Morning Report: Travel Ban Splits a San Diego Family - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Travel Ban Splits a San Diego Family

Sawyer Mirage, an engineer at Qualcomm and a U.S. citizen, has been unable to bring his 75-year-old father into the country from Iran under the travel ban. / Photo by Maya Srikrishnan

A San Diego engineer and his family are stuck in limbo more than a year after President Donald Trump instituted his final travel ban, effectively barring most Iranians from obtaining visas to permanently settle in the United States.

Sawyer Mirage, who works at Qualcomm, became a U.S. citizen in 2016 and soon petitioned to move his aging parents from Iran so he could help care for them.

Roughly 20 months later, Maya Srikrishnan reports, Mirage’s mother got the go-ahead to move to the U.S. But Mirage’s 75-year-old father, who is plagued with health conditions that make even routine tasks difficult, is stuck in Iran and Mirage and his family are left hoping to get a waiver from the travel ban.

Srikrishnan found that immigrant visas allowing people from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – the countries impacted by the travel ban – to permanently settle in the U.S. have plummeted since Trump’s 2017 policy change.

Hueso Kills Elliott’s Attempt to Kill the Public Records Act

After city officials lined up against Sen. Ben Hueso’s bill to make major changes to the state’s public records law, Hueso decided to yank it altogether.

Hueso announced Tuesday he was pulling SB 615 before it even got a committee hearing, a day after the City Council unanimously opposed it and the mayor’s office said it contradicted the city’s open government and transparency objectives. They joined media organizations, attorneys and open government advocates who argued the bill would have severely weakened the public records law and made it easier for governments to withhold public records.

“From the outset, my objective for this bill was always to make the process of obtaining public records more efficient and expedient for taxpayers,” Hueso said in a statement.

Hueso had introduced at the behest of City Attorney Mara Elliott. She had cited the city’s increase in records requests as a reason the bill was necessary, but Faulconer’s office said the increase in requests showed its open government initiatives were working. Multiple Council members chastised Elliott for sponsoring the legislation without talking to them first, though one of her deputies emphasized during a meeting Monday that it was her right as an elected official to do so.

“I believe our elected leaders have an obligation to tackle tough issues and advance thoughtful solutions to the serious challenges facing our city and its taxpayers,” Elliott said in a press release on Hueso’s decision to kill the bill.

  • The Union-Tribune’s Greg Moran had a good thread on the most threatening element of the bill, and the lawsuit against the city that Elliott regularly invoked to justify it.

USD Pulled Into National College Admissions Scandal

The University of San Diego has been roped into a nationwide college admissions investigation that has uncovered bribing schemes to help wealthy students get into selective colleges.

The Union-Tribune reports that the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday indicted the president of a Houston tennis academy for allegedly paying a USD varsity coach $110,000 to help two students get into the Linda Vista college.

The USD coach is not identified in the indictment.

In one instance, according to the indictment, the coach designated a student who did not play sports as “a recruit for the university’s team, thereby facilitating his admission to USD” in exchange for a $100,000 bribe.

In another, the coach allegedly designated another student as a recruit to manage the team in exchange for $10,000 though the student ultimately decided against attending USD.

USD said in a Tuesday statement that it is cooperating with the federal investigation and believes no current staff were involved in the scheme.

“We have no reason to believe that any members of our admissions team, our administration or staff, or our current coaching staff were aware of or involved in the alleged wrongdoing,” USD spokeswoman Pamela Gray Payton wrote in the statement. “We believe the federal government agrees with this assessment.”

The internet had a good time dunking on USD in light of the news, based on the fact that the indictment referred to the other schools involved as “highly selective,” and only USD as merely “selective.”

Culture Report: On the Beer Beat

For this week’s Culture Report, VOSD contributor Julia Dixon Evans caught up with two journalists who write extensively about San Diego’s beer scene.

Beer writers Ian Cheesman and Beth Demmon opened up about how they choose which brewers and issues to write about, and how they view their roles in the hopping industry.

Also in this week’s arts and culture roundup: Dixon Evans walks readers through the highlights ahead of the  San Diego Latino Film Festival as well as other arts and culture events happening this week.

News Roundup

  • The City Council voted Tuesday to keep a Sherman Heights storage center for homeless San Diegans open through June 2020 despite outcry from residents who said the city hasn’t kept its promises to find other storage locations. (KPBS)
  • County supervisors voted Tuesday to hold a night budget hearing this June, something the supes shot down just last year.  (Times of San Diego)
  • East County leaders are remembering former La Mesa mayor and county supervisor George Bailey, who passed away at age 100 on Monday. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego County dispatchers had issues hearing some 911 callers using Verizon phones on Tuesday. (KUSI)
  • District Attorney Summer Stephan has relieved more than a third of San Diegans with court-approved gang injunctions of those restrictions following complaints from residents who described how the listing had for years kept some from getting jobs or housing. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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