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Migrant Children At the Border

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MATTHEW BOWLER

Migrants have been camping out at the El Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana for over a month hoping for a change in American immigration policy that would allow them to request asylum.

Central American Migrant families with children who have crossed the US Mexico border are being sent to San Diego, and then deported to Tijuana. There they face tough decisions -- return to their home countries, or send their children north? Meanwhile, the Ocean Beach pier might have to get torn down altogether. And, a fact check on just how many migrants at border facilities are testing positive for Covid-19.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday April 19th.

What’s behind the rise in unaccompanied children at the US-Mexico border?

We’ll have more on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

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Over the weekend the Federal government announced that half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 shot. In San Diego, more than half of the eligible population has received one dose, and 33% have received two doses. The state’s goal is to vaccinate 75% of the population to achieve herd immunity.

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The City of Del Mar has put forward a plan for more affordable housing to be built. According to a state mandate, the city needs to make space for 113 affordable housing units. So far, it plans on building 51 of them on land by the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The only problem there is that the city doesn’t own that land, the state does. For now, the city has 3 years to negotiate an agreement with the fairgrounds board.

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Rail services from Solana Beach to San Diego were shut down over the weekend and will stay closed through Tuesday morning due to emergency repair work on the Del Mar Bluffs. The r Bluffs partially collapsed back in late February. Additional weekend rail closures are scheduled for this coming weekend, and the weekend after it as well. Visitors are urged not to sit, stand or walk within 50 feet of the Del Mar Bluffs or the Beach below. The emergency stabilization work at the Bluffs is expected to be complete by this summer.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

As thousands of migrant families attempt to cross into the United States all along the US-Mexico border, many are being flown to San Diego…. then removed to Mexico, without any of their belongings. And that may be what’s causing a rise in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the US Mexico border.

KPBS’ Max Rivlin Nadler reports from Tijuana.

There’s a rack of shoes drying in the sun outside of Embajadores de Jesus Shelter in Tijuana….
The tongues of the shoes are just hanging out… because Customs and Border Protection took the laces from them… even from the tiniest of shoes…..
Including those belonging to Claudia Vasquez Del Cid and her six-year-old daughter, Keymi. They fled rampant crime, domestic abuse, and joblessness in a hurricane-wrecked Honduras. They crossed the Rio Grande in Texas earlier this month.
No tengo nada….
She tells me CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION threw away her clothes, their shoelaces, their money. Now, she has nothing to feed her daughter.
They’re throwing us away, she says, they send us to be thrown out.
Vasquez Del Cid is one of over 3,000 asylum-seekers flown from the Texas border to the San Diego/Tijuana border.
That’s because Mexican states near the Texas border are not accepting returns of Central American migrant families with young children…
But Baja California does — 78% of families encountered by San Diego Border Patrol between November and March were expelled to Baja.
Each day, around one hundred people are flown to San Diego from Texas. Some families are allowed to remain in the United States.
Others are driven to the border… handed over to Mexican authorities… and driven to the Embajadores De Jesus shelter, where they’re greeted by Pastor Gustavo Banda Aceves, who has operated the shelter for five years.
Each day over the past month, 100 migrants have arrived at the shelter. The children are mostly between the ages of two and eight.
Llegan muy mal…
They arrive in very bad shape, Pastor Gustavo tells me. Some of them faint in their seats on the way to the shelter, all of them come with coughs, with vomiting, with stomach illnesses.
After crossing the border, the families are held in dangerously crowded and freezing holding cells, called Hieleras, where COVID-19 and other illnesses spread quickly.
28-year-old Gladis Garcia was held in one with her young daughter, Maria, for three days.
There, her daughter became ill — she said she struggled to breathe.
Se siente mal de pecho.
Said said they told her they didn’t have any medications, to drink water instead. She asked for clothes for her daughter after they took their belongings, but they said they didn’t have any.
Garcia and her daughter are from Honduras, like many, many others at the shelter.
They left Chamelecón, which she described as ground zero for the two earthquakes that devastated the region last fall. She told me she was living in the street, in the mud.
With gangs taking over what was left of the neighborhood, they decided to try to get to the United States, where they already had family in Houston.
She thought she was close to reuniting with them. But she was wrong.
Ellos reindo….
She says the border patrol agents laughed at them when they asked if they were going to be deported. No, they told her. She was going to a shelter in San Diego, where she would soon be released to her family.
Later that day, she was in Mexico.
Before January 2019, families were allowed into the US to pursue their asylum claims. Since then however, a combination of restrictive policies under the Biden and Trump administrations have kept them mostly out — even as conditions worsen in Central America — with rising crime, ecological disaster, and corruption.
With the Biden administration no longer removing unaccompanied children — many parents at the border are deciding to send their children ahead, alone, in the hands of smugglers….
Pastor Gustavo said this decision has contributed to the record-breaking rise in the amount of unaccompanied children crossing the border.
Es un opcion que toman, muy complicado…
He said it’s difficult to understand, but to make sure their kids don’t die from gang violence, they have to decide to send them ahead along…. Even if it might mean they never see their children again. Either way, they won’t see them again. But in America, they’ll be safe.
One morning last week, some families lined up for a bus to take them back to Central America. Others head back to Reynosa, to cross the border again in Texas in the hopes they’ll be let into the country.
Claudia Vasquez Del Cid, holding the hand of her young daughter without shoe laces, doesn’t know what she’ll do. She just says she can’t go back to Honduras.
No sé, porque no quiero regresar a mi país. No quiero regresar….
In Tijuana, Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS News.

