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Hear me out, but a storyline on one of my favorite shows, “Teen Mom 2,” felt especially poignant this week.

In it, one of the young moms wanted to take her kids on vacation. Since she’s no longer with her children’s father, she had to tell him she wanted to bring their daughter to Mexico. He lost his mind. It was clear that Mexico to him was not a real place but a concept — far and foreign from his life. It was not full of real people, only vague danger.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how San Diego and all of us who live here have a certain responsibility to tell the people in our life what the border is really like. It’s not scary or threatening, unless you count trying to navigate the San Ysidro outlet malls around Christmastime. It’s a place that real people must traverse to get on with their real lives.

Nor do people in some communities have many encounters with refugees. Thus, they seem scary. Again, San Diegans have an obligation to tell folks about the Somalis and Iraqis and Mexicans who make up such a big part of our city.

All of this brings me to my friend Igor Bobic, who I met when we worked together covering the 2012 presidential election at TPM. He’s now the associate politics editor for the Huffington Post.

Igor grew up in San Diego, and when we weren’t scrambling to cover “legitimate rape” or the latest thing Mitt Romney said, we were talking about Drake or tacos. I’ve been thinking about Igor a lot this week, since on top of being a great journalist, a San Diegan and a taco aficionado, he also happens to be a refugee. I did a mini Q-and-A with him about what it’s been like reconciling his experience coming to America with his life now covering the Trump presidency.

Tell me about the circumstances that led to your family coming to America, and how you remember that process working.
My parents and I fled Bosnia in 1995 due to political persecution amid the breakup of former Yugoslavia. I was 7 years old, and my memories of the experience mostly consist of fear. Crossing the border with other migrants, moving from shelter to shelter, with no knowledge of where we would end up. Getting separated from my father, and reuniting with him weeks later only by chance.
 
How did you end up in San Diego?
Eventually, we were taken in by a kind Serbian family, with whom we lived with for over a year while being vetted for refugee status with the UN. With friends in San Diego as sponsors, the U.S. finally granted us refuge and the Finest City became my new home.
 
San Diego is home to lots of immigrant communities — from Mexico, Iraq, Somalia and other countries around the world. Do you have any experiences, good or bad, that stick out in your mind about growing up in San Diego as a refugee?
Growing up in San Diego was a multicultural experience and it is one I think every child should receive. Learning English in San Diego schools and meeting people from all backgrounds made me appreciate what it means to be and identify as American — even if I did get teased for my odd name and my unfamiliarity with life here.
 
What made you decide to cover politics?
My life was literally uprooted by politics, so I suppose that’s why I always felt gravitated to it. A town like Washington felt like the right fit.
 
What has it been like the last week covering this administration and reconciling the president’s actions with your experience? 
Agonizing. My heart aches for the children looking up at their parents seeking reassurance and answers, and the parents who are unable to give either.

What VOSD Learned This Week

We. Need. More. Housing. Everyone agrees on this, and yet …

Mayor Kevin Faulconer says we need to build more housing, but so far his actions haven’t moved the needle. Councilmen Scott Sherman and David Alvarez are teaming up to offer their own solutions. Sherman said on the podcast this week that one step will be to cut red tape for developers. And now that the Qualcomm Stadium site is free of its major tenant, many architects and land use experts told us they’d like to see housing go there. Despite all this local buzz over building more housing, many people think it will never happen and instead want the state to bypass local officials across California to ensure new building can take place.

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Lincoln High School continues to fail its students in so many ways. The latest: Students in its Middle College program were routed into a remedial math class, which so many failed that the district had to strike a last-minute deal with the community college district allowing students to withdraw from the course. Each new story like this always forces the question: What can be done to save Lincoln High? Mario Koran examined some of the solutions being floated.

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Officials across the county are beginning to nail down how they’ll regulate marijuana. In San Diego, two pieces of a proposal coming before the City Council on Tuesday are especially controversial. One of them could squash a piece of the industry that’s flourished in the midst of San Diego’s crackdown on illegal dispensaries: pot delivery services.

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President Donald Trump kicked off a showdown with sanctuary cities – places that don’t want to help federal officials deport undocumented residents. I wrote about what the term sanctuary city means and how Trump’s orders could impact San Diego and the state as a whole.

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Ry Rivard has followed up his excellent series documenting the crazy flaws within California’s stormwater regulation system with this post that lays out potential solutions.

What I’m Reading

 This piece revealing Erin Andrews’ cancer battle shows what a force of nature she is, and the details about how NFL players and coaches offered her support and encouragement are a lovely bonus. (Sports Illustrated MMQB)

 A fascinating and terrifying explanation of Russia’s effort to decriminalize domestic violence. (Economist)

 Having a child will bankrupt you. (Elle)

• What separated the few granted clemency by Obama from those still in prison? Luck, mostly. (Marshall Project)

• Targeting immigrants did not go well for these six American towns. (Washington Post)

Line of the Week

“Having always been busy at some work of my own, I decided to continue to work as a journalist, for this was my first love. And might be said, my only love.” – Muckraker, feminist, civil rights hero Ida Wells, on her decision to keep working after marriage and kids. (The New York Times is resurrecting pieces from its 165 years of marriage columns, and they’re really fun to revisit.)

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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