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Lou Dobbs' Little Meg Whitman Problem

Wow. Wow wow wow. This tweet is just too much, given the undocumented labor scandal Lou Dobbs is now embroiled in: Meg Whitman had an illegal immigrant maid for 9 yrs and fired her when she found out? She didn't try to help her get legal

Wow. Wow wow wow.

This tweet is just too much, given the undocumented labor scandal Lou Dobbs is now embroiled in:

Meg Whitman had an illegal immigrant maid for 9 yrs and fired her when she found out? She didn't try to help her get legal status? Not good 2:20 PM Sep 29th via web from Midtown Center, New York

Now, he may be right about Whitman, but talk about casting the first stone... Today Lou Dobbs becomes the latest uber-wealthy public figure to shamelessly flog the immigration issue while simultaneously benefiting from undocumented labor in his home (or rather, estate).

The Nation has a devastating report out today, the result of a year-long investigation, on Dobbs' use and abuse of undocumented workers. Five of Dobbs' workers stated that the ex-CNN anchor knew that they lacked papers but looked the other way as they tended his multi-million dollar estate.

Watch the take-down video:

The reporter, Isabel McDonald, spoke to one immigrant worker, who she identified as Marco Salinas:

An old friend of Salinas's worked as a groom with some of the horses owned by Dobbs, and he had sent word that Salinas could be hired on as a groom at the Vermont stable contracted to care for the Dobbs Group horses.

Salinas got the job, he said, and worked at it for more than two years without documents until he was finally able to obtain a guest-worker visa designed for seasonal foreign workers (the same kind of visa denounced as a form of "indentured servitude" on Dobbs's CNN show).

I asked Salinas, still clad in his work clothes--a polo shirt and jeans--about Dobbs, the owner of the horses he cared for. But the father of three simply flashed a disarming grin, let out an easygoing laugh and politely declined to comment.

In addition to Salinas, the reporter interviewed a man named Rodrigo Ortega who worked in Dobbs' gardens. Dobbs introduced himself in Spanish as "Luis" when he met Ortega and stated that Dobbs "knew very well that the majority of us didn't have papers," but that this "was never a problem."

According to the Huffington Post:

Dobbs also neglected to pay Ortega and the other gardeners any overtime, even though they worked a fifty-hour week. McDonald writes that this was consistent with Dobbs' overall treatment of his workers.

Dobbs declined to comment for the story, insisting through his lawyers that he would only respond on his radio show. McDonald said that The Nation would go on Dobbs' show after the publication of its article.

The Nation also editorialized today that this latest revelation only adds more fuel to the arguments that immigrants, legal and undocumented, are so thoroughly integrated into our economy that those politicians who seek to scapegoat and demonize their work are almost alway engaging in hypocrisy. The piece argues that we must legalize and regulate this work, instead of demonizing the workers our society is thoroughly dependent on:

On any given day, we've all probably eaten fruit harvested by undocumented workers or meat they butchered. These workers also make possible the lifestyles enjoyed by wealthy Americans like Dobbs and Whitman, with their estates and grounds and stables. How these millions of workers could be extracted from their jobs and deported without causing massive disruption not only to their lives but to the entire economy defies the imagination. Yet this is what Dobbs demands with his call for ever tougher enforcement.

Despite its populist veneer, the anti-immigration hysteria fomented by Dobbs and his ilk pits American workers against immigrants for the benefit of the corporate class. The United Farm Workers recently called the bluff of those who accuse immigrants of job-stealing with their Take Our Jobs campaign, in which US workers were invited to join them in their backbreaking toil—and found very few takers (aside from Stephen Colbert).

If immigrants had a straightforward path to legalization, they could step out of the shadows of the US economy and stand with American workers to demand decent treatment for all. That might make it slightly more expensive for Lou Dobbs to maintain his multimillion-dollar properties—but it's a price he ought to pay.

Cross-Posted at America's Voice.

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