By Yolanda Chávez Leyva
Mike Huckabee’s stance on immigration has reached amazing new lows.
A year ago, the former Arkansas governor was quoted in an Associated Press article as saying that when looking at immigration it was important to “not commit the same mistakes with our growing Hispanic population that we did with African Americans 150 years ago and beyond.”
Only three months ago, this Republican presidential candidate told AP he wasn’t “the toughest guy on immigration.”
But now his standpoint has gone from one of fairness toward undocumented immigrants to forcing them out of the country.
He favors polices that would prevent amnesty for the 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in this country, and require all of them to register and leave the country in only 120 days, according to his new “Secure America Plan.” This plan even includes discouraging dual citizenship.
And it would end the exemptions Canadian and Mexican citizens get. If Huckabee had his way, they would have to register their biometric data with the government like other visitors to this country. The American Civil Liberties Union says the system of recording this data is “bloated and full of inaccuracy.” Since Canadians and Mexicans account for 85 percent of all visitors here, that system would become so bloated it might burst.
Huckabee’s about-face on immigration is perhaps a sign of the company he’s keeping these days. He has received the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project. Patrolling the borders as a civilian militia, the Minutemen are recognized as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and have campaigned alongside
white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups in the past.
That Huckabee would not only receive such an endorsement, but embrace it, implies that he has not only changed his position on immigration issues, but is trying to change his image as well.
And that’s where Chuck Norris comes in. The conservative pop culture icon also lends Huckabee an aura of the hard core.
Huckabee is pandering to the far right in the Republican Party. In the process, he is further poisoning the atmosphere on immigration.
José Miguel Leyva is a freelance writer and novelist living in El Paso, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.