It’s been an interesting day to be a supporter of Mike Huckabee. First, Huckabeen gave the money quote of the day speaking about what the American people want from their government. Then came the Dick Armey attack. Now, an apparent and transparent Huckabee flip-flop regarding the children of illegal immigrants:
Mike Huckabee wants to amend the Constitution to prevent children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens from automatically becoming American citizens, according to his top immigration surrogate — a radical step no other major presidential candidate has embraced.
Mr. Huckabee, who won last week’s Republican Iowa caucuses, promised Minuteman Project founder James Gilchrist that he would force a test case to the Supreme Court to challenge birthright citizenship, and would push Congress to pass a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to remove any doubt.
Mike Huckabee told a roomful of Washington reporters Thursday that he will defend his effort to educate the children of illegal immigrants "even if it costs me the election."
Huckabee has been criticized by Mitt Romney and others in the GOP presidential race for supporting legislation in Arkansas that would have made all youngsters who graduate from state high schools eligible to compete for college scholarships, no matter what the legal status of their parents.
With Norris citing examples of children of illegal immigrants he has helped educate through his foundation, Huckabee declared that "my soul will not let me" compromise on that stand–despite the bill’s rejection in his state senate.
For me, this comes off as rank pandering. Are we really to believe that Huckabee has gone from feeling that it’s immoral to deny the children of illegal immigrants access to this nation’s entitlements to feeling that we should deny them citizenship? I think that’s asking a lot even of the most adamant Huckabee supporters.
I commented about his apparent change of heart after the Fox debate, thinking aloud that Huckabee needed to simply tell the truth, which is that he is now running on a plan to reduce the benefits given to the children of illegal aliens, whatever he’d felt before.
But Huckabee’s apparent position of the day is miles beyond – and in direct conflict with – what he said on Fox and that conflict is a problem for me.
It’s not that I disagree with the position that Huckabee is staking out – illegal aliens should not be given benefits that they have not helped to pay for, including free or nearly free education for their children. No problem with that.
Further, it does not make sense to me that the children of illegal immigrants should automatically become citizens. Again I agree with Huckabee’s alleged desire to stop this practice as it’s clear, to me at least, that the Founding Fathers’ words were far more applicable at a time during which America was a mostly empty wilderness in need of human capital. We still need the rejuvenating influence of immigration; however, the time for an uncontrolled flow of newcomers passed a century or more ago and the law of the land should be updated to reflect that.
However, the idea that Huckabee, as president, will somehow lead a charge at the Supreme Court and the Constitution I find more than a little disturbing, particularly after the legal system’s abuse at the hands of the Bush administration. E.M. Zanotti does too.
Then there is the matter of the change in Huckabee’s long-held position that the children of illegals should not be denied benefits based on their parents’ actions. I was promised a Mike Huckabee who held his principles in high regard and based his policies on those principles. I was promised a candidate who would not change his policies in response to the whimsy of this or that poll. Whether Mike Huckabee is that candidate is in doubt now.
Finally there is the matter of Huckabee’s advisor with regard to illegal immigration, James Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project. Although his group has done some much-needed work at the U.S.-Mexico border, I cannot consider Gilchrist a reliable source of either information or advice. It’s a bad sign that Huckabee is apparently taking him seriously.
You’ll note that I’ve hedged a bit in this post because the information has not yet been confirmed by the Huckabee campaign. Hopefully it’s just a trial balloon that will be shot down. Even then, some damage will have been done.