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Migrant arrivals in Jacumba highlight ongoing strains along border

 December 1, 2023 at 2:50 PM PST

S1: This week on Kpbs roundtable. Migrant encounters along the US-Mexico border in California are up this year. Those regions haven't changed. If anything , those push factors may be getting worse. The world just kind of seems at turmoil right now. How migrants are having to stay outside in one small desert community while waiting for processing.

S2: Essentially , they are being told to stay at these camps.

S3: It's hard to convey how remote it is and how bizarre it is.

S1: Don't go anywhere. Roundtable is coming up next. Welcome to Kpbs roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. Migrant encounters along the US-Mexico border in California are up. In fact , the San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that border agents saw 70% more migrants this past fiscal year compared to the last two years prior. That reporting comes from Alex Riggins. He quotes the top border official in San Diego as saying that the level of activity here hasn't been seen in more than two decades. The increased arrivals comes as officials are struggling to keep up , leading to some having to literally wait for processing outside in the cold. Joining us this week are Los Angeles Times reporter Melissa Gomez. Kpbs investigative reporter Gustavo Solis is back with us. And Elliot Spaghetti is also here again. He's the US immigration team lead and San Diego correspondent with the Associated Press. Okay , so let's just jump right into this. Gustavo , like we mentioned up at the top , more people arriving here at the southern border , especially in California.

S4: Right. Economic and political instability , crime , climate change , persecution against religious groups , ethnic minorities , members of the LGBTQ community. Those reasons haven't changed. That if anything , those push factors may be getting worse. The world just kind of seems at turmoil right now. But I do think migration builds on itself , right ? If new populations establish migration routes into the US , it means some of their friends , relatives , neighbors will also consider the move. And then you see it and hear it all the time , right ? In New York , they tend to have more Mexican migrants from Puebla , whereas in Chicago they tend to have more from Michoacan. And we're seeing different groups establishing different routes , right ? People from Eastern Europe , countries in Asia and Africa coming. So so we can maybe start to see the beginning of some of those new established routes. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. No , it is sort of interesting because usually when we hear about some of these larger increases , we're talking about , like Texas or Arizona.

S3: I mean , it's climate change or growth of organized crime. Threats to democracy , lack of economic opportunity. But but really underpinning it all is that as technology changes and and the increase in global mobility , San Diego , the number , you know , the nationalities that are showing up in San Diego , really along the whole border , but particularly now in San Diego , Chinese Turkey , you know , Melissa saw that out in but and not just those countries Ecuador , Peru. And we're talking like the stand countries Kazakhstan , Tajikistan. And they just sort of pop up mean out of seemingly out of nowhere. So , you know , Hakamada there's a town of Louisville , Arizona right now , which population ? 35. They're they're seeing 1000 people a night. So it's really the same trends , just different nationalities , different areas. The US , the Biden administration will come out , you know , periodically with with new enforcement measures. For example , they just announced that they would resume deportation flights to Venezuela , and that did result in a drop in , in well , it correlated with a right afterward. There was a big drop in Venezuelans coming. But , you know , that'll probably be short lived. And then other nationalities step in. So it's part of an ongoing story.

S1: And Gustavo , let's sort of talk for a minute about where these migrants go once they arrive here in the US. And we know that many people who are crossing are looking to claim asylum , something that is their right to do. But with these increases we're talking about when people come now , how are they being processed ? Well , I.

S4: Mean , they're going everywhere they go all over the country. And , you know , Elliot and Melissa , you all might know more about this than I do in terms of , you know , how are they being processed ? But it's not an easy answer , right ? The immigration is so complex that it really varies by population , how you came in , what kind of relief you're looking for. I mean , if you enter the country with an appointment through the CBP , one app , or did you come in between the ports of entry and turn yourself into a border patrol ? It varies , right ? When it comes to asylum , people released into the US have already passed their credible fear interview. That's kind of the first start of the process , but it's going to take years for these cases to be resolved. Immigration courts have infamously massive backlog , I think more than 2 million cases. So it's going to take some time. I mean , the administration is doing things like expedited court proceedings , hiring new immigration judges to try to resolve the situation , but. It's clearly not enough.

S1: And we know that with more people arriving , you know , Kpbs and a lot of other outlets have been covering sort of like unconventional ways where migrants are waiting for official processing. And some of that is happening out in southeast San Diego County. A couple people already alluded to it. But , Melissa , we know that you were recently out there in Hakamada. What did you find out there ? Yeah.

