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. Dr. Empirical

    It's pretty sad when a loon like Huck turns out to be the voice of Reason for the Republican Party.

    August 12, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Irony

    Funny how the people who want to alter the Constitution to deny American citizenship to children born on U.S. soil are the same people who invoke the Constitution's sanctity when the 2nd Amendment is mentioned. Got Hypocrisy?

    August 12, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. Anonymous

    So to those advocating overturn of the 14th amendment, how exactly do we define citizenship then? And please remember that Benjamin Franklin was a citizen of the US because he was born here to immigrant parents.

    Rhetoric aside, do we really want to deny the benefits of citizenship to children born in the US to illegal immigrants? Okay, so we save a little bit of money (perhaps) by not having them in the school system and not allowing them to have medical insurance. The downside of course is that we have even more people living in this country without a decent education, unable to get a job, tempted to engage in criminal activity to supply for themselves and their families. Oh and lets not forget the downsides to not giving them medical care – we increase the chance that new strains of epidemic diseases such as small pox, measles, rubella etc will develop and gather strength and be a threat to the entire population.
    The idea off repealing the 14th amendment is wrong on so many levels its really quite ridiculous.

    August 12, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Marcus

    I can't resist since it was such a horrible thing to say:
    Orland Patriot, what you defended yesterday was NOT the correct interpretation of the 14th Ammendement simply because the guilt by association is NOT legally accepted in the USA.
    If a baby is born of illegal immigrants he or she DOES NOT 'inherits' his/her parents 'guilt'. He or she is, obviously, subjected to the Jurisdiction of the USA's laws and, since he or she is not born guilty of anything (as much as you disagree with that) that is illegal, he or she will only be considered a criminal WHEN he or she commits a felony or a crime or a misdemeanor.

    August 12, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. J Klainski

    Finally, a prominate Republican not afraid to be and act like a grown-up !!

    August 12, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. Terry - Indiana

    Do people really listen to Huckabee? I guess if people did listen, Huckabee would be the POTUS.

    August 12, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Tony

    Wow...a Republican with sense.

    August 12, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. mojo in chicago

    It is obvious that this change in the constitution will not occur given that two thirds of the congress and 3/4 of the states will not agree on this issue. It is just a political game to rally the base. What should be done immediately is to completely and totally secure all of our borders so that illegal immigration stops.

    August 12, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  9. Jim

    Goo for Mike, I rarely agree with him politacally, but in this case he is 100% correct.

    A lynchpin of our country has always been, if you are born here – you are an American, just as most other countries.

    The founding fathers thought enough of this one issue that they made it a requirement to hold the office of the presidency you must be a citizen born within our governmental territories, just because it is trendy right now to rail against illegals you shouldn't tinker with the Constitution.

    Want to stop illegals? Make it a felony to hire them.

    August 12, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. Marcus

    For once I agree with Huckabee, the problem is to enforce the laws that already are on the table. This government has spent a LOT of money in doing so and has reached records of deportation of illegal immigrants, FACT. Yet, it's not enough...

    August 12, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. republican pride

    huckabee has absolutely no chance of ever becoming president.

    August 12, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Richard Fife

    Well at least one Republican leader has the integrity to say the right thing. John McCain used to have some integrity but he sold out on this issue and many others.

    August 12, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. Ken in NC

    Huckabee is right. While our Constitution was written as the basis or foundation for our freedoms, it was not ment to be changed everytime someone disagrees with it. Yes we have a problem but selective persecution or discrimination of babies is not the answer.

    We must secure our borders and put a method in place that clearly identifies a person not born into this country as being here legally. Then we must put rules or laws in place that severly punish employers for hiring these people. If I knew it was going to cost me a fine equal to 10 times the yearly salary of a person if I am found guilty of hiring an illegal, then I am going to make dam sure I check out every time this person has been to the bath room since his or her birth. If you stop them from getting work they have no means of support. Then they must go home.

    August 12, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. NDgal

    I will vote for him. He will lead from his conscious and not his party. I'm tired of the radical left and right. Too bad Romney is stuck with Palin.

    August 12, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. Peggy

    Good for him. I'm not a fan, but I give him props for that statement.

    August 12, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. Liz the First

    Wow! don't recall ever agreeing with anything Huckabee said before. strange feeling. 🙂 maybe there's hope for him yet. we are a nation of immigrants. we don't live in an ethnically pure country. changing the 14th amendment would fundamentally change what kind of country we are. and it would open the floodgates to change any other parts of the Constitution some folks don't like. funny how much of this fervor for change is coming from the end of the political spectrum that claims to have such reverence for the Constitution. just another example of their overwhelming hypocrisy.

    August 12, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. Michael

    I agree with Huckabee. Is changing the constitution, the sacred document we held true to, what we really want to do? Once you start with one change, others will easily follow. That is a dangerous path to travel and once you start down it, there will be no turning back. It would be the worst thing this country could do. Right now extremists on both sides of the aisle have created an angry mood amongst people taht they would be willing to go that route. The end result would be that we would no longer be the country we've been so proud of all these years. When extremists dictate policy, you have Iran and Iraq. That's the road we would travel if changes are made and those who are fueling the rage for change will be held accountable.

    August 12, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. Rudy

    Way to go Mike Huckabee. Thanks for sticking up for the Constitution instead of pandering to people. If you are born here you ARE a citizen. You should be allowed to stay. However if you parents are here illegally they should be sent back to their own country or try to gain citizenship legally.

    August 12, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. The Other Truth

    I don't like conservatives in general, but I always appreciate that Huckabee won't change his opinions just to please people or get a vote!

    August 12, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |

    Everyone in the United States is ILLEGAL....the ONLY legal Americans that have the right to stay in this country are AMERICAN INDIANS!

    now can the United States deport everyone out of the United States and give this country back to their original owners....the real Native American Indians!

    that's the immigration law I want to see passed!!!!

    August 12, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. nkm

    If the government would go after these companies that hire illegals, there would be no talk about trying to change the Constitution or its ammendments (which I am against, btw). Huckabee is right. There is a serious problem here, but changing our Constitution is not the answer.

    And before people start talking about the cheap labor keeping prices down, answer me this: what's going to happen if and when all these illegals become legal? What then? They will be eligable for normal American wages and benefits. Will these companies then fire all the now-legal workers to avoid paying the higher wages and start trucking in still more illegals to do the picking?

    August 12, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. vic of New York

    It's strange how so many of those who are now chiming for changing the 14th Amendment, for the most part are the children of immigrants who came to this country before immigration laws or who simply side-stepped Ellis Island.

    Maybe we should go back to the records and deport the Irish, German, Polish, Italian, etc. families of everyone for whom we cannot find immigration records.

    August 12, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. DenInNooYawk

    Swimming against the tide of hatemongers?
    Now THAT sort of behavior is downright presidential.

    August 12, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. Captain Gort

    Changing the 14th Amendment is EXACTLY what needs to be done.
    The Founding Fathers NEVER intended that it be applied in its current
    mutated interpretation. 1 out of 12 babies born in America last year was born as an an "anchor baby" to an ILLEGAL Alien. This is nothing short of an invasion....think "Body Snatchers". Do your DUTY as an AMERICAN CITIZEN and support changing the 14th Amendment!!!!

    August 12, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Will

    He just lost my vote. We do not need anymore anti-United States Presidents!

    August 12, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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