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New Call Center Encourages Apprehensive Immigrants To Complete Census

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There's a new call center open in City Heights to help members of San Diego's refugee and immigrant populations complete the census. Plus, immigrants with professional degrees from their home countries face big challenges to work again in the U.S. Hear how skilled professional immigrants can re-train and fill jobs where they are needed most, in this country. Also ahead, San Diego County Republican strongholds seem to be declining, but San Diego's GOP chairman says they plan to fight back. And, hear about two new studies that show how supporting working parents can boost the economy.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Tuesday, January 14th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up, city Heights home to a new call center designed to help immigrants complete the census and a Cuban educated doctor comes to this country but can't practice medicine.

Speaker 2: 00:17 So that was like, you know, being a doctor in January, 2012 to be at the bottom of the healthcare system in America,

Speaker 1: 00:26 retraining skilled professional immigrants that more coming up right after the break.

Speaker 3: 00:38 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:39 thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Deb Welsh, a survey asking you how many people live in your home may sound scary and unfamiliar to some immigrants and refugees in city Heights. Some groups want immigrants to know why it's important to complete the census. Speak city Heights reporter Ebony Monet was at the hub during one of the first days of operations.

Speaker 4: 01:05 Tim Mota SAB reviews, possible questions call center workers might get when Manning a census phone bank, especially for refugees and immigrants.

Speaker 5: 01:13 For the refugee community, it's probably the first time hearing about senses.

Speaker 4: 01:19 Mota. SAB is a regional organizer with partnership for the advancement of new Americans or Pana based in city Heights. He says there are obstacles to convincing refugees to complete the census.

Speaker 5: 01:31 Our community is dealing with trauma here in the U S with the Trump administration and the weaponization of the citizenship question, for example, created a lot of fear in our community. Uh, so, uh, made our job harder.

Speaker 4: 01:47 Pana hopes to reach 14,000 immigrants via phone within the next five weeks to let them know how the census impacts their communities. Ebony Monet, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 01:57 San Diego County Republican strongholds seem to be declining, but San Diego's GOP chairman says they plan to fight back KPBS as Sarah [inaudible] has more political strategists believed the San Diego County board of supervisors could become a democratic majority this year and a Democrat is likely to become San Diego's next mayor, but San Diego County Republican party chairman, Tony Cavarretta told KPBS midday addition, the GOP is ready for the fight. He says the party has some strong issues this year to run on in their effort to win seats in the County. He says those include AB five, a new state law that restricts the gig economy, sex education in schools along with what he calls the Democrats war on charter schools.

Speaker 6: 02:43 People are looking for a, a bold colors, not pale pastels. And, uh, uh, we are right on the issues. I just mentioned three issues where I think that's a 70 80% agreement if you, if you ask San Diego on those three issues. So we need to proudly proclaim them.

Speaker 1: 02:59 Caucus meetings for the San Diego County Republican party were held at seven locations across the County last night. Sarah [inaudible] KPBS news Monday was Congressman Duncan Hunter's last day in office. He offered his resignation to governor Newsome last week. KPBS reporter Prius Schrader tells us what's next for the 50th district. Junkin Hunter offered his resignation after pleading guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy for misusing campaign funds for personal use. Governor Gavin Newsome decided not to hold a special election due to the timing of Hunter's resignation. And now the 50th will have no representation in Congress until January, 2021.

Speaker 6: 03:42 Whenever there's a vacancy with any congressional office. Uh, the office continues to operate to provide services to our constituents with help with federal agencies.

Speaker 1: 03:52 Harrison says the differences. There will be no one advocating for the 50th district in Washington Prius for either K PBS news. Two local studies published Monday. Highlight the importance of childcare and what employers can do to support working parents. KPP education reporter Joe Hong spoke with experts about how an investment in early childhood education can have longterm benefits.