S2: So I actually went down to Columbia Hot Springs the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You know , I'm not a border reporter. This isn't my usual beat. But I was on the weekend shift and we had seen reports that this was happening down there. So we wanted to see what was happening. So I went down and , you know , connected with volunteers , some residents. And what we essentially found were three open air camps that had been sort of established by Border Patrol along the border down there in Oakland. And , you know , this is a small border community of about 600 people. And for the past three months , you know , with migrants passing through , the population of the town has essentially doubled. And , you know , you have migrants coming in all throughout the day. And just to paint a picture of the town , you know , it's right up against the border , pretty rocky terrain. It's known as part of the Mountain Empire. And so the temperature there can get pretty extreme , you know , above 100 degrees in the summer right now with winter conditions. When we were there , about 40 degrees as the sun was setting. And , you know , at night it can get below that. So what we found was just , you know , migrants sort of waiting at these unofficial sites , just kind of waiting to see what would happen. A lot of them , you know , they would ask me what was happening because they didn't really understand what would happen next with them. And so that was part of the process too , is just talking to these folks. And as Elliot mentioned , a lot of them are coming from China , Colombia , Peru , Honduras , Guatemala. So , you know , just a lot of confusion all around , but a lot of volunteers and residents helping out.

S1: So , Melissa , you just mentioned there that Border Patrol sort of set up these informal camps. And you also note that they are basically compelling migrants to camp there until they're able to transfer them to detention centers.

S2: You know , when I spoke to a senior official in Customs and Border Protection , you know , you won't go as far as to call it a detention site. They sort of just refer to them as these holding sites. They say that they don't have the personnel to keep everyone , all of the migrants there in place. But what you essentially have at these sites are Border Patrol agents who are keeping watch. And what migrants and advocacy groups have told us is that the migrants are told that they have to stay there. And , you know , most of the times that's what they want. You know , they want to surrender over to Border Patrol in order to to make their case if they're seeking asylum. But essentially they are being told to stay at these camps. Erika Pineiro from Al Otro Lado , an immigration advocacy group , mentioned that migrants have told her that Border Patrol agents tell them that they have to stay there or they might be deported. You know , a LA times photographer and I were there , and we watched as a Border Patrol agent drove by in a car , dropped off , presumably someone who we found walking around the across the border , drop them off at the camp and then just drove off. You know , so very clearly that they are keeping these migrants in these camps.

S1: And I ask about this technically in detention , part because in some of our other border areas , like near San Isidro , migrants are often waiting , like in between sections of border wall , like they're technically in the US. But there's one more fence there and they're waiting for processing. Gustavo , question for you and Elliot. Feel free to jump in right after. It sounds like many advocates are arguing that , you know , whether it's the spot in Hakamada or the spots in between the border wall , that this is like a form of detention , right ? Yeah.

S4: I mean , I don't know how it's not detention. But again , you know , technically speaking , it is a legal term. And I'm not a lawyer. And I know when I've talked to the Border Patrol about this , they. They'll use the legal definition and then to kind of. Keep me from using that term , right ? They'll say , well , it's legally , technically not detention. And I don't know enough to disprove that. But as someone who just walks there and sees it and has spoken to people like Melissa just described , that's what it looks like , right ? Migrants either show up there or they're told to wait there. They can't go anywhere else. The only reason they're there is because Border Patrol agents tell them that's where they have to be if they want to be processed. How ? Like Border Patrol has so much control over their movement and their location. I don't know how it's not detention. Like maybe not technically , legally , but by any other definition of the word. That's what it looks like to me. Yeah.

S1: When I had to cover this story recently , I was down there. They had some of them were having them remove their shoelaces like border officials. Not sure what that's about , but Elliot go ahead. No.

