A few hours after President Obama called Arizona’s radical immigration bill an “irresponsible” and “misguided” measure that “threatens basic notions of fairness,” Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed SB-1070 into law. Brewer claimed that her decision was made with Arizona’s best interest in mind and stated earlier this week that she would “do what I believe is the right thing so that everyone is treated fairly.” On Fox News, as Brewer signed the bill, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) validated racial profiling concerns related to the implementation of the newly signed law and told host Neil Cavuto that it is going to open the state of Arizona up to a “plethora of lawsuits” that will prove “very, very costly”:
Here’s the dilemma: it’s going to open Arizona up to a plethora of lawsuits. You’ll have so many lawsuits that it will be very very costly to the state of Arizona. And here’s the real challenge. [...] This is a federal problem, the feds ought to be fixing this, they ought to be standing guard at the border, they ought to be enforcing the federal laws. When you have a state that is having to jump in and take on federal laws they don’t have the money resources for this, they don’t have the personnel for this, and the legal quandary they’re going to be in is going to be substantial. [...] It’s going to be one lawsuit bonanza.
Later in the interview, Huckabee added that “Hispanic Americans have the right to be unhappy about the fact that they might be pulled over.” “If I were being pulled over because I looked a certain way, I would be highly offended,” stated Huckabee. He also remarked that the “federal government has to do something to stop the hemorrhaging of illegal immigration over the border.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona has issued warnings that echo the litigation concerns expressed by Huckabee. To begin with, SB-1070 will likely be deemed unconstitutional for allowing the state to regulate immigration — a power which the constitution assigns to the federal government. In the meantime, the new law stipulates that Arizona residents can sue local police if they believe they are not enforcing SB-1070. If SB-1070 ends up exacerbating racial profiling, as many have predicted is likely, it will also open local police agencies up to a slew of lawsuits related to potential civil rights abuses.
While relatively moderate on immigration during his tenure as governor, Huckabee’s damning remarks come as a surprise considering his immigration platform veered far to the right during his presidential campaign in 2008. While fighting for the Republican nomination, Huckabee specifically signed an anti-immigrant group’s “No-Amnesty Pledge” which made clear that he opposed allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and would not support a path back to the US once they were deported. Throughout his campaign, Huckabee sparred in a tit-for-tat debate with Gov. Mitt Romney over who was toughest on immigration. Nonetheless, action star and Huckabee confidante Chuck Norris did suggest that “Mike would go” for an earned path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.