The Edward J. Schwartz federal courthouse building in downtown San Diego / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The federal government’s zero-tolerance approach to immigration is sometimes resulting in harsher treatment for people caught crossing the border illegally than for those who smuggle people across, defense attorneys claim.

Border-crossers tapped by prosecutors as material witnesses to help build a felony case against a smuggler may spend weeks in custody – sometimes in allegedly sub-standard conditions – before receiving an initial court hearing, Maya Srikrishnan reports. In other cases, the focus on misdemeanor immigration violations has taken witness deals off the table entirely, allowing smugglers to escape felony charges.

Officials at the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of California say zero tolerance hasn’t changed the way they handle alien smuggling cases. But statistics show that smuggling cases are down 20 percent from last year.

The Relationships Within the Hunter Indictments

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s relationships with five unidentified Washington D.C. residents are in the spotlight amid federal indictment allegations he illegally spent campaign funds for trips and meals with them from 2010 to 2016. Expenses included a personal ski trip and resort stay in Lake Tahoe, a hotel stay in D.C., and Uber rides, according to the Union-Tribune.

Refugee Stories Take Center Stage

Many cultural institutions in San Diego and beyond have for years been contemplating how they can produce works that include more diverse performances, and show them to more diverse audiences.

A new theater company in town is taking a stab at that goal not by trying to diversify its existing programming, but by making only “radically inclusive programming” that focuses on telling the stories of diverse communities.

Blindspot Collective’s newest play, “Qulili,” “features a cast of all men and women of color, each whose character is modeled after a refugee who now lives in San Diego – from a 10-year-old Congolese girl to a translator who fled Afghanistan,” Kinsee Morlan writes in this week’s Culture Report.

In Other News

Unprecedented Baby Boom Among City Council Members Named Chris

San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward announced on Twitter the arrival of his new baby son, marking a surge in new babies among members of the City Council whose first name is Chris. In August, Councilman Chris Cate welcomed a daughter.

The Morning Report was written by Ashly McGlone and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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