Huckabee: Too Soft-on-Illegals

It’s no accident that Rep. Tom Tancredo threw his support to former Gov. Mitt Romney as  he dropped out of the GOP  primary race.

Mr. Tancredo entered the race to ensure that immigration issues remained front and center, and that pandering politicians wouldn’t get a free pass.  The evangelical Christian lawmaker was concerned, not by theological differences with Mr. Romney, but by the pathetic liberal immigration ideology of several other  candidates.

In Massachusetts, Mr. Romney accrued a good record on immigration-related issues.  

As governor, Mr. Romney vetoed a bill to give illegal aliens drivers’ licenses.  He vetoed a bill to reward illegal aliens with in-state tuition rates.  He supported English immersion policies and fought efforts to weaken them.  He opposed sanctuary policies and signed a so-called 287(g) agreement with Homeland Security to enable Massachusetts State Troopers to help enforce immigration law.

Mr. Romney strongly opposes amnesty and sanctuary cities and would shut down the “jobs magnet” that draws many illegal aliens.  In short, he and Mr. Tancredo agree on many of the major aspects of the immigration issue.

In contrast, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a long, awful record on immigration issues.  The GOP Jimmy Carter has lately flip-flopped on immigration.  

Mr. Huckabee now claims he opposes amnesty.  But he told the Washington Post last year, “I tend to think that the rational approach is to find a way to give people a pathway to citizenship.”  “Pathway to citizenship” is Bush-McCain-Kennedy code for amnesty.

He stood by that statement on Fox this December, explaining his new plan:  “You do have a pathway that gets you back home.  But that pathway to get back here legally doesn’t take years.”

Mr. Huckabee seems to favor the sham “touch-back” amnesty.  This bait-and-switch was floated last year by misguided Republican lawmakers. On Fox News Sunday, Mr. Huckabee said the “pathway to citizenship” he backs “to get back here legally doesn’t take years.  It would take days, maybe weeks . . . .”

So, it seems Mr. Huckabee favors a technical leaving of the country by illegals, but their near-instant return.  That is, a touch-back.  

Mr. Huckabee said at the Univision Latino TV debate:  “If you can get an American Express card in two weeks, it shouldn’t take seven years to get a work permit to come to this country in order to work on a farm.”  This in response to a question of “what to do with the 12 million of undocumented that already live in the United States?”

Pro-amnesty immigration lawyer Greg Siskind notes: “This sure seems to say that the current bars on reentry for overstays would no longer apply under the Huckabee plan. That would be a major development and certainly welcome news.”  The Siskind amnesty lobby has long sought to end the 1996 immigration law’s re-entry penalties.

Mr. Huckabee would apparently repeal the 3- and 10-year bars to illegals’ re-entry, for illegals who register during a 120-day period with Homeland Security and temporarily exit the country.  They would “face no penalty if they later apply to immigrate or visit” the U.S.  He also would reward these lawbreakers (and their law-breaking employers) by allowing the aliens to keep the very jobs they sneaked in and took.

The Huckabee record is worse than Mr. Romney’s.  As governor, Mr. Huckabee opposed a bill to require proof of citizenship to register to vote.  The bill would have also required state agencies to  turn in illegals.  

Mr. Huckabee fought that, as well as a bill to deny illegal aliens taxpayer-funded public benefits.  Then-Gov. Huckabee backed issuing drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens.  

Mr. Huckabee supported a partial amnesty as governor, in the form of in-state tuition for illegal aliens.  He even tried to advantage illegals with scholarships.  

He continues to support rewarding illegal aliens who claim to have entered the country as children with in-state tuition — effectively taxpayer-subsidized education. When Mr. Romney pressed him on this at the CNN debate in November, Mr. Huckabee said, “we are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did,” as if that were the end of the argument.

This flavor of amnesty, which was  beatenin the U.S. Senate this fall when the DREAM Act came up, gives foreign lawbreakers an economic benefit unavailable to legal  but out-of-state Americans.  

It also puts illegal aliens in the pool of college applicants.  That means for every illegal alien who lands an admissions slot, an American kid is kept out of college.  Mr. Huckabee somehow rationalizes this perversity as “compassionate.”

Mr. Huckabee  went to Mexico in 2003 to  urge the Mexican government to open a consulate in Arkansas.  Heleased the consulate state office space for $1 per year (obligating Arkansans to subsidize the rest of the costs of nearly $600 a month).  And he put together a sweetheart deal for Mexico to enjoy a permanent facility in Little Rock without having to pay rent for three years.

In 2005, Mr. Huckabee was the keynote speaker at the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, convention in Little Rock.  This ethnic grievance group supports mass amnesty for illegal aliens and special rights and benefits for Latinos.

Mr. Huckabee told LULAC that “we should accommodate people” who want to come to America from Mexico and other countries, in apparent disregard for  the harm caused American workers.  He embraced forcing citizens and communities to “recogniz[e] and cheris[h] diversity ‘in culture, in language and in population,’” the Arkansas News Bureau reported.  The news report called it an “impassioned speech” that “made it very clear where he stood on the [immigration] issue.”

One thing should be of special concern to fellow Christians.  Mr. Huckabee doesn’t stop at debating immigration proposals on the merits.  As they say in the South, “he gets ugly about it.”

As governor, in his book From Hope to Higher Ground and now, Mr. Huckabee attacks the character of his opponents.  He resorts easily to name-calling.  

This ad hominem tactic is the weapon of choice of Leftists and those in the open-borders movement.  The Huckabee side of the immigration issue tries to demonize and vilify its opponents.  They seek to shut down a fair and honest debate.

He tempered his language  in his book, but  the effort to stifle debate is still there.  “[S]ome of the passion I hear in the context of this [immigration] debate is rather disturbing . . . that drives some of the most inflamed emotions:  the passion sparked by the unholy flames of racism. . . . [Huckabee has drawn] the inescapable conclusion that some of the rage is fueled by prejudice.”

Mr. Huckabee characterized the bill requiring proof of citizenship for voting registration and state agencies to report suspected illegals as “un-Christian, un-American, irresponsible and anti-life.”  The obvious, inescapable implication is that the bill’s sponsors are all those things for even proposing the legislation.  

It’s hard to accept as genuine a recidivist pandering politician’s turn on a dime from multiculturalist, liberal, open-borders, demonizing zealot to true-blue advocate of a no-amnesty, enforcement-only attrition strategy.  But that’s what Mr. Huckabee is trying to pull.  He hopes voters will ignore his long, awful record on immigration issues.

The grand lady of conservatism, Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, charges Mr. Huckabee with “destroy[ing] the conservative movement in Arkansas.”  She says he “left the [Arkansas] Republican Party a shambles.  Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a ‘compassionate conservative’ are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee.”

Anybody who cares in the least about restoring the rule of law to immigration should pay attention to Rep. Tancredo and Mrs. Schlafly.  These immigration hard-liners are saying, “Huck, no!” to Mike Huckabee.