• Connect host communities and newcomers toward greater understanding, belonging and resilience.

  • Foster trust between migrants and first responders and create shared goals and spaces in neighborhoods toward public safety and greater capacity for rapid and emergency responses.

Background and Community Input

We recognize that the degree of safety (real or perceived), connectedness and resilience depend on how neighbors communicate with one another, how residents relate to law enforcement and first responders, especially for mixed-status households and communities with different cultural, linguistic and religious understandings of these notions and relationships with established institutions.

The data received from the community input sessions showed that a primary program that’s needed is one focused on Police and Community Engagement. Our City must prioritize trust-building between immigrants and law enforcement to foster communities that feel connected and safe. Two geographic areas of concern were particularly highlighted. First, in the San Ysidro neighborhood, many expressed concern at response times from law enforcement indicating greater need for resources in the area. Second, members of the committee repeatedly heard that interactions with police and law enforcement occur on public transit.

Throughout the community input process, “access to neighborhood policing” became a common theme, paired with barriers such as people feeling that “they don’t know how to speak up” to institutions of authority. Beyond the functions of public engagement remains a deep “lack of understanding the law” here in San Diego and how it may contrast with laws from countries of origin.

To overcome barriers to integration, many respondents in focus groups suggested mentorship and creation of meaningful connections with individual police officers and ensuring training programs to ensure there are “officers that are approachable.”

…Our City must prioritize trust-building between immigrants and law enforcement to foster communities that feel connected and safe…

Above all, there was feedback indicating a greater need for immigrant and refugee communities to have a sense of belonging, ownership and rooted identity in their neighborhoods. This includes growing a better rapport between groups and law enforcement communities, but also ensuring that diverse cultures and stories are embraced and celebrated, and functions of government elevate members of the community in places of authority and leadership.


18. Foster trust and communication between public safety departments and immigrant residents.

Short-Term Strategies (Year 1-3):

A. Uphold and emphasize city council policy on racial non-discrimination and the commitment by City Attorney and San Diego Police Department (SDPD) to protect immigrants.

B. Reaffirm SDPD’s commitment to fully implement California SB54 (California Values Act) and AB2792 (TRUTH Act) and transparently engage with the community on implementation of department policies related to undocumented persons. To increase public transparency, law enforcement agencies should make available information on activity of joint law enforcement task forces as it relates to undocumented persons or immigration enforcement.

C. Enhance data collection, officer trainings, multicultural messaging on hate crime prevention and response efforts, led by City Attorney in partnership with civil rights organizations and other government and law enforcement agencies.49

D. Coordinate with local government agencies and community-based organizations on multilingual outreach and support for disaster preparedness and other emergency responses.50

E. Partner with immigrant and refugee CBOs, faith-based organizations and places of worship to create opportunities for discussions and listening circles with local elected officials to understand community concerns as it relates to public safety.51

F. Co-design more Coffee with a Cop initiatives among immigrant and refugee communities to provide visibility of law enforcement and foster two-way communication.

Long-Term Strategies (Year 3-5):

G. Strengthen community trust by building on Police Department policies that limit collaboration with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies when such entanglement may result in a person being detained or deported for federal immigration enforcement purposes.52

H. Fill vacancies on relevant boards and commissions, advisory panels and community groups with qualified nominees from immigrant and refugee communities to improve trust, cross-cultural communication and restorative justice practices.

19. Increase capacity of law enforcement to serve multilingual and multicultural communities.

Short-Term Strategies (Year 1-3):

A. Communicate a simplified and updated SDPD policy related to undocumented persons in multiple languages to have available at the multicultural storefront, and divisions throughout the city.

B. Fund the translation of local policy into other languages to ensure greater participation and transparency to all communities, and create PSAs featuring representatives from the immigrant and refugee community to improve understanding of local law enforcement’s role.

C. Promote transparent policies that protect foreign-born individuals who have experienced domestic violence (U-visas), human trafficking (T-visas), family separation, hate crimes, home-country persecution, torture, et cetera.

D. PProsecute fraudulent actors and recover victims’ losses from exploitative practices (i.e. unlawful practice of law, unlawfully filling out immigration paperwork for applicants or charging enormously high costs.)

Long-Term Strategies (Year 3-5):

E. Continue to build trainings and officer courses on cultural responsiveness, restorative justice, contemplative practices, multilingual outreach and anti-bias trainings for entire law enforcement system.

F. Increase hiring of bi/multilingual officers and outreach personnel, and offer public safety career information in multiple languages to recruit qualified candidates among immigrant and refugee communities.

G. Design police and fire academy classes to include cultural responsiveness, while designing VESOL classes to supplement the new public safety recruit onboarding.

20. Facilitate community-building among native-born and foreign-born residents.

Short-Term Strategies:

A. Expand welcoming committees and newcomer family mentors across neighborhoods, places of worship and community-based organizations.

B. Expand outreach, volunteer opportunities and cultural offerings for newcomers and newly-naturalized citizens from parks and recreational services, museums and other arts institutions.53

C. Increase cross-cultural programming in libraries, local media outlets, theater companies and comedy troops to foster storytelling, build expressive and improvisational skills of newcomers.54

D. Strengthen rapid response networks and referrals to essential services for displaced migrants, survivors of trafficking and asylum seekers by establishing a permanent migrant shelter and transit assistance center in San Diego, educating public, funders and policymakers on the root causes and humanitarian dimensions of migrant flows, and deepening collaboration and capacity building for organizations working in San Diego and Tijuana to address long-term migration-related policy and systemic issues in the binational region.55

E. Partner with groups with extended experiences abroad such as service members and veterans, members of the Peace Corps community, development professionals and retired diplomats to orient newcomers and engage immigrant and refugee communities.

F. Organize a “San Diego World Cup” soccer tournament of neighborhood-based teams with a mixture of immigrant and native-born players in various age groups.56

Long-Term Strategies (Year 3-5):

G. Partner and equip civic, faith and community leaders to convey a vision of shared future and collective identities to respond to the anxieties stemming from religious and cultural differences, economic competition and segregation.57

H. Celebrate the heritage of indigenous San Diegans by observing Indigenous Peoples Day in the City of San Diego on every second Monday of October, using indigenous place names in City communications, and honoring Native American culture in local schools.

I. Create differentiated physical spaces for newcomers that foster belonging and peer-mentorship, accommodate cultural and family needs and provide safe and consistent meeting venues.

J. Partner with local arts and culture councils to commission public art installations, murals and performances that highlight immigrant narratives and celebrate global cultures and San Diego’s immigrant heritage.58

49 Guide: Review of Hate Crime Prevention, Response, and Reporting in Seattle (/
50  Best Practices: Natural Disaster Response Funds and Programs, GCIR (
51  Local Example: Building Trust Partnership (
52 Best Practice: County of Santa Clara Civil Detainer Policy
53 Best Practice: Canada’s Cultural Access Pass
54 Best Practice: “Intreprid Theater’s Exiled Voices: The Refugee Art Experience (
55  Local Examples: Safe Harbors Network ( and San Diego Rapid Response Network (
56  Best Practice: Philadelphia Unity Cup (
57 Guide: Receiving Communities Toolkit, Welcoming America (
58Best Practice: To Immigrants With Love, City of Boston (