A protest June 24 at Civic Center Plaza / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

On Sunday morning, President Trump tweeted about asylum seekers and people accused of crossing the border illegally. He wished federal agents could just “bring them back from where they came” without any judge or hearing.

It caused an outcry online from people concerned about due process rights.

For now, due process violations still have consequences. Our Maya Srikrishnan found one of the only cases, in these recent months of “zero tolerance,” where a defendant challenged, and took to trial, the government’s accusation he illegally crossed the border.

He prevailed because of due process concerns. Dispatch tapes revealed the man had been detained for hours without being read his rights, though Border Patrol agents testified it was only minutes.

The case demonstrates that, if the Department of Justice undermines due process rights, people accused of crossing illegally could still mount successful defenses. But the incentive to plead guilty as quickly as possible can be intense, especially if children are involved.

In related news:

  • Thousands gathered Saturday in downtown San Diego to condemn the Trump administration’s zero tolerance approach to immigration. The Union-Tribune highlighted a tense moment when protesters outside the Otay Mesa Detention Center demanded to check on the welfare of the children inside even though the facility only houses adults. 
  • The U-T also reports that a contractor working for private prison company CoreCivic has applied for construction permits to expand the facility and add 512 beds. A couple months ago, Srikrishnan explained how the Otay Mesa Detention Center is the only one like it in California that can expand and expansion has been planned for some time.  
  • For this week’s podcast, we explained how the chaos at the border began and what’s next. We also talked to Alan Bersin, the former top federal prosecutor in San Diego and the former commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol about different ways to handle the challenge of Central American migrants and asylum seekers. 
  • The military, meanwhile, is bracing for a larger role in this mess. An internal memo published by Time magazine outlines plans to build temporary camps, including one for as many as 47,000 migrants at Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County.
  • President Trump confused Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who tipped off the public in April about an upcoming ICE raid, with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. (Fox 5)
  • Dateline NBC came to the San Diego-Tijuana region to check out whether violence from Mexico really was pouring over in the United States. They found, as we know, that it is not.

Hotel Tax Measure Not Guaranteed on the Ballot

A signature gatherer covers the Ocean Beach Street Fair June 23. / Photo by Scott Lewis

The organizers of a petition to put the hotel-room tax hike on the November ballot that would pay for a Convention Center expansion and homeless services are expected to submit their signatures on Monday – about three weeks later than normal. It’s not clear whether the petition will be cleared by county election officials.

If the petition fails to make the ballot, writes Voice’s Scott Lewis and Lisa Halverstadt in this weekend’s Politics Report, that would be a major embarrassment for the mayor’s office. The tax hike has been the top priority of Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

It could also be costly. The tax hike is part of a larger plan to expand the convention center onto land that had been the site of a privately planned hotel. The city and the Port recently secured the rights to purchase the lease of land behind the convention center for $33 million, agreeing to give the private group a $5 million deposit.

The city attorney is confident that if the measure fails to make the November ballot, the city will not be on the hook for the deposit.

The lease holders don’t see it that way. A spokesperson told us that they believe they’re owed the deposit no matter what.

San Diego Unified Can’t Purge Emails – for Now

An update on our effort to stop the San Diego Unified School District from its plan to delete emails older than a year: The district’s plan is still on hold, for now.

San Diego Unified originally planned to start deleting emails on June 1. We filed a temporary restraining order to stop the purge. In a hearing June 1, the court continued the matter, and the district agreed not to delete anything in the meantime.

Since then, Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn tentatively ruled that the district must keep the emails for now. On Friday, he continued the matter again until August.

San Diegans for Open Government, represented by attorney Cory Briggs, has joined in the matter his group had already filed a separate suit against the district over public records it says the district is improperly withholding.

From Styn’s tentative ruling:

“Absent from SDUSD’s papers is any evidence establishing how SDUSD will confirm that each of its employees has completed the task of reviewing all of his or her existing emails and how SDUSD will confirm that each of its employees engages in this process going forward. Also absent is any evidence as to any procedures undertaken by SDUSD for assessing the emails of employees who have left employment with SDUSD.

“In addition, while the parties discuss the evaluation of the second basis for qualification of an email as a ‘record’ – whether the email is necessary or convenient to the discharge of official duty – there is no evidence before the court with respect to the process for an employee’s evaluation of the first basis for qualification of an email as a “record” – whether an email is ‘required by law to be prepared or retained.’

“The court is not persuaded by the guidance/training materials SDUSD submits.”

  • The U-T profiled San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten, peeling back the administrative curtain to focus on a series of personal setbacks in recent years. Last month, our friend Mario Koran took a closer look at Marten’s performance on the five-year anniversary of her hiring.
Cindy Marten
San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Bill to Limit When Police Can Legally Kill Is Still Alive

One of the most closely watched bills in Sacramento this session is a measure from San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber that would limit the circumstances in which police can use deadly force, and would encourage de-escalation measures. It moved forward in the state Senate last week, but will face plenty of scrutiny before it potentially advances to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Though Weber has made some changes to the bill, law enforcement groups across the state remain opposed.

San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan told VOSD she hasn’t decided where she lands on the bill yet.

  • It’s never easy taking on the state’s law enforcement arms, but Weber is undaunted. And as U-T columnist Michael Smolens noted, she’s taken on powerful groups before, including the California Teachers Association.
  • Two police officers were shot and the man accused of shooting them is dead after a call about a disturbance about one mile from San Diego State University in Rolando. The officers are expected to make a full recovery.

More …

LimeBike does not condone this use of its bikes. Nor does the ocean. Nor do health professionals. Nor do police or basically anyone but these bros.

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

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