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Experts: Remain in Mexico still inhumane

 April 28, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, April 28th>>>>

Migrants in danger under remain in mexico
More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


A program to fund legal representation for migrants facing removal proceedings in San Diego county begins today. San Diego is the first southern border county in the U-S with such a program. County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer originally introduced the plan about a year ago. The Immigrant Rights Legal Defense Program is backed by a 2015 study that found that individuals with legal representation are 10 times more likely not to be deported compared to those without counsel. Legal representation is often cost prohibitive for many migrants. The program is also aimed at addressing a backlog in immigration courts.


San Diego County is pursuing federal dollars to fix storm-water infrastructure to better protect beaches, creeks and rivers from pollutants.

The county board of Supervisors directed the county’s chief administrative officer to pursue funding that is available through the federal infrastructure investment and jobs act passed by Congress in November.

Officials say more than 2 billion is available under the new law.


More wind in San Diego county today. A wind advisory has been issued for the county’s mountain and desert areas. It’ll be from 1 pm today through midnight. Winds between 20 and 30 miles per hour are expected, with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. That’s according to the national weather service. They say you should take care out on the roads, especially if driving a high profile vehicle.


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

It has been four months since a federal lawsuit forced the Biden Administration to bring back the controversial Trump-era Remain in Mexico asylum program, also known as Migration Protection Protocols. It forces asylum seekers to live in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis says people returned to Mexico under this program face a dangerous and demoralizing existence.

The 50-year-old man ended up in the Migrant Protection Protocols program March 4. Ever since, he’s been scared and on the run, terrified of attracting attention of Tijuana’s criminal element.

I spoke to him last week at a Salvation Army shelter exclusively for people in this program. He agreed to an interview only if I identified as The Sad Colombian.

I asked him why he picked this unusual name.

“Porque Colombiano Triste? Porque hemos estado tratando de buscar un sueno, una illusion, de entrar a Estados Unidos y se nos a frustrado por muchas razones. Hemos sufrido mucho aca en Mexico.”

He’s sad because he dreams of entering the United States but continues to suffer in Mexico.

More than 3,000 people have been sent back to Mexico via Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, since the Biden Administration brought it back in December 2021. More than 900 of them are in Tijuana.

Critics say people in MPP don’t have access to lawyers and face danger while living south of the border.

The Sad Colombian says the program is specifically designed to wear people down. So they lose hope and abandon their asylum case.

“Pues yo veo que este programa se trata de cansar la gente. Que renuncie el programa. Esa es a idologia de este programa.”

After the federal judge in Texas forced the Biden administration to bring the program back, officials vowed to correct some of the issues with the original version of MPP.

But experts who follow the program say that hasn’t happened. Here is Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a senior policy counsel for the American Immigration Council.

“None of the fundamental underlying issues created by MPP 1.0 have been solved by the new implementation. Northern Mexico is still a dangerous place for many asylum seekers, there are still very few U.S. lawyers who can assist migrants with their cases, and people still have a lot of insecurity while they wait in Mexico for their hearings.”

The scarcity of legal representation is a huge problem in Tijuana. None of the people I interviewed at the shelter have been able to find a lawyer. They do get a piece of paper at immigration court with numbers to call for free legal representation.

But this is what they hear whenever they call.

The person in that extension 103 is unavailable

Julia Neusner is an attorney with Human Rights First. She recently visited the same shelter.

She was struck by the MPP’s psychological toll.

“So people are really just afraid to leave and being stuck in this little shelter all the time is really weighing on folks’ mental health. One person I spoke with said he had insomnia, he had bags under his eyes. He said I have never experienced this before I have never had depression before in my life and now I cant sleep. So I think the impact on folks mental health in this program is a really serious issue too.”

Complicating things further was the announcement this month that the Biden administration plans to terminate Title 42 as of May 23.

Title 42 is another Trump-era program designed to limit the number of asylum seekers who can enter the U.S. Using the pandemic as justification, the policy allows border officials to turn away asylum seekers.

If Title 42 does indeed go away, experts say it will likely mean that more people will end up in MPP.

Reichlin-Melnick says migrants enrolled in MPP will be better off than under Title 42 because at least have a chance to start an asylum case. Yet, they’ll face an incredibly difficult process under MPP.

“The reality is that for two years there has been effectively no way to seek asylum at the ports of entry.” Gustavo Solis KPBS News


A recent CDC study shows that the number of kindergarteners up-to-date on required vaccinations has slightly fallen.

KPBS Health Reporter Matt Hoffman explains.

