The head of San Diego’s Border Patrol says agents definitely don’t take race or ethnicity into account when they stop someone they think might be guilty of an immigration violation. So what do agents look for? They won’t say, reports Mario Koran.

San Diego Border Patrol Chief Richard Barlow says agents are trained to look for “articulable facts that link folks to smuggling activities or criminal activities,” but that he won’t divulge what those facts or links are because “to do so would divulge law enforcement techniques that may jeopardize the agency’s mission.”

Even if Border Patrol agents were profiling people based on race, though, they wouldn’t necessarily be doing anything wrong: The Justice Department exempted Border Patrol from new rules reining in profiling in 2014.

Still, to civil liberties advocates the lack of clarity makes it seem like Border Patrol agents can stop or detain anyone, for any reason. In some cases, for example, agents cited things like a driver sitting up straight in their presence as reason for a stop.

“So not only is the Border Patrol unwilling to tell members of the public what we need to know to assess whether the agency is acting legally – in addition, the agency’s position seems to be ‘whatever we decide to do is fine’ – which is a real threat to community safety, accountability and transparency,” said one ACLU attorney.

Layoffs and Staffing Still Unclear as School Starts

Speaking of government agencies that don’t want to provide details about matters that impact the public …

As kids head back to school, we still don’t know how many of the layoff notices sent to employees at San Diego Unified earlier this year resulted in actual layoffs, writes Ashly McGlone. Nor will the district give a total for how many employees it has.

“District officials would only confirm teacher layoffs dropped to 170, something Superintendent Cindy Marten indicated could happen in June. That means the district recalled 782 teachers out of 952 issued pink slips, or 82 percent. Some of the 170 teachers laid off, though, are returning this year on temporary contracts,” McGlone writes.

Immigration and Border News

Members of the Haitian community in San Diego and across California are fleeing the United States in droves, the Los Angeles Times reports. Many are choosing to resettle in Canada following a Trump administration decree in May, under which “60,000 Haitians living in the U.S. could lose their protected status after it expires Jan. 22.”

A volunteer for a San Diego church that served many Haitians said the local community has been “decimated.”

• President Donald Trump did some more tweeting about the need for a border wall this weekend. But we also saw another reminder that for every effort to fortify the border, folks have found ways around them: Authorities detained 30 immigrants in an underground tunnel near the Otay Mesa port of Entry on Saturday.

Quick News Hits

• Rep. Duncan Hunter is facing big potential consequences related to his campaign finance scandal, but still has plenty of support in his deep-red district. (Union-Tribune)

• City employees spent $500,000 in purchases since 2015 that might have been against policy. The purchases were made using government purchase cards, which have rules limiting how they can be used and on what. (Union-Tribune)

• A bill to create a single-payer health care system in California that was co-written by San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins died earlier this year. But the debate isn’t going anywhere: “A recently filed ballot initiative, budding campaigns against sitting lawmakers … and new plans for legislators to wrestle with how to achieve universal healthcare have taken shape in recent weeks,” notes the L.A. Times.

• Hundreds of protesters marched in Balboa Park Sunday against emboldened white nationalists and white supremacists, like those who planned a rally in Charlottesville , Virginia  two weeks ago in which one anti-racist protester died. (KPBS)

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

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