Meg Whitman Loves Latinos… Except When She Doesn’t

Where does Meg Whitman stand on immigration? Well, that all depends on when she’s being asked, where she’s being asked, and who is doing the asking.

  • Last year, in an attempt to cater to her Republican base as she prepared for a heated primary, Whitman told reporters she believes the state should “prosecute illegal aliens and criminal aliens in all of our cities, in every part of California.”
  • This spring, in a stark reversal, Whitman spoke out against the Arizona immigration law when it first passed in April.
  • When Whitman’s primary opponent, Steve Poizner, began gaining traction by veering far to the right on immigration, Whitman’s campaign advisor, former Governor Pete Wilson, produced an anti-immigrant radio ad, touting Whitman’s opposition to “amnesty” and her plan to block immigrant families the having access to education, driver’s licenses and other vital services. He said she’d be “tough as nails” on immigration. Gov. Wilson is the notorious architect of Proposition 187, the initiative that sought to deny immigrant families these same basic rights.
  • Whitman’s hypocrisy became even more evident when she told a reporter, “You haven’t seen an ad from me with the border fence,” while at the same time airing TV ads across the state that prominently feature the border fence.
  • Just one week after winning the primary, Whitman again changed direction, and began airing Spanish-language ads during the World Cup, indicating she was against the Arizona immigration law.
  • But in late July, she went on a conservative talk radio station and said she thinks the Arizona law should stand.
  • One week later, Whitman opened a “Latino outreach” office in East LA., and was greeted with a mob of protesters, furious over her perpetual flip-flopping on immigration.
  • At the same time, she was also being lambasted by the right-wing John & Ken show, again for flip-flopping on immigration.

By our count, Whitman has changed her position on immigration at least five times since announcing her candidacy. And in her cynical ploy to mask her true positions, Whitman managed to alienate both the left and the right… and certainly isn’t making a case to Latinos. A recent poll shows that Jerry Brown still has a commanding lead among Latinos — 42 percent for Brown compared to just 18 percent for Whitman.

That’s because California Latinos remember that Jerry Brown stood up for immigrant workers when he marched with Cesar Chavez and gave farmworkers the right to form and join unions to collectively protect themselves from being exploited at work. And they also remember that Whitman has been changing her mind on Latino issues whenever it suits her.

Columnist Thomas D. Elias points out this example:

In one of her Spanish-language ads, Whitman says “The Latino kids attending public schools in California today will be tomorrow's doctors, engineers, businessmen and teachers. I want them to have the opportunity to go as far in life as their God-given talent will take them.”

Unless, notes Democratic Party communications director Tenoch Flores, “their hard work and talent take them to a California institution of higher learning.” If they make it there and their parents are illegal immigrants (regardless of the kids' own status), Whitman's policy statements say they shouldn't be allowed to stay long. In the spring primary, she said such “Latino kids” should be banned or removed from community colleges and the Cal State and University of California systems. Will Latinos remember those declarations?

Our answer is yes, they do remember. And they will still remember in November, regardless as to how many more million-dollar ads Whitman airs.


Paid for by the California Labor Federation. Not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate.