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Whitman says her former housekeeper should be deported

October 28, 2010 |  2:34 pm

As Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman tours parts of California that have traditionally been receptive to GOP candidates, she's also appealing directly to conservative TV audiences, hoping to fire up her party's base.

On Wednesday, she appeared on Fox News and took a harder line on Nicky Diaz Santillan, the illegal immigrant who Whitman employed as a housekeeper for nine years. Since the controversy erupted in September, Whitman has said both she and a hiring agency relied on documents that turned out to be false and that she fired Diaz Santillan when the woman disclosed her immigration status last year.

Until now she has declined to comment on whether the former housekeeper should be deported. But Wednesday, in an interview with Greta Van Susteren, Whitman answered the question head on. "Well, the answer is it breaks my heart, but she should be deported because she forged documents and she lied about her immigration status," Whitman said. "And it breaks my heart. Gloria Allred pulled off a political stunt. And you know what? On Nov. 3, no one's going to care about Nicky Diaz. But the law is the law and we live in the rule of law. It's important."

Whitman used the controversy to argue for a stronger electronic verification system for employers. "Gosh, I'm a testament to someone who saw a valid California driver's license, a Social Security card and it was all, you know, was -- she was not here legally. So we've got to do that," she said. "If you hire, knowingly hire undocumented workers, you know, there has to be a penalty for that."

She also argued that as a Republican she would be a critical check on the Democrat-dominated Legislature. "If Jerry Brown is the next governor of California, a Democratic governor with a Democratically controlled Legislature, you won't recognize California in two or three or four years," she said. "So I will provide a check to that Legislature and I will also lead that Legislature."

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

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