Morning Report: Immigration Judges Make Frustrations Clear - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Immigration Judges Make Frustrations Clear

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seal / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The Trump administration policy that requires asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while they await their asylum proceedings has upended San Diego’s immigration courts. And immigration judges aren’t happy about it.

VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan writes about the schism between the immigration judges and the Department of Homeland Security when it comes to the policy, and how that is playing out in everyday court hearings for the asylum-seekers who are part of the so-called “Remain in Mexico” program.

The program went into effect at the end of January, when the pilot began at San Diego’s border. It has since expanded to other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, and roughly 45,000 people have been returned to Mexico under it to await their asylum hearings.

Cases for asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico have completely overtaken the court, as all other cases scheduled for the past few months – which already faced a massive backlog – were pushed to 2020 and 2021.

One judge this week even prominently highlighted a paperwork error by DHS officials to asylum-seekers that he said they could take advantage of to get their cases terminated.

“I’m not the person who is sending you back to Mexico,” the judge told asylum-seekers in his court. “That’s part of the government that I don’t work for.”

The Opportunity Gap Is Still Going Strong

The era of high-stakes testing is over, but there’s still value in using test scores to spotlight larger inequalities across the San Diego Unified School District. 

In the Learning Curve, Will Huntsberry takes a closer look at the connection between poverty and proficiency in language arts and math. Generally, there’s an inverse relationship between the two. Schools with a higher proportion of low-income students tend to do worse on tests. 

But it’s not true in every case. The good news is that some schools rise above the odds — suggesting that the “opportunity gap,” as experts call it, is not just a reflection of poverty. 

Opinion: Convention Center Measure Belongs on November Ballot

The San Diego City Council is poised Monday to put a citizens’ initiative to expand the Convention Center on the March primary ballot.

In a new op-ed, the head of Alliance San Diego, a community empowerment group, is urging elected officials to honor their commitment to enforcing Measure L by putting the initiative up for a vote in November 2020 instead. That’s when more people are likely to show up at the polls.

Andrea Guerrero’s argument rests in part on the fact that GEO Group, a for-profit prison company, has been one of the leading backers of the “Yes! for a Better San Diego” campaign. The company has been expanding into some of the same types of homeless services that will receive funding if the ballot measure in San Diego is approved. 

Bry’s Email Campaign Again Stirs Other Dems Up

Councilwoman Barbara Bry speaks at a mayoral forum in Bankers Hill. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who is running for mayor, has offered some of her harshest takes of the campaign via her regular emails seeking donations. Recall the “they’re coming for our homes!” one from several weeks back? That seemed to be directed at SB 50, the contentious, but doomed, bill in Sacramento that would have forced cities to allow 4-5 story apartment buildings around major transit stops and employment centers.

The bill was pushed by Sen. Scott Wiener, from San Francisco.

Thursday, Bry launched a new broadside, this time on homelessness: “Over a decade of treating homelessness as principally a ‘housing problem’ has dug a deep and dangerous hole,” she wrote, before hitting her rival, Assemblyman Todd Gloria, for not solving homelessness yet.

The polemic triggered an immediate rebuke from the chairman of the Democratic Party in San Diego, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy. “Today in the Out of Touch Chronicles a wealthy mayoral candidate explains how the lack of housing (aka homelessness) is not principally a housing problem. This is so offensive,” he wrote.

Bry also heard it from Wiener himself, who tweeted: “This is the NIMBY anti-housing candidate for Mayor of San Diego. Yes, her homelessness platform is that we need to stop treating homelessness as a ‘housing problem.’ Tell that to the tens of 1000s of Californians living in cars & the 1 in 20 CA school kids who are homeless.”

Remember: Both Bry and Wiener and many others will be at Politifest, Oct. 26. Get signed up now!

Hunter’s a Rare Voice Backing Trump’s Troop Withdrawal

In a rare case of bipartisan opposition to President Donald Trump, the Union-Tribune reports, the U.S. House overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning his decision to withdraw troops from Syria. Rep. Duncan Hunter was among a small group in Congress who voted against that resolution.

His spokesman told the newspaper that Hunter opposed the resolution because Trump promised to remove the United States from endless wars during his campaign and because leaving Syria “is consistent with the Hunter Doctrine, you kick ass and you leave.”

In the past, though, Hunter has been critical of troop withdrawals in other parts of the Middle East.

In 2011, for instance, as the Obama administration was preparing to pull troops out of Iraq, he questioned whether it was a good idea to station more troops in Western Europe than in Iraq. At an Armed Services Committee hearing, he said troop withdrawals needed to be coupled with a greater emphasis on counter-terrorism operations.

Then in 2014, he accused then-President Barack Obama of abandoning everything the United States had fought for in the Middle East by pulling those same troops out.

This time around, Hunter’s spokesman said the congressman is fine with troop withdrawals from Syria because ISIS is defeated, and the remaining conflict is between Turkey and the Kurds, an ethnic minority without statehood. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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