Chula Vista considera declararse como ciudad santuario

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Photo by Nicholas McVicker / KPBS

The city of Chula Vista has seven options for responding to stepped-up federal immigration enforcement, including declaring itself a sanctuary or welcoming city, according to a staff report to be presented to the City Council on Tuesday.

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A community group recently asked the council to make the region’s second most populous municipality a sanctuary city, according to the report to be considered at the council’s Tuesday meeting. While there is no strict definition of such a status, it generally refers to localities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

A welcoming city also is not clearly defined, but could be declared as a symbolic gesture or coupled with policies that make Chula Vista more immigrant-friendly, according to the report.

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Staff said city officials have also been contacted by representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, who expressed their concerns about immigration enforcement in a town close to the international border.

There are other listed options:

–The City Council can actively take stances on state or federal laws regarding immigration.

–It can take additional actions to provide information to the public and connect immigrants with services.

–It can also direct staff to continue to monitor federal and state actions and report back to the council.

–It can better communicate existing city policies to the public to ease concerns.

–It can affirm existing city policies via a resolution.

According to the report, police in Chula Vista do not inquire about immigration status when taking calls from the public or during criminal investigations.

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Arrestees booked into the city jail are eventually transferred to sheriff’s custody at one of the county detention facilities. Jailers will notify federal authorities if an inmate has an immigration detainer or warrant, and transport the order with the suspect during the transfer, the report notes.

Any eventual hand-over of custody to federal authorities is handled by the county, according to the report, which says employees at the Chula Vista jail do not inquire about the immigration status of any arrestee, proactively contact immigration authorities to detain arrestees or for identification purposes, and do not release local arrestees to immigration authorities.

However, the Chula Vista jail does take in some federal inmates under contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Office, and will release them to immigration authorities when directed to do so.

In a related item, the council will also be presented with a resolution supporting a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

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