Chula Vista considers options on immigration enforcement

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- The Chula Vista City Council Tuesday considered a report on available options for responding to stepped-up federal immigration enforcement, including having the city declare itself a sanctuary or welcoming city.

The council members also considered a resolution declaring support for comprehensive immigration reform.

A community group recently asked the council to make the region's second most-populous municipality a sanctuary city, according to the report. While there is no strict definition of such a status, it generally refers to localities that don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

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

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.

The other listed options are to actively take stances on state or federal laws regarding immigration; take additional actions to provide information to the public and connect immigrants with services; direct staff to continue to monitor federal and state actions and report back to the council; better communicate existing city policies to the public to ease concerns; and affirm existing city policies via a resolution.

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

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 says.

Any eventual handover of custody to federal authorities is handled by the county, according to the report, which says employees at the Chula Vista jail don't 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.