KCAL-9 calls this “a landmark move,” but Huntington Park residents considered it more of a political stunt. A city council meeting turned into a battle of words last night in the Los Angeles-area community, the only city in the state to appoint illegal immigrants as city officials. The man behind the move, Jhonny Pineda, shrugged off the controversy, calling the spots unpaid “advisory positions,” but one critic called it a campaign payoff:
“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,” the councilman said 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 announcement was met with uproar at a city council meeting held in Huntington Park on Monday night.
“You only want to appoint these specific individuals, only two, because they’re your personal friends that worked on your campaign,” one resident stated to Pineda at the meeting. “Shame on you.”
Community activist Sandra Orozco also spoke out against the appointments, stating that they send the wrong message to the community and to the country.
“We’re sending the wrong message to other cities that you can be illegal, and you can come and work for a city,” Orozco said.
Interestingly, while KCAL-9 goes out of its way to refer to the two as “undocumented immigrants” and the Hill’s post follows that protocol, their Twitter feed uses the I-word:
— The Hill (@thehill) August 4, 2015
This is why language matters. The newest politically correct nomenclature glosses over the illegality of these newly minted city officials’ entry into the United States. Normally, one would expect government at all levels to encourage people to obey the law; after all, that is the raison d’être of self-governance. If Huntington Park’s government signals that they don’t feel like obeying the law on their own, why should their citizens obey the laws and regulations that this city council passes either?
These two “advisers” are in the US illegally. We can debate the best way to deal with that situation, but until it is resolved, they are breaking the law — and at the least should be ineligible for government positions, paid or not. One might think that Huntington Park could find enough of its residents who satisfy the legal residency requirements of working in the US to find a couple of advisers for community issues.