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Authorities Find Longest Southwest Border Smuggling Tunnel In San Diego And More Local News

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Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Thursday, January 30th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. The longest smuggling tunnel ever found on the Southwest border is here in San Diego and the 53rd congressional district seat in San Diego is up for grabs and voters aren't without a choice of candidates that add more coming up. Right after the break,

Speaker 2: 00:36 [inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:37 authorities have discovered the longest smuggling tunnel ever found along the U S border stretching more than three quarters of a mile from Tijuana to San Diego. KPV has reporter Matt Hoffman

Speaker 3: 00:48 that explains the tunnel runs 70 feet underground from Tijuana to OTI Mesa. Inside it's five feet high by two feet wide. It was one of the most advanced tunnels officials have found complete with a rail system, electricity, ventilation, and even a drainage system. John calorie is with the drug enforcement administration

Speaker 4: 01:07 as efforts to strengthen security on our Southern border increase, Mexican cartels are forced underground to smuggle deadly drugs and other contraband into the United States.

Speaker 3: 01:17 U S and Mexican authorities found the tunnel last August. It was not being used and it's unclear when the tunnel was built. Authorities have yet to make any arrests or seizures related to the tunnel. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 01:29 immigrant advocates and lawyers gathered in downtown San Diego Wednesday to Mark the first anniversary of the remain in Mexico program, which sends asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait while their asylum claims wine through immigration courts. KPBS reporter max Rose. Lynn Adler was there.

Speaker 5: 01:47 Over 60,000 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico as part of the program. While their advocates say they've been targeted by kidnappers and robbers as they try to find temporary shelter in border towns before their court dates in the U S Nicola Ramos is the director of the border rights project at aloe throw lotto, which provides legal assistance to asylum seekers into Juana.

Speaker 1: 02:09 If the program were designed to protect migrants and prevent human trafficking, we would not be sending asylum seekers back to one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Speaker 5: 02:20 A report from the organization. Human rights first found that over 816 people in the program have been murdered, tortured, or attacked. While waiting in Mexico for their court hearing. The program is currently being challenged in federal court max with Lynn Adler, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 02:36 San Diego city council members are moving to craft a city law to regulate surveillance technology. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew board says this comes a a backlash surrounding so-called smart streetlights.

Speaker 3: 02:49 Three years ago, the city started installing streetlights equipped with cameras intending to measure traffic patterns, but in 2018 the police started using footage, the cameras

Speaker 6: 02:59 to investigate crimes at a committee meeting. Wednesday, Councilwoman Monica Montgomery said, there's no denying the cameras can help catch criminals.

Speaker 7: 03:08 However, allowing surveillance technology to show up in our neighborhoods unannounced and uncontrolled will further erode trust between our communities, our city officials and our law enforcement agencies.

Speaker 6: 03:18 Members of the council's public safety committee rejected a proposed policy that would specifically regulate the streetlight usage. Instead, Montgomery says she'll craft an ordinance that also regulates drones, facial recognition software, and other kinds of surveillance technology. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news

Speaker 1: 03:36 contract negotiations between the Chula Vista teacher's union and the school district are at a stand still. The issue of class size is at the forefront of the debate. KPBS education reporter Joe Hong explains how an increase in teacher pay could lead to bigger class sizes.

Speaker 6: 03:52 The Chula Vista elementary school districts as an order to give teachers a 2% pay raise, it would need to change limits on class sizes for grades four through six. Currently class sizes can be no larger than 31 students. The proposed change would allow for larger class sizes as long as the school's average class is below 31 students. Susan scholar is president of the teacher's union. She said class sizes can reach upwards of 35 students.

Speaker 8: 04:19 There's no way that we're going to agree to, you know, finance a pay increase for ourselves on the backs of our kids.

Speaker 6: 04:26 The school district said the class size adjustments would be necessary to offset the cost of employee pensions and rising special education costs. Joe Hong KPBS news

Speaker 1: 04:36 democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis surprised many when she announced last year. She was retiring from her 53rd district seat, but it didn't take long for more than a dozen candidates to jump to the race. To take her place. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman introduces us to some of the candidates looking to fill her seat.

Speaker 6: 04:56 Congressional district covers a large part of the County, including sections of San Diego, El Cahone and Chula Vista.

