Huckabee Immigration Plan Emphasizes Security

Here’s the security plan – below outlines some of the steps in more detail

Mike Huckabee released an immigration plan Friday that endorses a border fence and calls for tougher enforcement. By SARAH WHEATON Published: December 8, 2007

Mike Huckabee, the Republican presidential candidate, released a plan for tougher immigration enforcement and border security yesterday, pledging to complete a border fence between the United States and Mexico by July 2010 and ruling out a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants unless they returned first to their country of origin.

Mr. Huckabee has taken heat in recent weeks from his rivals for the Republican nomination, especially after his impassioned defense at a Nov. 28 debate of merit scholarships to children of illegal immigrants while he was governor of Arkansas. In that debate, he responded to attacks on his immigration record by saying, “We’re a better country than to punish children for what their parents did.”

In the proposal he released yesterday, Mr. Huckabee did not address whether he still supported such benefits for illegal immigrants. But in detailing his plan for stepped-up enforcement, he said immigrants who failed to register within 120 days and then leave the country would be deported and barred from re-entry for 10 years.

In addition to completing the fence and installing an “interlocking” camera surveillance system on the Mexican border, he said he would increase the number of Border Patrol agents. Employers who hire illegal immigrants would also be subject to penalties under his proposal.

Mr. Huckabee’s plan also includes an increase in the number of visas for “highly skilled and highly educated applicants.”

Rivals for the nomination said his proposal did not square with his record.

“Governor Huckabee is now forced to put out an immigration plan that contradicts everything he did as governor,” said Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for Fred D. Thompson, the former Tennessee senator. “Credibility and experience matter; it’s a shame when you have neither on these important issues.” (The Thompson campaign should know best about that)

In Iowa, the Huckabee campaign has gained ground in recent weeks.

A Newsweek poll released yesterday showed Mr. Huckabee with a clear lead over Mitt Romney among voters who said they were likely to take part in the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa, 39 percent to 17 percent. Earlier polls had the race much tighter. The Newsweek poll put Mr. Thompson and Rudolph W. Giuliani at 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Mr. Romney endured tough questioning from reporters in Des Moines yesterday about revelations last week that a yardwork company he employed was found for a second time to be using illegal immigrants.

Pressed on whether he should have been more vigilant, given his tough talk on immigration, he grew testy.

“Let’s say I go to a restaurant,” he said. “Should I make sure that all the waiters there are all legal? How would I do that?”

 

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