S3: No. And they also , you know , the L.A. Times had some pictures of them getting wristbands to show when they arrived. And the reason this is an important issue is because CBP has custody standards. They're generally , under their policy , not allowed to keep anyone more than 72 hours. They have to provide beds and food and all sorts of things. And by bi by saying they're not in detention , they're not subject to the clock's not ticking and and they're not subject to these policies. And I've played the same word games with them and trying to pin them down. Is this detention ? Is it not ? But , you know , in between the walls in San Diego , you can't there's nowhere for people to go. And if they were to try to climb the wall , there's a Border Patrol agents right there. Same with Tacoma. I think it's like ten miles to the nearest gas station. So. And these people cross , they have no idea where they are. It's hard to convey how remote it is and how bizarre it is. Just I mean , I was driving around there the first time , like for an hour trying to find these places , these , these open air campsites. You know , the migrants that I've spoken to out in Kokomo said that they generally $700 they'll pay once they arrive in Tijuana to be driven out to where the wall ends in Hakamada , or it's actually Harckham on the Mexican side , and they walk about a half , half , half an hour on a dirt road. They're told where to go. And that's how they that's how they get their $700 , I've heard as low as $200. It's not for them , considering that these people are spending tens of thousands of dollars , in many cases , it's it's not that much money to do that final leg. The Border Patrol says this is a deliberate strategy. Smugglers to throw them off their game. And I could certainly see that because , I mean , it's it's like at least an hour to get out there. I'd mentioned Louisville , Arizona. The agents and Border Patrol operations are in Tucson. It's a 2.5 hour drive to Louisville. So you could see how this whole situation is , is creating a lot of problems. Of course not for the migrants , most of all who are sleeping out there , but also for the Border Patrol , just in terms of just running their daily operations.

S1: And I ask about this part about detention , because there was just a recent report from the Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General that found that the majority of migrants arriving in San Diego , like 56% , were basically held too long in detention. Elliot mentioned that 72 hour goal that CBP has , and we know that this data came from some visits in May , some site visits to these actual detention facilities. And in that report , Elliott , immigration officials pointed to those seeking asylum and the expedited removal processing as a reason for long custody times.

S3: They have 23,000 beds , I believe nationwide CBP does , and they've just expanded that in a massive way with these huge contracts. There's a big tent , a white tent near Brown Field in San Diego , which I believe has room for 500. And it's they've just been , you know , they're the you know , we don't have all the details on Cbp's operations. And some , some advocates have challenged whether there this is sort of whether they're exaggerating it or overplaying it. But I mean , from the face of it , they just do not have enough people. It takes , you know , hours. It could take hours to , to process a single family. And so it just it gets they just they just don't have the capacity. I mean , it's that simple.

S1: And Melissa , we know with some of these increasing numbers , we were talking about it earlier about how migrants are often having to wait outside in these like makeshift camps. We know that aid organizations are out there trying to help them. What did you see in Hakamada ? No , I saw that down there in San Ysidro and between the border walls. Was it similar out there ? Yeah.

S2: As I kind of mentioned , the weather conditions can be pretty brutal. And these folks are out there. Open air literally means open air. You know , they have no shelter , there's no facility. And so where these camps are and so a lot of the volunteers are made up of local residents. Sometimes you have folks who drive in from San Diego to help out as well. But a lot of these volunteers are stepping in to provide food , to provide two bottles of water a day , which , you know , some of the immigration advocacy groups , you know , say is not enough. A lot of the funding for the food and the water and the blankets , the material that they can can get , including tents , comes from immigration advocacy groups who are spending , you know , upwards of $150,000 a month to take care of these migrants who are coming across because because it's not an official detention site , border patrol has no obligation to provide food , shelter , medical care. And so you also have volunteers who are providing basic aid. You know , I saw a woman trying to get some help for her 15 year old daughter who would just couldn't keep food down. She was under a blanket , felt really bad , and so volunteers had given her a bottle of Pedialyte and Pepto-Bismol. That was another thing that was happening that we've heard at these camps is that a lot of people are sick. I had someone come up to me and ask for Advil , you know , and so these volunteers are providing some of that basic need of , you know , providing some basic medication , water , collecting donated blankets. A tense , but it just not enough.

S1: And we know that those are some of the volunteers that you're talking about. But Macumba is a very small community. I think your story said that , you know , these migrants there have like doubled the population of this little rural community.

S2: I think it depends on who you talk to. Right. Because some of these residents are volunteers. You know , I spoke to Chelsea Ruiz who said , these are my neighbors and I'm going to take care of them. And she is one of those residents who spends her days cooking a huge pot of beans that can be served at dinner , for a dinner for these migrants. And then you have other residents who are more directly affected , like Jerry and Maria Shuster. I spoke to them for my piece because one of the camps is directly on their 17 acre property , because it runs up right along the border. And so what they started realizing in May , they started seeing little campfires , starting up as far back as May on their property. And , you know , they expressed a lot of frustration with not being able to get any answers from Border Patrol as to whether they can get any help with either getting the migrants off of their property or ensuring that the the land remains undisturbed. You know , because there's no shelter there. A lot of the migrants are picking up brush. They are using trees , whatever they can to try to keep and feel fires in order to stay warm. And for the , you know , for the Schuster's that's , you know , they've been there 40 years. It's not an easy thing for them to see. And Maria Schuster , you know , tries to ask the migrants to pick up after themselves. But it just a lot of frustration there on their end.

