Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on Friday that he is open to changing the United States' birthright citizenship policy, marking a reversal from his past remarks on the issue.
During an interview, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked the Republican presidential hopeful about the current debate over the 14th Amendment, which grants American citizenship to any individual born on U.S. soil.
"Yesterday, Marco Rubio said he wouldn't support a law to abrogate birthright citizenship. But you would, to be clear?" Hewitt asked.
"I would, because I think that when we see advertisements in China, advertising essentially 'birth tourism,' where people are able to purchase packages so they fly to the U.S., have their baby in the U.S. so it has dual citizenship, and it's not -- these aren’t people who are impoverished, looking for a Medicaid payment," Huckabee said. "These are very wealthy people who are coming here so their child will in essence be able to put a foot down and say, 'I have American citizenship, dual citizenship.'"
"I just don't see how we can sit back and say that that's perfectly OK," he added.
Listen to Huckabee's remarks:
In 2010, Huckabee told NPR he was against repealing parts of the 14th Amendment.
"I don't think that's even possible," he said. "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."
But on Friday, Huckabee questioned the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which reads, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."
"I think it would be helpful for there to be legislation defining what the jurisdiction clause means," the former governor told Hewitt. "I don't think a constitutional amendment is likely to happen, but I don't think it has to be constitutional amendment."
A Huckabee spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Debate over the 14th Amendment came to the forefront of the GOP primary after Donald Trump called for an end to birthright citizenship earlier this month. A number of Republican candidates have since followed suit and spoken out in favor of ending or changing the policy.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, like Huckabee, has addressed "birth tourism," particularly in the cases of Chinese women who pay to come to the United States to give birth so their children can grow up as American citizens. (Huckabee, however, did not use the term "anchor babies.")
"Americans are disgusted with the immigration process because people are using the good nature of the American way of life to cheat our system and to benefit from it," Huckabee said. "And I think people are sick of it."
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