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Update: Immigrant Affairs Commission Appointee Steps Down

Screenshot from Youtube.
Rebecca Forest speaks at a 2011 anti-immigration rally.

Update Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 3:30 p.m. Council member Don Zimmerman confirmed that Rebecca Forest has stepped down from her appointment to the Immigrant Affairs Commission.

Of Forest's remarks, made at the 2011 rally (see the youtube video below), Zimmerman said, "I don't judge Rebecca Forest by a clumsy remark. I judge her based on ten years of knowing her, and she's not a bigoted person."

Several city council members had indicated they were going to vote to rescind Forest's nomination at Thursday's meeting. As of now the item is still on the agenda.

Original story, published Friday, April 10, 2015, 5 p.m. The appointment of Rebecca Forest to Austin's Commission on Immigrant Affairs last week is causing some friction between District 6 City Council member Don Zimmerman and District 4 Council member Greg Casar.

Zimmerman nominated Forest and the council approved her nomination. But Casar wants the council to rescind it, based on disparaging comments Forest made when she attended a 2011 anti-immigration rally. Her appearance at the rally was recorded and uploaded to YouTube.

"If you really want to know why in Texas we don't get immigration legislation passed, it's because we have 37 -- 36 Hispanic legislators in the Texas legislature. All of the states that have passed legislation have a handful — and I mean, literally, some of them have no Hispanic legislators. Well, maybe 3, 4 or 5," Forest said at the 2011 rally. "So that's part of our problem, and we need to change those numbers."

Speaking about public education funding at the rally, Forest said: "If we quit educating all these people that aren't even supposed to be here, maybe we'd have more a little money in our education system. Maybe we'd have students that really speak our language and are there to learn, and not just there to cause problems." 

After Casar learned of Forest's remarks about Hispanics and immigrant children, he asked council to rescind Forest’s nomination.

Don Zimmerman says he understands Casar’s position.

"He has to represent his constituents, and I support him in doing that,” Zimmerman says. “But, I'm representing my constituents in District 6. And I'm firmly convinced that Rebecca Forest would do a very good job representing the views of the majority of my constituents in District 6. That's why I put her up."

Zimmerman says it is only fair for the city's Immigrant Affairs Commission to have a diversity of voices. But, he also says he will respect the will of the council. If others join Casar and vote Forest out, Zimmerman says he will respect that.

This post has been updated to include some of Forest's remarks at the 2011 rally and clarify Casar's request to rescind her appointment to the Commission on Immigrant Affairs. 

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.