallons of sewage that go in there. And , you know , the beaches are constantly have up those signs that say contaminated water.

S7: Yeah , and you're right. I don't think any clarity came from this piece , but it just kind of showed the complexities there. And we'll see. We'll see where it goes. And in an emergency declaration does come about in the coming months.

S1: Yeah , if that could help that community. I know they really want it , so we'll definitely keep an eye out. All right.

S7: He also published a piece earlier this week about rising rents in Tijuana. You know , the housing crisis. Here is something we talk a lot about on this show. You know , across Kpbs platforms , we cover quite a bit. But San Diego rents are not the only ones that are going up. And in Gustavo's piece , he talks about how Tijuana rents have increased some 65% from 2016 to 2022. And he talks to a few people from that lived in San Diego that ended up , you know , renting in Tijuana for like cheaper housing prices. But you can see there's there's still problems there and the rents are increasing in Tijuana two. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. I wonder if that has something to do with like supply and demand , right ? Like if there's more people from San Diego or elsewhere that are moving down there , that could raise up the rents , although I imagine it's still probably less expensive to rent there than it is in San Diego.

S7: Yes , still a lot cheaper. Median San Diego rent in his piece , I believe he said was around $3,300. But there is new construction happening in Tijuana. But he said it's largely , you know , luxury. It's not a lot of affordable housing being built. So you're seeing a lot of these knock on effects and then some of that. You can also see that in the traffic. What he talks about is the traffic's getting worse as well. As a result.

S1: It's a beach destination , too. They got the water right there and looks great. All right.

S7: Adding that the Pentagon is reviewing cases of Lgbtq+ veterans that were denied honorable discharges during the don't ask , don't tell policy. So it accounts for some 33,000 LGBTQ service members were forced out from the service during that policy where they couldn't be out in the military at that time. And so I guess the Pentagon is kind of looking to change some of those discharges to make them honorable.

S1: And that would be big for those service members or former service members , because right now they don't have full access to their benefits.

S7: Don't ask , don't tell was repealed back in 2011 , but still , there's said about 33,000 cases that still might fall into this category , or at least 14,000 LGBTQ service members who may have been forced out with less than honorable discharges.

S1: And in that Axios article , the author says that the Pentagon has been working on this for a number of years. You know , to give them I think he called it corrective relief in there , because the defense secretary said , you know , even though they might be LGBTQ , that's how they identify. They still selflessly put themselves in harm's way for the good of our country. Andrew Bracken , thanks so much for being here on the roundup this week.

S7: Thanks a lot , Matt.

S1: That's a wrap for roundtable this week. We appreciate you being here with us. If you have a question or comment about anything you heard today , you can leave us a voicemail. (619) 452-0228. You can also email us roundtable at If you missed any part of our show , go ahead and check out the Kpbs Roundtable podcast wherever you get your podcast. Our show airs on Kpbs FM at noon on Fridays and again on Sunday at 6 a.m.. Roundtable is produced by Andrew Bracken. Rebecca Chacon and Adrian Villalobos are our technical producers. And I'm your host , Matt Hoffman. Thanks so much for being here with us. Have a great weekend , San Diego.

Migrants line up to receive aid from the group Border Kindness. Border Kindness gives out food, water and clothes to the migrants forced to wait in the desert near Jacumba in the far east of San Diego County, Sept. 19, 2023.
Matthew Bowler
Migrants line up to receive aid from the group Border Kindness. Border Kindness gives out food, water and clothes to the migrants forced to wait in the desert near Jacumba in the far east of San Diego County, Sept. 19, 2023.

A recent influx of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border are overwhelming border officials and creating challenges for local aid groups and shelters in the San Diego-Tijuana region. We hear from local border reporters about what they have seen, and how the rise in asylum-seekers reveals an immigration system in need of repair.


Kate Morrissey, immigration reporter

Gustavo Solis, investigative border reporter, KPBS

Elliot Spagat, San Diego correspondent, U.S. immigration team leader, Associated Press