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Don't say you didn't see this coming: Lou Dobbs' immigration hypocrisy

Lou Add another (dis)honorific to immigrant-basher Lou Dobbs' handle: hypocrite. Charlatan or phony may be more apt, given the great lengths to which the former CNN host has gone to portray undocumented workers and their employers as the scourge of America. The Nation reports:

But with his relentless diatribes against "illegals" and their employers, Dobbs is casting stones from a house -- make that an estate -- of glass. Based on a yearlong investigation, including interviews with five immigrants who worked without papers on his properties, The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute have found that Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper. ...

The upkeep of Dobbs's multiple properties creates no small demand for labor in two sectors where undocumented immigrants are known to be particularly prevalent. Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council, the horse industry's main lobby group, suggested in 2009 that more than half of the workers in his industry are likely undocumented. Likewise, studies have found that undocumented workers make up an estimated 28 percent of workers in landscaping. In both of these sectors, the use of contractors is commonplace, so it is not surprising that Dobbs has relied on third parties to supply the labor he needs. ...

Dobbs has heaped scorn on the government for using contractors that hire undocumented immigrants. On CNN in 2007, he called private firms that oppose verification requirements for their contractors' employees "ridiculous." Yet interviews with several such employees show that Dobbs has been far from vigilant about the status of workers laboring on his own properties.

Dobbs' story bears some resemblance to GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's immigration entanglement. Both appear to have done little, if anything, illegal, because those outside agencies that furnished the hired help are the ones responsible for collecting papers. But beyond technicalities, Dobbs is the worse offender -- in a league with Thomas Jefferson, who eloquently railed against slavery while indulging in the practice himself.

Whereas Whitman stands accused of treating a single illegal housekeeper poorly, Dobbs has employed small armies of low-paid manual laborers -- some of whom were apparently undocumented -- to landscape his estates and care for his prize-winning horses. Whitman earned her fortune turning underwear-clad insomniacs into online salesman; Dobbs made his money and collected his estates in part by convincing his American audience that the very people who till his gardens and care for his horses deserve to be punished. As The Nation notes, Dobbs has called for employers who hire undocumented workers to face federal felony charges; I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Dobbs to turn himself in. Hypocrisy aside, Dobbs and Whitman have unwittingly (what other way is there on this issue?) become poster children for comprehensive reform. Federal immigration law is so easily and rampantly violated that it's practically useless.

There's also a striking similarity (at least to me) on gay rights. We're all familiar with the platoon of gay-bashing preachers and politicians who turned out to have been lashing out at themselves. But the legions of gay men and women who emerged from the shadows to put millions of human faces on the issue did more to sway public opinion than a few egregious closet cases. Just as with gay rights, we'll always have our immigration hypocrites. But perhaps the real change will come when more laborers living in fear of deportation finally become fed up with this hypocrisy and bravely expose themselves and those who exploit them -- and in so doing, attach to this debate compelling life stories that those who rail against illegal immigration cannot ignore. I don't deny relishing the Dobbsian schadenfreude, but recognizing the pressing need for comprehensive reform is far more important than ending the career of a single demagogue.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo: Lou Dobbs tapes a Fox News interview with Bill O'Reilly in November 2009. Credit: Kathy Willens / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (51)

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"Undocumented workers," Paul? There is no such thing. "Illegal alien" is the correct term. Your pathetic cry for "comprehensive reform" (i.e., blanket amnesty) will never happen. Sorry.


Meg, Pete Wilson, Dobbs...hypocrites, all of them


"Undocumented workers," or "Illegal alien"-- WHO CARES?!

The point STILL IS that Lou Dobbs is a hypocrite because he hired illegal aliens--- does that make you feel better, "youareuniquelikeeveryonelse"? I think what you are focusing on is more pathetic than your disapproval of the choice of words in the article.


Are. You. Serious??

This need to eviscerate people on the other side of the political spectrum - no matter how feeble the justification - is simply insane. Certainly there is no intellectual effort going on.

Dobbs can fairly go after the Feds because they actually have the means and the manpower to investigate companies and their hiring practices. Corporations can use e-verify. Employers actually have access to employees' social security information. As some hiring a contractor to fix his house, Dobbs - like all other regular citizens - does not have this capability. It is beyond absurd to call him a hypocrite for not checking the immigration status of every contractor's employees. What an idiotic suggestion.


