Nicky Diaz affair poisoning immigration debate in California
In the debate over the future of immigration policy in California, the name of Nicky Diaz will likely be one that resonates for a long time.
Diaz is the former housekeeper of Republican Gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman. She's also an undocumented and illegal immigrant. Whitman claims that Diaz had presented fake documents when she was hired to clean for the Whitman family, and that Whitman fired her after learning of the alleged deception.
Democratic nominee Jerry Brown, however, sees a goldmine in the Nicky Diaz story. So much so that he hosted Diaz at a press conference, and is using the story to score political points on his opponent.
There may be many to be scored. Among the accusations against Whitman are that she failed to pay Diaz a proper wage, and that she mistreated her.
All this while Whitman makes immigration central in her policy platform. Whitman opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, and wants government to crackdown on the hiring of undocumented migrants.
At a recent debate, Brown accused Whitman of hypocrisy.
"You're going around this state saying employers must be accountable for hiring unlawful people, there ought to be raids on businesses, there's no path to citizenship," Brown crowed. "This is a terrible thing we have -- all these millions of [illegal] people, but you don't want a path to citizenship."
Of course what Brown fails to acknowledge is that there's already a path to citizenship for immigrants. It's supposed to begin before they cross the border.
Caught in a compromising situation, Whitman was unable to defend herself with such simple details. Rather, she resorted to attempting to shame Brown for what she termed crass exploitation of the story.
Brown clearly had his answer: shame Whitman instead. Regardless of whether or not she's done anything wrong, it helps that she looks guilty.
"You don't just bring in semiserfs and say do our dirty work, and then we're finished with you like an orange and just throw it away," he countered. "That's after you've squeezed it. That's not right."
It's a shame that the Nicky Diaz story has poisoned the immigration debate in California. With so many municipalities in California boycotting Arizona over its immigration law, California needs to be awake to the reality that they have a stake in the matter beyond trying to appear politically correct, and needs a clear vision of how it can best move forward on the issue.
Jerry Brown's stance on the matter -- supporting the Dream Act -- is to support a wrong-headed approach that risks introducing a further incentive for migrants to enter the United States illegally, undemrining border security.
Meg Whitman's opposition to the Dream Act may be harder to sell to California's traditionally-liberal population, but is more likely to lead to a constructive solution to the immigration issues confronting California.