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California City Appoints Two Illegal Immigrants to Commission

California City Appoints Two Illegal Immigrants to Commission
(CBS Los Angeles)

By    |   Tuesday, 04 August 2015 02:29 PM

Huntington Park, California — a tiny southeast Los Angeles suburb where 97 percent of the 60,000 residents are Hispanic and 50 percent are foreign-born — has appointed two illegal immigrants to positions on the City Commission, a first in the Golden State, according to the International Business Times.

"Our population includes documented and undocumented immigrants, and I wanted to make sure everyone could participate," Huntington Park Mayor Karina Macias told the Los Angeles Times. "If we're going to talk about transparency, being open and having a community that's involved, then the conversation also has to include undocumented immigrants. I'm hoping other cities are looking at what we're doing here."

Councilman Jhonny Pineda appointed Mexican nationals Julian Zatarain, 21, to the Parks and Recreation Commission and Francisco Medina, 29, to the Health and Education Commission. Both men, according to the IB Times, will lead their respective commissions.

"They have been community volunteers for a lot of years," Pineda told KABC-TV. "They've always given to the community ... They just happen to be undocumented."

Zatarain, a student at Santa Monica College, and Medina must undergo background checks and will forgo a monthly stipend — usually between $25 and $75 — provided to other city commissioners.

With such a large population of undocumented immigrants, Huntington Park — long a point of entry for illegal immigrants, according to the LA Times — has suffered from dismal voter turnout over the past 10 years.

Illegal immigrants cannot vote or seek elected office, but California law does not prohibit undocumented people from serving as appointed commissioners.

Some in the community tell the newspaper that they believe "the lack of civic engagement has helped foster the corruption that has plagued city halls across southeast L.A. County," including nearby Bell and Maywood. Maywood is a sanctuary city, meaning it shelters illegal immigrants.

The appointments have been met with mixed reaction.

One former Huntington Beach councilwoman said it's counter-intuitive to appoint illegal immigrants as policy advisers when "they can't even vote for the council members," while Robin Hvidston, executive director of immigration enforcement group We the People Rising, complained that the positions could have gone to U.S. citizens.

"To appoint commission seats to individuals who are breaking federal laws demonstrates that lack of respect for U.S. law," Hvidston said.

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Huntington Park, California - a tiny southeast Los Angeles suburb where 97 percent of the 60,000 residents are Hispanic and 50 percent are foreign-born - has appointed two illegal immigrants to positions on the City Commission, a first in the Golden State.
california, city commission, illegal, immigrants
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2015-29-04
Tuesday, 04 August 2015 02:29 PM
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