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New allegations this week that Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper for nine years have sent reporters and political operatives scrambling to find foot-in-mouth moments from her vocal, hard-line stance on immigration.
You can read more about the allegations here.
A quick look through our Politics Verbatim database turns up a few interesting gems, particularly as they relate to sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants. But it also shows that Whitman's most severe sanctions would be reserved for employers who "knowingly" hire illegal immigrant labor – something she claims she did not do.
On the John and Ken Show in Los Angeles last month, Whitman reiterated her view that employers found to hire illegal immigrants should face sanctions. The first offense, she said, should be a fine:
First what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to tell people you’re going to hold them accountable. Then there needs to be a system that they can verify, and then you are going to have a three-strike program, and I’ve outlined it very clearly. First strike if you have found to hire illegal immigrants you are going to have to pay a fine. Second strike you’re going to have to pay a fine, you may lose your business license for a period of time. Third you’re going to pay a fine and you are going to lose your business license for a permanent amount of time.
It's a view she's repeated a number of times, also bringing up the economic understanding that as long as incentives (read: good jobs) exist, illegal immigrants will continue to seek opportunities in the United States.
However, in several other cases, Whitman specifies that sanctions should be reserved only for employees who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Her enforcement strategy seems to place a measure of responsibility on employers, but only if they have a reliable means for verifying their employees' immigration status.
In response to the allegations this week, Whitman has said she was unaware of her housekeeper's illegal status. In a statement in July, she wrote:
The Sacramento Bee has it wrong in suggesting that I have backed away from my position on conducting inspections of workplaces suspected of hiring illegal immigrants. Once a reliable e-verification system has been put in place, I will seek legislation to authorize the inspection of California workplaces in accordance with federal law and in cooperation with federal immigration officials. My goal will be to impose stiff penalties on businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, including the revocation of business licenses for repeat offenders.
Also back in July, Whitman spokesman Hector Barajas said the campaign wasn't hiding anything with regards to illegal immigration. He probably wasn't talking about this …
"When you start talking about driver licenses, employer sanctions and sanctuary cities, there are big similarities," Barajas said. "Immigration is not a single-item issue." He added, "We have been clear from day one on our position on immigration, and there is nothing we've been hiding."
She also wrote an editorial for a group of community Spanish-language publications in Los Angeles lamenting that illegal immigrants do not "fully participate in American life."
Illegal immigration burdens our local economy and law enforcement, causing enormous hardships. It diminishes the services Californians pay for with the tax dollars they sacrifice to the state, while allowing illegal workers to escape paying some taxes. Ultimately, illegal immigrants live in the shadows and fail to participate fully in American life, something that hurts us all.