Undocumented Labor in Lou Dobbs’ Backyard

Isabel Macdonald, a former FAIR staff member, published an article in the Nation (10/7/10) revealing that undocumented workers had been landscaping Lou Dobbs’ Florida home and looking after his daughter’s show horses. As a hardline commentator on the issue of “illegal immigrant workers,” one would think Dobbs would be a little embarrassed about this discovery.

When Dobbs and Macdonald appeared on MSNBC‘s Last Word (10/7/10) yesterday to debate the issue, Macdonald pointed out that “Lou Dobbs, who has made himself an emblem of this get-tough approach to immigration…had been exploiting undocumented labor.”

Dobbs attempted to sidestep the issue by claiming that he had never “directly or indirectly hired an undocumented worker.” To which host Lawrence O’Donnell replied, “Someone hired by your landscaping contractor had an undocumented worker on your property . That, Lou, is indirect.”

Dobbs, though, had his own definition of “indirectly”: “intentionally hiring a contractor…for the specific purpose of hiring an illegal immigrant.”

Dobbs, Macdonald said, has criticized others in the past for not verifying contract workers: “[In] 2007, you called employers ridiculous for insisting that they should not have to be held accountable for their contractors’ employees.”

In his debate with Macdonald, however, Dobbs claimed that not only was he not obligated to find out the immigration status of those who were working for him, he was legally prevented from doing so: “The reality is this: There is a law against you or me inquiring about a legal status for a person in this country…. That’s a violation of their rights.”

Dobbs is scheduled to speak at a Tea Party conference this weekend.