In February, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of California sent out a press release touting the arrest of a family of asylum-seekers from El Salvador.
The family had passed an interview with federal officials to establish that they feared returning to their home country. They were going through the asylum process when they were stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint and accused of human smuggling.
The government touted the arrest as an example of what the Trump administration has been trying so hard to show: that Central American asylum-seekers are criminals. But weeks later, the government quietly dismissed the case.
The way that the case fell apart highlights some of the immigration enforcement system’s biggest flaws, reports Maya Srikrishnan.
And though the couple is no longer facing criminal charges, the repercussions for the family are long-lasting and leave their asylum claims — and their lives — hanging in the balance.
Gaspar’s in … for Re-election Bid
Supervisor Kristin Gaspar announced her plans to run for re-election in a North County seat that’s likely to determine which party controls the county. No big deal.
As Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts write in the Politics Report, there’s a lot at stake in the 2020 election. Republicans still enjoy a 3-2 majority on the Board of Supervisors, but Democrats maintain a slight edge within Gaspar’s district. One early poll put a pair of Democrats, including one who paid for the poll, within striking distance of Gaspar in a crowded primary field.
Gaspar unsuccessfully ran for the 49th Congressional District in 2018, and until last week, she had declined to say whether she would try it again. Her appearances on Fox News to talk about immigration and her trips to the White House to meet with President Donald Trump suggested she was testing the waters.
In a special podcast, Gaspar tells us why she’s decided to settle in at the local level. It’s a fairly wide-ranging interview that touches, of course, on immigration and the border wall, but also her attempts to keep freeway projects on SANDAG’s list of transit projects worthy of funding.
- Often, San Diego lawmakers take lessons learned in their own backyard and use it as inspiration to write bills that would apply across the state. Other times, they use their state positions to seek solutions that would only apply to San Diego. We put together a list of those bills and explain what they’d do. It includes Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s attempt to diversify the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District.
- Scott Lewis and Sara Libby break down the latest homelessness numbers on the podcast and interview the CEO of Family Health Centers of San Diego, Fran Butler-Cohen, who’s at the center of many debates surrounding homelessness.
- U-T columnist Michael Smolens makes the case that President Donald Trump is gaining political ground on immigration. Polls show more people — including more Democrats — concerned about the border and security.
- The U.S. House Committee on Ethics voted unanimously to continue reviewing campaign finance allegations against Rep. Duncan Hunter, but agreed to take no action while the Justice Department continues its criminal prosecution. The trial is slated for September. (Union-Tribune)
University Staff Resign After Violating Anti-Discrimination Rules
UCSD’s student-run new source The Triton reports that six staffers have violated university policies prohibiting sexual violence and sexual harassment since 2016, but only one faced disciplinary action.
Among those found in violation of Title IX, a federal policy that protects students from gender and sex-based discrimination, were a former humanities professor and multiple hospital employees. One, according to public records obtained by The Triton, admitted to groping a coworker and putting lube in a nurse’s ear.
San Diego’s History of Hate and Othering
Members of Chabad of Poway Synagogue, who less than a week earlier were terrorized when a gunman opened fire, killing one and injuring three others, gathered to pray. While hundreds gathered inside for Shabbat, the start of the Sabbath — a time for rest — dozens of others, from different religious backgrounds, offered their support outside, the U-T reports.
The shooting was a reminder that our picturesque part of the world has long been fertile ground for white supremacists. The U-T published a series of stories this weekend documenting the rise of those groups — beginning with the KKK’s arrival in the 1920s to target Mexicans — and shedding more light on the region’s history of excluding Jews and other minorities from exclusive neighborhoods.
Reporters also explained how online forums are now serving as incubators of hate.
So who’s watching for threats of violence? That responsibility seems to fall largely on people in the private sector willing to monitor sites and pass along possible threats, because agents need to establish probable cause to open an investigation.
In Other News
- Wearing his trademark cowboy hat, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus appeared on virtually every major news network and has been quoted in newspapers around the world after the Poway shooting. The U-T traced his steps last week and found his message of solidarity never varied.
- NBC San Diego explores the cannabis job market.
- This in-depth examination of domestic violence prosecutions focuses heavily on San Diego prosecutor Casey Gwinn. (New York Times)
- Meanwhile, representatives from cities and advocacy groups gathered in Carlsbad to promote peace and call for action to stop violence. Carlsbad Mayor Pro Tem Priya Bhat-Patel suggested a task force with other elected officials that could consider policies at the local level. (Union-Tribune)
- Attorney Cory Briggs, a frequent critic of City Hall, has roughly 20 ongoing lawsuits against San Diego. If elected mayor, he’d have to remove himself from those cases and couldn’t talk about them with other officials. (Union-Tribune)
Wednesday’s North County Report mistakenly referred to an off-duty Border Patrol agent who pursued the Chabad of Poway shooter as a paid security guard.
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.