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Opinions Split Over Move To Allow Undocumented Immigrants On Huntington Park City Commissions

HUNTINGTON PARK ( — Huntington Park residents sounded off Monday night about a controversial move to allow undocumented immigrants on city commissions.

"Thank you, Huntington Park, for giving hope to our undocumented community," said one resident during the Huntington Park City Council meeting on Monday night.

The meeting was marked with both comments and criticisms toward the city council after their decision a couple of weeks ago to appoint two undocumented immigrants to city commissions.

"'We the people,' " said another attendee "implies the citizens. Not 'we the illegal aliens.' "

One appointee, Julian Zatarain, says his years of volunteering with the American Red Cross and other groups made him qualified for the position regardless of his immigration status.

"I just happen to be undocumented. The reason why I was elected to this was for my track record. I've been working for the last 6 years," Zatarain said.

The other, Francisco Medina, will be serving on the health and education commission.

"Immigration is for people who do it legally. People are out of this country trying to come here illegally and you're acting like that's part of the American way," said another attendee.

City leaders have pointed out that Zatarain and Medina aren't going to be paid as federal law prohibits that, and neither will have power to determine city policy.

"How many offended Americans are actually ready to give their time and commit to take a role without payment," said another woman. "That's right, I am proud of both."

"We want to at least provide them a voice or at least a seat at the table to give some kind of advisory," Karina Macias, the mayor of Huntington Park, said. "They're part of the community."

Macias says the two appointees still have to undergo background checks before they're sworn in. A date for that has not been scheduled as of yet.

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