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For Huckabee, Immigrant Threat Heightened by Events in Pakistan

By Perry Bacon
PELLA, Iowa -- As the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan dominates the news, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, unlike his GOP rivals, is trying to connect the instability in Pakistan to the biggest issue in the Republican primary, immigration.

"A lot of Americans, sitting in Pella, Iowa, maybe look halfway around the world and say, 'How does that affect me?'" he told reporters in this central Iowa town. "The way it affects them is that we need to understand that violence and terror is significant when it happens in Pakistan. It's more significant if it could happen in our own cities, and it happens if people can slip across our border and we have no control over it. That's exactly how it can affect us."

"The fact is, the immigration issue is not so much about people coming to pick lettuce and make beds," Huckabee added. "It's about who can come with shoulder-fired missiles and do serious damage and harm to us.... the unsecured borders we have pose a real national security threat."

In his speech here, Huckabee, not a candidate known for offering precise details on policy, even invoked the number of illegal immigrants he said the U.S. government knew of who came from Pakistan in the last year, 660.

Huckabee said that was more illegal immigrants than any country except "those immediately south of the border," a term he did not define.

But the ex-governor blundered a bit in both the number of undocumented people caught by U.S. officials and its ranking among countries. Huckabee, citing a Denver Post article, said 660 people had been caught crossing the border illegally from Pakistan "last year," but the article actually noted 660 came from Pakistan from 2002 to 2005. He said more Pakistanis "than any other nationality except for those immediately south of the border" had been caught here illegally, but the Department of Homeland Security said in the last year both the Philippines and China had more people who were caught here illegally than Pakistan.

Huckabee emphasized that he did not think the most important lesson of the Pakistan situation was the need for immigration reform and said he thought it showed the instability of the government there. He said he was trying to "localize this concern" for Iowa voters with his immigration focus.

For Huckabee, the Pakistan situation could complicate his surging campaign in Iowa and nationally, because he is not as well-versed in foreign affairs as candidates like John McCain, and polling and focus groups have shown voters here in Iowa view his top rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, as more presidential.

Huckabee was panned in the press recently for not knowing the details of a national intelligence report that showed Iran had stopped developing nuclear weapons, and by many in his party for a piece he wrote in Foreign Affairs that called the Bush administration's foreign policy "arrogant." The folksy pastor, quite quick on his feet when talking about domestic policy, even speaks in a slower, more deliberate manner when the topic shifts to foreign affairs.

McCain spoke yesterday about his years of experience with security issues, and how that makes him a stronger candidate than his rivals. The Romney campaign has put up ad in Iowa today, "Ready," that notes Condoleezza Rice called Huckabee's remarks on the Bush administration's foreign policy "ludicrous." And in his remarks on the issue, Romney -- who has made immigration the center of his campaign here -- instead focused on the need "help Muslims become strong enough to reject the extreme within them."

Unlike the other leading 2008 GOP candidates, Huckabee has not enlisted a long list of foreign policy experts to back him, like Henry Kissinger (who has campaigned for McCain), or Charles Hill (a former State Department official who is advising Giuliani).

Asked today who he would name as secretary of state or defense, Huckabee refused to answer, saying his potential picks "might say heck, I'm never working with that guy." He named two former state Department officials, Richard Haass and John Bolton, as two people he has consulted with on foreign affairs, as well as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Huckabee's own foreign policy statements have been rather limited in a campaign whose focus had shifted from Iraq to other issues in recent weeks. He has said he opposed time-lines or timetables for withdrawing troops from Iraq, considers water-boarding torture (like McCain and unlike the other Republican 2008 candidates) and -- in a recent addition to his stump speech -- said he backs the "Powell Doctrine" of overwhelming force.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 28, 2007; 2:43 PM ET
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John McCain realizes you can't deport the 12-15 million illegal aliens in this country, but has the wrong solution. The FBI should be expanded to vet the illegals for a ten year work permit photo-id. The penalty for being illegal is a lifetime citizenship ban (not their children 17 and under) and a fine of their and employer contributions to social security. IDed illegals working for less than minimum wage face deportation. Lets get 10 million illegals on the books helping social security to offset their medical costs to localities.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 29, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

JakeD a little history for you. Nixon started the downfall of Russia by selling sophisticated radars to the Chinese forcing a million men to be added to the front to account for the loss in air superiority. Carter built 7 boomers forcing Russia to build 16 to remain strategically safe. Russia bankrupted itself building those boomers. Reagan put the final nail in the coffin by putting the economic screws to Russia. Trade policies, selling Iran F4 parts, Saddam arms. Saudis arms, all for increased oil production with the promise not to fill Carter's strategic oil reserves made the downfall of Russia's economy more acute with oil at $10 a barrel. When he did not replace a Soviet land launch detecting satelite for over a year because of the shuttle disaster, we were unnecessarily put at greater risk to a first strike. His slap at Libya was effective, but his handling of Lebanon telling Israel they can't create Christian Lebanese buffer zone on the border with Israel and then bugging out when our barracks were hit showed poor judgement. His trade policies enhanced our exports, but still did not stop our manufacturing base from fleeing overseas. Overall I give Reagan a B in foreign policy. Nixon, Carter and Bush Sr. all get A's.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 29, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Huckabee is a lying Huckster & probably nearly as stupid as Bush JR. and McCain is senile and completely out of touch on Illegal Immigration and the harm millions of uneducated American hating peons on doing to this Nation.

