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Chula Vista Civic Center

Welcoming Chula Vista

Chula Vista is the first City in the State of California to earn designation as a Certified Welcoming City. This important designation is granted by the non-profit Welcoming America. It is awarded to local governments that meet the rigorous Welcoming Standard requirements for immigrant inclusion.

The City is proud to be one of the cities leading the charge and setting the standard for embracing immigrants and refugees. Chula Vista is located at the center of one of the richest cultural, ethnically diverse, and multilingual communities in the United States. The strength and well-being of the immigrant community is important to residents and leaders of Chula Vista, which is why the City joined the “Welcoming America” network and has applied for Welcoming City Certification.

Joining the Welcoming America and securing Welcoming City designation have put in motion a new approach to develop and implement a program for better communication of City policies and services to the immigrant community and provide a framework for considering how to acknowledge and address the immigrant experience in Chula Vista.

The City Council approved the Welcoming Chula Vista Implementation Plan on October 22, 2019. The Plan outlines initiatives that the City, non-profit organizations and public agencies (e.g., Chula Vista Elementary School District, South Bay Community Services, South County Economic Development Council and others) implement that support the Welcoming City framework.

The development and ongoing implementation of the Plan is one guided by the Chula Vista Human Relations Commission in collaboration with city staff, partner agencies, and other groups and organizations that contribute to the implementation and success of the plan. The City of Chula Vista will actively seek ongoing input and feedback from the community to ensure the program is maintained as well as enhanced and expanded to reflect the desires of residents and the immigrant community.

The Welcoming Chula Vista Implementation Plan is organized into these categories:

  • Government Leadership
  • Equitable Access
  • Civic Engagement
  • Connected Communities
  • Educational Partnerships
  • Economic Development
  • Safe Communities

The Welcoming Chula Vista Implementation Plan further extends immigrant inclusion in all facets of city life. The Plan was developed with input and collaboration from a variety of groups, outreach activities and community meetings.

Other City plans and initiatives support the Welcoming Chula Vista Implementation Plan:

Human Relations Commission

The Human Relations Commission serves as an advisory body to make recommendations and offer advice to the Mayor, City Council and the City Manager on how best to promote ways in which the community welcomes and embraces its diversity and safeguards equal opportunities for everyone. The Human Relations Commission is composed of 11 members appointed to four-year terms. The Commission meets monthly. Its members are residents of Chula Vista and represent community, business, education, advocacy, and other groups.

Members (as of May 1, 2019)

Paola Martinez-Montes (Chair)
Dalia Gonzalez (Vice Chair)
Petrina Branch
William Felix
Robert Godinez
Ricardo Gutierrez
Nadia Kean-Ayub
Susan Lake
Ricardo Medina
Peggy Ratner
Ahmad Zadah

The Commission is tasked with accomplishing, among other things:
1. The first duty of the Commission shall be to assist the City, by completing all required steps, to become a Certified Welcoming City.
2. The development of a mutual understanding and respect among all such groups in the City and to help eliminate prejudice and discrimination;
3. The establishment and maintenance of contacts with groups in the community which are concerned with protection of civil liberties of all people, resolution of conflict, and interracial and intercultural understanding, and to report to the Mayor, City Council and City Manager regarding the activities of these groups. For more information the Human Relations Commission page.

Communications and Outreach

On May 16, 2017, the City Council approved a Welcoming City Communications Plan that will be implemented to inform residents about the City’s policies, actions and resources regarding the immigrant community.

 This Plan is designed to communicate the following goals:

  1. Increase awareness of City policies regarding immigration 
  2. Assist residents in need to access available immigration services and City services
  3. Engage the Human Relations Commission to guide communications efforts

The Human Relations Commission has a key role in guiding the implementation of this Plan. Through the Commission, communications efforts will be reviewed and implemented, partner agencies will collaborate, initiatives will be pursued, and results will be evaluated.

Chief of Police Statement

Chula Vista Chief of Police Roxana Kennedy issued the following statement in 2017:

The spotlight on the proposed changes in the National immigration policy has caused anxiety and uneasiness in many undocumented individuals fearing arrest and deportation from our community. I want to take the opportunity to put your minds at ease and state that all members of our community matter, regardless of immigration status. The Chula Vista Police Department’s focus is on public safety, not immigration.

The Chula Vista Police Department has long-standing policies in place that are reflective of these values. Per our policy posted on our Department's web page, it is incumbent upon all employees of this department to make a personal commitment to equal service and enforcement of the law to the public regardless of immigration status. If you need assistance, whether you are the victim of a crime, involved in an accident, or a witness to a crime, we want you to call the police with the comfort of knowing your immigration status is not our concern. All individuals, regardless of immigration status, should feel secure that contacting the Chula Vista Police Department will not make you vulnerable to deportation.

I want to emphasize that our police officers do not enforce federal immigration laws. Furthermore, the Chula Vista Police Department does not participate in operations with any federal law enforcement agency for the sole purpose of enforcing immigration laws.

Engaging and working with the community is invaluable to our Department. Our policies are consistent with the best practices of community policing. The members of the Chula Vista Police Department are dedicated public servants who put their community first through some of the most challenging times we have ever faced in law enforcement. As Chief of Police, I could not be prouder to work side by side with the men and women of this Department with the goal of keeping our community safe for ALL individuals.

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to protect and serve you.

Legal Resources

A variety of General Legal Resources have been compiled by the City Attorney's office. Please visit this page for links to pro bono, low-cost, and/or sliding scale services available to you in Chula Vista and San Diego County for assistance with civil, criminal, immigration and other law matters.

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