His letter, to his Working Family list, after the jump.
To: Friends and Supporters
From: Gary Bauer
Campaign for Working Families
Date: Monday, December 3, 2007
You Be The Judge!
As Mike Huckabee continues to improve in the polls, his positions on the issues are coming under greater scrutiny. Over the last week, a heated debate has broken out between Huckabee and many of the other candidates over the immigration issue, and particularly the question of providing benefits to the children of illegal immigrants.
On Friday, many of the leading groups fighting illegal immigration blasted Huckabee for his position on the issue. While Governor Huckabee now says he is against amnesty and for secure borders, he continues to raise eyebrows with his defense of scholarships and other taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal aliens.
Since the illegal immigration debate will continue to be a big part of the 2008 campaign, and no doubt a key item on the legislative agenda in 2009, as it has been in Congress for the past few years, I want to get your take on the controversy.
When he was governor of Arkansas, Huckabee supported legislation allowing illegal immigrants who had attended Arkansas high schools to participate in a scholarship program to attend college. Huckabee lost that debate, and the bill failed. He also strongly opposed an effort by state Senator Jim Holt, also an ordained Southern Baptist minister, to end taxpayer subsidies
for illegal immigrants in Arkansas and to require proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Huckabee denounced Holt's legislation as "race baiting" and "demagoguery."
Governor Huckabee strongly defends the positions he took as governor on aid
to illegals. He argues that denying illegal immigrant students scholarship
money would be punishing children for what their parents have done. He
says, "my soul will not let me" do that. On ABC News this weekend, when
was asked whether or not he would support federal scholarships for
immigrant students, Huckabee said, "I'm not sure..."
Senate Democrats recently proposed the "DREAM Act," which would have
allowed illegal aliens to receive taxpayer subsidized in-state college
tuition rates that out-of-state American citizens cannot get. The
Act," like other recent immigration "reform" efforts, failed to pass due
overwhelming public outrage.
One year ago, Huckabee compared America's response to illegal
to slavery by remarking, "One of the great challenges facing us is that
do not commit the same mistakes with our growing Hispanic population
we did with African Americans 150 years ago... I think, frankly, the
giving us a second chance to do better than we did before."
The Critics' Response
Critics of Huckabee's positions point out that many illegal immigrants
entering the U.S. because they want to get benefits for their children.
Increasing those benefits, such as college scholarships, would serve as
magnet for illegal immigrants. Since scholarship money is always
every scholarship that is given to an illegal immigrant student is a
scholarship that is taken away from an American citizen.
In addition, they point out that while it is a Christian responsibility
help the poor, it is not Christian to take someone else's money through
power of Big Government to redistribute it to the disadvantaged.
Huckabee's critics also say that comparing slavery to illegal
is a complete distortion. Finally, they reject Huckabee's argument that
children shouldn't be punished for their parents' actions. Children do
hurt when their parents are punished, including when a parent is
for criminal behavior.
I think the critics are closer to the truth in this debate. I believe
Republican presidential nominee who has a soft record on illegal
immigration will have a hard time distinguishing themselves from Hillary
Clinton, who, as you know, is tripping over herself to avoid appearing
be soft on illegal immigration. What do you think?
Please address the issue I have presented. I have accurately described
two sides of the debate, so I am not sympathetic to the idea that simply
posing the question is somehow anti-Huckabee.
Rather this is part of an ongoing debate we need to have in order to
understand what the conservative position on immigration "reform" is and
ensure that we have a clear conservative nominee in 2008. This issue
across party lines and many Americans - Republicans, Democrats,
Independents - were outraged by the repeated efforts of politicians in
parties to push comprehensive immigration reform.
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Marc Ambinder is a former contributing editor at The Atlantic.