The latest immigration media circus hails from California, the state with the largest number of illegal residents and it involves politics, housekeeping as well as recordkeeping. This week it was disclosed that Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman, who "hired" a woman named Nicky Diaz-Santillan to be her housekeeper and nanny. However, Whitman decided to go through the process using an employment agency to cover her due diligence, in an effort to bypass the very media circus that has now unfolded during the waning days of a hotly-contested governor’s race.
According to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), the responsibility of ensuring that the person provided to Whitman was properly documented and legally eligible to work rests solely with the employment agency and not with the Whitman household.
“That's why Ms. Whitman paid and hired an agency to provide her with a legal housekeeper. The story goes that Ms. Diaz-Santillan, who worked for Ms. Whitman for nine years, at one point admitted to Ms. Whitman that she was unlawfully present in this country and was "’illegal,’" said John Sakelarides a recently retired ICE agent who served with ICE for more than 20 years.
Sakelarides believes the housekeeper finally came clean in an effort to enlist Whitman's assistance in helping the long-time and now family loved employee find an attorney to resolve her immigration status.
“Upon hearing that Ms. Diaz-Santillan was illegal, Whitman notified the agency and Ms. Diaz-Santillan's employment was ostensibly terminated, at least as it related to the Whitman family. It would be interesting to learn if the employment agency still has Nicky Diaz-Santillan on their books as an employee once they've been informed she's not authorized to be employed in the United States. It would also be interesting to see if the agency ever got a "no match" letter from Social Security stating that the Social Security number Ms. Diaz-Santillan was using was not assigned to her,” Sakelarides explained.
However, the employment agency isn't talking to anyone about this case.
Whitman acknowledged her version of the facts once the media circus, engineered by Gloria Allred, unfolded on Hollywood tabloid TMZ website. The alleged allegations are Diaz-Santillan was "mistreated and underpaid" however, it has since been disclosed that the illegal housekeeper was paid a handsome $23 an hour for her services, and was expected to work 15-hours-a week. Also, Whitman claims to have accommodated Diaz-Santillan when she needed to take care of her own three children and gave her the leeway to change her working hours when needed.
Nevertheless Meg Whitman and her husband received a Social Security "no match" letter. The letter specifically stated that this inquiry could not be used as a reason to terminate a person's employment and this was merely to clarify an issue and nothing was said about Ms. Santillan's immigration status. There was, however, for words scribbled at the bottom of the letter saying “Nicky look into this.” This was the last letter the Whitman household received in seven years.
“Furthermore, according to Whitman, the employment agency supplied Ms. Whitman and her husband a copy of Nicky Diaz-Santillan's social security card, driver's license, and Form I-9 that ‘poor Nicky’ signed under the penalty of perjury, stating she was legally authorized to be employed in the United States,” Sakelarides said. “As we now know, "poor Nicky" lied and thus committed a federal felony.”
But there's more. “If Ms. Santillan claimed to be a citizen of the United States on the Form I-9 she signed under the penalty of perjury, I would suggest Ms. Allred get Nicky a really good criminal defense attorney. Why? Because falsely claiming to be a United States citizen is a federal felony under Title 18 USC 911, and is grounds for deportability from which there is no waiver or excuse.” Here is a copy of the government forms; http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf
Ms. Diaz-Santillan is now claiming that she was "forced to work" more than 15 hours per week without proper compensation, and was never reimbursed for mileage. However, there hasn’t been any proof that Diaz-Santillan ever requested the extra money during her nine-year employment at the Whitman household.
Sakelarides contends this case sets the stage for what is sure to be, if made, an outrageous, false, fabricated, and wicked allegation; that Diaz-Santillan is a "victim" of trafficking or the "victim of crime" and Meg Whitman is the "trafficker," or the "perpetrator."
“One has to question both the timing and the motivation for Diaz-Santillan for making the allegations she is making. She stands to benefit by doing so. By making the allegations she is making against Meg Whitman, she could conceivably seek to get her green card at the expense of Meg Whitman. And what if Jerry Brown, the Attorney General of California and Whitman’s opponent for the governor’s race, assisted Diaz-Santillan in having Meg Whitman charged with the California version of "Coercion of Involuntary Servitude" and "Theft of Services,” Sakelarides said.