Delude yourselves you defenders of this man. The point is that labor from illegal immigrants is completely melded into our workforce. We all, to varying degrees benefit from their cheap labor. As such, we should extend citizenship to them. Seems to me that's the fair thing to do. I don't think it's healthy for our democracy to have a sub-class of labor that lacks fundamental freedoms.


Immigration reform will never happen. It's called votes. No politician would dream of doing anything to loose the votes. It's way too late for reform.


You are the biggest Charlatan and biggest Hypocrite in the world. You must have some nerves to come everybody’s leaving room every night, preach things that you do not believe, you do not do or rules that you do not fallow. To my knowledge you have to be man enough to come forward and apologies from the nation including Rick Sanchez for your Charlatanism and Hypocrisy. At least Rick Sanchez has enough character to defend his ideology that he believes in not pretend like you. Shame on you, you sound exactly like the Republican Party, with their family values, and small government gag.


Surprise, surprise! A right wing hypocrite! Who woulda thunk it?

Ivan Rodriguez from Glendale

Once illegal, I learned to read and write here in this country; have assimilated into society; have helped all color older people crosss street with their paper-bagged groceries to the newer plastic bags (in other words, have been doing it for many years), I'm just like you, but I don't wish to be anything like Lou Dobbs, Pete Wilson and so on. I'm sure their mothers may read this, so I will stop there, but know this: I am not returning unless each of you Dobbs sympathisers find me, face me and force me to go, but YOU will have to do it.

Mitchell Young

A one year investigation finds a few anonymous (to us) 'Latino' workers who claim they worked on Dobbs's estates and also claim that he knew they were illegal. How do they know he knew? Are we supposed to suspect everyone who looks Mexican/South American and speaks broken English as being 'illegal'? Wouldn't that be 'racial profiling'? And, given that 25% of legal immigrants are from Mexico, why would Dobbs or anyone assume that a 'brown' person with bad English is here illegally?

Now, I personally think you can profile that way -- but the LA Times editorial position, now doubt emphatically endorsed by this poster -- is that you can't. Not only 'you' -- Joe Smith of Redondo or Lou Dobbs of Vermont -- can't tell who is illegal, but trained law enforcement officers can have no inkling about a person's legal status even after speaking with them and ascertaining they have zero or improper documentation. That, as I understand it, is at the heart of the LAT opposition to Arizona's SB1070. Yet Lou Dobbs hires a presumably properly licensed contractor and is expected to suss out if the contractor is hiring illegals.

As I've said before, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Mitchell Young

BTW I think Dobbs' fortune was made long before he started on the illegal alien thing -- he was on Moneyline forever .


People who preach are generally hypocrites. I never take preachers seriously. Even before Jim and Tammy Bakker, I always thought Jerry Falwell was a phony. Lou Dobbs is another example. I knew this was coming.


At a bare minimum, Dobbs is guilty of being unbelievably stupid. If your entire career is built around railing against illegal immigrants, wouldn't you make EXTRA-SURE that you didn't have any mucking your horse stalls? The hubris of these idiots never ceases to amaze me.


Another republican full of b/s???? SHOCKER! republicans will do and say anything to spread fear in order to gain votes, they are as much or even more so guilty than the people they bash on!

bryan herring

Lou Dobbs did not do it , the NATION reporter admitted that today!
illegal aliens were working at his property, but, he did not hire them.


Just so people understand, I'm no Dobbs fan and I'm not even a republican. But here's the premise of this article: Dobbs is extremely critical of immigration enforcement, so he should take it on himself. Really? The state of Arizona tried that and look where it got them. So if you think the deficit is too big, you should volunteer to pay more taxes? If you think crime is a problem, you should patrol the streets with your gun?

It would be paralyzingly impossible for every private citizen to investigate every employee of every company with whom they do business. Show me the people in this country that do this, and we can talk about whether or not Dobbs is such a giant hypocrite. We pay taxes in this country and vote for representatives so that we don't have to deal with these problems. By the logic of this article, we should never criticize the government. We should all just drop what we are doing so we can take care of these problems ourselves. Ridiculous.


Of course Lou Dobbs knew. He knew enough to go to a third party and get them to hire for him so he could skirt responsibility. Sounds like a Republican to me!

Of course, he will parade his hispanic wife as evidence that he is not a bigot. I know this kind of person. There are many more like him. He is a hypocrite no matter how you slice it.


