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Asylum seekers remain in limbo

 November 23, 2021 at 9:36 AM PST

Speaker 1: (00:03)

The morning, I'm Annika Colbert. It's Tuesday, November 23rd, the border reopens, but asylum seekers are still stuck more on that next, but first let's do the headlines. Governor Gavin Newsome visited a bay area vaccine clinic on Monday to promote COVID-19 boosters for people 18 and older Newsome says this is especially important as the winter months approach in order to avoid another service

Speaker 2: (00:35)

Between October and December of last year, we saw a nine-fold increase in cases over just an eight week period. We went from an average about 6,000 cases a day, uh, to 54,000

Speaker 1: (00:48)

Newsome says that peak was reached on Christmas Eve. The San Diego regional airport authority announced on Monday, a new complimentary electric shuttle bus service between the airport and the old town transit center. It's called the San Diego flyer and it'll operate every day with the rivals every 20 to 30 minutes pick ups from the shuttle begin at 4:45 AM. And the last pickup and drop offs will be at 12:30 AM. Forecasters say they expect hot and dry weather with strong Santa Ana winds for the Thanksgiving holiday. The national weather service has issued a Firewatch for the mountains and inland valleys effective from early on Thursday morning through Friday afternoon, winds are expected upwards of 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. The NWS says the strongest winds are expected on Thursday from KPBS. You're listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news you need This month. The U S border reopened for travelers vaccinated against COVID-19, but asylum seekers are still stuck in limbo in migrant camps in Mexico. That's because the Biden administration is continuing a controversial Trump era pandemic policy that keeps asylum seekers from making their case to us. Officials, KPBS border reporter Gustava Soliz has more on how this impacts people living in Tijuana.

Speaker 3: (02:39)

There are hundreds of asylum seekers living in a makeshift migrant camp, just south of the border. This camp is a sprawling labyrinth of interconnected tents, men, women, and lots of children's sleep on concrete floors. They shower outside under a highway overpass and the city recently off their electricity.

Speaker 4: (03:02)

[inaudible] [inaudible],

Speaker 3: (03:07)

That's a woman we're calling Carmen to protect your identity. She says the situation at the camp is very ugly. She entered two children, fled their home state of Michoacan. After cartel members killed her brothers and kidnapped her oldest son

Speaker 4: (03:23)

[inaudible] it's okay. I guess if I could ask for my [inaudible],

Speaker 3: (03:34)

She says they'll kill her too. If she ever goes back, Carmen story, isn't all that unique in the camp. Most of our neighbors fled similar violence in central America and other parts of Mexico. Gina got Evo is a social worker with American friends service committee. She visits the camp three times a week to check up on people like Carmen.

Speaker 5: (03:57)

No, [inaudible]

Speaker 3: (04:04)

Those in the camper, desperate. She says they have nowhere else to go. And one of the hardest parts of Godiva's job is not having answers to questions. She keeps hearing over and over again.

Speaker 5: (04:16)

[inaudible] any news

Speaker 3: (04:21)

What's going to happen to us? What options do we have? So why do we have hundreds of desperate people stranded in a makeshift camp? Just a few steps away from the Sandy Cedar border crossing. Well that's because of title 42, a public health order that the Trump administration implemented in March, 2020 and the Biden administration has kept in place. Title 42, lets border officials turn back asylum seekers without due process critics of the program include Julia. Neusner an attorney with human rights. First,

Speaker 6: (04:54)

Effectively, the most sweeping ban on asylum at the border in us history. It's a pretty radical policy.

Speaker 3: (05:00)

Normally the asylum process works like this. Someone flees their home because of some type of persecution. They arrive at the border and telling official that they're afraid to go back. If they pass a credible fear interview they're are allowed into the U S and start an asylum case before a judge, but title 42, lets border officials turn people away without giving them that credible fear interview or letting them see a judge Neusner says that using the pandemic to justify title 42 is disingenuous, especially now since the white house reopened border to vaccinate travelers.

Speaker 6: (05:38)

The fact that now vaccinated, uh, tourists and shoppers are allowed to enter, but, uh, vaccinated people who are fleeing violence and are in urgent danger are not just, uh, is further evidence that this, this policy has never been about public health.

Speaker 3: (05:57)

Carmen, the mother from truck and has been living in the camp since April. She doesn't understand how the federal government can justify letting one group of people cross, but not the other

Speaker 4: (06:08)

[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] Ms. My Mexico [inaudible].

Speaker 3: (06:21)

She says it's not fair. They don't want to be at the camp, but they don't feel safe in Mexico. The centers for disease control and prevention issued the health order. When KPBS asked why asylum seekers are still barred from crossing, they said to us, the white house, the white house didn't respond to our questions.

Speaker 1: (06:40)

And that was KPBS border reporter Gustava. So lease San Diego is just a few weeks away on deciding a new map of city council districts, KPBS. Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen says activists are still fighting for changes

Speaker 7: (07:02)

Among those activists. As a group of UCS D students, they say they have nothing in common with the mostly white wealthy homeowners of LA Jolla and want to be drawn into a different district that would empower Asian American voters. The city's independent redistricting commission has rejected that request so far. You've CSD sophomore. Aiden lens says it's frustrating for students. Many of whom are engaging in politics for the first time ever. The commission seems

Speaker 8: (07:27)

To do a better job of imagining what the point Loma was. Concerns are over listening to what the students and what the API community is present and telling them in this,

Speaker 7: (07:38)

The commission hearings, the redistricting commission meets again today, starting at 5:00 PM. It has until mid December to lock in a final map of new council districts

Speaker 1: (07:48)

Was KPBS. Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Turkeys, PPE, and COVID-19 booster shots were all available on Monday morning outside of national city's public library. KPBS is speaks city Heights, reporter Jacob heir has more

Speaker 9: (08:06)

National city leaders in partner organizations provided a bundle of holiday offerings for their community. On Monday morning, the city's mayor Alejandro Sotelo Soliz says the large lineup of cars at the drive-through distribution shows the necessity for these kinds of events.