The CDC reports 94% of all kindergarteners got their required vaccinations in the 2020/2021 school year.. That’s one percentage point lower compared to the previous year.. Stay at home orders and other disruptions caused by the pandemic are likely what’s behind the small decrease--

San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten is encouraging parents to make sure their kids have the vaccinations that could save their lives--

given the fact that it is national infant immunization week it’s an opportunity to educate parents to say hey make sure you check in with your doctor make sure that your child gets those routine vaccinations

The number of state-required vaccinations depends on a student's age.. COVID-19 vaccinations are not on that list, at least not for the upcoming school year.


Those without medical insurance can get their kids vaccinated at a county public health center free of charge.


Every year, the San Diego Housing Commission increases the dollar amount of the housing vouchers it issues to low-income families. But KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says this year the voucher amounts are going way up, giving these families more neighborhoods to choose from.

Vouchers are split into three tiers, with more money going to people who live in pricier neighborhoods. But previously, the voucher amounts weren’t enough to cover the high rents in places like La Jolla or Rancho Santa Fe.

Advocates say that changed this year. . Here’s housing attorney Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi.

“Payment standards have been significantly increased in many neighborhoods with better performing schools, more opportunities for employment, and less exposure to adverse environmental conditions and industrial nuisances.”

The new voucher amounts give families who qualify for assistance a chance to move to more desirable parts of the city. For example, a family who wanted to live in University City gets $3,000 a month—about $1,000 less than average rents in that area. Last year, they would have only received around $2,200 a month.

Claire Trageser, KPBS News

A San Diego Housing Commission spokesman sent a statement saying its voucher program “has been shown successful at providing households more options to live in neighborhoods of their choice.”


San Diego wants to shrink the number of dockless scooter companies in the city. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says it's part of an overhaul of scooter regulations meant to improve safety.

AB: The updated rules would prohibit riders from parking scooters, or shared bikes, anywhere but in designated parking areas off the sidewalk. And companies would have to get a lot faster at moving illegally parked devices. The city is currently picking which companies it wants to keep and which to kick out. Councilmember Jen Campbell says the early days of dockless scooters were a mess.

JC: The vast use of them proved their popularity, but it also showed the need for a regulatory framework. And I'm very happy that we will limit the number of companies.

AB: A City Council committee endorsed the updated rules Wednesday. The full City Council is expected to vote on them in the next few months. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


With wildfire season around the corner, SDG&E is working on several microgrids to help firefighters in the backcountry get ready. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more about back up power for the Ramona Air Attack Base.

SDGE’s Ramona microgrid is one of 4 providing back up power to places like hospitals and gas stations in rural areas of San Diego County.

The Air Attack Base is home to Cal Fire and US Forest Services aerial firefighting equipment.

The microgrid will power the base with a battery storage system.


“As part of our wildfire mitigation plans we propose a set of investments that A) help prevent ignition of wildfire and then mitigate the impacts of public safety power shut off..”

In January, SDGE customers saw a rate increase of 11.4% in their bill that the company says is due to a higher cost for energy, clean energy projects, and wildfire mitigation efforts.



Coming up.... Long covid impacts kids and teens too. We have that story and more, next, just after the break.

What little is known about Long Covid in children and teenagers suggests that it can be just as disabling for them as it is for older adults.

In Los Angeles, KPCC’s health reporter Jackie Fortier spoke to one family who connected the dots before the doctors.

That was KPCC’s Jackie Fortier


A bill intended to reverse California's growing shortage of behavioral health workers was approved by the Senate Education Committee on [Wednesday].

But it's getting some pushback from state colleges.

Cap Radio's Steve Milne explains.

The measure requires California Community Colleges and the California State University system to develop accelerated programs for degrees in Master of Social Work, or MSW. Students would be able to combine undergraduate study with graduate work.

But Mary Meuel with CSU says that conflicts with accreditation standards.

"We're just very concerned that these changes will actually slow down any efforts to expand the number of MSW grads quickly."

The bill's author - Democratic Senator Scott Wiener - says he's willing to make changes.

"We want it to work and we welcome feedback but the reality is that we have this profound shortage that over the next decade is going to get much worse and we have to ramp up these degree programs."

The bill goes next to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In Sacramento, I’m Steve Milne.

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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Despite promises of reform, migrants in Tijuana struggle to find legal representation and live in fear of being robbed and assaulted in Mexico, say migrants and their advocates. Meanwhile, a San Diego City Council committee on Wednesday endorsed updated regulations for dockless scooters and bikes to crack down on unsafe riding and parking habits. Plus, what little is known about long covid is that it can be just as disabling for kids and teens as it is for older adults.