Mario Koran

Mario is an investigative reporter focused on immigration, border and related criminal justice issues. Reach him directly at 619.325.0531, or by email: mario@vosd.org.

Victor Clark-Alfaro, a lecturer at San Diego State and director of Tijuana’s Binational Center for Human Rights, began doing field work with human smugglers along the U.S-Mexico border in the late 1980s. In a Q-and-A, he discusses the business of smuggling people across the border, including the role of referrals and pricing and how it’s all changed in recent years.

The chief of San Diego’s Border Patrol section said he can’t disclose what agents look for before stopping someone, but that race and ethnicity don’t come into play. A review of enforcement actions recorded between 2011 and 2014, though, shows agents stopped people for sometimes ambiguous reasons like sitting up straight or driving slowly.

A San Diego Sheriff’s deputy was fired earlier this year after a series of mistakes, but the county’s Civil Service Commission reinstated him. Sheriff Bill Gore is suing to keep the officer off the force. The case provides a rare look at officer discipline proceedings in a state that keeps such information under lock and key.

Not only does new data show the lowest-performing students in the class of 2016 were transferring out of San Diego Unified, school officials now admit that’s exactly what has happened in the past – a major reversal after the district vehemently denied that was the case.

Despite a Sheriff’s Department policy that prohibits deputies from stopping, detaining or questioning people for reasons related to immigration, deputies contacted U.S. Border Patrol during a traffic stop and held the couple until agents arrived on scene to detain them.

Border Patrol agents we spoke to aren’t sure how a border wall will change the dynamics between law enforcement and people trying to evade them. But drug tunnels, patches to the border fence and rings of concertina wire serve as reminders that for every measure taken to fortify the border, there have always been countermeasure to get around them.

State government, in a way, is paying more attention to the foster care system than ever by signing mandates and protections for foster kids into law. But it’s ignored the other side of the equation: funding to make it all happen. In the meantime, caseloads for the attorneys who act as a last line of defense for foster kids are staggering, and children suffer as a result.

Last week, we got a firsthand look at the many ways in which students at East Village High School cheat on the district’s online credit recovery courses. A San Diego Unified spokesman dismissed claims that cheating occurs were merely “anecdotal.” Since then, more teachers and students have come forward with stories that suggest the problem is pervasive.

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