Speaker 7: 04:18 The reports for posing an array of solutions for both big and small employers. Among them are more flexible schedules, lactation rooms, and using pretax dollars for childcare. Laura cone is a director at the San Diego workforce partnership. She said the return on investment could be huge for the local economy.

Speaker 8: 04:35 Longterm studies of kids who've experienced high quality childcare show that they're more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to, um, earn a good living in, um, in later years.

Speaker 7: 04:46 One report found that nine out of 10 employers in San Diego do prioritize supporting working parents. Joe Hong KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 04:55 Governor Gavin Newsome's budget proposal includes big plans for addressing climate change capital public radios. As David Romero reports. It's in part because his administration says the Trump white house isn't doing enough.

Speaker 9: 05:08 The proposal lays out a 12 point $5 billion climate change budget that'll be rolled out over five years. Kate Gordon is a senior advisor and climate to the governor,

Speaker 6: 05:19 the federal government, which is shirking its global responsibility to address these issues. California has been and is going to continue to lead on producing risks from these impacts.

Speaker 9: 05:27 The budget also includes $1 billion for a fund to provide low interest loans for climate related projects and jobs. The budget would also establish a $5 billion climate resilience bond to go in front of voters this fall, 80% would go to immediate risks like floods and drought and the rest would go to longterm challenges like sea level rise in Sacramento. I'm Ezra David Romero.

Speaker 1: 05:50 Immigrants with professional degrees from their home countries face big challenges to work again in the U S as doctors or lawyers, engineers in part two of our California dream series on how immigrants find their way back into jobs that match their skills and experience. KQ EDIS for either Java. LA Romero brings us one doctor's story.

Speaker 10: 06:11 It's a bit of a miracle that Wilmer Garcia Ricardo is now a medical resident at the San Joaquin general hospital. South of Stockton

Speaker 2: 06:19 has been years of studying sacrifice

Speaker 10: 06:22 Garcia. Ricardo studied family medicine in Cuba and practiced for seven years. He came to the U S in 2012 through a now defunct humanitarian parole program for Cuban medical professionals, but he says he was then left on his own to figure out how to get licensed to practice again in America, buying medical textbooks on Amazon and

Speaker 2: 06:44 getting into blogs and forums online of different medical doctor for other countries who were doing the same process.

Speaker 10: 06:52 Meanwhile, he worked as a patient aid and a nursing home.

Speaker 2: 06:55 So that was like, you know, being a doctor in January, 2012 to be at the bottom of the healthcare system in America.

Speaker 10: 07:04 That's what [inaudible] the migration policy Institute calls brain waste. She estimates that in California it costs a 9 billion annually and lost earnings and millions more in lost state and local taxes.

Speaker 1: 07:18 Half of immigrants who all come into the United States now have a lot of education that's going to become an important talent pool if they're skills applied to good use.

Speaker 10: 07:29 Go to Seattle. Ricardo spent five years and more than $10,000 to pass the tough licensing exams and apply to medical residency programs so he could work as a doctor.

Speaker 2: 07:40 I would say that I applied to 166 program and I receive one interviewing dictation.

Speaker 10: 07:48 He was not accepted anywhere, but he didn't give up. It was a unique program in California that finally gave him the help he needed to get into a residency. Then international medical graduate program at UCLA gives Spanish speaking immigrant physicians classes and hands on experience with patients so they can better compete for residency spots. Spots that are extremely limited, especially in the places where they're needed most. If I had a magic wand, I would say, let us get some additional residency positions available in our most underserved areas. In California, dr Michel Boulet co-founded the program. The doctors commit to working at least two years in underserved communities, and most of the hundred and 40 bilingual graduates still work in those areas. It says bullet, she has high hopes for dr Wilmer Garcia. Ricardo is going to be a role model to the Latino community. He's going to be a role model for those people to know that, you know what? I have a doctor that understands me. I have a doctor who's going to there for my family in a small exam room at the San Joaquin general hospital, Garcia. Ricardo is finishing up a consultation with a patient

Speaker 2: 09:08 [inaudible]

Speaker 10: 09:11 to Seattle. Ricardo says, without the UCLA program, he wouldn't be able to work as a doctor here. He says, before this residency, he felt like a fish out of water, flopping around and gasping for air,

Speaker 2: 09:24 and then you put the fish back in. The water does this same feeling. I had when I had a white coat back and I were as corrupt and I went to the ER, an urgent care

Speaker 10: 09:34 Garcia. Ricardo says he's found his calling as a doctor here in the U S with a patient population of many Spanish speaking, agricultural and factory workers in the San Joaquin Valley and [inaudible] Romero.

