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Crossing the border as a white European

 March 17, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday March 17th>>>>

A Ukrainian refugee reflects on their journey to U.S.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

A federal jury ordered San Diego County to pay 85 million dollars to the family of a man who died in 2015 after being arrested by sheriff’s deputies. The family of Lucky Phonsy’s says he was experiencing a mental health crisis when 911 was called. Sheriff's deputies responded to a family member's home in Santee and according to the lawsuit, tased, struck and restrained him in an unsafe manner. Phonsy died in the hospital a few days later. In a statement the Sheriff’s department said it is aware of the verdict and plans to meet with its counsel to discuss it.


Afghan refugees in the US, including those who settled in San Diego, will be allowed to stay under temporary protected status for at least 18 months. The government made the announcement wednesday.

It’s a move that'll help some of the thousands who arrived following the American withdrawal from their country. To qualify for the program Afghans must already be in the U.S. and pass a background check. The program is intended to help thousands who evacuated to the U.S. as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.


California Highway Patrol officers and San Diego county sheriff’s deputies will be out across the region looking for drunk drivers today as Saint Patrick’s day celebrations get underway. Last year on Saint Patrick's, three people were killed, and 76 were injured in California due to suspected DUI offenders. Two hundred eleven were arrested.

San Diego sheriff’s will be out starting at 6pm through 6am the following day.

CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray says if you plan to drink and celebrate, make a plan to use a ride share service or public transit.


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

A Ukrainian war refugee was finally reunited with relatives in California. Now that she’s here, she says asylum seekers from other countries should get the same opportunity.

KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis says there is a growing inequity at the southern border.

“She did everything for me. She saved my life I think.”

That was Nataliia Poliakova thanking her aunt for helping her get into the United States after a harrowing journey.

Poliakova fled Ukraine on the fifth day of the Russian invasion. She flew to Mexico and planned to cross the border to reunite with family in Los Angeles.

At first, officials at the San Ysidro Port of Entry told her she’d couldn’t cross because of the pandemic. She slept outside – right next to the border crossing for three days – before officials changed their minds and let her and other war refugees into the country.

But those same officials continue to turn away asylum seekers from other countries.


“There was two Mexican guys who were sitting with us for like 12 hours and officers from US saying them just like we don’t have place for you guys sorry. And there was a lot of families from kids to Cuba, Mexico and other countries and nobody was allowed.”

Jenya Files is Poviakova’s aunt. She is grateful for their reunion. But is outraged that border officials are prioritizing European asylum seekers over others.


“I also can’t imagine how frustrating it is for the families who are not Caucasian and not white. Because they are being looked over at the same time.”

They both want everyone to have the same opportunity. To experience the same joy of being safe and together.


“I’m grateful that she’s here, she’s alive, she’s safe. And I want everyone else to have that. Yes. Everyone. Everyone deserve for help and they don’t have home or war started nobody need to leave on the street. Everybody deserve to be with families in warm place with food and everything.”

Border officials have used a public health order called Title 42 to keep asylum seekers out of the country. The Trump administration implemented the order in March 2020, using the pandemic as justification.

It gives border officials the authority to turn away asylum seekers. But also the discretion to grant them exemptions on a case-by-case basis because of humanitarian reasons.

Blane Bookey is an immigration lawyer. She says Mexican, Haitian and Central American asylum seekers have received much different treatment from border officials.

Blaine Bookey

“You couldn’t have a starker contrast in terms of their treatment.”

Consider that hundreds of Central American and Mexican asylum seekers spent nearly two years in a makeshift migrant camp just south of another border crossing waiting for the same opportunity as Poliakova.

That camp was cleared by Tijuana police in February, leaving some of the families homeless.

Blaine Bookey

“I think that there is no way around it. It’s racist policies that are being applied to black and brown people different than being applied to others.

Gustavo Solis KPBS


San Diego's November ballot could include a measure to allow the city to charge fees for trash pickup. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the proposal took a step forward on WEDNESDAY.

AB: San Diego is the only big city in California that provides free trash pickup to single-family homes while requiring apartment buildings and businesses to pay for private trash hauling. Past councils have shied away from changing the law, called the "People's Ordinance." But City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera says it's fundamentally unfair and hurts the city's ability to meet its waste reduction goals.

