A lawmaker in Huntington Park, California, has prompted outrage in the community after tapping two illegal immigrants to serve as commissioners on city advisory boards.
CBS Los Angeles reported that first-year City Councilman Jhonny Pineda, himself a documented immigrant to the United States, has appointed Francisco Medina to join the city’s health and education commission and Julian Zatarain to sit on the parks and recreation commission.
The move makes Huntington Park the first city in the state to appoint illegal immigrants to city commissions.
Pineda, who promised when running for his seat to create more opportunities for illegals, championed the city as one of "opportunity" and "hope."
"Huntington Park is a city of opportunity and a city of hope for all individuals regardless of socioeconomic status, race, creed, or in this case, citizenship," Pineda explained in a statement. "Both these gentlemen have accomplished a great deal for the city. For that, on behalf of the city council, mayor, and our city, I want to say thank you to them both and I am confident they will do an excellent job on their commission posts."
The appointments were announced at a city council meeting Monday night, after which residents expressed outrage at the decision.
"You only want to appoint these specific individuals, only two, because they’re your personal friends that worked on your campaign," one individual said of Pineda. "Shame on you."
Sandra Orozco, an activist in the community, explained that the move sends "the wrong message to other cities that you can be illegal, and you can come and work for a city."
However, Pineda insisted that a city attorney approved the appointments and that a commissioner does not need to be a registered voter.
"We need to make sure that we bring everyone together to the table here in Huntington Park so that we can make sure we’re sharing the same vision," the city councilman explained.
The appointed illegal immigrants, who had to pass a background check, would help advise the city council regarding legislation, not directly help develop policy. They also would not, like other commissioners, receive a $75 stipend each month they hold meetings.
California has become increasingly friendly to illegal immigrants in recent months. A law went into effect in January allowing the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to issue licenses to undocumented immigrant workers.
Fifty-two percent of all new driver’s licenses issued in the state of California thus far this year have been awarded to illegal immigrants.