August 12th, 2010
09:24 AM ET
8 years ago

Huckabee against changing 14th Amendment

Mike Huckabee says he's against repealing parts of the 14th Amendment.

Mike Huckabee says he's against repealing parts of the 14th Amendment.

(CNN) – Mike Huckabee says he's against changing portions of the Constitution that automatically grant citizenship to children of immigrants born in the United States - a position that puts the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate at odds some of his party's most prominent figures.

In an interview that aired on NPR Wednesday, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 White House hopeful said the section of the 14th Amendment currently in question has long been held valid.

"The Supreme Court has decided that, I think, in three different centuries, said Huckabeee. "In every single instance, they have affirmed that if you are born in this country, you are considered to be a citizen. The only option there is to change the constitution."

Asked specifically if he would favor such an effort to change the constitution, Huckabee said flatly, "No."

"Let me tell you what I would favor. I would favor having controlled borders," he said. "But that's where the federal government has miserably and hopelessly failed us."

Huckabee's comments came the same day a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll showed Americans are split right down the middle when it comes to the question of whether automatic citizenship should be granted to children of illegal immigrants born within the United States' borders

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll out Wednesday, 49 percent of Americans are in favor of changing that portion of 14th Amendment while 51 percent oppose doing so.
The poll also shows a clear partisan divide on the issue, with 58 percent of Republicans supporting a change while only 39 percent of Democrats do so. Independents are split exactly 50-50.

Several leading GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain, have said they would support holding hearings into the matter as part of the heated debate over immigration.

The Reconstruction-era 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection of law and defines who is a U.S. citizen. Critics of illegal immigration have long accused migrants – particularly those coming from Mexico or Latin American countries – of giving birth to children in the United States in hopes that their babies' citizenship will keep them in the country as well as to avail their children of the more generous benefits of the wealthier United States.

The amendment has been cited as the foundation of U.S. civil rights law in cases ranging from Brown v. Board of Education to last week's decision that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in California. Changing it would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and the approval of three-quarters of state legislatures.

The survey interviewed 1,009 adult Americans between August 6-10 and carries a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: issues • Mike Huckabee
soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. redlegwife

    I don't really understand what is so divisive about this issue. What is the problem with not giving away the benfits of American citizenship to people who are born in this country because a parent is here illegally?

    If at least one parent is not a legal citizen/resident of this country, why should the child be a citizen?

    This article is intellectually dishonest in its first sentence. The issue isn't citizenship to the children of immigrants... it's citizenship given to children of people here illegally. It's not as if anyone is against legal immigrants' children being citizens–that is utterly ridiculous.

    August 12, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "...The only option there is to change the constitution."


    Yeah, Mike, that's what we're all talking about. Pay attention. The wording of the 14th is quite clear. It's no longer relevant–there are no more former slaves in the US–and it's being abused by illegal free-loaders, but it's clear.

    August 12, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. Nick

    Hilarious really....the GOP and all the Tea Party people yell their heads off about "protecting the constitution" and "we are going to take back our country" look who's attacking the constitution and trying to change it....the GOP (minus Huckabee). Sad. Also, where was all the outrage over our unsecured borders when Bush was in office. They act like this happened in the last 18 months. HELLO! I agree the borders need to be's a grand about we stop spending trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afgan., bring our troops home, and spend money employing Americans to secure our borders and actually make us more safe. America is no more safe today from terror attacks then we were on Sept. 11. Sad and pathetic. Wake up America...stop falling for the same political games and b.s.

    August 12, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. runswithbeer

    If anyone is interested in actually reading the Declaration of Independence one will find that EVERY person on the planet has a God given right to become an American Citizen. Read for yourself.

    August 12, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    OMG, I agree with Mike Huckabee!??? And it is not even Friday the thirteenth yet.
    I'm sorry it is not the children's fault! We can not hold the children responsible for the crimes of their parents. Nor can we hold the children responsible for our Government's inability to prevent the crime in the first place.
    Find a way that works so these people do not need to resort to become illegal, may the laws reflect the real world for once.

    August 12, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. cecilia lewis

    Wonderful, finally a voice or reason within the Republican Party.
    There are the Republicans I remember and rather liked even tho I am a Democrat. How can there be intelligent dialog between the partys when so many Republicans have become radical extremist.
    Bring back logic and reason and some repect for other people's opinion and maybe we can move America forward.

    August 12, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. John

    Good for him. I bet he backpeddles but at least his inclination is to not fix that which is not broken.

    August 12, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Freddy

    This is purely a political move by Huckabee, because I think he realizes that this proposal is highly unlikely to succeed. It also opens the door to re-examining the 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms, something Huck doesn't want to be associated with and anger his NRA pals.

    I think he is trying to show "I am not a wacko, not a wingnut." Well, good luck to him if he tries to prove that to anyone who isn't one as well.

