Huckabee has problem with immigration groups

Washington Times:

Groups that support a crackdown on illegal aliens haven't settled on their champion in the race for the White House, but there's little doubt which Republican scares them most — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"He was an absolute disaster on immigration as governor," said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that played a major role in rallying the phone calls that helped defeat this year's Senate immigration bill. "Every time there was any enforcement in his state, he took the side of the illegal aliens."

As Mr. Huckabee rises in the polls, his opponents are beginning to take shots at him on immigration. Just as problematic for the former Arkansas governor, however, is that the independent interest groups that track the issue are also giving him the once-over, and don't like what they see.

"Huckabee is the guy who scares the heck out of me," said Peter Gadiel, president of 9-11 Families for a Secure America, a group instrumental in fighting for the REAL ID Act that sets federal standards for driver's licenses.

Some leaders said Mr. Huckabee reminds them of President Bush, who pushed for legalization of illegal aliens and a new supply of foreign guest workers, despite his base calling for better border security and enforcement.

"I would say that Huckabee comes from the same perspective on the issue that George W. Bush came from — that out of a strong sense of compassion, he tries to identify with someone who comes to the United States, even if they came illegally," said Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies.

Mr. Huckabee yesterday defended his record, but he said if voters are looking for the toughest guy, he's not their man.

...

I think this is going to be a problem for him eventually. Many of the same voters who are attracted to him because of his religious beliefs are the same people that want the immigration laws enforced. Romney and Giuliani understand this desire on the part of the voters and have bent their past support for immigrants into a strong push to enforce the law. If Huckabee can't commit to enforcing the rule of law against people here illegally, he will have a problem.

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