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Chula Vista To Consider Declaring Itself Sanctuary City

Cars pass under the Third Avenue sign in downtown Chula Vista, Oct. 7, 2014.
Nicholas McVicker
Cars pass under the Third Avenue sign in downtown Chula Vista, Oct. 7, 2014.
Chula Vista To Consider Declaring Itself Sanctuary City
Chula Vista To Consider Sanctuary City Status GUEST:Mary Casillas Salas, mayor, Chula Vista

This is KPBS Midday Edition I am Maureen Cavanaugh. President Trump's crackdown has caused some communities to be on edge. This week there are responses for Chula Vista to declare itself a sanctuary city despite warnings of stripping federal funding from sanctuary cities. Joining me is the mayor of Chula Vista Mary Casillas Salas. Welcome to the program. Thank you. The city staff is present in the city Council with seven options to respond to the increased immigration enforcement. First of all why does Chula Vista feel a need to respond at all. First of all the city of Chula Vista has always treated our residents in a fair manner and we do not believe there's a need to change any of the things we've been doing in regards to the way that our Police Department operates with our community to the level of cooperation has always been very high. We do not feel that there is a need to change our policies regarding policing but they feel that it is important to really assure our community that we will continue to be a city that respects and treats everyone with the same level of respect and offers the same services to all of our communities. Why do you feel that assurance is necessary? What kinds of concerns have citizens expressed? Just the climate on the federal level we have had a lot of inquiries as to what is ice doing in our community. There have been rumors going around that there have been immigration raids in all of that. Really we have not seen that much of a change in what has been going on in the city of Chula Vista. However just for discourse on the national level has raised a lot of concern within a lot of the people in the immigrant communities. Is one of the seven options that Chula Vista is considering is it declaring itself a check -- sanctuary city? That is one of the options that the staff has presented in the report But you are not supportive of that? I do not think it is necessary. We do not have a definition of what a sanctuary city is. Another option is to declare the city a welcoming city. That is a better option. I think that the whole term sanctuary city has taken on a political tone that is not something that we want to get involved in. It is something that has morphed into a very divisive and political kind of thing that I do not think is really something that we want to do here in the city. Several other options involve the city reaching out to the immigrant community to make people aware of resources available and the city's current policy on immigration. To have the feeling that there is confusion on the public about where the city stance? I believe that that is what initiated this whole referral for the report to make clear the city policy that are in place right now to make sure that the public is fully aware of those. The policies that we have in place would reassure them that we treat all of our community members in the same way. That we offer our services whether there documented or undocumented without asking for their information providing services in our libraries or whether it be whether they are adopting pets in the animal care facility whether they are trying to rent a kiosk in one of our parks that is not something that we ask. What do they give to immigration in the legal sense? We cooperate fully with all of the federal agencies but we do not engage in immigration and personal. The state legislature will introduce a bill to declare the state of California sanctuary state. I am not in the state assembly and I believe that is a decision for them to make up their in Sacramento. That would take officers out of county jails apparently at this stage the bill would do that. Would you be supportive of that. I think that we need to have them present where it gets to the point where if there is a felony that is involved if there is a crime involved but that is not the responsibility of Chula Vista. It's not something that we would get involved in. Can you tell us about the related resolution the Council will be [Indiscernible] That resolution is not new we have actually passed that resolution in the past I think the last time that we passed a resolution was in 2013 so it is not a new resolution. When will you be considering his options? We will consider this report on Tuesday. It will be discussed at 6 PM if you want to come to City Hall. I have been speaking with the Mayor of Chula Vista.

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.

RELATED: San Diego Area Mayors Organize Opposition To ‘Sanctuary State’ Bill

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.

RELATED: San Diego Education Leaders Declare Local Schools ‘Sanctuaries’

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.

RELATED: San Diego Professor Finds Sanctuary Counties Are Safer And Economically Stronger

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.