10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, October 12, 2010

By DARRELL R. SANTSCHI
The Press-Enterprise

Highland City Council members heard emotional appeals from both sides of the immigration debate Tuesday night.

Three months after the council voted 4-0 to send letters to a number of officials supporting Arizona’s illegal immigration law, a Latino advocacy group accused the council of violating its own code of ethics and called on the council to rescind its action.

But even as five people spoke in opposition to the council’s action, eight others voiced support for Highland’s stand on Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.

The Arizona law, currently stayed by court action, required police to investigate the immigration status of those they stop and suspect are in the country unlawfully.

Proponents praise the law for stepping in where they say the federal government has failed to enforce the law. Opponents say it opens the door to racial profiling.

Mayor Penny Lilburn cautioned before testimony began that the state’s open meeting law prevented the council from taking any action at Tuesday’s meeting.

Joe Olague, president of the Inland Empire Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told Highland council members they violated their ethics code by exaggerating support for the Arizona law.

He also contended that the city’s letter should have said council members were stating their own opinions and not the opinion of all Highland residents.

The organization’s vice president, Leroy Martinez, said, “We are asking that the mayor and the City Council abolish the code of ethics because you have none. You have no integrity, so why have a code of ethics?”

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