Speaker 10: (08:22)

It's a clock. People came, uh, to sign up, to get their Turkey. And it was truly amazing to see one starting at six in the morning, people were here that the need is so great.

Speaker 9: (08:37)

This is the third annual Turkey drive Hilda national city. And for those yet to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, there was also a convenient option on site.

Speaker 1: (08:46)

And that was KPBS is speak city Heights, reporter Jacob air Coming up. We're a few years away from universal preschool in California, but not everyone believes it'll have a positive impact on childcare. We'll have more on that next, just after the break. Universal preschool is coming to California in 2025 and many in the early childhood field are celebrating yet as the California reports, Deepa Fernandez reports, not everyone is welcoming the change. In fact, some believe it could have disastrous consequences for childcare and families seeking early care, and the impact will fall hardest on communities of color. People are excited about California's new law that will bring free preschool to all the states four year olds by 2025,

Speaker 11: (10:06)

Actually universal TK is the biggest thing we've ever done in California for our youngest

Speaker 1: (10:12)

Assembly member. Kevin Makati is the architect of the $2.7 billion universal program.

Speaker 11: (10:18)

This as a game changer, the program

Speaker 1: (10:20)

Will provide free preschool through the public school systems, newest grade, transitional kindergarten, or TK,

Speaker 12: (10:29)

The biggest bubble of them all,

Speaker 1: (10:32)

But Mickey award is not celebrating. Wolf runs five early education centers like this one in San Leandro. She's really worried that the state's newly minted universal transitional kindergarten plan will siphon off all her four-year-old.

Speaker 13: (10:51)

It will be difficult for us if we no longer able to serve four year olds. And that's because we depend on those tuitions in order to pay for the expense of the younger

Speaker 1: (11:06)

Children in California childcare centers are required by law to have one adult present for every four kids under two while for four year olds, the ratio is one adult for every 12 kids. Dave Espen, executive director of California quality early learning says, this means

Speaker 8: (11:25)

You take a loss on infants and toddlers and you make a marginal gain on the four. And five-year-olds

Speaker 1: (11:30)

Losing the fees from older children will cut into the small padding preschools, have to help cover the more expensive care of children under two.

Speaker 8: (11:39)

So many providers will close forever in the coming years. Those that don't close, we'll need to raise infinite Tyler tuition. There's five, which will be completely unaffordable to even more families. So

Speaker 1: (11:48)

The parents might win by having free preschool for their four year old, but it could mean less available care for the very youngest.

Speaker 14: (11:56)

I'm really worried that the state of early childhood education is going to be catastrophic. We miserable. And about five years,

Speaker 1: (12:03)

Jennifer ricotta runs two preschools in Southern California. A

Speaker 14: (12:06)

Lot of black and brown women are going to be out of work.

Speaker 1: (12:10)

The early childhood workforce is overwhelmingly women of color and many won't have the required credentials to teach TK in the public school system. There are also worries about the overly harsh disciplining of black preschoolers. The behaviors that are normal for four year olds says Keisha and Zoe direct of public policy at the California childcare recess and reform on that.

Speaker 14: (12:33)

My concern is starting a school to prison pipeline even earlier because behaviors that are age appropriate are not going to be tolerated on a public school campus.

Speaker 1: (12:42)

The civil rights group advancement project, California, once the universal plan to be equitable to California's many children of color, senior policy director, Khadija alum acknowledges there are issues to still be resolved and she believes there is a role for home childcares and small preschools.

Speaker 15: (13:00)

Honestly, I just don't see, you know, school districts is taking on the whole responsibility of UTK on their own.

Speaker 1: (13:07)

Dave Espen of California quality, early learning suggests private providers be allowed to keep serving their four year olds possibly contracted out by local school districts who will be receiving the funds to expand TK

Speaker 8: (13:22)

And implemented mixed delivery systems and included the entire child care community.

Speaker 1: (13:26)

But assembly member Makati is opposed to the idea.

Speaker 11: (13:29)

No, we don't contract out eighth grade and fifth grade and third grade. So I don't know how we're going to contract out

Speaker 1: (13:35)

Alarm of advancement project. California is hopeful. All the issues can be resolved.

Speaker 15: (13:41)

It's an opportunity for growth. It's an opportunity for partners

Speaker 1: (13:45)

And that was reporting from Deepa Fernandez with the California report. And that's it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS midday edition at noon on KPBS radio, or check out the mid day dishin podcast. You can also watch KPBS evening edition at five o'clock on KPBS television. And as always you can find more San Diego news I'm Annika Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Foreign citizens who are vaccinated can now cross the US-Mexico border. But asylum seekers still cannot cross, even if they are vaccinated, because a controversial Trump-era public health order remains in place. Meanwhile, students at UCSD are hoping the latest City Council redistricting proposal will be changed. It would split the school’s east and west campuses into two separate districts. Plus, in 2025, Universal preschool will begin across the state of California but some believe it would do more harm than good.