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Asylum seekers in Tijuana worse off

 April 11, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, April 11th.>>>>

Migrants in Tijuana face increasing dangersMore on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

Starting today you can once again attend San Diego City Council meetings in person. Two years ago, the pandemic forced public access to go online. In January, council members and staff were able to come back to council chambers, but the public still had to use zoom and phone calls. Virtual attendance will still be an option for the public going forward.


The Biden administration is desperately calling on congress to pass more funding for the ongoing fight against COVID-19.. KPBS health reporter Matt hoffman asked all of San Diego County’s congressional reps where they stand—

Congressman Scott Peters, who tested positive for COVID last week, is supportive of more funding. He says the US's pandemic infrastructure needs to continue and says disagreements shouldn’t get in the way of that. Congressman Juan Vargas says the funding is absolutely needed and he’s optimistic something can be done soon. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs also supports ongoing aid, adding pulling back now only hurts those most at risk. Congressman Mike Levin says he supports the funding request and hopes a bipartisan compromise can be reached.. all those who responded are Democrats.. .. the lone republican representative here Darrell Issa did not respond to requests for comment .


After a boiling heat wave last week, prepare for much cooler weather today and Tuesday. The national weather service says a cold front is coming through, bringing a drop in temperatures and some strong winds. They say if there’s rain or snow in the mountains, it won’t be much.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

It’s been two months since Tijuana evicted hundreds of asylum seekers from a makeshift migrant camp just south of the San Ysidro border crossing. Many of those migrants were pushed to the outskirts of town – where they face the prospect of homelessness in a dangerous neighborhood.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis has more.

Rosa, who asked me not to use her last name, has been living in a constant state of terror.

She and her two youngest children fled from their home in the Mexican state of Michoacan last year after members of a drug cartel stole her family farm and kidnapped her oldest son. Now in Tijuana, Rosa pays a monthly ransom of $60 to keep her son from being tortured.

“Vivo terrorizada dia a dia con mis hijos que a cualquier momento puedan saber donde estamos.”

I am terrified on a daily basis that at any moment that they find out where me and my children are.

Rosa says the cartel knows she and her children are in Tijuana and is terrified at the thought of being found. They’re currently living in the outskirts of town, paying $150 a month to share a one-bedroom apartment with five people.

She’s waited nearly a year for a chance to request asylum in the U.S. That delay is caused by Title 42 - a public health order from the Trump era that limits access to asylum seekers.

“Pues es miedo andar aqui en Tijuana en la calle. Y que esas personas que nos hicieron dano nos encuentren. Y pues ahi en El chaparral yo me sentia mas segura.”

It’s scary to be here in Tijuana. That the people who hurt us will find us. I felt much safer at El Chaparral.

Rosa says she felt much safer living at El Chapparal – a makeshift migrant came near the San Ysidro border crossing that was abruptly shut down by Tijuana authorities in February. For months, she lived in a tent community with hundreds of other asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America. She knew her neighbors, had access to social services and could even work in nearby stores.

Her new apartment is isolated and in a dangerous neighborhood. It takes her an hour to get to downtown Tijuana – where most of the jobs and social services are.

Perdo Rios is an advocate with American Friends Service Committee. He says living conditions in the camp were by no means ideal. But migrants were safer there than they are now.

“Conditions for them, for many of them, went from bad to worse.”

He says they’ve been left to fend for themselves in one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico.

“If you speak to them individually you find out that they’re going through some serious troubling situations where they don’t have housing, they lack access to information, they are much more susceptible to being robbed or being apprehended by the authorities

Rosa’s neighbor is an Honduran woman named Darci. She is also running from gangs and asked me not to use her last name. Like Rosa, Darci lived in El Chapparal.

“No temenos trabajo. Hemos ido a buscar en fabricas pero no acceptan extranjeros y pues nos toca vivir de la linea.”

There’s no work. We’ve looked for work at maquiladoras but they don’t hire foreigners. So we have to live off the border wait line.

Darci says there is no work in this part of Tijuana. She’s applied to jobs at maquiladoras but they don’t hire foreigners. So she lives off whatever money she makes begging and washing car windows at the long border wait line.

Running out of options, Darci is left to wait for U.S. border policy to change.

“Estamos esperando siempre. Siempre estamos con la illusion de que nos van a decir ya necisictamos tal cosa para poder cruzar, o alguna fecha, alguna esperanza pues. Siempre vivimos con la idea que nos van a dar una respuesta.”

We are always waiting. Always with the hope that they’ll tell us how we can cross, or give us a date, any bit of hope. We live with the idea that they’ll give us an answ er.

Rosa’s and Darci’s frustrations have heightened over the past couple weeks. The same border officials who use Title 42 to block their asylum in the U.S. have allowed hundreds of Ukrainian war refugees to enter the country.

Rosa understands that the Ukrainians are fleeing war. But she says living in Michoacan is also like living in a warzone.

“Me pregunto yo y le pregunto al gobierno, que Michoacan no esta en gerra? O me van a decir que todo esta bien?”

