After Mitt Romney’s 47% comment, politicians should understand that even if you’re among “friendlies,” your comments are never off the record. When you’re a Republican candidate talking about knowingly hiring illegal aliens – and paying them more – you’d be a fool to think it won’t get out.
Andy Waters is a farmer running for a spot on the Board of Supervisors in Ventura County, California. He was speaking to the Simi Valley Moorpark Republican Women Federated group on April 20 when he was asked whether he used e-Verify for his employees, which led to some stunning confessions. Simi Valley resident T.J. McInturff, who runs a community Facebook page, recorded Waters’ comments, which American Children First then posted. I have transcribed portions of it.
Partial transcript. Emphasis is mine.
WATERS: Just to be clear with this group, I am a farmer. I employ about 1800 people in Ventura County. I do not e-Verify anybody. Most of my employees are probably not documented. This doesn’t leave the room, right?
So anyways, sanctuary state, I think that’s bullshit. We have to have a strong program for immigration. We have to have a way…we have people that live and work on our ranches that have been there for 20, 30, 40 years. They should have a way into what we do, right? Their kids have gone here…. so why don’t we have a policy to let that happen? Why don’t we have a way in?
Most of his 1800 employees are probably not documented? Stunning.
Regarding people who have lived and worked on his farm for decades, one woman asked why they have not become citizens? What’s stopping them?
WATERS: I think it’s the media that’s stopping them, I think it’s the publicity….It’s not what you see in the media about oh, you know – that’s not – that’s not reality….
WOMAN2: First you said they aren’t citizens. So they are citizens?
WATERS: Well, I’m not sure about that, because I get —
WOMAN2: Because you don’t ask?
WATERS: No, no, I ask. But when they get — Here’s my real Social Security number, here’s my real citizenship, here’s what I’m doing, that’s amazing, and you’ve done that. You’ve [inaudible] And then now they can …
WOMAN2: If they have a Social Security Number, they’re supposed to be citizens.
WATERS: No, no, there’s lots of social — there’s lots of – So we need to have a good policy to make – those people that are working for us right now, that are working for all of us, that make us successful, they have – they need to have a way in. And if that’s —
WOMAN2: A legal way in.
WATERS: A legal way in, exactly. Get in line, pay your taxes, become part of it, and they do. That’s what they want. That’s what all of us want….
I’m in the farming industry, obviously. I work every day in the fields with people that have come legally, illegally, you know, H2A program, Bracero program. We need to have a system where immigrants – I don’t care – it doesn’t have to be from Mexico. Any immigrant that comes into America, that gets in here legally, that has a program that works, and pays into our system, and pays the taxes, and they make a life for themselves, there should be a program that’s set. It’s easy. It’s not that difficult.
In that passage Waters displays an incredible lack of understanding about legal versus illegal immigration, unless he’s simply noting that even the process for a legal resident to become a citizen is extremely time-consuming and difficult ( and it is). But if an immigrant is here legally, they’re not undocumented, and there is a way to become a citizen.
After more back-and-forth, Waters asserts that his farm pays $25 or $30 an hour to people who have “no papers.” One argument proponents of amnesty and DACA make is that these immigrants do the work Americans won’t. If his farm is paying this wage, there are plenty of Californians who would work for that rate.
WATERS: And those people that have come here legally or illegally and they’re trying to get what you got, trying to make what you got, they get really good wages. We pay really well. We pay $25, $30 an hour for people that are – that came who have no papers and no documents, no this and no that. Okay. This doesn’t leave the room, right?
So they’re making – they’re making the American dream and they’re going through the paperwork, and they’ve all – you know, not all of them, you know. But they’re making the effort to become American citizens. They’re making the effort to do the right thing. They’re making the effort to provide for their families and we’re making it harder for them….
WOMAN3: But you’re trying to make a way for people who broke the law 40 years ago to be able to stay.
WATERS: Whatever you call that now, that’s DACA or this or that. I’m saying if you are here and you are paying your way and you are paying your taxes, you should have a way to stay….
We have to solve the problem that we have now, and I think we have a way to do it, whether it’s DACA or whether it’s – we have a way to do that. We have a way to do that. We have a way to make people that are citizens – not citizens, non-citizens, but they’re productive people in our county, to help us, and we should help them. That’s my policy….
Again, he’s talking about people coming here legally and about DACA, and they’re two different things. But the final questioner on the topic brought up his legal liability and he seemed to backtrack.
WOMAN4: Mr. Waters, are you concerned about how you’ve exposed yourself to this group and said this isn’t leaving the room because you know the fact that you actually employ illegal aliens will come back on your shoulders, because they actually fine the employer? Is that why you’re worried?
WATERS: No, I’m not worried about that. I just said that as – I do everything on the up and up. I’m here today to, you know, to get your support. I have nothing to lose.
WOMAN 4: But as an employer, don’t you have to check for proper papers?
WATERS: Oh, yeah, everything.
WOMAN 4: If you decide to ignore that, are you not breaking the law?
WATERS: No, we have all of the proper paperwork. We do all the blah blah blah that they make us do. It’s all certified. And if somebody wants to come after me for my business practices, go ahead, because everybody else has, so.
If his employees have the proper paperwork and everything’s on the up-and-up, that would mean all 1800 are documented. If they’re undocumented but can somehow (amazingly!) produce the proper paperwork, that means they’ve stolen someone’s identity.