Distinguishing himself once more from his GOP rivals when it comes to immigration policy, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on Wednesday that he didn't back efforts to rethink and perhaps repeal the part of the 14th Amendment that guarantees birthright citizenship.
Speaking to NPR, the 2008 presidential candidate and current Fox News personality noted that the Supreme Court had decided "in three different centuries" that birth in the United States assured one U.S. citizenship. The discussion, in essence, was moot. Asked specifically whether he would favor repealing parts of the 14th Amendment, Huckabee replied: "I don't think that's even possible."
"Would you favor it?" pressed NPR's host Tom Ashbrook.
"No," said Huckabee. "Let me tell you what I would favor. I would favor having controlled borders... but that's where the federal government has miserably and hopelessly failed us."
In coming out against efforts -- however nascent -- to repeal birthright citizenship, Huckabee almost immediately cast himself into a minority crowd within GOP circles. While former Bush hands have been vocal in their horror at the Republican Party's insistence in tackling this issue, a wide swath of prominent Senators and Senate candidates have jumped on board the bandwagon with both feet.
Huckabee has found himself on the outskirts of the party tent with respect to immigration policy before. During the presidential campaign, he was attacked relenetlessly by his rivals for implementing a policy while governor that allowed children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
"I was dealing with the failure of the federal government at a state level, just like a lot of citizens have dealt with it individually, and my feeling was, and I still believe this, that you don't punish a child for the crimes a parent commits," he said at the time. "And that's my position; it hasn't changed."
Far from hurting his candidacy, the position ended up being a relatively boon. The evangelical crowd appreciated Huckabee's sympathetic voice. The governor, meanwhile, set himself apart from his rivals on a hot-button issue. Whether out of conviction or political expediency, the Arkansas Republican didn't back away from his position when he sat down with NPR on Wednesday.
"When a kid comes to his country, and he's four years old and he had no choice in it -- his parents came illegally. He still, because he is in this state, it's the state's responsibility - in fact, it is the state's legal mandate - to make sure that child is in school. So let's say that kid goes to school. That kid is in our school from kindergarten through the 12th grade. He graduates as valedictorian because he's a smart kid and he works his rear end off and he becomes the valedictorian of the school. The question is: Is he better off going to college and becoming a neurosurgeon or a banker or whatever he might become, and becoming a taxpayer, and in the process having to apply for and achieve citizenship, or should we make him pick tomatoes? I think it's better if he goes to college and becomes a citizen."
(Hat tip: GOP12)