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Mike Huckabee on Immigration

Republican AR Governor


Illegal immigrants must go home and start over

The people who are here would have to go to the back of the line and start over. It’s not to be cruel. It’s to make that everybody living in our boundaries lives in the light, not the darkness, and doesn’t run and hide every time they see a police car. We owe it not just to the people who have waited in line a long time, but also those who do want to live and work here, and create a system that is legal, that makes sense and actually protects our borders but protects the dignity & worth of every person
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

Build a border fence within 18 months of taking office

Q: In order to curb illegal immigration, do you support making changes in the law that would give citizenship only to children who are born to parents who are legally in this country at the time the child is born?

A: The Supreme Court has already ruled on that. The real issue is, that doesn’t fix the problem. What we’ve got to do is to have a secure border fence, something I have proposed that we do within 18 months of taking office. If we don’t have a secure fence and have just this open door that people can come in and out at will, we’re never going to deal with this issue effectively and responsibly. And today, many Americans are angry not that people want to come here -- and I’m going to say it again -- people in this country are grateful to God they’re in a land that people are trying to break into and not one they’re trying to break out of. So it’s not that we’re building a fence so we can keep our people in or keep people out, but that people who do come here would have to come legally.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

Build a border fence using American labor & materials

We must make more progress to protect fundamental freedoms here at home: We must build a border security fence along our Southern border, by a date certain, using American labor and American materials. No holes, no loopholes, and no amnesty for illegals.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, supported scholarships for AR illegal aliens

Romney’s Iowa TV ad portrays Romney’s immigration stance as hard-line compared with Huckabee’s. It’s true that a plan Huckabee supported would have granted in-state tuition rates and eligibility for scholarships to any student who had attended an Arkansa public high school for at least three years, regardless of immigration status. It’s also true that Romney vetoed a similar bill in 2004. But Romney’s illegal immigrant bashing is of fairly recent vintage.

In 2004, the Boston Globe reported that Romney was reluctant to veto the tuition proposal--and not at all the certain, sure-footed decision maker portrayed in the ad. At the time, Romney said, “I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state.”

Romney wasn’t a hardliner on immigration until late in his tenure as governor. None of the specifics presented here are false, but the ad presents a black-and-white contrast that doesn’t exist in reality.

Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “The Record” , Dec 13, 2007

Pathway to citizenship must start at back of line, out of US

Q: You put out a new immigration plan calling for building a border fence, cracking down on employers, & telling illegals to go home. But last year, you said “the rational approach is to find a way to give people a pathway to citizenship.” In your new plan, the only path is to go home & to get on the back of the line. Why the change?

A: I don’t think there’s an inconsistency. When I said a pathway, I didn’t say what the pathway was. I now believe that the only thing the American people are going to accept--and, frankly, the only thing that really makes sense--is a pathway that sends people back to the starting point.

Q: That would take years.

A: No, I don’t agree. Look, if we can get a credit card application done within hours, it shouldn’t take years to get a work permit to come here and pick lettuce. So part of my plan is that we seal the borders. You don’t have amnesty and sanctuary cities. You do have a pathway to get back here legally that would take days, maybe weeks, not years.

Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews , Dec 9, 2007

Send illegals home so all in US can hold their heads high

Let me tell you why it’s important that we have a pathway that sends people back to the starting point. Two reasons.
  1. The American people say, “Do something. Do it now. We don’t want to have this country ignoring the illegal problem.” I get it.
  2. I want people who are in this country to hold their heads up high. You know, right now there are a lot of people who really are here because they’re trying to feed their families. I don’t begrudge them that. But let’s give them a means by which they can get here through the door legally, and when they’re here they don’t have to hide, they don’t have to keep their heads down and hope nobody catches them, they have their heads held high. Everyone living within the borders of the United States ought to do so with dignity and with a sense of pride, not a sense of fear.
Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews , Dec 9, 2007

Make legal immigration quick, or outsource it if we can’t

Q: What do you think should be done with the 12 million undocumented aliens that live in the US?

A: The first step is a secure border, because otherwise nothing really matters. But I do think the pathway has to include people going to the back, not the front of the line. There can’t be an amnesty policy, because that’s an insult to all the people who waited, sometimes, ridiculously, for years, just to be able to make the transition here. 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. So if our government is incapable of making that process in that length of time, then we should do it in a way to outsource it. And here’s why: When people come to this country, they shouldn’t fear. They shouldn’t live in hiding. They ought to have their heads up, because we believe every person ought to have his or her head up and proud.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

FactCheck: AR college bill accepted illegals after 3 years

Huckabee ran afoul of the facts when defending his failed proposal to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state college scholarships. Huckabee said eligibility required that “you’d sat in our schools from the time you’re 5 or 6 years old and you had become an A-plus student, you completed the core curriculum, you were an exceptional student, and you also had to be drug and alcohol free, and you had to be applying for citizenship.

