August 12th, 2010
09:24 AM ET
4 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. wbn

    We don't need to change the amendment; we just need to follow our laws regarding immigration. "Sealing the borders" does not mean keeping out people, especially with respect to race; it means providing enough security to enforce controlled immigration, as Huckabee suggests.

    August 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. Future expat

    "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."

    Exactly. Repealing the 14th amendment will be as much a deterrent to illegal immigration as the death penalty has been to murder.

    August 12, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Good for him. It's about time hemanaged a brief lucid interlude in which he speaks some modicum of sense.

    August 12, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. Little

    I hope this guy runs for President. All would be better for the USA.

    August 12, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. Eli

    Huckabee is toast in 2012. First news that as governor he allowed murderers to be released from jail and now this.

    August 12, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  6. Justin

    Good for Huckabee – one of the two or three truly compassionate conservatives out there.

    Most 'conservatives' have the compassion of pit vipers.

    August 12, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. michael

    Glad to see at least one intelligent republican not interested in pandering.

    August 12, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Independent In Albany

    Finally, a conservative who is actually......Conservative.

    Kudos!

    August 12, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. BostonBC

    Huckabee has already lost any chance in 2012. You can only suck up to illegal aliens so long before the rest of American's will brand you as a traitor to the country.

    August 12, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Seattle

    If you start messing with the Constitution and Amendments it will open up a can of worms for us gun owners.

    August 12, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. davec.0121

    I'm not a big fan of Mike Huckabee - but this case - Good On You Mike. A Republican who actually stands up for the good of the nation and the Constitution, rather than pandering to the radical right know-nothings. (Sorry John McCain.) Keep it up.

    August 12, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. chill

    I don't agree with Mike on much, but I do this time. Put yourself in the shoes of a child born here and having lived as an American for 13-14 years. Knows nothing else. And these yahoos thinks its fair and reasonable to deport this kid to a country he has never seen and know nothing about? What's scary is that this question is polling majorities in this country right now. I'm beginning to wonder where my country and its ideals went.

    August 12, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. svscnn

    Smart move for Huckabee if he's shooting for a 2012 run on the White House. May as well distinguish himself from the others in the right-side race by giving Latino conservatives a candidate they can be more comfortable with.

    August 12, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. Dano

    Fourteenth Amendment – Rights Guaranteed Privileges and Immunities of Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection

    Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    I can't believe the Huckster said something that I agree with. The 14th Amendmant is quite clear about this issue. It seems to me that many Republicans are all for taking rights away from Americans (US flag amendment, Partiot Act, bans against gay marriage & abortion,etc...) to pander to their ultra conservative base, while at the same time saying that they support the Conststution. I guess they only support the parts that they agree with and would like to scrap the rest! Our Constitution and Bill of Rights, which grant inalienable rights to the people, is what makes the USA unique in the world, but these guys have no problem creating certain groups of Americans that aren't treated quite as equally as the majority.

    August 12, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. Dem in WI

    Now here is a republican that actually has rational, intelligent thinking!

    August 12, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  16. MikeG

    Good. This is the first sensible thing this arrogant religious nut has ever said.

    August 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  17. Lynn

    When Huckabee opened a Mexican Consulate in Little Rock and provided them a free state building, it became clear he wanted to make Arkansas a sanctuary state. He succeeded beyond his expectations, we're over-run with illegals. They come up through TX and first state they hit is Arkansas.

    August 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. John

    I don't believe in automatic citizenship for anybody. Citizenship should be our most valued possession, we should never "give" it away. It should be earned. Nobody under the age of 18 has any business being a citizen anyway, they should be considered residents. Upon reaching 18 a person should have the right to APPLY for citizenship. At that time such factors as a criminal records and parental background could be considered before citizenship is granted. The same process as applying for a passport could be used (with some minor modifications). Those who do not qualify for full citizenship could then either leave the country or apply for legal resident status. Only citizens would be eligible to vote and for any entitlement programs Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. Residents would neither have the vote, nor could they receive any entitlements from the government. Residents would, however, pay the same taxes as citizens, or possibly, in some cases even slightly higher taxes. A resident who joined the military for instance and is honorably discharged should have automatic citizenship. This would give people an incentive to serve.

    August 12, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. Nat

    I know at least 5 people, Russian and Japanise, who specifically went to USA to give the birth to the children. They are not poor people. They stayed in good clinic in L.A. and NYC and after the birth of the kids went back to their country. When I asked them why they did so, the explanation was that they want for they children to have an option to chose where they want to live. I think it become so fashion to bore children in USA, that it is even scary. I think, we, the USA citizens and Administration, have to look into this trend more carefully, otherwise, in 18 years we will have the group of citizens who are citizens by the birthplace and not in their minds.

    August 12, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  20. C Smith

    Wow, I agree with a Republican on something?

    August 12, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. tcaros

    Huckabee (pronounced hug-a-bee) knows that if he runs for president that the Republican party has messed him up with all the immigration law bigotry. He wouldn't get a single vote from a ethnic American in that scenario.

    So what this old fart butt does is talk some "rhetoric" that he knows will never actually happen. That way he can say during his campaign "see, I like everyone, vote for me." Too bad we've seen this before.

    August 12, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  22. John Ellis

    Huckabee may be absurdly wrong on almost every policy position – that is to say he's a Republican – but he is a human being. Which can not be said of most of his political brethen.

    August 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. Marge

    What has Mitt Romney said. Changing the 14th amendment would DIRECTLY affect him. After all both of his parents were not BORN IN THE USA...And his grandfather and grandmother had given up their US citizenship, Romney's daddy was then born in Mexico.

    August 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. Kevin Collins

    What continues to be ignored is that nowhere whatsoever in the 14th Amendment does it state that the illegal mother is given the right to stay. I say put her U.S.-born kid in foster care and deport the mother. Yes, us taxpayers would have to pay for the kid but we already do that when the illegal mother gets welfare solely because of the kid. This way, if the mother truly wants to be with her kid, she can do so in Mexico. It's absurd that an illegal can qualify for housing while responsible childless legal Americans who are homeless through no fault of their own have to sleep in shelters and on the street. It's time for this noxious nonsense to stop.

    August 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. Jared

    Finally a GOP comment that actually makes sense. Tired of all the biogtry that exists in the GOP. Would rather have a leader that does what is right and stands up for it.

    August 12, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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