A Border Town Confronts the Reality of Police Surveillance

Chula Vista police have deployed drones and other tech. Now residents are pushing back, after reports that data was shared with immigration authorities.

In 2019, the border town of Chula Vista, about 15 minutes from Tijuana, became California’s first “ Welcoming City,” highlighting the city’s financial and educational opportunities for immigrants. It’s also one of the nation’s most surveilled cities, where the police department uses license plate readers, drones, and body cameras to track residents and has explored facial-recognition technology.

Now, those distinctions are clashing, as residents and activists accuse city leaders of “betraying” immigrant residents by permitting federal immigration authorities to access data from license plate readers. That’s sparked a

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