The Huckster Takes NumbersUSA Pledge. Too Bad For NumbersUSA.


every Republican candidate
scrambling to

position themselves
as genuine patriotic immigration

Mike Huckabee
was given a great boost when he signed

`s "No Amnesty" Pledge. NumbersUSA
President and CEO,

Roy Beck
went down in person to

South Carolina
to appear at a signing ceremony with
Huckabee. Beck told supporters that

“Every candidate claims to oppose amnesty, but few
define amnesty the way most Americans do. I applaud Gov.
Huckabee for defining amnesty correctly, and for
pledging to fully enforce laws that would take away the
jobs and benefits magnets that draw illegal aliens here
– and that keep them here”

Has Someone Else Do the Knocking
By Joy Lin,
CBS News, January 16, 2008]

Beck has insisted this is not an endorsement or even a
quasi-endorsement, and technically this is true.
NumbersUSA has invited all candidates of both parties to
sign the pledge, and Beck said he would show up at a
signing ceremony for all of them. Indeed, NumbersUSA
currently ranks Mitt Romney above Huckabee. (See the
NumbersUSA Presidential Grid

, with candidates ranked).

But even though this was not an endorsement, NumbersUSA
and other

patriotic immigration reformers
should not do
that could give cover for Open Borders

I have an enormous amount of respect for

Beck and NumbersUSA.
II have praised it and
recommended it to patriots for years. More than any
other organization, I think it deserves credit for
stopping amnesty in 2006 and 2007. Yet it is precisely
because of its effectiveness that I am worried that it
is lending its good name and credibility to
charlatans like Huckabee.

It would be futile to document

just how bad Huckabee`s record on immigration is,

but to give a few highlights:

  • He called a law that would deny welfare to illegal

    "un-Christian, un-American, irresponsible and
    He also characterized it as
    `inflammatory … race-baiting … demagoguery" and said
    the bill `inflames those who are racist and bigots
    and makes them think there`s a real problem. But
    there`s not.`"

  • As governor, he granted in state tuition to illegal
    aliens, and went to Mexico to urge the government to
    set up a

    Mexican Consulate
    at state offices which he

    to them for

    $1 a year

Roy Beck acknowledged that Huckabee has a less than
stellar record on immigration. But, he

, "We simply rate the quality of each
candidate`s most current campaign promises with an eye

how public and official those promises are
. He
takes the position that it is up to the voters to
determine whether they trust the candidate`s promises.

On the surface, this seems reasonable. Now that
Duncan Hunter

Tom Tancredo
have dropped out, there is no candidate
who has anything close to a perfect record on

Following Tancredo`s withdrawal from the race, I


“Regardless of who gets the Republican nomination and
how serious they are about real immigration reform,
Tancredo has forced them to at least give serious
lip-service to our cause. It is now

up to American
s to make sure they put their money
where their mouths are.

This is what the No Amnesty Pledge is supposed to

The pledge states:

“I pledge to oppose amnesty or any other special path to
citizenship for the
millions of foreign nationals
unlawfully present in
the United States. As President, I will

fully implement enforcement measures
that, over
time, will lead to the attrition of our illegal
immigrant population. I also pledge to make security of
our borders a top priority of my administration.”

Beck explained that Huckabee understood that this pledge
also meant that:

  1. The 12 million illegal aliens now here will have to

    go home


  2. They will not get any

    legal status
    while here that allows them to
    remain long-term.


  3. Once in their home countries, they may apply for
    re-admittance to the U.S. as immigrants,

    or temporary workers through normal


  4. But they will not receive any special privileges on
    the basis of their having been in the U.S.
    illegally, such as being put to the front of a line.


  5. There will be no new categories or

    through which they may re-enter.


  6. There will not be an expansion of green cards in any
    existing categories that will speed up their
    movement to the front of the line.

I have heard some concerns that a candidate could
hypothetically support the pledge but manage to wiggle
around it and support some sort of

non-citizenship "touch back" amnesty,
the illegal just goes home for a

nominal period
. But quibbling about the wording
misses the point. If Huckabee was truly committed to
Numbers` Pledge, it would actually be worth talking

But he isn`t. His recent statements on immigration, and
even his

"Secure America Plan"

which he still cites as

his official position on immigration
, are completely
incompatible with the pledge.

Just last month, Huckabee told Chris Wallace on Fox
Sunday that his plan does "have a
pathway that gets you back home. But that pathway to get
back here legally doesn`t take years. It would take
days, maybe weeks, and then people could come back in
the workforce."
December 9, 2007]

He expanded on this statement at the

Spanish language Univision debate
. He said,
"If you can get an American Express card in two
weeks, it shouldn`t take seven years to get a work
permit to come to this country in order to work on a

His official platform calls to "Improve our
immigration process so that those

and responsibly

seeking to come here legally
will not have to wait
decades to share in the American dream."

How exactly he plans on letting the 12-20 million
immigrants "on the pathway back home" in weeks,
if not days, without putting them ahead of the millions
of potential legal immigrants already on the waitlist
without increasing visas is beyond me. It is probably
beyond Mike Huckabee too.

Huckabee also has a nasty habit of making tough-sounding
promises on immigration and reversing them immediately.
In just the last month, he has come out against
birthright citizenship and giving visas to terrorist
sponsoring countries and retracted those positions the
next day.

Having politicians sign pledges that they have no
intention of living up to serves absolutely no purpose.
Rather than ensuring the candidates back their rhetoric
with substance, signing the pledge is

just another piece of empty rhetoric
. At the signing
ceremony, Huckabee said,

“I think that sometimes people have misrepresented my
position on illegal immigration. I think it`s important
that I be very clear and if people read the plan that I
already have they shouldn`t have any doubt but not
everybody reads. Our plan is not an amnesty plan or a
sanctuary city plan but is a proper plan for the rule of

In other words, Huckabee did not even think twice about
the meaning of the No Amnesty Pledge. If he had, he
either would have had to revise his entire platform or
just not sign it the Pledge. But what he did know is
that having one the biggest anti-immigration groups in
the country go down to South Carolina to appear at a
press conference with him would make it

look like he really opposed amnesty.

The patriotic immigration reform movement is at a
crossroads. Public opinion is overwhelmingly on its
side. In the last few years, it has successfully
defeated major legislation. At the same time, it has had
very little success in voting out open borders
politicians or electing immigration reform patriots.

What is now happening, however, is that Establishment
candidates are coming to immigration reform leaders to
get credibility. This new power is a great
accomplishment. But by lending it to men like Huckabee,
immigration reformers could lose their credibility.

Some of my colleagues said that

Americans for Tax Reform
would never have been so
cavalier in handing out their

"Tax Payer Protection Pledge."
Actually, ATR will let someone sign the
pledge if their record or even platform contradicts the

And this is the point. The last thing the patriotic
immigration reform movement wants to do is to replicate

of the once-great American conservative
movement—claiming victory because politicians pretend to
support its ideals, while the country moves to the Left.

Marcus Epstein [send
him mail
] is the founder of the
Robert A Taft Club
and the executive director of the
The American
Team America PAC
. A selection of his articles can be
here. The
views he expresses are his own.