CBS Stumbles Upon California City Appointing Illegal Immigrants to City Government Posts

On Tuesday, the CBS Evening News happened to stumble upon and offer up a solid report on one of the newest chapters in the illegal immigration fight as the city council of Huntington Park, California took the step earlier this month to appoint two illegal immigrants to posts on the city’s advisory commission.

Fill-in anchor Charlie Rose hyped in the lead-in to correspondent Ben Tracy’s story that “[t]he debate over immigration has turned red hot in Huntington Park, California” as “[t]he city has just filled two positions with people who immigrated to the United States illegally.”

Able to score an interview with one of the selected illegal immigrants, Tracy gave Julian Zatarain a softball question to start if he thought of himself as an American, but then brought up the seemingly obvious point that he’s actively breaking the law: “[D]o you take responsibility for the fact that you're currently breaking federal law of the United States?”

Par for the course, Zatarain simply responded that the American people should “understand that we come here wanting a better future, and once we're here, we love this country” plus “[t]he only thing that we want is to make this country proud of having us here.”

Tracy also was able to speak with the Democratic Mayor Karina Macias and while “more than 15 percent of the population of Huntington Park” consists of illegal aliens, he flatly asked Macias if the city is “sending a message that you can break the law and be rewarded for that?”

Macias shrugged off that reality, asserting that she didn’t think so in addition to employing this strawman argument about addressing illegal immigration: “You're not going to get rid of them. You're not going to deport them. So what do you do? You know, you have too engage those individuals in a positive way.”

To balance out Macias’ response, Tracy played a soundbite from Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) President Dan Stein: “If you start giving out those benefits like they're candy, not earned, ultimately, you destroy the value of citizenship and the basis of our American democracy.”

Before tossing back to Rose, Tracy mentioned that Macias argued that “she opened these positions to undocumented immigrants in part because too few legal residents were applying” and since “[f]ederal law does prohibit them from being paid, so, Charlie, these two new commissioners will be unpaid volunteers.”

The reporting by Tracy is somewhat unusual considering his recent history reporting on illegal immigration. Ahead of President Obama’s November 20, 2014 executive action on immigration, Tracy promoted a family that stood to benefit from the President’s amnesty with the children in Arizona and the mother being housed (at the time) in a detention center for repeatedly entering the U.S. illegally.

When it came to the Spanish-language network Telemundo covering this story, the result was far more predictable and favorable toward the illegal immigrants. 

As MRC Latino’s Ken Oliver-Méndez reported on August 11, Telemundo’s Un Neuvo Día had both Zatarain and fellow appointee Francisco Medina on for a fawning interview on August 4 touting how the pair were “making history.” 

Also in the interview, the pair were assured by co-host Neida Sandoval that they will do “an excellent job” serving as “a great example” for others.

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News on August 18 can be found below.

CBS Evening News 
August 18, 2015
6:35 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Immigration Controversy]

CHARLIE ROSE: The debate over immigration has turned red hot in Huntington Park, California. The city has just filled two positions with people who immigrated to the United States illegally. Ben Tracy is there. 

(....)

BEN TRACY: Tensions boiled over at hunting city council meeting Monday night because of the city's decision to appoint two undocumented immigrants to its advisory commissions. [TO ZATARAIN] Do you consider yourself an American? 

JULIAN ZATARAIN: Yes. 

TRACY: 21-year-old Julian Zatarain is now a member of the parks commission. He sneaked into the United States from Mexico when he was 13 to be with his mother. 

ZATARAIN: I want to do something better for my city, and I want to represent everyone, including the undocumented community. 

TRACY [TO ZATARAIN]: But at the same time, do you take responsibility for the fact that you're currently breaking federal law of the United States? 

ZATARAIN: You know, the fact that I'm here illegally, I understand that, but it's a reality that we have to deal with. I want people to understand that we come here wanting a better future, and once we're here, we love this country. The only thing that we want is to make this country proud of having us here. 

TRACY: Undocumented immigrants make up more than 15 percent of the population of Huntington Park. Mayor Karina Macias says it's time to give them a voice in city government. [TO MACIAS]: But are you sending a message that you can break the law and be rewarded for that? 

MAYOR KARINA MACIAS: I don't think so. You're not going to get rid of them. You're not going to deport them. So what do you do? You know, you have too engage those individuals in a positive way. 

(....)

TRACY: Those opposed say illegal immigrants don't deserve the benefits of citizenship, including Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. 

FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM PRESIDENT DAN STEIN: If you start giving out those benefits like they're candy, not earned, ultimately, you destroy the value of citizenship and the basis of our American democracy. 

TRACY: Now, the mayor here says she opened these positions to undocumented immigrants in part because too few legal residents were applying. Federal law does prohibit them from being paid, so, Charlie, these two new commissioners will be unpaid volunteers.

NBDaily Immigration Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS Evening News California Video Government & Press Ben Tracy FAIR Charlie Rose
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