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Whitman will face challenge on immigration issue in California general election

By Sandhya Somashekhar

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Now that Meg Whitman has won Tuesday's Republican primary for California governor, the former eBay chief will have to figure out how to navigate an issue that was foisted on her in her effort to secure the nomination: illegal immigration.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, her Republican opponent, was making headway among conservative voters by casting her as too liberal on the issue. She regained support by fighting back, saying that she opposes amnesty and will be "tough as nails" on those without papers.

It is a dicey issue in California, which has fought this battle before. In 1994, voters approved a controversial referendum that would have denied services to illegal immigrants. The measure was thrown out by the courts. Those old battle lines still exist, and Whitman will have to soften her rhetoric to avoid provoking the wrath of groups that vociferously opposed the 1994 proposition.

But she will also have to face those voters who took her at her word that she would take a hard line similar to that of Arizona's governor.

"It's time that politicians accepted the facts instead of trying to be liked by everyone," said Lorraine Kirsch, 61, a retired sales representative from Bakersfield. Migrant labor is a mainstay in this agricultural community and the industry has attracted legal and illegal workers. "I like to see them working. However, I don't like to see them milking the system."

The sentiment was equally strong three hours south in Newport Beach, an upscale community without a strong immigrant presence. "We're drowning under the weight of it right now," said Virginia Wilcox, 55, a retired teacher and nurse. "It's real nice around here but if you go over to Costa Mesa or Santa Ana, you think you're in T.J.," she added, referring to Tijuana.

Whitman will also be under pressure from immigrant advocacy groups, and some say they are reserving judgment on Whitman because she did not come across as stridently on the issue as Poizner. "With Poizner we knew he was a lost cause," said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. "Whitman is trying to sound like a tough Republican but she's gone back and forth so you can't really believe her."

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  June 8, 2010; 11:50 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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I live in Arizona near the border with Mexico. Our hospitals are broke, we are having to close schools, all this because the laws of the land are not being enforced, then when our Governor tries to do it herslef because the feds are whimps, then the sniveling and whining starts from both the illegals and Obama. Boycott?, does that mean the illegals will boycott our schools, healthcare facilities, social services???? maybe when hell freezes over or when you can find a politician that will tell the truth, and we all know that will never friggin happen.

Posted by: CanIpulltheswitch | June 9, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

CA has become a ghetto due to illegal immigration.....and many of those illegal's end up in Oregon and Washington, where they have already taken over whole sectors of our workforce.

Politicans will do nothing to address this problem....not one of them want to do the hard work and tell it like it is: either we stop this explosion of Mexicans walking over our border or this country will see a civil war. If our elected officials pretend not to hear all the concerns nor see what is happening, the people will resort to civil unrest.

How much more does the middle class have to deal with? Our jobs are gone, we have either no healthcare or it's bleeding us dry, we're losing our homes and now we must deal with the government admitting millions of immigrants to further our misery.

CA must follow AZ lead and start a crackdown on illegal's.....every state must do this as the federal government refuses to do so.

Posted by: liberalwesterngirl | June 9, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Immigration will continue to be an explosive & divisive issue until Congress stands up & does it's duty w/a comprehensive package that answers the many questions.
As I see it, we need to develop a way to have any & all illegal immigrants (regardless of where from), within a certain period of time, approach several agencies & declare they: want to file for the START of citizenship process; return to their home country.
It will be an enormous undertaking if there are 12 million (as so often claimed), illegal immigrants in the U.S. But, there could be several ways to intake that many people. For instance: a renewed driver's license could trigger a receipt of paper work. New drivers' licenses would need to be biometric or initiate a biometric process for any who have been "under the radar" or, have had a valid driver's license but never filed for citizenship.
Application to a # of immigration offices could initate the same process. And, application for citizen ship could be a package that initiates the process w/a declaration of intent to become a citizen. No previous time would count. Back taxes & social security taxes up to a certain amount, would have to be paid. A list of all employers would also have to be added to the package.
If businesses have knowingly paid people cash, or, not withheld, but there are reasons to believe they knowingly did not pay payroll & social security taxes, then they would have to deal with the government on their own terms.
The wave of immigrants would have a certain period of time to initiate this process. If no action has been started by the end of that proccess, then they will automatically be scheduled for deportation. Or, they can leave the country, and submit to an "out take" interview.
The majority (about 65%) are Hispanic in origin. As such, they will be the largest group to be dealt with.
The facts do support the charge that they are often a burden on certain institutions within a community. There are states where the #s of illegals is quite large. There's no doubt the larger the #s of illegals, the greater drain on social services, one way or another.
If Congress fails to take the steps needed to do this, there will be increasing problems as states try to address the problem before. There's no doubt that California has been heavily swamped by illegals, and I would guess somewhere, the burden on it's institutions have contributed to it's slide from many positions of excellence, to something far less admirable.
Congress has to gather up it's own courage, & do the right thing, & deal with immigration in a comprehensive way.