Actually, the bill Huckabee pushed for in 2005 required only three years in an Arkansas high school to be eligible. And students did not have to be “applying for citizenship,” but rather they had to sign an affidavit stating their intent to do so in the future. All students who apply for state scholarships must “certify that they are drug-free” and “pledge to refrain from alcohol” if they are under 21, just as Huckabee said. But they don’t have to be “an A-plus student”--the state requires a solid “B” average. The bill failed two votes short of passage.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 GOP YouTube debate , Nov 28, 2007

Punish people who break the law; but not their children

Q: Did you support tuition breaks for children of illegal immigrants in Arkansas?

A: It wasn’t a break. What I supported, and I still do, was the idea that you don’t punish a child for the crime of a parent. I still don’t believe that. I don’t believe that this country has reduced itself to the point that when a parent commits a crime and breaks the law, that you grind your heel in the face of 6-year-old. What I did support was when a child had been in our schools all his or her academic career and wanted to go to college, if that student would apply for citizenship, then they would be able to go to college. It was a meritorious scholarship. Quite frankly, I would rather have them college-educated, I’d have those folks become citizens, college-educated, paying taxes, rather than being in a position where their income was so low they ended up becoming tax-takers. We punish people who break the law. We don’t punish the children of those who break the law.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Nov 25, 2007

Focus on demand: penalize employers of illegal immigrants

I don’t believe the average American resents that people want to come here. We ought to thank God that we still live in a country that people are trying to break into, not one they’re trying to break out of. But you’ve got to have a secure border because otherwise our borders are not only open to illegal immigrants, but to somebody bringing a suitcase with a dirty bomb.

But, more importantly, if we’re going to deal with the supply, you touch it at the point of the demand. And until something is done to touch the people who are employing illegal immigrants, to create what amounts to another version of slave labor, then we’re never going to stop the flow.

You’re not going to get illegals to admit that they’re here illegally, because they’re desperate. What we have to do is to start putting the penalty on the people who are most benefiting from them, the employers who are using those laborers in order to keep from having to pay decent wages.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Some anti-immigration advocates are based on racism

Q: Two years ago, as governor of Arkansas, you said legislation that was then before the state legislature to crack down on illegal immigration was “inflammatory and race-baiting.” Last year, you said this about opposition to immigration reform that was then in Congress: “If I were to say some of it is driven by sheer racism, I think I would be telling you the truth.” Why do you feel some of them are racist?

A: Well, first of all, because I’ve listened to some of them. And it’s not the concern that people are coming here for opportunities or even that they’re illegal. Look, I agree, we ought to have sealed borders. But I want to be clear: If someone is looking for a president who is going to have a mean spirit toward other human beings, I’m not their guy. I’ll fix the borders, I’ll secure them, but what I won’t do is to do it because I’m angry at them for wanting to come here for the same reason that the rest of us love America.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

People are angry at government for failing to track illegals

If someone is looking for a president who is going to have a mean spirit toward other human beings, I’m not their guy. I’ll fix the borders, but what I won’t do is to do it because I’m angry at them for wanting to come here for the same reason that the rest of us love America. People in this country are essentially good folks. They’re not angry at immigrants who want to come here for the same reason that our ancestors came. But they’re angry at a government that has completely ignored borders and allowed this problem to fester to the point that it’s now overrunning us in a position that people don’t even understand how to fix it.

The reality is that we track packages from UPS and FedEx every time we order from Amazon.com. And, yet, we’ve got a government that says we don’t know what to do and how to keep up with people. If necessary, we ought to outsource this whole issue to FedEx and UPS. They seem to have a better way of keeping up with packages than our government does with people.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

Problems with McCain-Kennedy: credibility; secrecy; spending

Q: The president is determined to revive [the McCain-Kennedy] immigration reform bill. John McCain says, “For us to do nothing is silent and de facto amnesty. [We need to] come together and sit down and figure out an approach to this problem.” Are you on board with the president?

A: Not at this time. There are three basic reasons that the bill is in real trouble, particularly with Republicans. First, there’s a general lack of credibility that the American people have with government based on their inattention to Katrina. Second, it was written in secret. Third is their almost obliviousness with overwhelming spending. And people in the Republican Party are uncomfortable with it because Ted Kennedy is involved.

