Opinion

Commentary: Whitman bitten by her own immigration policies

Billionaire gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman runs in the California primary.
Billionaire gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman runs in the California primary. Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/MCT

It could have been an honest mistake when Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor, hired a Mexican nanny who is illegal.

The billionaire who once ran eBay — and her neurosurgeon husband — were apparently duped by false documents provided to them by Nicky Diaz Santillan.

"Most people hiring a nanny are ignorant about immigration law," said Douglas Lehrman, a Sacramento immigration lawyer.

It's tough. Whitman is being damned for hiring Santillan. And she'll be damned if it's proved she didn't take action for six years after the Social Security Administration flagged Santillan's documents.

The nauseating Gloria Allred, the L.A.-based lawyer of shameless promotion, is using Santillan to beat up Whitman — while gleeful Democrats crow at the travails of "Nut Meg."

This story is catnip for our vapid times — the hypocritical billionaire who plays hardball on immigration and yet hired an "illegal" to care for her own kids — at $23 an hour.

The irony is that restrictive immigration measures supported by hawks like Whitman have made it easier to ensnare employers like Whitman.

To work legally for Whitman's family, Santillan would have had to apply in 2001 for a visa — a nine-year process, Lehrman said.

Since the mid-1990s, the last time the U.S. was consumed by immigrant insanity, restrictive laws have only created impossible backlogs and additional classes of illegals.

According to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, a foreigner who is in the United States illegally for a year must then spend 10 years outside the country.

Who do we think is doing our "low-skilled" labor?

This week, the Associated Press analyzed the issue of Americans doing immigrant jobs.

From the AP: "From January to June, California farmers posted ads for 1,160 farm worker positions open to U.S. citizens and legal residents.

"But only 233 people in those categories applied through unemployment offices in California, Texas, Nevada and Arizona. One grower brought on 36. No one else hired any."

The California Farm Bureau Federation has been trying to get Whitman to be more realistic about who does our work in California. They got her to support a temporary worker program where farmworkers could come here, make money and then go home. On Friday, feeling the heat on Santillan, Whitman seemed to indicate that she would be open to domestic workers being added into the guest worker mix.

But she opposes allowing law-abiding immigrant workers to earn a path to citizenship and defended her position during Saturday's heated gubernatorial debate with Democratic candidate Jerry Brown.

"You're asking people to come 2,000 miles to do work Americans won't do, pay them and then ask them to go back," Lehrman said.

"To me, that's un-American. People who do this work should be rewarded with something, not criminalized or lumped together with drug dealers and gangsters."

Lehrman said when some of his wealthy clients received letters from the Social Security Administration — as Whitman may have in 2003 — they called him immediately.

They've begged him to do anything he could for illegals that had become "family" members of Americans because they nurtured their American babies.

If the allegations are true, Whitman first got word of a possible problem with her nanny in 2003 — and nothing was done until 2009. She may have also hired another illegal without checking her status.

And then, when she was running for governor, she fired her nanny.

Like our immigration laws, that's cold.

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