1. There's the "lettuce" argument -- we'll be paying $5/head (or starving) if we don't have illegal aliens working in the fields. As Phil Martin, ag economist at UC Davis shows, the field labor cost in a $1 head of lettuce is about 6 cents. Triple those wages and Americans will do the jobs. (They're not career positions. They're seasonal jobs for young people, starting in the world of work. Growing up in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s, I did similarly menial jobs.) And you'll be paying 10% more for lettuce and other produce. Do you spend $1,000/year on produce? OK, you'll pay $100 more.

The lettuce argument also parallels that for the retention of slavery.

2. There's the "everyone's an immigrant except for the 'Native Americans'" argument. Well, the American Indians didn't sprout from the land, they came across the Bering land bridge from Asia. So if the criterion is "You're an immigrant if you had an ancestor who immigrated here," then American Indians are immigrants, too.

In that case, "immigrant" is no longer a useful word, since EVERYONE's an immigrant.

But actually, I'm not an immigrant -- I was born in Chicago and have no other "native land" to return to. And, surely, most of the commenter's here aren't immigrants.

3. There's the "the U.S. stole the southwest" argument. Well, the land in dispute was "owned" by Spain for a couple of centuries. Then by Mexico for about 25 years. During these periods, there weren't more than a few thousand Spaniards or Mexicans in the entire territory. It's been owned by the U.S. for about 160 years now, much longer than Mexico's reign. And the U.S. has actually done something with the land, made it habitable for tens of millions. As Robert Kaplan has described, the difference between American and Mexican "twin cities" straddling the border is like night and day, yet the land is obviously the same. It's not the dirt that's important, it's the people. Put another way, if culture didn't matter, Mexico and Central America would be paradise.

4. There's the "illegal aliens pay tons of taxes" argument. Sure, they all pay real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states). Those working on the books (typically using stolen Social Security numbers) pay FICA and, perhaps, income taxes. But they're mostly ill-educated and low-skilled and pay very low taxes connected to their working -- in fact, many claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, i.e. negative income tax! If a family with both parents working has two kids in school, that's at least $15k/year just for schooling, way more than the taxes on, say, $35k/year aggregate income.

Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has done the systematic accounting on all this. A typical household headed by a low-skilled illegal alien is a net drain of about $20k/year for the rest of us, year after year. (Low-skilled Americans are a similar burden, but they're part of the national family, not gate crashers from other societies.)

5. There's the "illegal immigration is bad, but legal immigration is terrific" argument. Nope. If that were the case, legalizing (i.e. amnestying) the illegal aliens would solve the problem. But they'd still be (on average) low-skilled workers whose burden on the rest of us would continue. In fact, once legal they'd be able to access more public benefits programs, so their cost to the rest of us would actually rise substantially.

In short, most of the problems of mass illegal immigration are shared by mass legal immigration.

Finally, I offer my distilled observations of what mass immigration is doing to our country based on living in southern California 1996 - 2005, before I fled the madness:

- The flood of immigrants drives wages and living conditions in our central cities toward those of the Third World.

- The influx imposes both sprawl and gridlock on our metropolitan areas.

- Immigrant families needing services overwhelm our schools, taxpayer-funded healthcare facilities, and other public agencies.

- Those requiring services don't assimilate and, instead, expect to be served in their native languages.

- American civic culture frays as each ethnic group establishes its own grievance lobby and pushes for preferences.

- Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (new, drug-resistant strains) return.

- Shortages of water and other resources loom, especially in immigration-blitzed Southwest.

Posted by: american1 | December 29, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

The Christian right deserves horrible Huckabee just like it deserved horrible Bush.
This ignoramus does not realize the Taliban drug cartel will send agents in with the smugglers from Mexico. His lies about the cross ad and having nothing to do with the officer fired for trying to prosecute his son are forerunners of big lies to come. Has the Christian right had enough lies from Bush. Judging by Iowa, I think not. Be careful of what you pray for, you may just get it. This pro-life president appointed Roberts as chief justice, whom believes a right to privacy (basis for Roe and Griswold decisions) exists in the constitution. He probably will never call cases that challenge that right to privacy regardless of how many Alitos and Thomases are on the court. Can you say constitutional amendment Christian right. I don't condemn their moral viewpoint, only their moral champions. Wake up America.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 29, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

What the article doesn't mention is that Pastor Huckabee punctuated the point about hiring John Bolton as foreign policy advisor by discharging his shotgun over the reporters' heads. In the ensuing ruckus, he didn't have time to mention that he is also advised by Kofi Annan, Henry Kissinger, and Michael Gorbachev.