Posted by: zennheadd | June 9, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"In 1994, voters approved a controversial referendum that would have denied services to illegal immigrants. The measure was thrown out by the courts."


WRONG! This is revisionist history. Prop 187 was not thrown out by the courts. Gray Davis sabotaged the appeals process.

Posted by: pmendez | June 9, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

If Whitman wins and backs off her "tough as nails" on illegals, she'll have a hard time dealing with voters.
The silent majority of voters will be heard.

If she cannot be trusted on her word, we don't need her to stay around. She must take a stand against illegal immigration == no amnesty, no "easy" path for those cutting in.
She will be a lame duck if she can't talk and walk her campaign promise.

Posted by: pjcafe | June 8, 2010 9:55 PM |

...indeed, her hand must be forced during the general as it was during the primary, and she shouldn't be allowed to step foot in the mansion, if she was just paying no nonsense zero tolerance on illegal alien lip service...

Posted by: hared | June 9, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The California Department of Finance projects that California will grow from 34 to 60 million the first half of this century. Latinos will be 31 million (52%) and non-Hispanic whites stable at 16 million (26%). If we don't get serious now, we'll be a 3rd world state. See

Posted by: carmelca | June 9, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Do white folks support other white DUI offenders? Of course not, that would be wrong and bigoted.

Do black folks support other black identity thieves? Of course not, that would be wrong and bigoted.

Do legal Hispanics support illegal alien Hispanics? Of course not, that would be wrong and bigoted.

Posted by: hunter340 | June 9, 2010 5:41 AM | Report abuse

Face the facts our southern border is under siege and illegal invasion.Hispanics are the majority but all Hispanics are not illegal aliens just that the majority of illegal aliens ARE Hispanic.
Once great Los Angeles has since the failed Amnesty of 1986 become a Bankrupt,corrupt,illegal alien sanctuary a Third World independent of the USA "city state" where the U.S. Rule of Law does not apply! A Balkanized Dystopia in decline and a population more Hispanic,younger and poorer each and every day!

ps...knock off the "hate"and "racism" bull----! Open Borders/La Razaites will say and do anything to stop enforcement of U.S.Immigration laws and stay illegally in the USA!

Posted by: Andrews5 | June 9, 2010 2:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Mexican with a US Visa, no need to cross illegally and no intention to "steal your jobs".

I understand your concerns. I don't understand your hatred;

I agree it's ironical and cynical for our government to critisize your decisions towards illegal inmigration and the treatment you give to illegal aliens, when we have a human rights crisis on our own south border.

- You want illegal mexicans out? Stop employing them and take their place. But wait, then companies will need to give you social security, healthcare, benefits, retirement plans... and who volunteers to do those jobs, and to fully pay for them? ...not that easy is it?

- You want Mexican authorities to stop drug cartels? Money is their power, help us cut their incomes, help us cut their weaponry too: stop buying and consuming their drugs. But wait, then you'll have to contempt all those addicts being left out of supplies... not that easy is it?

This problem is more profound than it seems. We Mexicans have to do our part, but this is a vicious circle and only with both nation's cooperation is that it can be solved. I think we are doing our part; despite corruption economy is more stable and on the way to recovery, organized crime is being faced and prosecuted.

But if Mexican people still find it attractive to go work illegaly at USA (because they ARE being employed), and if drug cartels are still being fed by the consumer's money (admit it, US is the final destination, addicts in Mexico exist to keep the drug traffic under control) it is a no-win situation people.

If you want to hate us, at least see the big picture before, at least be well informed. Intolerance and racism has never solved anything nor has led to success. You can ask Hitler...

Posted by: Digna1 | June 9, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh my God. Another one of those bitter unsatisfied witches thinking they have any ideas about adult business, like to govern.

