Over the years, the Fontana City Council has voted on many controversial issues, such as user fee increases and the prohibition of medical marijuana dispensaries.
One of the topics that the council has not specifically addressed is immigration. And there's a reason for that, according to city leaders.
"This is a federal issue," said Mayor Acquanetta Warren during the July 22 council meeting. She added: "But it is our job to keep our citizens safe."
Some residents have wanted the city to take a stand on illegal immigration -- especially after St. Joseph Catholic Church set up a temporary transition center for migrants from Central America in early July -- but the councilmembers said the issue is outside their jurisdiction.
During the public comments portion of the recent meeting, several speakers discussed the ramifications of the church's actions, with almost all of them saying they disagreed with the church leadership.
The Diocese of San Bernardino, in cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), provided assistance to 46 people (all women and children) over a two-day period on July 10 and 11. The migrants, who had entered the U.S. through Texas, were brought to Fontana, and then after receiving food, clothing, and medical care, they boarded buses and were taken to various destinations throughout the country.
None of those migrants remain in Fontana, and there were no plans by ICE to bring any additional migrants to the city.
A rally conducted by opponents of illegal immigration was held outside the church on July 13.
There were no reports of violence, either during the migrants' stay or during the rally.
The organizer of the rally, Fontana resident Tressy Capps, was one of the speakers at the City Council meeting.
"For the safety of the citizens of Fontana as well as the immigrants, we need to take a stand as a city on this issue," Capps said.
She added that the "idea that a church in our city would be involved in human trafficking is very troubling."
Representatives from the Diocese of San Bernardino said previously that the church was responding to a "humanitarian crisis" because the migrants were "refugees" fleeing violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
At the end of the meeting, City Councilmember John Roberts thanked all the persons who expressed their opinions on both sides of the issue.
"It's a very complex issue; a lot of it we don't have a whole lot of control over, because it's primarily a federal government issue," Roberts said. "But certainly we will do what we need to do to keep our citizens safe."
He thanked the Fontana Police Department for doing "an outstanding job in monitoring the situation," a point which had been made by some of the speakers earlier that night.