Illegal workers here in the U.S. are not responsible for the downfall of this country......it is the greed of the U.S. and the wealthy who are enslaving main stream America and scapegoating the Illegal Alien for it all. The Illegal Alien didn't send our jobs oversees, the rich did. This country is owned by big corporations and they have all those Republicans running interference for them and then they line their pockets for selling us down the river.

It is the usual blame the others.....our country has done this for centuries. If they can keep the masses looking the other way at the 'others,' then they can continue to take strip this country of its goodness and replace it with their greed.

Mitchell Young

Excellent comment by MartyK.


Paul Thornton,

"Dobbs has employed small armies of low-paid manual laborers" -- that's call maintenance crews, much like the small armies of low-paid laborers that clean your office and your yard. You didn't mention that the actual number of illegals within these "small armies" totaled 5, spread out through properties in multiple states. I bet I can find more than that in the LA Times building.

I noticed the words "hypocrisy" and "Whitman" once again appear enjoined in an LAT story, even though the story has nothing to do with her. That's about 10 times now. Are you guys still working the same story board? Stop creating news. Try reporting. You may like the change to professional conduct.


Last year I became involved in the hiring process at the place I work. We had a gentleman come in for an interview and he provided us with his birth certificate and his drivers license which we made copies of. Since he claimed he was born 14 February 1920, I had my doubts about the validity of his documentation. In addition, since in gender it claimed he was female, I was fairly certain that his documents were bogus. We did not hire him. I thought that this was the end of the story. Boy was I wrong. An immigrants rights group went after us claiming that we discriminated against an immigrant. Since his documents said that he was born in Maryland, I wondered how he could be an immigrant. What a fool am I. Our lawyers said that the simple fact that I believed that someone who looked in his twenties or early thirties could not be 89 was problematic - for the record I am in my sixties and he looks years and years younger than me. The only reason that we were able to avoid protracted litigation was the fact that the documents submitted to us said the gentleman who applied for the position with us was female. I never want to be involved in the hiring process again as it was a nightmare. The easy course for us would have been to accept clearly fraudulent documents and a I was a fool for clearing noting an obvious fraud.


I wonder how many people would support illegal immigration if millions of people from India or China started taking high wage jobs from Americans and were willing to get paid at half the wage under the table. Or better yet, let's bring in some people from other countries and replace the staff of the LA times with illegal immigrants and see if they change their tune?

It's only ok when the situation doesn't seem to directly effect you, or is perceived as only effecting the people at the bottom of the economic totem pole...that's the real hypocrisy.


MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY", it is obvious why the L A Times is bankrupt, both fiscally and journalistically.


Typical .... He might be pure of heart but his mind is all screwed up or is it down. He is using John Kennedy's admonition of "Dont ask what my country can do for me but what can I do for my country" ... in the case of big bungling Lou ... higher an illega or two or three or 50 ... LOL LOL LOL


This hypocrisy extended to the Minutemen as well, but in different ways.

I remember seeing them get out of their cars at protests and that ALMOST ALL of them were driving JAPANESE cars.

But a few minutes later, they would be screaming about "America first" and "support the American worker".

Later that night, I'm sure they all went home and ate "illegal-picked" foods, never once batting an eyelash out of shame.

Hypocrites, all.


Here's the dilemna: You hire someone through a service that is supposed to screen them for citizenship. Do you second guess the service? Assume they are illegal because of how they look and speak? Confront them over their citizenship? Congratulations. You do that and suddenly you are profiling - exactly what the left vilifies police officers for doing and the ACLU and like minded organizations sue to prevent. This is all just more political posturing, this time by the left.


Where do you make the leap from illegal aliens to gay's? Illegal aliens are here...illegally and do not have credibility. Score one for Dobbs.


Guess what, The LA Times hires illegal workers also. That's right... The company that is cleaning the LA Times offices, is hiring illegal workers and the LA Times knows about them.


But hey, the LA Times is a pro-illegal/open border advocate so it's OK, right!!

andrew benson

The entire state of California is pro- immigration, not even based on what benefits it would do or not to this country, but solely because of the issue of color. It's so unfair that if you have any sort of opinion on immigrant that doesn't fit the status quo your labeled a racist or a bigot. Why don't we just legalize bank robbery next so that won't be a crime. I'm sick of the color politics of this city( los angeles). I'm also sick of the " woe is me" attitude amongst a certain percentage of the immigrant communities. I was just reading an article on how a lot of them visualize themselves as whites.

