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Whitman says she was 'stunned' to learn housekeeper was undocumented

September 29, 2010 |  1:21 pm

Speaking to reporters after a campaign event at Cisco in San Jose, Meg Whitman said she and her husband were "stunned" when they discovered their housekeeper was in the country illegally. She denied receiving letters from the IRS or Social Security Administration saying that Nicandra Diaz's name did not match her Social Security number. Whitman said she and her husband relied on an employment agency and inspected Diaz's documentation personally.

Whitman said Diaz approached her and her husband in June 2009 and told them she was an illegal immigrant. "We had no reason to believe she was not legal," Whitman said. "No one could have been more stunned than I was when she came to us on that Saturday that June and said, ‘I’m not here legally. '" Asked if she should be held to her own campaign pledge to hold employers who hire illegal immigrants accountable, Whitman said she fulfilled her legal obligations. "As soon as we found that she was an illegal immigrant, we did what we had to do as an employer and let her go," Whitman said. "All the documentation that we had said she was legal. ...We absolutely did what we needed to do as an employer."

She said the situation illustrated the need for an electronic verification system to verify workers' immigration status. "It does speak to an eVerify system perhaps that would give everyone confidence that the documentation you are looking at is absolutely accurate," Whitman said. "But we couldn’t have been more careful about this."

Whitman said she was saddened by Diaz's charges and said her former housekeeper was being manipulated by her attorney, Gloria Allred. "She is being manipulated," she said. "Gloria Allred knows exacly what she is doing. And I feel terrible for Nicky. I know Nicky really well. If she’s listening right now: I am so sorry. I bet you are feeling really badly and it’s a shame."

Asked if Diaz should be deported, Whitman said, "I'm going to have to leave that to the authorities."

-- Michael J. Mishak in San Jose

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