The city of Huntington Park, perhaps best known as being the home town of Rosario Marin, former treasurer of the United States, made news recently by appointing two people who are in this country illegally to its city commissions. According to a Los Angeles Times article, the two appointees have to successfully complete Live Scan background checks before they can assume their positions.
The article further states that commissioners have to be residents of Huntington Park, though the city can allow up to two commissioners to be nonresidents.
These appointments are understandably controversial and they raise some interesting questions, the first of which is: To what extent should we allow noncitizens (and possibly nonresidents) to participate in local government? The second would be: How should we differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants?
There are some countries, such as Sweden, in which resident noncitizens who are in the country legally are entitled to vote in state and municipal elections. Indeed, a resident noncitizen who is entitled to vote in a Swedish state and municipal election can also be elected to both of those governing bodies.
It should be noted, though, that people who are in Sweden illegally can’t register a domicile and can’t get a Swedish ID number (which is similar to our Social Security number, but with many more practical uses). In other words, people who are in the country illegally can’t vote or serve as elected officials.
In Beverly Hills, we have a residency requirement for our commissioners that applies to citizens and noncitizens alike. Both citizens and noncitizens have to be legal residents of Beverly Hills prior to being allowed to serve on a commission. So someone who has an address in Beverly Hills, but doesn’t actually live here, would not legally and/or legitimately be considered a resident and would not be permitted to serve on a commission.
I would argue that somebody who is not in the country legally is by definition neither a legal nor legitimate resident of this city, and therefore should not be allowed to serve on a commission.
The big problem with the Huntington Park situation is illustrated in a quote by former Huntington Park mayor, Ric Loya, who supports the appointments and who said: “A lot of people who came here legally or illegally, they’re going to say this is great. Everybody can be involved in government, as long as it’s done legally.”
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