S3: You know when I was there I don't know , Melissa , if you pick this up not there as recently as you. But my sense was that it's very contained that migrants are in 2 or 3 different locations very close to the border. And it's not like they're trampling through people's properties and going into into the town or into , you know , people's garages or anything like that. But I could be wrong. I don't know , I just haven't been out there. I haven't spent enough time.

S2: No , I think you're right. I think for for folks who are directly affected , like the Schuster , you know , they feel it immediately and directly in talking to the other volunteers who are local residents. They they you know , they mentioned that if the other residents are not being directly impacted , you know , they're not really paying attention. So you're right , you know , to these two of these sites , you have to drive in to drive on to dirt road in order to get to them. One of them is right off of Interstate eight. I if I'm remembering correctly. And so I have to wonder if people driving by may have noticed noticed that camp. But yeah , you're right. I think most residents are probably not paying attention. But the Schuster's in particular were pretty incensed.

S1: When roundtable returns , our conversation on what migrants and asylum seekers are experiencing along the San Diego Tijuana border continues.

S4: I don't see this stopping at all , especially not in a presidential election in 2024.

S1: That's coming up just ahead on roundtable. You're listening to Kpbs roundtable , I'm Matt Hoffman. Today , we're talking about the rise in migrants and asylum seekers along the US-Mexico border , especially here in California. My guests are Elliot Baggett from the Associated Press , Kpbs , Gustavo Solis and Melissa Gomez from the Los Angeles Times. You know , Gustavo , I know you've been reporting on this for a while , but we were just talking about Hakamada. People are there. They're not going to processing yet. They go to processing , aka detention. And then where do they go from there ? Well , it's this new San Diego County migrant welcoming center , right ? I mean , but you've reported on funding that may be going away for that , like not even being able to stay open and some criticism of how it's run. I mean , do we know how that center functions today ? Yeah.

S4: So the center started out at and it is a response to these street drop offs where Customs and Border Protection would process people and just drop them off in various transit centers , bus stops , trolley stations in San Siro and even up in North County as well. At first , a group of nonprofits started helping giving out some food. But even just like phone chargers and Wi-Fi so they can set up their flights. Now , San Diego County recognized this was a problem. They still concede that it's the federal government's problem. They should be funding this , but there's no leadership on this issue coming out of Washington. So they did something themselves. They took $3 million that we originally got through the Covid relief program and used it to open up a welcome center for migrants where they can hang out for a while , get some food , get some connected to services , and most of them , the vast majority , buy flights and and transportation costs to connect with relatives in other parts of the country. The center has helped a lot of people more than 22,000 so far since it opened. They get as many as 700 people there a day. And like I said , the vast majority will leave San Diego within the day. County allocated 3 million. It was supposed to last three months. They've told us it's going to run out in two months. And that's kind of where some of the criticism is coming from , from some other immigrant serving nonprofits who say the money could have been used a little bit more efficiently. A couple of things that criticize them. One of the big ones was the center was sending migrants to the airport 24 , 48 , 36 hours before their flight , essentially treating the airport as a makeshift migrant shelter. And then folks who traveled out of San Diego airport over the holiday weekend would have probably seen in some nights more than 100 migrants just sleeping in terminal two , terminal one by the baggage claim. Since then , that the nonprofit that runs the Welcome Center has stopped. They said they're going to send migrants a little bit closer to ten hours before their flights. So there's been some improvement there on that front.

S1: And we know that San Diego County , they actually declared a humanitarian crisis along the border and basically asking , you know , for the feds to step up and help more. But , Elliot , have we seen counties like San Diego take action like this when it comes to welcoming centers or even as Gustavo's done some other reporting about , you know , paying for legal aid for people as they go through their immigration processing.

