US Candidate disputes knowing that her housekeeper was illegal in the US

A United States nominee for Governor of California, who has staunch views on denying benefits for illegal immigrants, has been found to have hired an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper from 2000 to 2009

Meg Whitman, a Republican candidate, has stated that she was previously unaware of her housekeeper’s status in the US because the housekeeper had provided her employers with all of the required documents, including a social security number and driver’s license. Whitman had also relied on an employment agency to check on the housekeeper’s status.

Whitman’s stance on immigration is two-fold: she supports a naturalization process for illegal immigrants but also supports not allowing illegal immigrants any benefits like driver’s licenses until they obtain citizenship.

This is an untenable position in my view.  Simply, allowing such applicants to proceed with their citizenship but denying them “interim” rights  during the process, is like giving a starving person a plate of food but not allowing them to eat.

In any case, according to the housekeeper, Whitman was aware of her status and had received a letter from the Social Security Administration saying that the numbers on the various documents did not match their records. Eventually, Whitman said the housekeeper was fired once it was discovered she had no legal status in the United States.

According to several American immigration lawyers interviewed by the media on the issue, Whitman was well within the law based on her actions. When an employer receives a letter from the Social Security Administration, all they are obligated to do is double check to make sure they presented the right information and didn’t make any typos. If that checks out, the employer can tell the employee and it’s their problem as the reason properly matched numbers are important is for the employee benefits. If Whitman had asked for more documents or different types of documents, she could be opening herself up to a discrimination lawsuit.

Social security number issues in the United States don’t always have anything to do with someone’s immigration status, as sometimes name changes or foreign name orders can result in mix-ups. However, once the employer is aware of the person’s illegal status it is their obligation to terminate their employment.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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