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Whitman’s Illegal Immigrant Troubles Self-Inflicted

Could this embarrassing episode be the beginning of the end for the Whitman campaign?

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

October 2, 2010 - 12:18 am
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has exactly the right sermon for California. She just has trouble practicing what she preaches.

During a Sept 28 debate with Democratic opponent Jerry Brown, Whitman was asked what she would do about illegal immigration. This is what she said:

We do have to hold employers accountable for hiring only documented workers and we do have to enforce that law. We have to stop the magnet. Most illegal immigrants, I believe, come here for the jobs. And so we have to go to the source.

That’s common sense, right? Without readily available employment, there would be no illegal immigrants. And yet, you’d be surprised how reluctant Americans are to admit that they’re as much to blame for illegal immigration as porous borders, corrupt foreign governments, unfair trade policies, or any of the other things that typically take the blame.

You will even find immigration restrictionists who argue that illegal immigration is a crisis that is damaging the country but also insist on their right to hire illegal immigrants. Not long ago, a reader wrote me to say that, while he opposed illegal immigration, he didn’t see anything wrong with hiring illegal immigrants to do odd jobs “since they’re here anyway.”

Whitman is right. We have to go after employers because we need to go the source of the problem. Only now it turns out that going to the source means going to Whitman’s house.

Nicky Diaz Santillan, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, worked for Whitman as a housekeeper and nanny for nine years before being fired 15 months ago as the former eBay CEO was preparing to launch her campaign. The maid claims the dismissal left her feeling “exploited, disrespected, humiliated.” Her lawyer, the media-hungry Gloria Allred, plans to file a claim for unpaid wages — after she’s done making a political splash.

The Whitman campaign fired back by providing the media with immigration and IRS forms that Santillan signed back in 2000 when she first applied for a job as a housekeeper stating that she was a legal resident of the United States.

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