S3: Absolutely not. Although it is becoming more of an issue and much more of a challenge to cities like New York and Chicago particular. But just to piggyback a little on on what Gustavo was saying , you know , Catholic Charities is in San Diego , the organization that has been largely responsible for sheltering people who cross the border illegally between the ports of entry and Jewish family service , takes the those who process , who show up at the ports of entry with an appointment. And Catholic Charities has had to cut their funding , believe they went from like 1600 beds a night to 800 , and that was in September. So that that has also had a big impact. And I think they're both both organizations are are tending to the families , you know , women and children and , and , and the single adults are the ones that are getting dropped off at the , the county center that Gustavo mentioned. And as he said , they're they're usually here for like a couple of hours. I mean , you know , they charge their phones , they maybe take a shower or , you know , brush their teeth , whatever , and they're on their way. These other cities , like Chicago and New York , are facing a much , in many ways , a more serious problem , because there are people , you know , that are arriving there and planning to stay. So the government , the mayors , the Biden administration , I mean , there's a lot happening in Congress now that we haven't talked about. But the Biden administration asked for $1.4 billion for cities to deal with with this issue. And the mayors of five cities the New York , Chicago , Houston , LA. And forget the. One , but they came back and said , we need 5 billion because it's draining our resources. You know , Eric Adams said a few months ago that this was going to destroy New York City. I mean , that may have been over the top , but they are certainly , you know , it is very real problem for for in Chicago was there was in Chicago and New York recently and you know , in Chicago , they're sleeping in all of the police stations in the migrants are sleeping in the lobbies. So you go in to ask for information , and you're seeing 50 people in sleeping bags in the lobby.


S2: There was actually a piece of paper that volunteers were handing out that offered some information , and that was sort of the first piece of information that they had. They were handing it out in , in Spanish , English. I don't know if there were other languages , but that was sort of their first sense of , you know , what would happen next , that they would be transferred to a detention facility. And , you know , I did have one man from Colombia who mentioned that he generally knew he had an idea of what would happen. He knew that there would be an interview involved in order to to seek asylum. But a lot of them just , you know , they they didn't know what would happen next.

S1: And I know we've seen a lot of frustration from certain politicians here in San Diego. But when we talk about reclaiming asylum , Gustavo , you know , we know that that first step is the credible fear interview. Do most people that go through that process obtain asylum , or.

S4: I mean , the majority. And I think it's important to kind of keep this framing in mind. People here seeking asylum , not all of them will get them , as are the majority , especially if you're fleeing for economic reasons or or vague crime reasons. Odds are you have a really , really difficult case. But the I think the important part is that they have a shot at it. Right ? They're seeking asylum. The due process is followed. There is their.

S1: Legal right , right. Right.

S4: Right. They're here legally pursuing a legal right that they have to to try to obtain , whether they get it or not , that it's up to the court to decide. But it is very complicated. I know access to legal help has been a problem. Right. There's a statistics show that you're significantly more likely to receive humanitarian protection if you have a lawyer. But immigration courts don't give out public defenders like in criminal courts. So that's been a really , really big issue. And I know cities , I know LA has this program. San Diego got it recently where they're trying to provide free legal aid to some folks in those types of cases. Right. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. We don't know how much funding will be around for that. But Elliot go ahead. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. No , I was going to add that I don't have the exact numbers and they fluctuate. So anything I say. But you know , the vast overwhelming majority passed this initial interview , this initial screening and then but a much , much , much lower percentage actually get asylum. And that's that's probably the biggest issue right now in Congress is we've been following the debate there that will probably come to a head next week. As the Republicans , you know , critics of the system say that that that is basically being gamed because it takes four years for a case to wind through the asylum courts. People are getting through with this relatively low bar to get the initial screening , and it's intentionally low. And then they get to stay here for four years or longer while they're waiting. So that's a that's going to be a sticking point. I don't know what's going to happen , but we're all going to mention to your question about where these people going. I had an experience with the with the Chinese man. I , I met him at the Iris at the San Diego San Ysidro trolley stop , and fortunately he spoke English , which is a problem for for some of us who thought that , you know , Spanish would be enough to be able to cover migration , but he he was telling me that he was going to go to , to to Monterey Park , because that's where a lot of Chinese have gone since , since the 80s and the suburb of Los Angeles. And then I was in New York the next week. And was it a a tent there where they have like 2000 people ? And I'm just standing there talking to people , and he walks right by me. And , you know , he said he was going to LA. I said , I thought you were going to LA is like , no , I just decided to come here. So just the point being that I think a lot of people are arriving. They have like no idea where they're where they're going to go. They just go. They follow everyone else.

