BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - The Boulder City Council has appointed a man who is not in the country legally to be on the council's Human Relations Commission, making Jose Beteta the first beneficiary of a law approved by city voters in November that eliminates a requirement that members of volunteer boards and commissions be registered voters.
Beteta, 34, was born in Costa Rica and has acknowledged being in the United States illegally for more than 20 years, including the past three years in Boulder.
The Human Relations Commission is in charge of promoting diversity and enforcing the city's Human Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination.
"I think it's exciting to actually see we changed the rules, and someone applied and took advantage," City Councilman Tim Plass said during the council's meeting Tuesday. "We now have someone like Jose who is going to be on our board."
Beteta said an error by a lawyer years ago left him without legal permission to be in the United States. He said he hopes to inspire young people and Latinos to realize they can succeed and participate in their community, the Denver Post reported Thursday (http://tinyurl.com/p5h4ahe).
"I'm basically opening the door for others to follow," Beteta said after being selected for the five-year term. "It's one more opportunity for people to be able to contribute to their community."
Beteta revealed himself as being in the country illegally about a year ago after seeing a play in Boulder by young Latinos titled "Do You Know Who I Am?"
"It gave me the courage," he said. "I realized I have nothing to lose because my knowledge and experience. No one can take that away."
Beteta is also a small-business owner. He started LeapTech Solutions in 2008 and is the president of Boulder's Latino Chamber of Commerce.
Federal authorities say current deportation regulations meet Immigration and Customs Enforcement priorities by focusing on criminals or suspicious individuals who could pose national security and public-safety threats.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com