I ask myself, is Michoacan not at war? And I ask the government too. Or are they going to tell me that everything is fine?

The U.S. Department of State currently has a Level 4 travel advisory for Michoacan. It is the highest level – and advises people to not travel there because of crime and kidnapping risks.

After a year of waiting and living in constant fear, Rosa feels abandoned by both the American and Mexican governments.

“Ya un ano y viviendo con este temor aqui en nuestro pais y no darnos una respuesta es muy dificil y la verdad si me siento olvidada por las autoridades.”

It’s very difficult to live here for a year, afraid in our own country. The truth is, I feel forgotten by the authorities.

Gustavo Solis, KPBS News


The San Diego Rescue Mission got the contract to run Oceanside’s first homeless shelter last year – but construction has yet to begin.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more on the hold up.

Oceanside’s first homeless shelter will be run by the San Diego Rescue Mission at the old Ocean Shores High School.

But the buildings are in need of a remodel and a shovel has yet to hit the ground to prepare for the 50-bed homeless shelter.

Donnie Dee is President of the San Diego Rescue Mission. He says he would’ve hoped to be open by now.

“We typically own our own stuff and we set our own timelines but in working with another municipality we’ve had to jump through some hoops just to try to figure this out.”

The site is city owned, so all bids needed to be approved by the city first.

In a statement the city of Oceanside said that when developing a project of this magnitude it is normal and expected for plans to change.

Dee said demolition is expected to start in the coming weeks and he hopes to be open by late Summer.



Racial discrimination against homebuyers more than 50 years ago is still having an impact on San Diego communities.

KPBS Reporter Matt Hoffman says a local policy group is looking at how decades of red-lining led to more liquor stores in vulnerable areas.

The Alcohol Policy Panel of San Diego aims to prevent binge and underage drinking.. they hosted a presentation about how redlining policies from decades ago are still negatively impacting some communities. for example there are higher concentrations of liquor stores in communities of color and low income areas.. San Diego County supervisor Nathan Fletcher says this needs to change

Intentional government policies created the inequities often along racial lines that we see today -- and so intentional government policies have to address them and that’s the hallmark of what we’ve done in bringing an equity lense to all of our efforts around public health, addiction, homelessness, homeownership, housing to write many of the wrongs of the past

Representatives from a variety of sectors including health, education and public safety also are joining the conversation. MH KPBS News.


A local private school is helping to bridge the cultural divide for first-generation Mexican American students.

kpbs education reporter m.g. perez has more.







With tax day on April 18th, some local leaders are trying to raise awareness about a tax credit for low-to-moderate income individuals and families. KPBS speak city heights reporter Jacob Aere has more.

Some local agencies put a spotlight on one way to get money back on taxes… the Earned Income Tax Credit… also known as the E-I-T-C.

It’s for low to moderate income families.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is helping San Diegans file their taxes and get some money back … all for free.

San Diego resident Crystal Casillas got help through the program.

“It's my first time using this program. It's actually a blessing because I'm a single mom of two kids andan extra $300 not paying as a taxpayer, it's a plus.”

Individuals and families can call 2-1-1 or visit to see if they qualify for the federal EITC, and other tax credits. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Coming up....we have details on a new program to get more Californians into state parks. That story’s next, just after the break.

If you have a public library card in California, exploring a state park just got easier.

kpbs's Deb Welsh explains.

With a public library card you can now check out a parks pass in the same way you check out a book or a movie. Each library branch, including mobile libraries, will have at least three passes -- compliments of the california state park system -- in circulation.

Those passes will allow free vehicle entry for day use at more than 200 state parks and beaches.

How long the passes can be checked out, according to State Librarian Greg Lucas, varies by each library branch. The library passes are part of a pilot program to increase access to state parks, especially for children in under-invested communities.

More information on the new California State Library Parks Program is available at "Check Out C-A State Parks dot com."


And one more before you go….

The San Diego Repertory Theatre’s 2nd Annual Black Voices Reading Series continues tonight, (Monday) with Darren Canady’s Reparations.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with the playwright.

Darren Canady’s Reparations imagines a future where technology can access blood memories.

DARREN CANADY And so the main character, Rory, takes up the state of Oklahoma on an offer that if you can use this new technology to prove that your ancestors were the victims of state sponsored violence, that the government of Oklahoma will provide Reparations.the piece really explores Midwestern racial identity, how legacy can actually be experienced in a visceral way, perhaps even written into our genes.

Canady’s play looks past generational trauma to consider if joys and dreams might also be passed down in one’s DNA. Reparations will have an online reading tonight followed by a discussion as part of San Diego Rep’s Black Voices Reading Series.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

That’s it for the podcast today. 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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A temporary shelter for hundreds of migrants who had escaped deadly situations in Mexico and Central America shut down abruptly in February. Now, many are homeless and in more danger. Also, construction is delayed on Oceanside’s first homeless shelter. Plus, the effects of racial discrimination against homebuyers more than 50 years ago is still being felt today in San Diego.