On Spanish-Language Television, Huntsman Supports Path To Legalization

Our guest blogger is Andrea Nill Sanchez, law student at Yale and former ThinkProgress reporter.

Presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has been getting a lot of attention for his so-called “kinder” and “gentler” view on immigration since he reiterated his support of the Texas DREAM Act and condemned building an expansive border wall. Yet, while Perry’s immigration views unleashed a series of right-wing attacks, there is a far more moderate GOP candidate who helps put Perry’s immigration stance into perspective.

Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman appeared on Univision’s Al Punto. In his interview with anchor Jorge Ramos, Huntsman expressed support for a path to legalization “once you can secure the border and prove to the American people that we can deal with responsibility number one”:

HUNTSMAN: I think you have to take a very practical approach to having them [undocumented immigrants] wait in line. They’ve got to take a place in line. There have to be certain requirements. Language requirements. English is an official language for example. Paying back taxes, if that is applicable. There needs to be some steps along the way that would suggest that they have paid whatever price and penalty in order to come out of the shadows and to gain citizenship in this country.

RAMOS: So are you saying that you would somehow legalize them?

HUNTSMAN: Well, you have to bring people out from under the shadows. That’s where they are today. And that’s not a good place to be. […]

RAMOS: Again, is that legalization, would you support legalization after securing the border?

HUNTSMAN: That’s a discussion that I would have. […] You have to create a system whereby you can move towards citizenship. You can’t wish people away. You can’t just use rhetoric that says we’ll ship people back.

Watch it (in Spanish):

Huntsman also reiterated his support for a federal version of the DREAM Act yesterday, stating, “I believe that you can’t punish the kids for the sins of their parents. You know, they came across at a very young age.”

In contrast, although Perry doesn’t support a mass deportation program, he has clearly stipulated that “you gotta come up with a way that clearly stays away from this issue of making individuals legal citizens of the United States if they haven’t gone through the proper process.”

And while Perry backs allowing undocumented youth to pay in-state tuition through the Texas DREAM Act, he reportedly opposes the federal version of the DREAM Act, which would also allow young undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to obtain legal status.

However, Huntsman has shifted farther to the right when it comes to border security. When asked by Ramos if he wants a “bigger fence,” Huntsman stated that “we do what needs to be done” in the minds of border states “through a combination of fencing and technology.”

Huntsman also did not evoke a previous statement in which he said that although a fence “repulses” him, “I don’t think we have a choice.” Last week, Huntsman called Perry’s suggestion that the border can’t be secured “treasonous.”