By Joe Guzzardi
August 7, 2015
California, the first state to allow unlawful immigrants to practice law, the first to pass legislation that protects them from deportation, the Trust Act, and the first to provide comprehensive health care for alien children is once again forging a new but dangerous and illegal territory.
Huntington Park, a sanctuary city, recently appointed two illegal aliens to serve as commissioners. Francisco Medina will head health and education; Julian Zatarian, parks and recreation. Commissioner Johnny Pineda, who came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 13, offered familiar but unpersuasive excuses for selecting illegal immigrants, and not citizens.
According to Pineda, Medina and Zatarian are fine young men who have made significant contributions to the community and want to do more. Both want to pursue professional careers, a claim young aliens often make. Medina and Zatarian’s illegal immigrant status is a result of being brought to the U.S. as children, something that Pineda insists should not be held against them. Furthermore, Pineda says that Huntington Park wants to adopt inclusive policies, and hopes that other cities will follow his lead. Census Bureau data shows that Huntington Park has about 60,000 residents, more than 95 percent of which are Latino.
However, former council member Linda Caraballo tells a different story. According to Caraballo, the two appointees have done little if anything for the community and have “no interest whatsoever” in contributing. Medina and Zatarian, Caraballo continued, got their jobs because they’re Pineda’s “political cronies.” More qualified, experienced councilmen were fired to make room Medina and Zatarain. The excuse that Medina and Zatarain will help serve fellow illegal immigrants and give them a voice is ridiculous, Caraballo said. The local police force, the council and other Huntington Park agencies are already well-staffed with Spanish-speakers. Caraballo said she received dozens of emails from her neighbors expressing outrage.
Pineda danced around the question of his appointments’ legality. When asked, Pineda said that immigrants in the country illegally are not excluded by law from serving on a commission which acts solely as advisers to the city council.
But everything about the Huntington Park fiasco is illegal. First, Medina and Zatarian are illegally in the United States, do not qualify for Obama’s deferred action for childhood arrivals, and pursuant to federal laws, should be removed. Second, sanctuary cities are illegal, another federal law that Huntington Park leadership ignores. City rules and regulations don’t supersede federal statutes. Third, Pineda while arguing that no laws have been broken, is himself in violation of yet another federal law.
Aiding, abetting, harboring or encouraging aliens is a felony, and punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to five years. Since the Obama administration has demonstrated little inclination to enforce immigration laws, no adverse action will be taken against Pineda or other Huntington Park officials.
Like Pineda, Huntington Park Mayor Karina Macias hopes that other cities nationwide will follow her bad example and reward illegal immigrants who have blatantly disrespected U.S. laws with positions of honor that should be reserved for deserving Americans.
Since 1999 when Governor Gray Davis subverted Proposition 187’s implementation, California has marched to its own drummer on immigration. Appointing two deportable aliens, allegedly in the shadows but really flouting their unlawful immigration status, to serve as Huntington Park commissioners is another step in the wrong direction for California.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]