HUNTINGTON PARK — Four members of the City Council found themselves under attack Sept. 21 for the second consecutive meeting by an area group called We the People Rising, who continued to protest the appointment of two undocumented immigrants to advisory commissions in the city.
The protesters were joined by several residents calling for the recall of Mayor Karina Macias, Vice Mayor Graciela Ortiz and Council members Jhonny Pineda and Marilyn Sanabria, accusing them of breaking federal law by confirming non-citizens Francisco Medina to the Health and Education Commission and Julian Zatarain to the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Only three of the more than 20 speakers supported the council appointments.
“Some years ago, I was not allowed to vote. Times change,” said Mark Forte, an African-American. “Latinos have a place [in our society]. They should be respected.
But most speakers disagreed with Ford.
City Councilman Valentin Amezquita, who opposed the nominations Aug. 3, again came down from the council dais during the public comment portion of the council agenda to address the issue, supporting calls to remove the two appointees.
“I will keep coming back until you get it right,” he told his council colleagues. “You took an oath to obey the [U.S.] Constitution. Our job is to do city business.
Former Councilwoman Linda Caraballo said Medina’s application for the appointment indicates that Pineda exaggerated when he said Medina was a longtime resident who did volunteer work in the community.
“This application shows he lived zero years in Huntington Park and has not worked on a commission before,” Caraballo said.
“The only volunteer work they did here was in your campaign,” she added, referring to Pineda’s admission that both Medina and Zatarain worked on his City Council campaign.
People Rising member Jenell Temple, who said she is also a member of the Blacks for Equal Justice Task Force, called for the council to remove the two appointees and said “citizens should come first. You people come here, break the law and are rewarded.”
Another People Rising member, Robin Dixon, said actions like those of the city encourage acceptance of undocumented immigrants, since they provide cheap labor for farmers.
“American farmers should mechanize like they do in Europe,” she said, alleging that Medina and Zatarain are being exploited, since they will receive no stipend for their commission work.
Some members of the group blamed Democrats in the state and federal government for accepting illegals at the expense of taxpayers.
“We will take the country back,” John Wesley Noble said. “There will be changes in Huntington Park and Washington, D.C.”
Resident Betty Retana accused the four council members of not fulfilling their duties.
“You don’t address important things in the city. You will never be elected here again,” she said.