    August 12, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. Rabbi David

    I'm lost as to why Americans think professional politicians make good figures.Government has demonstrably not worked/failed for decades and you keep electing the same class of imbecile to conduct your most serious business.You would be better off to simply appoint managers of Walmarts & McDonalds to handle your business.Huckabee is a third rate loser of a political figure with nothing to drag to the table except he cloaks himself in religion to cover his flaws.His actions demonstrably got a citizen in Washington state killed,media gives him a free pass cause they know he is not a threat to candidates they support and in this case he sides with the media and establishment that LOVE illegal immigration. Unless you start putting the people in power, you will continue to slave in the shadow of those with means.How this guy even attracts a flea bite of media attention is beyond me.

    August 12, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. CR

    Huckabee is gently telling the wingnuts they're crazy.

    August 12, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    It's taken him this long to grow some common sense?

    August 12, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Greg

    Mike Huckabee just earned my vote for the Republican ticket. He seems to be the only true Reagan conservative out there. Go Mike!

    August 12, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. Former Republican - Now Independent

    This does not surprise me at all.

    For a long time, Mike Huckabee has been out of touch with mainstream Americans, now he is out of touch with mainstream Republicans.

    At least he is consistantly out of touch.

    August 12, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. BeanerECMO

    Of course, it's been held valid, but it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be changed. The US is the only country in the world that provides such an in. It's only changing that portion re: citizenship; however, when politician and the special interests of every ilk get done with proposing the change, it will be unrecognizable and collapse under its own bloated weight.

    August 12, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. Hugo

    For crying out loud, if your parents come here illegally to give birth to you to circumvent the legal process then the law needs further definition. End of story, I am sick of seeing our tax dollars go to people that did not earn them, do not deserve them, take away from US citizens families social entitlements that US citizens paid for. 100 billion a year, that is probably the drop in the bucket, sure can stroke a lot of social security checks, buy books and pencils for that...DEPORT THEM!

    August 12, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. doug

    The Republican party is a big tent filled with every honest, decent, hard working, caring, compassionate, fair, selfless person in America.

    We are always going to have our differences on a number of issues, but it is that belief in doing what is right, being fair, thinking of others, and wanting every American to have a shot at their American dream that defines us as Republicans and makes us the direct opposite of a Democrat.

    Those who believe that you judge someone based on their character votes Republican, those who judge people based on the pigmentation of their skin votes Democrat.

    People who control their minds and form their own views vote Republican, those who are George Soros puppets who define their life by hate, lies, and narcisissm vote Democrat.

    August 12, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. Bingo

    I wholeheartedly agree with Governor Huckabee that there should be NO change to the current policy and practice that children born in the United States of America and, at birth, USA citizens. That is a valuable part of our history and heritage that should be maintained. However, nowhere in our history does that convey or imply that if the parents of this newborn citizen are illegal immigrants that they have any right to citizenship or even a legal right to remain within this country. Illegal immigrants, to include the mothers of the newborn US citizens, should be returned to their country of origin as expeditiously as possible. The child retains US citizenship, should be given a US passport and be allowed to either remain in this country without his/her parents or accompany the parents back to their country of origin depending upon the choice of the parents. But the illegal immigrant parents may NOT have the choice of remaining in this country.

    August 12, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. Barry

    I would be surprised if that doesn't put him in minority on this issue. Gov. Huckabee doesn't have to worry about it because it will never be changed anyway. You have a better chance of seeing Jesus on your way home this afternoon than this being pulled off. It should be changed but it can't be done, it is just a political football.

    August 12, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  19. flycatcher

    Another Politician loses my vote. What the Huck fails to realize is that at the time the Amendment was written we were not under attack by hordes of illegal aliens and that our government was doing a much better job at securing the borders and enforcing our immigration laws. A big red "X" for the huckster. Take that to your pulpit.

    August 12, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  20. ST

    Bravo Huckabee. You are always a very reasoning man. Those who are in favour of changing the 14th Amendment, can they show up birth certificates of their great, great parents to prove they were not here illegally!

    August 12, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  21. john

    At least one Republican is not a complete nut.

    August 12, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  22. Clyde Lincoln

    Bravo Governor Huckabee. The Constitution and the 14th Amendment have stood the test of time. Securing borders is the answer.

    August 12, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. Annie

    Good for him. I wouldn't vote for him, but among GOP'ers, he is a little more sane than most.

    August 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  24. a in austin

    This too shall pass once the election is over. It's called "scare the white man" tactic! Used every decade...those in Congress who complain about the borders aren't doing the jobs for the people who elected them to do. They continue to kick the can down the road....

    August 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |

    This bible-thumping dufus is just pandering to what real Americans already know that it's STUPID trying to change the 14th amendment...the right-wing NUTs and the Tea baggers believe that it's OK to change the constitution as long as it fits their ideological agenda...after having given the white-folks from Europe a free pass on ship-loads to enter the United States illegally years back and become American citizens, but now wouldn't want to allow people of other ethnic diversity!

    Last time I checked, America is the land of the free and home of brave....and it's a melting pot of diversity; of people of all matter your ethnic origin, language or religious beliefs!

    August 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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