The other thing that was not mentioned in the article is an explanation of Pastor Huckabee's comment about Pakistanis entering the US illegally. What Pastor Huckabee probably meant was that rather than coming in from Mexico, the Pakistanis could be smuggled in by cargo containers originating from the so-called geographically shared eastern border with Afghanistan. This would make sense because, as Pastor Huckabee mentioned, martial law is being enforced in Pakistan, so that everyone else must remain inside their homes which would allow terrorism suspects to slip into the containers unnoticed for journey to the US.

Posted by: washpost3 | December 29, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse


You seem to forget about both John McCain on the GOP side and - more particularly - about Joe Biden on the Democratic side. As Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden knows personally many of the key foreign leaders who our next president will have to work with. Even more importantly, he doesn't judge them by " looking in their hearts," but by observing their actions and how they relate to our vital interests.

Biden is the only candidate on either side who has been saying for months that the critical issue in the region is Pakistan - not Iran, since Pakistan already has a stockpile of nuclear weapons and is increasingly unstable...partially due to our failure to develop a secure Afghanistan.

Posted by: BlunderBush | December 28, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: BOBSTERII | December 28, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

dakotasky70, did it ever occur to you that people ridicule Huckabee because he says ridiculous, ill-informed and even stupid things, and *not* because of his religious faith?

Also, in case you didn't know, plenty of liberals are also Christians. They tend to be the quiet ones working to solve problems like world hunger, not the ones screeching "I am a Chrisssss-tian, and therefore better than anyone else" 24/7.

Not every criticism of a candidate is made because of his or her religion. Grow up, already.

Posted by: slavicdiva | December 28, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

It's who will remove the "For Sale" sign from the White House stupid, not who has the most foreign policy credentials!

Posted by: d_shoup | December 28, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Controlling the Borders is NOT the Problem.

It is not keeping people out that is the problem, it is the fact we make it so easy to be here!
Rather than catching and deporting invaders, we HELP them to stay!

Here! Go to this Tax-payer supplied Day Labor Center, tell them what sort of work you can do! What's that? IDs? Youuu don neeeeed no Stinkin ID's! This is a Sanctuary City, and we love helping Illegal Invaders steal jobs away from our legal residents and work under the table not contributing to the City while abusing the hell out of everything imaginable!
We are the AUSTIN CITY COUNCIL! Our heads are sooo far up our collective butts, we all have Ring around the Collar!

We would have decent wages and opportunity for struggling legal residents if we did not do everything in our power to help potential terrorists get by here instead!

Feeling the Urge to Merge? Have an "Anchor Baby" or two on us! just take that misses down to the Hospital, drop that baby, and don't sweat any Bills! YOU are not supposed to be here anyway!
BUT, here is the great news! We'll now kick in benefits anyway! Your the Parent of a US Citizen!!!!

Is this not the Greatest Country to be illegally invading on the planet, or what!!!!

Scotty, One soon to be beaming up!

Posted by: rat-the | December 28, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

One MSM "reporter" gave an even worse recount of Huck's border-related statements:

However, Bacon isn't off the hook. Like her, Bacon fails to note that Huck sent the message that there are good types of illegal immigration: those that make money for crooked businesses. Bacon also implies that Huck supports "immigration reform", a phrase that usually implies things such as McCain-Kennedy. Huck has his own, just as bad plan.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | December 28, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, cwhig1848, with all the benefits of hindsight, I agree that Reagan could have done more re: Islamic terrorists -- of course, the thousands of nuclear-tipped ICBM pointed at us seemed more pressing at the time -- the end of the Cold War is what I was referring to.

Posted by: JakeD | December 28, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"The folksy pastor, quite quick on his feet when talking about domestic policy, even speaks in a slower, more deliberate manner when the topic shifts to foreign affairs."

That's because he has to think not only about what he's saying, but also about how snippets of what he's saying can be pulled out of context and twisted by anti-Christian liberal journalists.

Posted by: Kurt_Evans | December 28, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Reagan's foreign policy turned out well? Yeah, especially that part about sending a cake (and a bunch of TOW missles) to the Ayatollah.

Posted by: cwhig1848 | December 28, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan had just as much foreign policy experience as Governor Huckabee, and that turned out pretty well.

Posted by: JakeD | December 28, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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