A new engineering report says the Ocean Beach pier is in such bad shape that it might have to be demolished. KPBS’ JOHN CARROLL has more.

“I’m sort of in shock that it’s as dire as it is.”
Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association executive director Denny Knox is still coming to terms with the findings of an extensive report on the condition of the famous OB pier. Even after hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs since the pier opened in 1966,, the pier is in bad shape. The report presents different options from demolishing it to repairing it, to building a new pier. Repairing or replacing it would cost upwards of 40-million dollars. But to longtime OB residents like realtor Mike Akey, losing the pier with no replacement is unthinkable.
“To lose the pier would be a devastation to Ocean Beach, to Point Loma, to San Diego as well.”
The city of San Diego says for now, they’ll repair it - but the pier’s long term fate is still very much in question. JC, KPBS News.

And that was KPBS’ John Carroll.

Progressive lawmakers in California want to impose a wealth tax on the ultra-rich.
But moderate Democrats?...not so much.CapRadio’s Scott Rodd reports.

The legislation would impose an annual one-percent tax on wealth...not income...over 50 million dollars, and a one-point-five percent tax on wealth over one billion dollars.
Assemblymember Alex Lee of San Jose is the bill’s lead author.
LEE-1: “We have seen that the rich get hideously richer, and that has not bated even during a global pandemic. So, we’re really asking who can pay their fair share.”
It would not apply to real estate...since California already has a property tax. But the state would calculate a person’s wealth based on worldwide assets. That means residents couldn’t simply avoid the tax by parking money overseas.
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris is one of several moderate Democrats who say the proposal is unworkable.
COTTIE-1: “So there is a narrative that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes. But in California, largely they do.”
She notes that nearly half of California’s income tax comes from the top 1 percent of earners.
COTTIE-2: That is billions of dollars for schools, for health care--for programs that help all Californians.”
Moderate Democrats say imposing a wealth tax could drive out ultra-rich residents...and drive down tax revenues. It’s an argument that progressives reject.

And that was Cap Radio’s Scott Rodd.

Coming up.... A fact check on just how many migrants at southern border facilities are testing positive for Covid-19. We’ll have that next, just after the break.

The San Diego convention center received a number of unaccompanied migrant children from border facilities in Texas over the past month or so. And as we’ve reported dozens of those children tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival. But some Republican lawmakers are claiming that a large percentage of migrants at crowded Southern Border facilities are testing positive for COVID-19.

CapRadio’s PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols spoke with afternoon anchor Mike Hagerty about that claim...and some other claims in this week’s "Can You Handle The Truth" segment.

CapRadio’s PolitiFact reporter Chris Nichols, speaking with Mike Hagerty.

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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San Diego News Now

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.