Huckabee: It’s Good For America If Young Undocumented Immigrants Go To College And Become Citizens

Today, NPR’s On Point posted its interview with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, in which he was asked about a bill he supported in 2005 that would have provided undocumented immigrants who met certain requirements with state-sponsored scholarships.

In response, Huckabee stood by his position and perhaps, albeit unintentionally, made a strong case for why Congress should move to approve the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents and have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives with a path to legalization. In his interview, Huckabee argued that denying bright, young undocumented immigrants access to higher education doesn’t just wrongfully punish children, it’s also bad for taxpayers and America as a whole:

HUCKABEE: When a kid comes to his country, and he’s four years old and he had no choice in it — his parents came illegally. He still, because he is in this state, it’s the state’s responsibility – in fact, it is the state’s legal mandate – to make sure that child is in school. So let’s say that kid goes to school. That kid is in our school from kindergarten through the 12th grade. He graduates as valedictorian because he’s a smart kid and he works his rear end off and he becomes the valedictorian of the school. The question is: Is he better off going to college and becoming a neurosurgeon or a banker or whatever he might become, and becoming a taxpayer, and in the process having to apply for and achieve citizenship, or should we make him pick tomatoes? I think it’s better if he goes to college and becomes a citizen.

So, I did support a bill in my state, and I would support it today. I don’t want anyone to think I’ve backed away from it – that you do not punish a child for something the parent did. And if in fact the provision in the law says that in order to obtain the scholarship, you have to be in the process of applying for citizenship and becoming legal, then I’d rather have that kid a neurosurgeon than a tomato picker. I’d rather him be a taxpayer than a tax taker. And for that I offer no apology.

Listen here:

Huckabee’s answer is significant because it’s a break from many other Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who claims to oppose the DREAM Act for “humanitarian reasons.”

Perhaps Huckabee had a conversation with his action star confidante, Chuck Norris. Last November, Norris laid out his own solution to the nation’s immigration problem when he proposed giving young, bright students “a work-permit for two years, and for two years — if they maintain their law-abiding status — then give them a permanent worker permit. And in three years after that, let them apply for their US citizenship.” At the time, Norris stated, “Oh, I think Mike [Huckabee] would go for this.”

On the 14th amendment, Huckabee noted that the Supreme Court has affirmed, several times, that those who are born here are automatically U.S. citizens — regardless of their parents’ immigration status. Huckabee also said that he doesn’t believe the Constitution should be changed to repeal automatic citizenship, stating, “I don’t think it’s even possible.”