Speaker 1: 09:49 10 years ago, this past Sunday, Haiti was rocked by an earthquake that left at least 100,000 people dead on the anniversary. KPB has reporter max Rivlin Adler spoke with Haitian earthquake survivors in Tijuana where thousands of Haitians have migrated since the earthquake

Speaker 11: 10:08 tucked into a Canyon near the U S border is little Haiti, and it's among the first stops for the thousands of Haitians who beginning in 2016 began coming to America's Southern border. The thousands of Haitians are fleeing a decade of tragedy and instability following the earthquake. First, the destruction of the Capitol in the quake than a cholera outbreak. Then hurricane Matthew in 2016 Haiti's divided parliament has been unable to form a government for over a year, and violence has increased sharply. Fritz Nell is 38 he was in archivy 40 miles from the Capitol. He was working on a construction site when it collapsed during the quake, his arm was trapped and he shows me where the scar is still is for. It's now left Haiti in August, 2016 as the security situation on the Island began to deteriorate. He didn't want to give his last name because of worries about crime.

Speaker 2: 11:03 I've whipped [inaudible]. I left Haiti. Of course. After all of those disasters I was just forced to for safety.

Speaker 11: 11:13 He first went to Brazil to look for work and has been in Mexico since may with his wife and child. He had trouble finding work in Mexico and says he's been robbed by the police. Like many of the estimated 3,500 Haitians living in Tijuana, Fritz now is stuck. He cannot enter the U S legally and if he was deported to Haiti, he'd have no money and no job for its Nehlen. His family are getting by on the generosity of the ambassadors of Jesus church that supports the little Haiti. McGall 35 is a psychologist. She was in port AU Prince 10 years ago and was coming home from a job interview when the city collapsed around her. She the streets before she found her family who were safe. She then helped earthquake survivors deal with their trauma. Mikhail now works with the Haitian community in Tijuana.

Speaker 10: 12:08 [inaudible] I don't know if we are just a people that has an incredible capacity for survival and amazing resilience. It is something that cannot be logically explained. [inaudible]

Speaker 11: 12:21 one of the leaders in the community there is John Arnold, Lazard Lazard's eight year old brother died in the earthquake. He left the country because he couldn't deal with the memories of the dead

Speaker 10: 12:33 [inaudible] babies at the office and then after the earthquake, the burials, it made me very frustrated, very sad and I wasn't able to tolerate it internally. [inaudible] the [inaudible], you know

Speaker 11: 12:46 now Lazard is a student in Tijuana and helps with the Haitian bridge Alliance, an organization that assists Haitians in California and Mexico. He told me that he originally intended to migrate to the U S but because of the situation with immigration enforcement, he's going to school in Tijuana and plans to make a life of it. They're helping other Haitians. Lazard helped host a vigil on Sunday night to Mark the anniversary. It began with a moment of silence. Soon Haitians began to pack the small church they use in the evenings, which is run by the group ministerial. You modify now to sing and to pray.

Speaker 12: 13:33 [inaudible]

Speaker 11: 13:33 10 years later and thousands of miles away, they came together to remember the dead and a decade that has found thousands of patients still trying to put the pieces back together in Tijuana. Max with Linda Adler, Cape PVS, new

Speaker 1: 13:48 thanks for listening to San Diego. News matters. If you're not already a subscriber, take a minute to become one. You can find San Diego news matters on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.