Alejandro Gomes

How wet were the workers' backs? Did they just cross the Rio Grande? I can't believe someone actually investigated this story for a year. Pathetic. Not to mention, The Times publishes a report/diatribe on the investigation. As many have already commented here, there is absolutely no evidence of hypocrisy on Dobbs' behalf. He did not hire the illegals directly and probably had no contact with them at all. So stupid. I can't believe people buy into this crap.


The dems really are running scared!!!!

This is the dirtiest, most deceitful kind of desperation journalism I have seen in 66 years on this earth.

Good luck at the polls...........you will need it...... as you disgust Good People everywhere.


Why Does'nt one of you'r crackhead reporters spend a year doing real investigation work and find out something important. A year to find out Lou Dobbs hires a contractor who hires illegals . ARE YOU KIDDING??????????? Lou Dobbs hiring illegalls is important why ? Your paper is pathetic. Hears a headline OBAMA MOST SKELOTONS IN CLOSET THAN ANY PRESIDENT IN HISTORY Your papes SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!

Paco Mexicana


The democrat strategy is flood America with illiterate,
unskilled, uneducated poor who will need lots of services:

Food Stamps
Title #8 Housing

Democrats give them everything so they will vote the next 100 years democrat.



Paco Mexicana


(taxes paid minus services received according to a macro economic study by Rice University)

That comes to over 40 billion dollars to California alone.
Don't ask why California is going broke!

Regan DuCasse

Depends on if he did it KNOWINGLY.

Apparently, illegal aliens are quite clever at deception, fraudulent documents, lying to the faces of their job agencies and employers.
Now the onus is on those who were deceived by their employees.

Nikki Diaz is a FELON. She committed several felonies, she worked under a false SS number and driver's license.

If all of you want to complain that Dobbs or Whitman are hypocrites, then you have to prove how they could have discerned that the person working for them was truthful.
What would have been better for Diaz, Whitman fire her in 2003, and report her to ICE?
Diaz would have been IN JAIL in 2003.

Not free to tip the balance of a governor's race in CA. It's getting so illegal aliens have the power to influence foreign policy, federal law enforcement, political races and our economic balance.

When is anyone going to get serious about how dangerous that is?!


Good thing this is an opinion piece and NOT a fact piece.
Tho it was an effort to humanize the Illegal leeches that steal good jobs from American Citizens, it failed.
Next try, please.

Ignacio Godoy

CNN failed to be objective when selecting to discipline two different kind employees for what seems to be the same type of wrong doing. For example, CNN host Lou Dobb was allowed to be the daily face of anger towards illegal immigrants by systematically -bashing them on his biased television program. For many months CNN allowed this poisonous behavior and propaganda to be shown with zero regards for the hurt it was causing to the Hispanic community. In the other hand, Rick Sanchez, puts his foot in his mouth for the first time, and the Latino host is immediately fired. Shame on you CNN!

retired nurse

The way most employers hire people to work is to ask for driver license and social security card. In fact we have to have a copy for the file. The registration with Social Security and payment of funds is a cross check. If the contractor does not do this, don't use his services. You may not be able to see everyone's ss card in the subcontractor's crew, but the question is worth asking,as you are responsible for hiring the contractor.

Joel Wischkaemper

It is a fact of life that almost everyone in the position of Mr. Dobbs and Ms. Whitman must hire from an employment agency and must rely on them to make sure the person they send is not an illegal alien. If that agency did send illegal aliens.. word would get out and they would be removed from the 'in' crowd.

I believe Mr. Dobbs and Ms. Whitman. I believe almost every single Mexican National who is fluent in English is going to try and make hay our of this mess.. but you condemn yourselves rather than the people who were sucker punched by a Congress that refuses to spend the money and make the E Verify work. And Congress IS the group you should be dogging. Calling it Lou Dobbs' hypocrisy belongs to limited intelligence.


Another smear job by the left , This is why we have so mistrust for the media and the left . Just like Whitman he is being smeared I guess it is his turn S H A M E nothing but S H A M E !

Marcos El Malo

@Joel Wischkaemper:

"It is a fact of life that almost everyone in the position of Mr. Dobbs and Ms. Whitman must hire from an employment agency and must rely on them to make sure the person they send is not an illegal alien. "

Uh, what? I don't understand why Dobbs and Whitman are required to use outside employment agencies or contractors. There is no law requiring them to do so. Nor is there a law requiring them to rely on the employment agency or contractor.

