Opinion: Meg Whitman’s immigration imbroglio

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I can’t say I’m surprised by the revelation that GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman employed an undocumented worker for nearly a decade (Whitman is, after all, wealthy and Californian). She admitted as much before her former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz, appeared with attorney Gloria Allred to accuse Whitman of knowingly violating federal law and ‘throwing me away like a piece of garbage’ once her employment became politically unpalatable. Whitman says she hired Diaz only after all the necessary documentation had been provided but fired the housekeeper after she admitted she was in the country illegally. Could happen to anyone (who can afford hired help).

If Whitman’s account is true -- and I’m inclined to believe her story, since it can be easily verified by examining tax records -- then she deserves to be let off the hook. But it’s too bad that this will probably demolish any credibility Whitman may have on immigration. Her positions, though harsh to those of us who support comprehensive reform by the feds, are moderate by conservative standards (build the wall, increase workplace inspections, send National Guard troops to the border, etc.). In the primary campaign, she showed some depth on the issue by distancing herself from Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who promised to deny illegal immigrants public benefits, including public education and emergency services. Though Whitman believes Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration law should stand, she wouldn’t support the same kind of legislation in California.


None of this is to say Whitman’s views on immigration are especially heartening, but her comparatively tempered rhetoric on the issue suggests she wouldn’t be given to implementing the harsh measures advocated by California Republicans. Whitman may be inclined to embrace more extreme positions to restore any lost credibility among her conservative base. She ought to resist that temptation.

-- Paul Thornton