And don't you dare shout at my baby.......that's why we have so many teenage prison inmates.

Posted by: mackiejw | June 9, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Will California Attorney General and Candidate for Governor enforce California Penal Code 834b? He took an oath saying that he would enforce California's laws. Will he arrest and prosecute the mayors and city councils of sanctuary cities?
Will U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder enforce the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act? Will he arrest and prosecute mayors and city councils of sanctuary cities in the United States?
Illegals kill more Americans every day than were killed in the Boston Massacre.

Posted by: hurleyvision | June 9, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Whitman and Carly F. both remind me of Arnold in that they have both achieved great wealth and success and now want to burnish their resumes with a high political office. It is to be remembered that California is in MUCH worse shape now than it was when Arnie took over. Arnie was a borrow and spender who wound up doing much of the same things that he criticized his predecessor, Gray Davis for doing. He certainly enjoyed the spotlight though, as will Meg and Carly if California is misguided enough to elect them.

Posted by: rkerg | June 9, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

The majority of people in this state are strongly for legal immigration and opposed to another amnesty bill. But business groups and partisan Democrats who want amnesty, for economic and political reasons respectively, will probably prevail in California, as well as the nation.

Over thirty million people in this state and the choices for governor and Senator this year are generally close to dismal.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 9, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Not only will these candidates be forced to take a stand against so-called "immigration reform," Americans expect them to stand up and demand federal enforcement of our immigration laws.

Then, we fully expect federal law to be passed that fines employers $5K per illegal hire...and to de-fund any social hand-outs to them.

This is the only way to get them to self-deport. We demand it.

Posted by: joesmithdefend | June 9, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I am an immigrant...Asian....I did things the right way...legally,,, people that did things the wrong way and illegally get citizenship and benefits.

They should be detained and deported. It is the law.

I am a legal immigrant whose rights would be violated if we allow illegal immigrants to cheat us, legal aliens.

Posted by: fencer1 | June 8, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Whitman is a shill for big business. She'll NEVER do anything to stem the flow of criminal invaders.

Posted by: dennisnickell | June 8, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Jerry Brown also faces a problem with immigration, and it is much bigger. He has to go with the immigrant activists, and she has only to position herself clearly to his right. Remember how California has voted on anti-Mexican propositions when the job situation and economic anxiety were not nearly as big as they are now.

One should look at how the Whigs destroyed themselves by assuming the Catholics had to be courted in the 1850s and how Lincoln and the Republicans combined the Whig and Know Nothing vote with a relatively restrained anti-Catholic position.

If we don't want a veritable civil war or even KKK response on this issue, we need to deflect the anger onto the place where it really is focussed--outsourcing, foreign investment, foreign profits, etc. That is, jobs. Obama promised his in 2008, but has reneged. It is one of his many major mistakes.

Posted by: jhough1 | June 8, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I am a conservative Californians who voted for Jerry Brown. Steve Poizner wasn't a great insurance commissioner and Meg Whitman won't deal with the illegals issue and yes, it is the Hispanics who are the problem here. I am in San Diego county and I see it daily. I don't think that I should have to be stopped at a border checkpoint in my own country while driving north to Disneyland!

Posted by: kodonivan | June 8, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

So Whitman's supporters and Poizoner have caused Meggie to be: anti-illegal Latino immigrants ... really folks it's Latinos that they are after, not illegal Canadians or Australians ... and against same-sex marriage ... so, really folks it's gay and lesbians that they are against ... and if Meggie caved to the haters in the campaign, she can't be trusted to govern California!

Posted by: paris1969 | June 8, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

The people who want Whitman (or any Republican) to be "tough" on Hispanics overlook the very obvious fact that Hispanics make up a substantial part of the California electorate, and resent the bigotry of the right. The call for "toughness" on immigration is the call of a loser in California.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | June 8, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

If Whitman wins and backs off her "tough as nails" on illegals, she'll have a hard time dealing with voters.
The silent majority of voters will be heard.

If she cannot be trusted on her word, we don't need her to stay around. She must take a stand against illegal immigration == no amnesty, no "easy" path for those cutting in.
She will be a lame duck if she can't talk and walk her campaign promise.

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Posted by: itkonlyyou108 | June 8, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

No way I'd trust another Republican so soon. Not after the Bush/Cheney reign of terror.

Posted by: gce1356 | June 8, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

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