A Customs and Border Protection officer checks a vehicle for contraband. / Photo courtesy of Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection have broader authority at the border than most law enforcement does in its typical interactions.

Because travelers crossing at ports of entry are effectively presenting themselves to the government, agency officials there can conduct warrantless searches of people, their luggage and their vehicles.

The breadth and limits of that authority have come into question many times – like when news of intrusive body cavity searches or corruption among officers comes out.

The most recent example raising questions of just how far this authority goes is the government database NBC 7 uncovered of advocates, attorneys and journalists who worked with or covered the migrant caravan that arrived last fall. Some of the individuals tracked had security alerts placed on their passports or were pulled into secondary inspection for questioning by border officials.

VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan lays out what we know about CBP’s authority at ports of entry, what rights travelers have if they find themselves facing unusual scrutiny and what parts of officials’ power are still unclear.

People’s Reporter: Not All Development Fees Go Toward Affordable Housing

VOSD reader Michael Castro asked us: Do the fees developers pay to build affordable housing actually go toward affordable housing?

Thanks for asking, Michael.

Lots of money does go toward affordable housing but not all of it, explains VOSD’s Megan Wood in our People’s Reporter series. Nearly a quarter of the funds over the past 15 years have gone to first-time home buyer loans, administrative costs and homeless San Diegans.

The city has spent $85 million total during that time, according to VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt, who first reported on how the fees are spent last year.

Feds Targeting Immigrants With Police Data

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is tapping into an automated license plate reader database to target immigrants for deportation, according to the ACLU of Northern California. That database is comprised of local police department data and run by a private company.

Two California laws — SB 54 and SB 34 — were intended to prevent local law enforcement agencies from sharing license plate and other personal information for immigration enforcement. The ACLU is calling on state lawmakers to perform an audit of how local agencies are involved.

Andrew Keatts reported last year that the San Diego Police Department is tracking where cars go in the region, using a network of cameras, and sharing the information with Border Patrol.

Earlier this year, Maya Srikrishnan also found examples of ICE using the information collected by the DMV for immigration enforcement.

In Other News

  • Former state Sen. Joel Anderson says he won’t challenge Rep. Duncan Hunter for Congress, but he’s promising a “great announcement” in June about another 2020 campaign. (Times of San Diego)
  • Most everyone agrees the region needs a vastly improved transportation system, Michael Smolens argues in the U-T. But whether that can be achieved is an open question, in part, because the two major transportation agencies don’t seem to be on the same page.
  • Sixteen probationary teachers at the Lemon Grove School District resigned rather than be “re-elected” to teach again next year, which could harm their careers. (NBC 7)
  • Civic San Diego is poised to spend way more money on downtown parks than the agency ever has, paced by the $46 million East Village Green project, a massive park between 13th, F, 15th and G streets that could break ground as early as this fall and would take two years to build. (Union-Tribune)
  • The California Restaurant Association, a statewide lobbying group for restaurants, is suing San Diego to stop its Styrofoam ban. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Racial Justice Coalition disrupted a San Diego City Council public safety committee meeting to demand police stop using the carotid restraint maneuver. The group argues that the hold can be used incorrectly, resulting in physical harm. (10News)
  • Authorities released more information about a former Sweetwater Union High School District employee who made headlines after an arrest. She’s accused of depositing approximately 800 separate money orders made out to the district into her personal account. (NBC 7)
  • Tijuana was ranked the most violent city in the world by Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, a Mexican think tank. (Proceso, link in Spanish)


Tuesday’s Culture Report mischaracterized an interactive map published by the U-T. It charts cannabis-related business applications in Chula Vista.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Sara Libby.

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