S1: And so we know that it's December. So before we wrap up the show here , we want to get some final thoughts from you guys about looking back at 2023 and all that's been happening along the US-Mexico border , but particularly here in our region. I mean , you know , Gustavo , we can start with you and then we can go. Melissa Elliot.

S4: I know there was a lot of there were a lot of conversations happening last year when , you know , before title 42 was lifted and after it was lifted. And different policies that the administration is doing to kind of address their problem here. But none of them are really , at least in a substantive way , addressing the the root causes of migration. So we're still seeing a lot of people leaving their country and coming this way. I don't see this stopping at all , especially not in a presidential election in 2024. I was talking to Congressman Juan Vargas. He represents the border area here in San Diego who calls this time in D.C. right now. He calls it silly season because there's a presidential election coming up , and no one's really going to get anything done in a way that's going to change what's going on.

S1: Yeah , it's something we've talked about a lot on this show where it's campaigned and talked about a lot. Right. But actually what gets changed. Yeah.

S4: So I don't yeah I don't know I don't see a whole lot of it changing. And I do think at the heart of it is the migrants themselves. I mean , something we didn't talk about now , but we've talked about in the past , is that we're seeing historic numbers of people dying while trying to get into the country or really here in San Diego getting hurt. We're seeing hundreds of people ending up in hospital after falling from border wall. This has a human impact. It destroys lives at an individual capacity , but also communities when there's a death in the family or things like that. So I think that's something to keep in mind. This is a human issue , not necessarily a political one. I mean , there are politics at play , but we got to keep this centered on the folks this is impacting.


S2: You know , you mentioned how the wall has affected people. And one of the theories , I guess , from volunteers as to why it's become such a popular spot is you kind of have these gaps in the steel border wall along Macumba , where people can kind of just slip through. And so that's sort of the thinking as to why that area has become so popular. And so , yeah , it's not going to be going away anytime soon. And very curious to , to seeing how it sort of affects the community there and whether anything is done in order to provide shelter. I mean , it snows there if I'm not wrong. So with no shelter there , it's going to be a brutal winter , winter season.

S1: And Elliot , looking back , looking ahead , you have the final word here.

S3: Well , looking back , I think the biggest development this year has been the Darién Gap in Panama. And you know , people arriving from all over Africa and other countries in South America , going up through that jungle and all the way up to the to the US border , you know , walking , taking up to two months , you know , it hit record numbers this year and that translate into record numbers in the United States. Looking ahead , I would not even hazard to , you know , predict because every year I have been wrong. Not even wrong. It's just it's just very difficult to even look a month or two months ahead to predict , you know , what group , what's going to be happening in terms of the policies , in terms of the people who are coming , why they're coming , how they're coming. It's just it's a massive story , and I don't know how it's going to unfold.

S1: And I'm sure we'll be talking with you all soon about whatever those next massive developments are. I've been speaking with Melissa Gomez from the Los Angeles Times , Kpbs investigative reporter Gustavo Solis , and the Associated Presses , Elliot Baggett and all of you. Thanks so much for being here today.

S4: Thank you.

S3: Thank you. Thanks.

S1: When we come back , it's roundup time with producer Andrew Bracken. We'll hear about some other stories happening around San Diego. Roundtable is back in less than two minutes. This is Kpbs roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. It's now time for the round up with producer Andrew Bracken. He's here with a list of some other San Diego stories that he's been watching. Andrew. What's up ? Hey , Matt. How was your Thanksgiving ? It was good , but now.

S5: We're in December , so it's on to Christmas now. Yeah.

S1: Yeah.


S1: Multiple pies. Yeah. And Turkey Trot in Los Angeles.

S5: Turkey trot outside LA. Yeah , a little running , a little walking. Didn't you know. Didn't finish last but didn't finish first for sure.

S1: Well , you know a lot of people say they're going to do this and then they end up not. So kudos to you. I had a great time up in Sacramento , but I'm glad to be back here on the roundup with you. Okay.

S5: I think the tree is going to be lit in just a couple of hours by the mayor of San Diego , Todd Gloria. And we know December nights. I don't know if you've gone in the last few years , but definitely kind of getting there can be a problem. I have traffic , parking , all of it can be a little much , I think. You know , Kpbs Metro reporter Andrew Bowen actually reported on how they were kind of like repurposing a bus lane to use potentially for parking , but that's an issue. So I think some lots I think the San Diego Zoo lots open. There's some other lots going there , but definitely check that out if you're headed there. And that sort of leads to another story , which is there was a study that found San Diego has the worst parking in the United States , and this surprised me a little bit. It's from this car subscription company , fin car subscription company did this study , and they kind of assigned scores for different things for the cost of parking. And another just for the availability of parking. And San Diego came out the worst in the availability. I think they had this score. I don't know exactly what goes into it. I don't know either.

