Keep in mind, as the leading Republican presidential candidates duke it out over who's been the most aggressive towards those dastardly illegal immigrants in their states -- (I'll deprive them of education! Well, I'll deprive them of health care! I'll authorize deputies to hunt 'em down! I'll arrest people who look at 'em!) -- none of them are totally pure.

(1) Rudy Giuliani's record speaks for itself; New York City was teeming with illegal immigrants, and Giuliani refused to use city resources to round up the non-law breakers; he fought with the federal government over jurisdiction; he did little to reduce the city's status as a magnet for undocumented workers.

(2) Mitt Romney discovered the immigration issue just as it began to flare up among the Republican base; he employed them personally; he did nothing to penalize - heck, he didn't do anything to even discover -- the sanctuary cities while he was governor; a small number of state police troopers were deputized in the last months of the Romney term to enforce immigration laws....with Romney knowing, as the troopers were deputized, that his Democratic successor would immediately overturn the order...

(3) Earlier this year, Mike Huckabee was convinced that anti-immigration fervor was xenophobic; as governor, he supported in-state tuitition for children of illegal immigrants and a host of other friendly measures.

(4) Fred Thompson seemed not to care all that much about the issue until recently, although he doesn't have any explicit blemishes.

With the exception of Thompson, all of the Republican candidates with a shot at winning their party's nomination will have to spend a lot of time in the fall explaining their own evolution on immigration policy before they can use the issue to drive a wedge between Democrats and white, working class men and women.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.