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Opinion: Should Meg Whitman have turned in her maid?

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Politics Daily notes that a new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Jerry Brown’s virtually nonexistent edge over Meg Whitman blossoming into a lead that’s actually larger than the poll’s margin of error: 49% to 44%. I don’t put a lot of faith in polls that show neither candidate topping 50%, so consider me skeptical. Anyway, Bruce Drake at Politics Daily suggests that the numbers moved because of all the publicity about Whitman’s erstwhile illegal immigrant housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan. Which raises the question: What should Whitman have done differently?

As my colleague Paul Thornton argued last week, Whitman appears to have followed the law as well as any household employer might be expected to do. She hired Diaz Santillan from an agency that supposedly verified her immigration status. And when Diaz Santillan fessed up to having lied about that, Whitman terminated her employment. Yes, her husband appears to have paid scant attention to the letter from the Social Security Administration about a potential problem in Diaz Santillan’s records, but he didn’t throw it in the trash -- he evidently gave it to Diaz Santillan to address.

The one step Whitman didn’t take was reporting her housekeeper to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Whitman says it was bad enough to fire Diaz Santillan. ‘It broke my heart because Nicky had become a part of our family,’ she said at a debate with Brown on Saturday. In fact, she blames Brown and his campaign allies for guaranteeing Diaz Santillan’s deportation by turning her into a campaign issue (Brown denies having anything to do with the whole affair).

What do you think? The Times’ editorial board will offer its opinion in Tuesday’s paper about Whitman’s stance on immigration policy in light of her experience with Diaz Santillan. But why wait? Leave your thoughts below, take our highly unscientific poll or do both!

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-- Jon Healey


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