With the vast wealth that Dobbs and Whitman each command, it is well within their means to have these things checked out. Dobbs could certainly afford to hire a service that went the extra mile in insuring that all workers were American citizens. Heck, if it was as important to him as he claims, he could have directly hired his own workers and stabled his horses on his own property.

Similarly, Whitman had the means to verify that the person taking care of her own children and household was here legally. In fact, being a billionaire, you'd think she'd have done background checks for security reasons. Why take the chance that you'd hire a kidnapper? Instead, there is no proof that Whitman or her husband even checked the documentation that was provided. According to law, Whitman (or her husband) was supposed to sign the I-9 form that accompanies the documents before submitting. Neither one did.

Whitman claims that she is going to clean house when she gets to Sacramento. Dobbs has made a living by demanding that America clean house. Yet neither seems willing or capable of cleaning their own houses. That's called hypocrisy.

Craig Wilson

Would you prefer Dobbs and very other American NOT hire any illegal?? I see illegals DAILY in Los Angeles driving Escalades. HOW? Because they get paid under the table, pay no taxes, carry wads of $100 bills on their person, etc. They do NOT work for less than Americans do. Try to get any work done for less than $20 or $30 per hour. Just try, my pretty> Try to get an illegal to clear your brush or trash and take it to the dump. $2000. at least. Why? Because the dump charges a lot to dump trash. I'm not saying the cost is not fair. It is fair. But don't kid the kidder. Illegals know people will pay a fair wage for work they do not want to do. I am 59 now, and I do not do the kind of hard work I used to do, for myself, in my 20s or 30s or 40s. I hire someone to do it. Mechanical work I used to do in my teens or 20s. Most 59 yr olds will agree with me.

Mitchell Young

"With the vast wealth that Dobbs and Whitman each command, it is well within their means to have these things checked out. Dobbs could certainly afford to hire a service that went the extra mile in insuring that all workers were American citizens. "

For most strictly private jobs -- i.e. non-government or government contractor jobs -- this sort of scrutiny would actually be illegal. And believe me, the ACLU and assorted ethnic interest group organization do seek out this sort of discrimination. It's silly, but it's the law.

Marcos El Malo

@ Craig Wilson: You're either crazy or you're mistaking valet parking attendants for millionaires. Or maybe you live next door to a drug dealer.

@Mitchell Young: "For most strictly private jobs -- i.e. non-government or government contractor jobs -- this sort of scrutiny would actually be illegal."

But that's not true at all. Every day employers do background checks of prospective employees to find out if they have criminal backgrounds. They do drug testing. They hire investigators to check out prospective employees' pasts, including educational backgrounds and military service. This might not be common for all employers to do for all employees, but it's still something done every single day (and probably should be done more often, given how much we read about people that falsely claim military service and advanced degrees from prestigious universities). And if it's not done on the basis of race, religion, creed, or gender, it doesn't bother the ACLU a bit.

Not everyone or employer can afford to do this. But Dobbs and Whitman certainly could afford it, so I'm not giving them a pass.


"illegals" & who cares. People who have respect for human life. Why do we have to sink so low!


Re Whitman and Dobbs hiring of illegals - doesn't bother me a bit; I just don't care.


So just like Meg Whitman, Lou "the immigrant basher" Dobbs also employs illegal aliens himself (and apparently plenty of 'em)! Really not so surprising, although all the apologists for these hypocrites are....

Mitchell Young


I was referring to the idea that individuals could specify citizenship as a requirement for employment. Under current law as I understand it, that is illegal except in very limited cases ('national security' jobs). And even asking for extra documentation from obviously immigrant applicants can get you into trouble -- see the Obama/Holder/Perez lawsuit against the Arizona community colleges who had the temerity to ask for 'green cards' from immigrant applicants.

As for checking employees out, I presume that most people hiring 'help' through an employment agency or licensed contract think that they are hiring legal immigrants -- after all there are huge numbers of those. Of course if e-Verify or other systems were made easier to implement, or better yet required of contractors, we could all be more sure that our hiring practices conformed to law and didn't harm the general national welfare (which I believe hiring low-wage immigrants does). But I doubt that those attacking Dobbs or Whitman want to see that happen.


Nothing more than another political hack job by the latimes. Expect to see more and more as the election nears. Lots of accusations and no solid evidence.

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