How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Quote of the moment: Meg Whitman on why ex-housekeeper should be deported

"Well, the answer is: It breaks my heart, but she should be deported, because she forged documents and she lied about her immigration status."

- Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor, regarding her former maid Nicandra Diaz Santillan in an interview last night with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren

Whitman's remark was in response to a direct question from Van Susteren while discussing her former housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan. "Should she be deported?" Van Susteren asked.

The scandal that erupted last month over Whitman's employing Diaz, an undocumented immigrant, for nine years then firing her last year after deciding to run for governor has threatened to derail her campaign against Democratic candidate and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, causing her to lose ground in particular among Latino voters.


Poll: Majority of CA voters say immigrants working here illegally should be able to stay

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

An undocumented housekeeper on her cleaning rounds, mopping a Los Angeles apartment, October 2010

A story in yesterday's Los Angeles Times reported the results of a new LAT/University of Southern California poll that found most California voters to hold a positive view of immigrants, as well as a lenient attitude toward those here illegally.

Among a random sample of 1,501 California voters, 48 percent of those likely to cast ballots in November said that immigrants were a benefit to the state as opposed to a burden, according to the poll. A majority also felt that those contributing to the economy should be allowed to stay.

From the story:

Separately, 59% of likely voters said that an illegal immigrant who had lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should be allowed to remain here if discovered. More than 2 in 5 voters said they felt strongly that such an option should be available. Only 30% of likely voters thought the illegal immigrant should be deported, and only 19% backed that option strongly.


Q&A: A former labor watchdog on contractors, clients, and illegal hiring

Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The tools of a trade in which subcontracted labor is common, November 2009

The illegal hiring scandals that have landed both Meg Whitman and Lou Dobbs in hot water in the course of just over a week have placed a spotlight on the role of employers in illegal immigration, bringing up questions about how involved employers need to be in verifying workers' legal status, and whether it's even possible to avoid unauthorized workers in an economy that depends on low-wage help.

Both cases also raise questions about the role of the middleman - the employment agency or contractor who provides the workers. In GOP gubernatorial candidate Whitman's case, her ex-housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan, was hired through an agency. In the case of Dobbs, the ex-CNN anchor known for his stringent views on illegal immigration - and employers who contribute to it - the workers interviewed by The Nation, which broke the story yesterday, worked for contractors who provided services to Dobbs, on his properties and for his daughter's horses.


Ouch: "Perhaps Lou & Mage (sic) Whitman use the same staffing firm?"

A story that appeared today in The Nation, since reported elsewhere, alleges that undocumented immigrants worked for former CNN host Lou Dobbs, tending to his properties and to his daughter's prize horses. The story has since been picked up by several other news outlets. Dobbs is best known, of course, for his extremely strict position on illegal immigration, which has included advocating criminal penalties for those who hire unauthorized workers.

The former host of Lou Dobbs Tonight has since criticized the liberal magazine's investigation as a "hit piece" and denies having hired illegally, making the point that it is not his responsibility to check papers. According to The Nation, which interviewed five people who allegedly worked for Dobbs while undocumented, the workers were hired by contractors.


Pew voter survey: Two-thirds of Latino voters plan to support Democrats

A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center indicates significantly stronger support for Democratic candidates among Latino voters this year, though voter motivation is weak overall, and conservative Latinos appear more motivated to go to the polls.

According to a nationwide survey, two-thirds (65 percent) of Latino registered voters said they planned to support the Democratic candidate in their local congressional district. Less than a fourth (22 percent) planned to support the Republican candidate.

However, when it came to going to the polls, only one-third (32 percent) of Latino voters said they had given this year's general election "quite a lot" of thought, compared with half of all registered voters. Only 51 percent of Latino registered voters said they were certain they would go to the pols, compared with 70 percent of all registered voters.