SER: Reforming the people's ordinance does not need to be a quagmire or an albatross or a third rail. It can be those things if we make it one. But doing this is doable, and it's imperative that we do so.

AB: The council's Rules Committee voted Wednesday to start drafting ballot language on the measure. Actually placing it on the ballot requires another vote. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


The city of Oceanside was at one point referred to as Ocean-slime. But now, it's quickly becoming the next tourist hotspot in San Diego.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more on the city’s history and how it's changing.

Pictures of lowriders, folklorico dancers, and portraits of homeless make up an exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art.

The exhibit is called Oceanside Unfiltered and Zach Cordner is the curator.

This show really shows how there's layers in our city that form what we are. Its not just about surfing, not just about the piers. It's all the different fabrics of the community coming together to weave what Oceanside is which is this multicultural melting pot.

He's a photographer and publisher for the Osider and Encinitas magazines. He says there are noticeable differences in the neighboring coastal cities.

The main differences are the cultural differences, the ethnic differences… its a lot of white people south of here, haha its just how it is.

The city is about 36% Hispanic or Latino…while Carlsbad and Encinitas are each 14%, according to census data. Cordner says the differences aren’t just ethnic.

Oceanside I think for the longest time has had the stereotype that it's a rough city. There’s gangs, theres homeless, prostitution, all sorts of things.

But how did Oceanside get that rough stereotype?

Kristi Hawthorne is with the Oceanside Historical Society.

With a name like Oceanside it says it all. It was established in 1883 by Andrew Jackson Meyers and his sole purpose for developing his town of Oceanside was to bring people to it.

She says the reason Oceanside stayed cheaper actually has to do with malls. In the 60’s, the introduction of malls changed downtown USA…and removed stores from Oceanside’s downtown.

When our downtown changed and all of our department stores, shoe stores, clothes stores, they all went to the mall, what was left in Oceanside… nothing. We had a lot of vacancies.

Vacant storefronts and lots took over and Oceanside become known as Ocean-slime

When the car dealerships moved to car country Carlsbad, what were we left with. Empty lots or it went to used car lots.

We were once this mecca of shopping and car buying with a high tax revenue to used car lots, surplus stores and empty vacancies.

But That also made Oceanside cheaper…a place where a blue collar working family could afford a home near the beach.

10 years ago, the average price for a home in Oceanside was $313,000 while the average price in Carlsbad was $559,000 and $709,000 in Encinitas.

But now Oceanside’s real estate prices are spiking—they’ve almost tripled in the past 10 years. That’s much faster growth than in other nearby cities.

Oceanside’s nickname Ocean-slime is fading away…and Hawthorne says it’s showing signs it will live up to its original potential as a resort city.

In 1887 we actually got a resort hotel. It was called the South Pacific Hotel. It was a four story hotel that was right on the bluff about where the Wyndham property is now. It was built solely to attract new land buyers, visitors, and vacationers.

But I think within the last 10 years things have really changed a lot in the community.

Zach Cornder with the Osider and Encinitas magazines will continue to document those changes. Though He says the changes could hurt some communities.

There'll be pockets like that i think that can weather the storm but i think overall all the diff neighborhoods of oceanside prices are gonna go up and locals are going to get squeezed out its a fact and its sad.

We’ll talk more about that gentrification tomorrow.



Coming up.... how the pandemic has impacted San Diego’s performing arts scene.

That’s next just after the break.

KPBS has launched a series of stories that explore the impact the last two years of the pandemic has had on performing artists in San Diego.

Producers Emilyn Mohebbi and Julia Dixon Evans have gathered stories from some of the individuals directly affected. We begin with classical performance, the world of choral, dance, opera and instrumental music.

Tomorrow, in part two of this series, we look at the way the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic have impacted the theater.

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.

A 25-year-old from Kiev is saying the same thing as other asylum seekers and advocates: border officials continue to deny asylum to people of color while letting in white Europeans. Meanwhile, San Diego’s November ballot could include a measure on charging single-family homeowners for trash pickup. Also, in the first of a three-part series exploring two years of the COVID-19 pandemic on the performing arts industry, we look at classical performance through the eyes of a chorus, a ballet dancer, an opera singer and a music teacher.