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.
- Hunter and his wife, who have both pleaded not guilty to 60 criminal counts, had a quick court appearance Tuesday. A trial is unlikely before the Nov. 6 election. (Union-Tribune)
- Hunter’s Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has a new ad this week spotlighting the federal indictment. (KPBS)
- Campa-Najjar’s campaign released an internal poll Tuesday showing the race was a dead heat. An independent poll last week, however, suggested Hunter held a comfortable lead despite the indictment. (Roll Call, U-T)
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
- A Coronado pool is a still a drain on the local school district’s budget (Union-Tribune)
- Not many veterans have decided to use a VA program launched in 2017 that was intended to lower suicide rates. (KPBS)
- San Diego Unified’s $18 million plan to relocate a charter school to make way for a new apartment complex in Scripps Ranch is still ruffling feathers. The deal has sparked intense pushback since at least 2016, as Mario Koran has reported. (Union-Tribune)
- The city announced $50 million in funding for affordable housing projects on Tuesday. (10News)
- Over at CityBeat, Matt Strabone has launched a new politics podcast.
- The Metropolitan Transit System on Tuesday launched limited service for the South Bay Rapid, a new bus line with relatively high frequencies between downtown San Diego and eastern Chula Vista. Eventually the route will be extended to the Otay Mesa border crossing. (Union-Tribune)
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.