Gloria Allred has really picked the wrong fight this time. She’ll no doubt continue to strut and fret her dwindling hour upon the stage, but hardly anyone in the California news audience can be paying attention.
Apparently she thinks California voters are as easily swayed by incoherent, emotive hypocrisy as the politics and entertainment industries. As they say in my native Oklahoma: Bless her heart.
Meg Whitman employed an illegal alien as a domestic helper for a while? Whoa. That’s never happened before. Nobody else in California does that.
Now, we’re talking about the state in which every third household on any given middle-class block has its lawn mowed by someone who speaks only Spanish and whose name no one in the home knows – particularly in urban southern California, which granted is only part of the state, geographically, but which is also where the great majority of the voters are. (San Francisco and the coast to its south are equally affected by the illegal-alien patterns; the rural north is a marvelous part of California, but it’s not, demographically, a representative part of California. Where the population is, there you find illegals mowing lawns.)
This is also the state in which there would have been practically no residential home construction in the last 20 years without illegal aliens. Road and utilities construction, contracted out to residential builders? Done largely by illegals. A lot of middle-class Californians have been able to afford to buy homes in the last 20 years only because illegal labor has made suburban expansion cheaper than it would have been otherwise. This matters quite a bit around the old urban areas where land-use restrictions drive resale home prices ever upward. Illegal labor has been the grand, nudge-wink bargain that enabled Los Angeles and San Francisco, and parts of Orange and San Diego Counties, to distort the market in favor of a settled few, but also keep their middle-class tax base.
Fruit and vegetable pickers? Illegals. Cotton-pickers? Illegals. Illegals are found in virtually every corner of the service industry, from home care to rug shampooing to landscaping to office cleaning. Anyone in my town could tell the Border Patrol exactly where to look for the clumps of illegals waiting for day-labor jobs. Most people know which towns have neighborhoods full of illegals; they tend to cluster, a demographic fact that residents of the region know because, well, they’re everywhere.
Plenty of people want this to stop. But everyone south of I-80 in California also understands that he or she has probably paid an illegal to do something at some point. You have to go out of your way to prevent illegals from showing up in your yard or at your door, if you want to contract with someone to do lawn maintenance or pour concrete. You can take your clothes to be dry-cleaned, or have your oil changed, or buy bags of burger meals at the local joint, and not know you’re paying illegals for the services.
Sure, the employers should know. That isn’t as simple a matter as it sounds. But with an increase in employer-focused enforcement, they are finding out, more and more. This leads them into the practice irrationally and hypocritically decried by Ms. Allred: they fire the illegals who are working for them. Just to make sure we’re all on the same page: the reason they do that is that the law says they have to.
If Allred wants to argue that we should allow more legal immigration, she should go for it. But she can’t have it both ways: if it was wrong for Whitman to have an illegal working for her, then it was right for Whitman to fire the illegal. How long Whitman knew the maid was illegal is either prosecutable or immaterial; California is not the place to parade it around, wholly without the accountability of an actual process of law, as a career-ending character flaw.
And if it was terrible of Whitman to fire her illegal maid, then what’s the beef with her employing the woman in the first place?
I can tell Allred this. Californians are a lot more worried about illegals who commit homicides and flee to Mexico than they are about Meg Whitman and her maid. They’re more concerned about the illegals driving around uninsured, running into them, destroying their property, and injuring their children. They’re considerably more concerned about the illegals swelling the welfare rolls and showing up for an ever-growing list of free medical benefits. They’re very, very concerned about the illegals in the drug trade turning parts of Los Angeles into a war zone – a pattern that falls hardest on the poor of every ethnic background – and the illegals-fueled spread of Latino gangs into the suburbs.
Moreover, many of them are worried most of all about the utter fiscal irresponsibility of the Democrat-held statehouse in Sacramento, and the business-killing, job-killing, economy-killing grip of the public-employee unions, the radical environmental lobby, and the special-interest-redistributionist lobby on the state.
Beside these actual problems, Meg Whitman’s hiring error looks about like anyone else’s minor disquiet over paying a contractor to put in a water feature in the back yard, and seeing two Spanish-speaking guys who are almost certainly illegal arrive to work under the American contractor’s supervision. Allred picked the wrong state in which to play the illegal-domestic-help card. Get back to us when you’ve got something that matters, Gloria.
Cross-posted at Hot Air.