A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent in Otay Mesa takes part in a ride-along on the U.S.-Mexico border. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

The Trump administration is targeting immigrants who are in the country illegally, and arrests are up. So deportations are on the rise too, right? Wrong. As Maya Srikrishnan reports in a new story, the number of deportations is actually falling.

What’s going on? “Immigration courts are fighting severe backlogs that are preventing cases from moving through the system,” Srikrishnan reports. “Experts say much of that is because the administration’s zero-tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants is loading more cases into the court system that might have previously been dismissed as low priorities.”

The numbers are huge. About 640,000 immigration cases are pending in court, and the backlog is getting bigger and bigger.

In a VOSD Q-and-A, we hear from documentary maker Andrew Bracken whose new film “Facing North” examines how San Diegans can be disconnected from the country that’s just a few miles away. It’s just not the same for Mexicans.

“Unlike the U.S. side of the border, where we have this buffer zone of empty space close to the border, development in Tijuana goes right up to the border itself,” Bracken says. “It’s also a point of trauma for many people in Mexico. It represents a separation. And it’s also very unequal. A lot of people down there simply can’t cross, whereas for us, that’s not even something we have to consider. We get our passports and plan the trip. But that’s not even a question for them.”

Hepatitis A: The Local, National and Worldwide Toll

As the Huffington Post reports, there have been a number of hepatitis A outbreaks across the country (some have been linked to San Diego) and cases are appearing in Europe too.

Much of the information in the story will be familiar to those who have closely followed the outbreak here, but it does provide more details about a shortage of hepatitis A vaccine. “A first dose of the vaccine is 90-percent to 95-percent effective, and a second dose practically guarantees immunity. But second-dose campaigns are being put off until the spring in San Diego,” HuffPost reports. “According to the CDC website, second-dose efforts can be delayed in times of vaccine shortages.”

The shortage is so bad that Washington state expects to get only 40 doses a month. An official says Seattle, which has a huge homeless population, will probably need to stop its program to vaccinate homeless people at high risk. Huffington Post talked to a pair of vaccine makers and reports that “both companies said they hoped to begin resupplying stocks in November.”

• Two City Council members, a Democrat and a Republican, will hold a press conference today to call for the former Chargers training facility be used to house the homeless.

• The U-T checks in on homeless camps along the San Diego River. The numbers of camps is rising, as we reported last month.

Yet Another San Ysidro Schools Chief Is Out

The San Ysidro Elementary School District’s temporary superintendent has resigned, inewsource reports, “just two months after his predecessor departed with a controversial separation package that made him the highest paid superintendent in the county.”

It’s not clear why the interim chief quit, but accusations of financial irregularity and poor leadership are flying around, and two board members face recall campaigns.

Quick News Hits: Hey, Where’s the Gravestone Go?

• “A crisis in ambulance costs is prompting San Diego officials to seek an alternative model where non-emergency patients could take a taxi or Uber to a clinic or urgent care facility and get reimbursed by private insurers, Medicare or Medi-Cal,” the U-T reports. Many people call ambulances when they don’t have medical emergencies, and their trips strain the system.

• East and North County, both conservative strongholds, account for most of the 1,200-plus people in the county who have concealed weapon permits, the U-T finds. Permitholders include plenty of business owners, attorneys, judges, private eyes and jewelers. Also: “Data show the ZIP code 92064 in Poway has the most permit holders at 45, followed by 92019 in El Cajon with 42 and 92037 in La Jolla with 31.”

• Last week, we reminded you about Kate Morgan, aka Lottie A. Bernard, the “Beautiful Stranger” who was found mysteriously shot to death at the Hotel Del Coronado in 1892. Her ghost is said to haunt the hotel, and paranormal types still try to track her spirit. Armchair detectives, meanwhile, ponder why she died, as I noted in a VOSD history flashback story.

A benefactor bought her a memorial plaque that sits over her grave at San Diego’s historic Mt. Hope Cemetery. But a Villa Montezuma tour group couldn’t find the marker during a pre-Halloween visit, creating some consternation. Had Kate Morgan risen and taken away her own gravestone?

We have an answer. I went on an Urban Safaris walking tour of the cemetery over the weekend, and the plaque was back where it belongs, not far from the cemetery’s notorious headstone graveyard. Apparently, gophers had weakened the cemetery soil, and the marker sunk out of sight below the grass. It’s been recovered.

Or, at least, that’s what folks think happened. The gophers aren’t talking, and neither (for now) is Kate Morgan.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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