By making the allegations during the last days of a campaign, Diaz-Santillan and Allred ensured this would capture voter attention.
The accusation draws attention to Diaz-Santillan and her "plight," which, if spun the way it most likely will be spun, will garner sympathy for poor “Nicky.” It certainly pits one candidate against another and in classic dirty political fashion.
Sakelarides says this allegation is sure to set stage for those seeking the "immigrant vote. On the one hand, you have the alleged economic abuser of an ‘immigrant’ verses the savior (Allred or Brown) who brings the abuser ‘to justice.’”
What’s next for Diaz-Santillan regarding legal matters and ICE?
America’s immigration laws are very complicated and complex. Within those laws are specific provisions and particular visa’s to include a variety of situations an immigrant may face when entering the United States.
In the case of Diaz-Santillan there are two visa classifications entitled “T visa” or trafficking visa and “U visa” or victim of crime visa in play.
The 'T visa' is "awarded" to those who claim they have been taken advantage of in this country; abused by an employer, compelled to enter into indentured servitude, have not been properly paid or not paid at all, and those who have been brought to this country to engage in prostitution and other unlawful activities.
“By making the allegations that Ms. Diaz-Santillan is making, it allows her to apply for a ‘T visa’ with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If granted, she will be given employment authorization and ‘T visa’ status for four years; allowing her to ‘hang out here in the Good 'Ole U.S.A’. At the end of three years she can apply for her green card. Once that is obtained, Diaz-Santillan would be on the path to citizenship,” says Sakelarides. “Now all she has to do is allege that she is a victim of ‘trafficking.’”
Click here to see the California laws regarding this trafficking visa information; http://www.californiaagainstslavery.org/modern-day-slavery/
The second visa classification is the “U visa” or victim of crime visa.
“For the ‘U visa’ all an illegal alien has to do is claim that they are a victim of a crime, get a letter from the DA's Office or the State Attorney General's Office (in California this happens to be Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown). The letter needs to state that the alien is a victim of a crime and their presence is needed to conduct the investigation in order to prosecute the offender,” said Sakelarides. “Coercion of involuntary servitude and theft of services are examples of crimes common in this case.”
The “U visa” is valid for four years, and includes a work authorization at the end of a three year good standing period. As in the case of a “T visa” the illegal alien can parlay this visa into permanent residence status and procure the golden ticket or green card.
“Once this path is chosen the immigrant is well on their way to citizenship,” Sakelarides explains. “All they need to do is press charges against someone. The USCIS has stated, proudly I might add, that they have reached the 10,000 per year cap on ‘U visas’ and still continue to accept new applications because the department faces backlogs with such applications.”
Both the “T and U visas” are routinely granted with little or no verification of the facts and ICE often conducts no interviews of the applicants let alone an investigation to determine if the allegations are made by foreign nationals against U.S.
“In Ms. Diaz-Santillan's case; ‘I’d ask Ms. Whitman if she would help me get an immigration lawyer so I could stay in America,’ this makes it clear to Whitman that Nicky was illegal, and once Ms. Whitman knew this she would obtained an attorney for her illegal employee,’” Sakelarides said. “However she overplayed her hand because once Ms. Whitman learned that Ms. Diaz-Santillan was illegal, she did the only thing she could legally do- terminate her employment.”
Since the allegations have been leveled against Whitman she has stuck to her version of events. Nothing has been shown to support Allred's allegation that Meg Whitman herself knew that Diaz-Santillan was illegal, much less take advantage of her legal status by forcing her to work 15-hours a week for $23 per hour.
“We are now in a wait-and-see holding pattern. My guess is that Ms. Whitman will be accused of coercion of involuntary servitude and theft of services. Why? Because it wouldn't be the first time such an outrageous accusation would be made by a foreign national against a U.S. citizen so they can get their version of the American dream. The problem with that however, is that they create the American nightmare for the unsuspecting U.S. citizen and in this case political candidate,” Sakelarides finishes.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak?page=3