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Stories about the San Diego-Baja California region (every other Monday)
There’s good news and bad news for children seeking refuge in the United States, California politicians on both sides of the aisle wade into border issues and more in our weekly roundup of news from the border.
In May, Mexican reporter Javier Valdez Cárdenas was killed in the middle of the day near his office in Culiacán, Sinaloa. Valdez was shot in his forehead and his hands in what is believed to have been a symbolic threat.
VOSD’s Mario Koran sat down with Everard Meade, director of the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute and a close friend and colleague of Valdez, to discuss the journalist’s death and lessons that can be learned from it.
One of the most disturbing trends Meade discusses is the lack of justice that follows even the most brazen and violent crimes in Mexico:
“And if you put that in the context of anybody getting killed, the elephant in the room is that there’s no expectation of justice. That’s true for journalists, but it’s true for anybody. The impunity rate in Sinaloa for murder is about 98 percent. About 98 percent of murders don’t produce an indictment or a conviction.”
Koran’s Q-and-A with Meade feels especially timely, as stories of surging violence in Tijuana and beyond have been dominating the news. A sampling:
• A Chula Vista man and four of his friends were attacked by taxi drivers in Tijuana when they ordered an Uber ride just after crossing the border, one of a series of attacks by yellow cab drivers in the past year. Eric Ibarra, the man who was badly beaten this month, will meed reconstructive surgery and will be out of work for weeks. In response, Tijuana officials moved to remove yellow taxis from the border.
• ESPN commentator Odin Ciani is asking for help from authorities after he says a group of masked gunmen murdered his sister at her Tijuana medical clinic in front of her children. Rafael Chávez, brother of another ESPN commentator, former boxing champion Julio César Chávez, was murdered last month at his home in Sinaloa.
• The murder of an entire family in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, underlines the surging rate of violence in Mexico. The murders are thought to be the handiwork of the Zeta cartel. The instability has reached Baja California, and officials have described the rate of violence in Tijuana in particular as “alarming,” but pointed out that it has not paralyzed the city.
• Minors who enter the United States without documentation cannot be confined until they have had a court hearing, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, citing cases in which children have been held for months or years without hearings, even when family members live nearby.
• Immigration officials are — for the first time — trying to deport children seeking asylum and who have received the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for vulnerable migrants, a Reveal investigation has found. A group of Central American children now face imminent deportation to their home countries, despite being in the final stages of receiving their green cards.
• Immigration and refugee advocate groups say they’ve seen a huge rise in donations and volunteers.
• The National Council of La Raza, a Latino civic engagement nonprofit, announced it will change its name from NCLR to UnidosUS — United U.S. — in order to reflect a more inclusive policy. It has also ended a seven-year boycott of Arizona over immigration rights.
• California Sen. Kamala Harris, formerly the state attorney general, has positioned herself as an outspoken opponent of Republican immigration policies, particularly in the age of the Trump administration, which has vowed to “crack down” on unauthorized immigrants. I talked with Harris about her approach to immigration policy in a Q-and-A for VOSD.
• Rep. Juan Vargas will host an immigration forum Monday evening at the Sherman Heights Community Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. He plans to discuss immigrant rights, naturalization, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and deported veterans, according to his office.
• A little boy who was found chained, beaten and malnourished in Mexico City may be returned to the United States to be reunited with his father in Escondido — with the help of Rep. Darrell Issa, reports the Union-Tribune. The boy was in the care of his father’s sister and her husband at the time. The boy’s father, who lacks documentation but says his citizenship status is being processed, met with Issa to ask for help, who then pushed the State Department to intervene. The boy may be placed in foster care in Mexico City while his case is reviewed; the family members who were holding him have been arrested.
Hurricane Eugene is on its way to Southern California and Baja California, making for strong surf and potentially dangerous waves, although the storm itself is already dissipating.