S1: But I don't think it really surprises me. I mean , I really never really lived outside of California other than Buffalo for a summer , and I don't know , I think the parking is pretty hard to find here , I should say , especially if you're going downtown.

S5: I guess I'm just coming more from like a bigger city , you know , I grew up in Chicago. I lived in New York , these other cities where I just expect like New.


S5: I think not according to this. Well.

S1: I mean , you have a point , I guess , but I don't know. I mean , growing up in Sacramento , you never had to worry about parking. But when you come down here , I feel like every time I go somewhere , it's like , okay , what's the parking plan ? Like ? There's always , I don't know , it always seems limited.

S5: I mean , in the report , it also alludes to the lack of EV charging. You know , some parking spots have the EV charging along with it , and then it also mentions wheelchair accessibility. So I don't know how much that plays a role in it too.

S1: I don't know. And you got to wonder about that company I think they like. Right. Sell parking spots or something. So maybe there's something in it.

S5: So maybe it's a little overblown. But you know , it is interesting to see that. On the flip side , San Diego topped this list. This was an Axios San Diego. They had it. San Diego tops the list in light rail ridership. Over 34 million trips on the trolley in 2022 , 34 million. And this is a big jump for it. I think they mentioned the Axios piece mentions that back in 2019 , before the pandemic , you know , San Diego was fifth in this sort of list of cities with light rail.

S1: Yeah , because I think light rail is pretty specific , right ? I mean , I think in Sacramento they have like a light rail. I know out here we have the trolley , but I'm trying to think of other places like I'm not sure if LA has like some type of subway thing or I mean even just different than like the coaster or like the Amtrak train that's not light rail. That's got to be heavy rail. Yeah.

S5: Yeah. I mean , some of the other cities that it beat out that it didn't in 2019 are Boston and Los Angeles. So those are fairly larger , you know , cities that do have rail as part of their public transportation for sure. And the other thing I think the Axios piece mentions it , but , you know , it's the last couple of years , people under 18 have been able to ride for free. So you wonder how much that's played a role. Totally.

S1: Totally. Or even with like the Padres playing ? Well , I always take the trolley for the Padre games. It's packed.

S5: There you go. Yeah. It did also note , though , that ridership hasn't reached pre-pandemic levels.

S1: But still , 34 million trips in 2022 sounds like a lot , but I don't have anything to compare it to , so yeah.

S5: At the end of your conversation with them , he published a piece about this seemingly record number of border injuries that UC San Diego Health is seeing from border wall injuries. And this seems to be a trend since the wall height was increased a few years ago from 17 to 30ft.

S1: So you're talking about falls from the wall , falls.

S5: From the wall. And it's like not only like it sounds like the number of injuries are increasing , but also the severity of them. I think he he talks to one doctor who kind of alludes to them , more like injuries they'd expect from car crashes. And. He also spoke with another doctor , just about kind of how he was sort of surprised about the lack of attention or the lack of , of , of response to these injuries. He spoke with UC San Diego Health's Dr. Jay Doucet , and here's some of what he had to say to Gustavo.

S6: It's obvious when talking to representatives it's a radioactive issue. Nobody wants to talk about the wall. You know , the increase in injuries has occurred through two different administrations , and neither of them want to talk about this. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Some strong words from a doctor there. And I would be curious myself just what some of the South Bay hospitals are experiencing too , like Sharpe and Scripps and Chula Vista , Paradise Valley down there in National City. We know UCSD is more kind of centrally located , but be interesting to see if it's impacting more hospitals as well. Okay.

S5: And I just started seeing some commentaries about this. Or , you know , I think people are more questioning their attachment to their devices , their relationship to this technology that we depend on so much. And that can be quite addictive. So anyway , this column is just about her experience of , you know , going away from social media and some of the way she tried to replace these dopamine hits that we get from them. But she wrote that her mind went , quote , gloriously empty with space for nature and new ideas.

S1: And that was great.

