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Wednesday, December 26, 2007
posted by My Klob | 11:24 AM | permalink
Article published Dec 26, 2007
Huckabee's illegal-alien record hit

December 26, 2007

By Stephen Dinan - Mike Huckabee is overselling his record of cracking down on illegal aliens as governor, claiming he ordered his state police to arrest illegal aliens when in fact he never signed the agreement with federal authorities that would have allowed it.


"This is a policy difference, but the facts are the facts — under Governor Huckabee's administration, there was never even any effort to begin negotiating with Homeland Security," said former state Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson, the Republican who sponsored the 2005 law.

Mr. Huckabee's campaign acknowledged he didn't follow through, but said it was lack of time, not lack of interest.

"The clock ran out. We're glad to hear Governor Beebe picked up the ball and is running with it," said Charmaine Yoest, a senior adviser to Mr. Huckabee.

Mr. Huckabee signed the law in March 2005, more than 20 months before he left office (SO THE TIME RAN OUT? LIE LIE LIE!) In less than a year in office, his successor, Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, has already begun negotiations with DHS.

Immigration-control groups say they fear Mr. Huckabee could repeat President Bush's track record on immigration, which they say amounted to tough talk but a failure to follow through.

"The devil is in the details, and Bush has shown a pattern of deception on immigration enforcement again and again and again, and the Huckster is right in line with that technique," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, who said Mr. Huckabee is trying to fool the Republican primary electorate.

"He knows he's wrong on immigration; he can't win if he's wrong on immigration — therefore, lie," Mr. Gheen said.

He said he will be in Iowa in the run-up to the Jan. 3 caucuses to try to convince voters Mr. Huckabee can't be trusted.

Mr. Huckabee makes the enforcement claim on the immigration section of his Web site — one of only two times he talks about his record on the issue in Arkansas: "As governor, I ordered my state troopers to work with the Department of Homeland Security to arrest illegals and enforce federal immigration law."

Ironically, Mr. Huckabee calls for better federal-local police cooperation as part of his nine-point immigration plan released earlier this month: "Local authorities must be provided the tools, training and funding they need so local police can turn illegal immigrants over to the federal authorities."

Cooperation has become a hot issue for many states and localities, and polls show voters want police to be able to check the immigration status of those they arrest or pull over in traffic stops.

The only other former governor in the race, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, signed a cooperation agreement with Homeland Security officials in the waning days of his administration last year, but his Democratic successor rescinded it immediately.

In Arkansas, the law Mr. Huckabee signed called for his state police director to negotiate the agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — in this case, Steve Dozier, who Mr. Huckabee appointed after firing his predecessor (you remember that story right?)

Mr. Dozier did not return a call seeking comment for this article. He is now an executive with Arkansas-based Wal-Mart.

Mr. Hutchinson, the former Arkansas state lawmaker, who supports a rival of Mr. Huckabee's in the presidential race — former Sen. Fred Thompson — said that even though Mr. Huckabee signed his bill, " I don't think he supported the concept."

"My frustration with not pursuing it was we never even sought to determine what the federal government would give us and help pay for, and from my perspective, the only reason we shouldn't even initiate conversations is because as a policy reason we didn't want to do it," he said.

At a press conference last week called to answer charges about his Arkansas record, several state lawmakers who are supporting Mr. Huckabee said they remembered passing the bill, but couldn't say whether the governor ever followed through.

"I was in the state Senate as we pushed that bill through," said Sen. Gilbert Baker. "I believe that became law in the state of Arkansas. Now following on through that as far as agreements, I don't know the details there."


Jerry Seper contributed to this article.
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