Speaker 8: 05:02 I joined the Marine Corps, earn the rank of captain and deployed as a combat engineer, democratic candidate. Janessa gold Beck left the Marine Corps in August. And before that was a human rights advocate. Gold Beck says voters are most worried about the high cost of housing. That experience of trying to find a place to live and be able to afford a, a neighborhood with a good schools and access to easy transportation. You know, that's, that's tough for a lot of people. I think people are concerned about that. I'm also hearing a lot of folks talk about the climate crisis. Um, in California, in San Diego especially, we are at the forefront of feeling the effects of climate change, whether it's wildfires in our canyons and, uh, right up the road or the effects of coastal, uh, rising sea levels on our coastal communities. And our installations also says her votes in Congress won't be bought by big donors.

Speaker 8: 05:47 The reason why Congress hasn't been able to make progress on issues that a lot of Americans care about and agree on, like passing universal background checks for gun sales is because members of Congress are bought off by special interests. So I will be a consistent voice, always asking who's behind what piece of legislation and why. Second, tackling the climate crisis, we've talked a little bit about it so far, but really the effects are being felt here in San Diego. And it's important that we address the number one threat to our national security, which is climate change.

Speaker 9: 06:14 Meet Democrats, Sarah Jacobs, her approach, listen to everyone. Take the best ideas, do the work. She did that at Obama's state department.

Speaker 3: 06:23 Jacob's unsuccessfully ran for the 49th congressional seat in 2016 she's also worked as an advocate to end childhood poverty. Here are the issues she says voters in the district care most about.

Speaker 1: 06:32 One is climate change and the urgent threat that it poses. Uh, especially from young people who are very concerned about the world, but they're going to be living in another is gun violence. I can't tell you how many young people and parents I've talked to who are so afraid to send their kids to school every single day. And then of course, we know here in San Diego we have a crisis of the cost of living, um, both in housing and in healthcare

Speaker 3: 06:56 if elected. Jacob says she'll take a leadership role in shaping the nation's foreign policy,

Speaker 1: 07:00 really looking at how we can make sure that we are making the world more peaceful and keeping American safe. And I think there's a way to do that without getting us into endless Wars without us being the world's policemen. Another issue, uh, that we hear a lot from voters and that I'm very passionate about is affordable childcare. I think we need to set on national goal that no family pays more than 10% of their income on childcare.

Speaker 10: 07:24 I'm honest, I haven't it. And they have character.

Speaker 3: 07:27 One of the few Republican candidates in the race is famela Ramos who recently lost a bid for a school board seat in Chula Vista. She's worked as a nurse and in the hospitality industry. These are the issues. She says voters are talking to her about

Speaker 10: 07:39 bread and butter issues, jobs, taxes, things like that. Family, family values. I think, you know, I feel in this district that I'm underrepresented, especially in family values.

Speaker 3: 07:51 She has a number of priorities. If elected,

Speaker 10: 07:53 I want to address immigration, border security, healthcare and education. I really think the health, um, third party should be left out of the decision making process. It should be like patient doctor interaction. I think we should base healthcare costs on the free market. I think prices should be transparent.

Speaker 8: 08:10 I will never forget the issues that people are live every single day because that's what I come from.

Speaker 3: 08:16 Democratic candidate, Georgette Gomez is currently the San Diego city council president. She's grabbed endorsements from the state, democratic party and labor and healthcare unions. Here are the issues. She says voters want her to fight for

Speaker 8: 08:27 housing. Affordability is a major issue. Education, access to better education. Job safety is important. Um, we do have a district that is a majority working class district.

Speaker 3: 08:41 Gomez priorities include helping people get into a home they can actually afford.

Speaker 8: 08:45 The resources that we get from our, from the department of housing is not enough. Uh, we have a section eight list waiting list that is over 10 years. So we need to reform that.

Speaker 1: 08:56 We need to ensure that we're prioritizing climate, that the cities are moving forward with their climate action plan that's going to take resources. The 53rd is one of the bluest districts in San Diego County with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by about a two to one margin. Matt Hoffman KPBS news to see our complete coverage of the March primary race. Go to K pbs.org. Thanks for listening to San Diego news matters. If you like the show, do us a favor and tell your friends and family to subscribe to the show.

Authorities have announced the discovery of the longest smuggling tunnel ever found on the Southwest border. Plus, amid a backlash against the city's "smart streetlights" program, San Diego City Council members took steps toward crafting a local ordinance to regulate surveillance technology. And, immigrant advocates and lawyers gathered to mark the first anniversary of the controversial “Remain in Mexico” program.

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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.