S5: I just thought it was a kind of interesting thing. And I know you and I talk a lot about stories we read , and I think we like text each other all the time. We see different stuff , and we're definitely like news junkies and things , but it is sort of a trend I'm seeing. There's also another opinion piece I read this week in The Atlantic by Chris Moody. The title of that is Life is Better Without the internet. And there he's kind of talking about his addiction to his smartphone , and he references a Gallup poll that found 58% of American adults just think they use their smartphones too much.

S1: And the other ones are lying. No , I think we I think everybody can admit that we probably use our phones a little bit too much , unless you have really good discipline.

S5: You know , I went into that Gallup poll a little bit. And definitely there's another side to it where it's like , I think they ask , do smartphones make your life better ? And I think two thirds still say smartphones do make your life better. So it is a balance. But I don't know. I'm just seeing this. These conversations float to the surface a bit more , where we're like questioning how dependent we are on the technology we use. And I think it's interesting. I definitely do the New Year's resolution thing. I know we're just into December , so we have some time , but that might be part of something that I'm thinking about. You know.

S1: I would like to do something like that , but it sounds it sounds hard to be honest. I mean , I don't know if I would say that smartphone makes my life better , but I would say definitely makes it more connected. But I think as more tools come out like AI and different things and , you know , all these different apps where you can do other like I have a scan app on my phone that I use to scan documents because I don't have a copier scanner at home. So it definitely is very useful. I don't know , a break from it would be. I mean , I think I think it would be good. I think I'd be doing a lot more fishing.

S5: To me. It's like I remember for midday we spoke with San Diego State University professor Jeanne Twangy. She's she's kind of like a leading figure in sort of social media and its effect on youth. But one thing just kind of like basic thing that she said is just don't have your phone or your device charging next to your bed , like if you were supposed to.

S1: Put it , then.

S5: Well , I mean , at my house , like we put it all , we basically have a charging center kind of in the kitchen area. Oh , and that's where it goes at night.


S5: So like a real clock. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Oh well , I don't have a real clock. Okay.

S5: And people have been getting , you know , getting sick. Things come up. Yeah. KQED health reporter Leslie McClure published a piece. I think it's on , about just the state of cold medications. I don't know if anybody remembers , but a couple of months ago , there was some news about the actually lack of effectiveness of of some pretty , like , common cold medications. And the fact is that the main ingredient really doesn't do anything at all. So I know I've been kind of going through my cold medicine stuff , and I see some of these things like I'm not even sure it's worth giving , you know.

S1: Post reading this article , you're like , let me clear this out. Yeah , yeah.

S5: Because I mean , they're really common. You know , it's like Sudafed , Mucinex , like the really common products that just really may not do much. So she kind of talks about that. And I think she , you know , she talked to 5 or 6 doctors. About how ineffective a lot of these cold medications actually are. You know , some of the doctors said , you know , you can take them. You don't need to worry about it , but they may not be really doing that much. And she also said that a lot of times , you know , the best thing you could do is just those nasal rinses , like a saline rinse thing or even just honey.

S1: So , well , I'm sure there's some other things that work , maybe like specifically like cough suppressant or something , or it can't be everything.

S5: She kind of talks a little bit about that. I mean , I think some of these one of the arguments she brings up is that a lot of these were approved , like decades and decades ago when the testing for drugs was much different and not as as thorough as it is today. So even some of those , I think the effectiveness isn't. We don't know how.

S1: Well , maybe it's at least the placebo effect , because I like to think when you take that , that you're getting better , even if maybe you're not.

S5: I don't know if you believe it. Yeah , I guess you are.

S1: Andrew Bracken , thanks for being here on the roundup.

S5: Thank you. Matt.

S1: That's going to round out roundtable for this week. We appreciate you being here with us. If you missed any part of our show , go ahead and check out the Round Table podcast wherever you get your podcasts. 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 Ben Red Lusk are our technical producers , and I'm your host , Matt Hoffman. Have a great weekend.

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A migrant mother and child sit around a fire at a makeshift camp near the border fence in Jacumba, California on Nov. 15, 2023.
Jacob Aere
A mother and child sit around a fire at a makeshift camp near the border fence in Jacumba Hot Springs on Nov. 15, 2023.

In recent months, the rural desert community of Jacumba Hot Springs has seen an influx of migrants and asylum seekers, leaving people struggling to find shelter and straining resources along the San Diego-Tijuana border.

Plus, we take a look at some other San Diego stories in this week's roundup.


Melissa Gomez, reporter, Los Angeles Times

Gustavo Solis, investigative border reporter, KPBS News

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