Q: Just because Senator Kennedy is on board with Senator McCain and the president, does that in and of itself make it unacceptable?

A: No. But if [Kennedy] likes it, [Republican think], whoa, there may be something hidden in there that we’re not going to like.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Jun 10, 2007

Allow in professionals as legal immigrants, but seal border

TANCREDO [to Huckabee}: We talk about all the immigration reform we want, and what it gets down to is this: Are we ready for a timeout? Are we actually ready to say, “Enough is enough”? We have to stop all legal immigration except for people coming into this country as family members, immediate family members, and/or refugees.

HUCKABEE: I disagree with that. I think that there are a number of people that we should welcome into this country. Certainly engineers and doctors and scientists that we may need legally coming here. What we need to do is to have a border that is sealed and the same kind of process that we have to go through if we go into a stadium. We go in one at a time and we have a ticket. That’s the only thing I think Americans really are asking us for is a sane, sensible system that’s based on the idea that if you come here, that you come here through the same process that we would be expected to go through if we went to another country, which is not happening today.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Change rule barring immigrants from running for president

Q: Should we change our Constitution to allow men like Mel Martinez, born in Cuba, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, to stand here some night as candidates for president?

ROMNEY: Never given that a lot of thought, but with Arnold sitting there, I’ll give it some thought, but probably not.

Gov. THOMPSON: No.

HUCKABEE: After I’ve served eight years as president, I’d be happy to change the Constitution for Governor Schwarzenegger.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Path to citizenship if illegals admit guilt & pay fine

What we cannot do is allow our laws to be flagrantly broken, acting as if the economic benefits to consumers justify their utter disregard for not only our laws, but potentially our security. In the case of immigration, our laws are clearly out of sync with the economic realities of our global marketplace. It would be sheer folly to attempt to suddenly impose strict enforcement of existing laws, round up 12 million people, march them across the border, and expect them to stay.

What does make sense is a revision of our laws, one giving those here illegally a process through which they pay a reasonable fine in admission of their guilt for the past infraction of violating our border laws and agree to adhere to a pathway toward legal status and citizenship. In exchange, our government gains the capacity to know who is here, why they are here, where they are, and whether they carry a communicable disease. But much of the debate has become mired more in definitions than in a real solution.

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p.117-118 , Jan 4, 2007

Deport the illegal immigrants who don’t do it the right way

When we say, “Well, we can’t round these people up and take them home,” we don’t have to. You give them the option: If you don’t do it the right way and then we catch you, you would be subject to deportation. But if you do it the right way, then you’re going to be able to live with your head up and live free in this country, properly. People can go back and start the process legally, for their benefit and for everyone else’s benefit.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate , Jan 5, 2006

Seal the borders in a responsible way

As Abraham Lincoln said, “If it weren’t for the honor of it, I’d just as soon pass,” when he was run out of town on a rail. The fact is, Americans are upset about this issue because they feel like we’ve violated the rule of law. You have to secure the border and until that’s done, nothing makes sense. That ought to be done. It ought to be done with American workers, with American products, and it ought to be done immediately. 18 months ought to be the outside length of time. It’s an issue of national security, more than it is anything else. But it’s a matter of sealing the borders of our nation in a responsible way. We ought to have a period of time in which people then return to their home country and get in the back of the line. When people live in the US, they ought to have their head up. They ought to not live in fear. Every time they see a police car, they shouldn’t run and hide. Nobody ought to live like that in this country.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate , Jan 5, 2006

Share costs of legal immigration between states & federal.

Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association policy:


Source: NGA policy HR-2: Immigration and Refugee Policy 01-NGA3 on Feb 15, 2001

Federal government should deal with criminal repatriation.

Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association policy:



Finally, the Governors are concerned about the large number of deported felons that are returning to the United States. A significant number of the criminal alien felons housed in state prisons and local jails are previously convicted felons who reentered the United States after they were deported. The Governors urge the federal government to provide sufficient funds for proven positive identification systems, like the Automated Fingerprinting Identification System (AFIS), to allow for the expanded use of these systems in the rest of the nation.
Source: NGA policy HR-2: Immigration and Refugee Policy 01-NGA4 on Feb 15, 2001

Import farm workers from Mexico.

Huckabee co-sponsored the Southern Governors' Association resolution:

Source: Resolution of Southern Governor's Assn. on 2002 Farm Bill 01-SGA6 on Sep 9, 2001

Other governors on Immigration: Mike Huckabee on other issues:
AR Gubernatorial:
Mike Beebe
AR Senatorial:
John Boozman
Mark Pryor

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011