Less than 24 hours after a much-anticipated gubernatorial debate between candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, a controversial element seems to have been released in light of Whitman’s own comments. During the debate, Whitman specifically addressed the responsibility of problems involving undocumented workers and the costs California is incurring due to said workers. She stated that responsibility rests partly on the shoulders of employers.
Recently revealed news, however, suggests that Whitman may have hired an undocumented worker for about nine years. The worker, Nicky Diaz Santillan, kept Whitman’s house for $23 per hour and claimed not to have hidden the fact of her employment eligibility status. Reportedly, Whitman “closed her eyes” to Santillan’s status.
While these claims seem to fan a significantly inflamed discussion on issues of immigration, will this situation negatively impact Whitman’s campaign? Or, is the well-timed information just going to reflect the defective nature of the current immigration enforcement and policy system?
Jim Gibbons, a politician from Nevada, was the employer of Patricia Pastor Sandoval, a Peruvian illegal immigrant. Sandoval cleaned Gibbons’ home and was a nanny for his son for years. Gibbons was fully aware of Sandoval’s illegal status but continued to employ and pay her “under the table.” Records show that while Sandoval was working with the Gibbons family, Dawn Gibbons — Jim’s wife — signed papers to help Sandoval gain her legal status. Gibbons has been under intense public scrutiny and the incident has had a negative impact on his career.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner employed a housekeeper who he knew had an illegal status. The housekeeper eventually married a U.S. citizen and was later granted a green card.
Caroline Kennedy had hopes of filling the Senate seat once occupied by Hillary Rodham Clinton. But through some media revelations, it was discovered that Kennedy had failed to pay taxes for a housekeeper who reportedly had an illegal status. Once this factor came to light, it seemed her run was over.
Will Whitman Be Held Accountable?
Considering the way Whitman hired Santillan, which was through a maid service, Whitman said she was not aware of her legal status. In today’s climate, it would not be unusual to think that someone might not ask about someone’s legal status due to political correctness. But once Santillan informed Whitman of her status, Whitman did what she needed to do and let her go.
Santillan could not believe Whitman let her go after nine years, but the reality is that she received nine years more than legally allowed. Many believe that Santillan is being used by Brown to besmirch Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign. But this incident should not negatively impact Whitman, as she did the right thing upon learning the truth about her housekeeper.
CNN. (2009). Geithner questioned about former housekeeper, taxes. Cnn.com
Hakim, D. & Confessore, N. (2009). Paterson is Set to Name Senate Pick. Nytimes.com
Knapp, G. (n.d.) Exclusive: Former Employee Says Gibbons Knew of Her Illegal Status. 8newsnow.com
TMZ. (2010). Meg Whitman’s Housekeeper: Undocumented. Tmz.com