Hector Tobar’s article about the relationship between the upper middle class in Brentwood, California and their domestics is a pretty good read, just for some of the candid discussions with these affluent women who for years employed a domestic who have emigrated to the U.S. illegally.
The retired teacher told me that when her immigrant housekeeper went into labor, she drove her to the hospital. “When her daughter was having problems in school I helped her with tuition for private school,” she said. “That little girl is in college now.”
Thinking about the larger issue of undocumented immigrants working in this country, this mom added: “It’s an unfortunate situation. We need to be generous to them.”The moms I met know how much work is done for them. They know the lives of those who do that work can be hard. They express compassion for the women in their kitchens and nurseries. They speak of trying to help them.
But generosity on this front seems to be in short supply these days.
We live in a country rich in hypocrisy. Here a billionaire running for governor can vow to hold employers accountable for following the law but deny accountability in her own home. And she can ask us to trust her while absolving her of any moral responsibility to try to help a woman who for so long helped her.
Tobar also spoke to a maid working illegally on a tourist visa.
The Beverly Hills maid told me she wouldn’t lie to her employer. “I know that here, for the Americans, lying is the worst,” she said. “But the necessity of this lady led her to lie. I wouldn’t do that, but I can put myself in her shoes.”
The maid told me she arrived here a few months ago on a tourist visa. She’s not supposed to be working. But so far no one has asked her for a Social Security number. And now that her husband has lost his job running a San Salvador gas station, she’s desperate to make enough to keep their two daughters in school.
“These mansions — the Americans don’t clean them,” she said as we looked across Sunset Boulevard at the opulent order of Beverly Hills. “It’s Latinas who do it.”
Read it. The Brentwood mothers didn’t understand how Meg Whitman could just dismiss a woman who had worked in her household for so long without any compassion or regard for her future.
From afar it does seem like a stunning lack of compassion, especially for a candidate that could afford to spend 140 million of her own money on her own campaign.
As a matter of politics, Whitman would’ve been better off hiring an immigration lawyer for Nicandra Diaz Santillan or sponsoring her visa the minute she had designs to run for Governor of California. As a matter of compassion, after 9 years of service, even if Whitman felt the best solution was to dismiss Santillan, she she seems to have done it without any regard for Santillan’s well being.
Either way, Whitman says that she knows “Nicky really well” (video below) and that her public statement was due to manipulation by Gloria Allred. Apparently she didn’t know her well enough.