December 28th, 2007
11:30 AM ET
12 years ago

Huckabee takes aim at Pakistani illegals

(CNN) - Mike Huckabee appears to have combined two hot-button issues on the Iowa campaign trail: Pakistani unrest and illegal immigration.

Thursday night, the former Arkansas governor told CNN that the crisis in Pakistan wasn’t just an international concern: “Domestically, we need to protect our borders with Pakistanis coming into the country,” he said.

Friday morning, the Republican presidential candidate elaborated on the point, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that 660 Pakistanis entered the country illegally last year, more than any other nationality other than those south of the border. When asked for the source of the statistic, Huckabee appeared unsure, telling a reporter that “those are numbers that I got today from a briefing, and I believe they are CIA and immigration numbers.” The Huckabee campaign later said the figure came from a newspaper report.

The number of illegal immigrants from Pakistan deported or apprehended was 721, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2005, the nation did not make the list of the top 10 sources of illegal immigrants. The previous year, they were the last country listed, but no specific numbers were given.

Illegal immigration is a top concern for GOP caucus goers in Iowa, according to most recent polls.

UPDATE: A senior Huckabee campaign official tells CNN that the figure Huckabee cited - 660 illegal Pakistanis in the US - came from a March, 2006 article in the Denver Post. CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve is told by a government source that if you add up the number of Pakistanis turned away at the border and apprehended, the figure is somewhere close to 660. But it is impossible to know how many entered the country undetected.

Related: Foreign policy gaffes plague Huckabee

–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand and Dana Bash

Filed under: Mike Huckabee
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. John, New York, NY

    Mike...we're getting confused here, buddy. You not only do you make really strange remarks...but your ability to backpeddle from them is making us dizzy.

    First came the AIDS quarantine thing...which you are still clumsily standing by. Then came the "martial law" backpeddling from that one you actually said that martial law is declared when civil liberties are restricted (duh..its declared when the military takes over civil and governmental functions of a country).

    Now you are declaring that Pakistani illegal immigrants are the biggest threat that an unstable Pakistan presents to the US. Ummm...Mike...I think you'll probably need to backpeddle here too, considering:

    1) Pakistan has nukes,
    2) Pakistan really is the place where the terroists who bomb the US hide out, and 3) Pakistan is our only significant ally in the Middle East (other than Israel)...during a time when we're fighting wars on two fronts there.

    I think most reasoning people would agree that the above issues might take precedent over "specter" of illegal immigration.

    Keep backpeddlin there, Mike. Maybe you'll get one right someday.

    December 28, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. kw

    one word: idiot.

    December 28, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  3. Mike O

    Governor Huck would have been giving their kids in-state tuition. After his recent hunting trip, he should realize that it's open season on Pander Bears. Especially those that try to milk a tragedy for democracy for votes.

    December 28, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. Les

    Clueless governor!

    December 28, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Paul, Tampa, FL

    More rhetoric from the party of xenophobia. All we have to do is rid ourselves of gays, Mexicans, Muslims, and African-Americans and the world will be perfect. Ehh boyz?

    December 28, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. Save America

    AHHHH! Its those Pakistanis! I applied for 660 jobs last year, and the same thing happened every time, the guy said:

    "I am sorry but these Pakistanis do twice the labor for half the pay."

    And within 48 hours the place blew up.

    Finally, there is a politician who understands danger of the throngs of Pakistani's coming across the boarder! Just think, 600-700 Pakistanis, thats about the size of the cast of the "Lion King" musical.

    Go get 'em Mike! I would donate to your campaign but as I said I am unemployed and spend all of my money blowing up businesses that don't hire me.

    December 28, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. bartwoord

    This is really quite a disgrace... I wonder how Pakistani public opinion would view such comments – in the current context – from a presidential candidate once the situation has at least relatively calmed down there. Say bye-bye to US credibility in Pakistan, that's for sure.

    December 28, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. Stacey, Durham, NC

    And thus the implosion of Mike Huckabee is born! So if I get what you are saying Mike, it's ok to turn your own state into a magnet state for Illegal Mexicans and then completely flip-flop on your position when running for POTUS, but "America had best watch out for those Pakistanis"?

    From Wikipedia – A "flip-flop" (used mostly in the United States) or a U-turn (used in the United Kingdom) is a sudden real or apparent change of policy or opinion, while trying to claim that both positions are consistent with each other. Usually it will occur during the period prior to an election in order to maximize the candidate's popularity.

    Huckabee Flip-Flops on Immigration

    What His Policy Was as Governor:

    "When he was governor, Huckabee held the following positions on illegal immigration: He supported higher education benefits for children of illegal immigrants, opposed a federal roundup of illegals from his state in 2005, opposed a 2001 bill requiring proof of citizenship to vote in the state, and in 2001, a member of his administration pushed for legislation to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants." (from

    What He Says Now:

    I oppose giving driver's licenses to illegals and supports legislation to prevent states from doing so. In 2005, I signed legislation that prevents illegals in Arkansas from getting driver's licenses. I oppose and will not tolerate employers who hire illegals. They must be punished with fines and penalties so large that they will see it is not worth the risk.
    (from – Huckabee Backed Scholarships For Illegal Immigrants

    Tancredo and Hunter have been working on this for years. Guess who Tancredo just endorsed? Answer: wasn't Mike


    I recently had the privilege of working with someone from Pakistan and found them to be hard-working, ethical, and wonderful to work around. I add this merely to point out that not everyone on the Republican side is a pinhead as Mike has so eloquently demonstrated.

    December 28, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. Stacey, Durham, NC

    Just wanted to make sure everyone saw what Jarod wrote. Maybe we should start a support group Jarod? 🙂

    December 28, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Dan Seattle, WA

    Yet another embarrassing gaffe from Huckleberry. Just the other day he still thought Pakistan was under marshall rule. Now he thinks they're a major source of concern in the US.

    Does anybody truly take this knucklehead seriously?

    December 28, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Jackson Maxim

    But hey, it looks like he stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I suppose that counts as much toward being an expert on foreign policy as anything else, right?

    December 28, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Tyler, Cambridge, MA

    These evangelical Christians do not care about the world. They care about controlling the United States in whatever way possible with their beliefs

    December 28, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Mike Birmingham, AL

    Careful Huckabee –

    The Conservative/Republican racism is a little too blatant. Might want to stick to just hating Mexicans for a while before you start overtly naming other nationalities you want to discriminate against. At least when it's Mexicans, you can thinly veil it as a border issue.

    December 28, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. K Wilkinson Texas

    Hello people, MIKE HUCKABEE is not qualified! How much more obvious does it have to be! If the Evangelicals put this man into office I will lose every last ounce of respect for them. Let Huckabee do what he does best, preach from he Bible. Let another candidate be President. My vote is for Mitt Romney.

    Scientific studies show that Huckabee's brain is the size of a pea compared to Romney's massive gray matter. It's true, I heard that in a briefing just this morning!

    December 28, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. Amanda, Clinton, MD

    Huckabee is very qualified to serve Arkansas, a safe landlocked state in the middle of the US....don't let him near our borders!

    December 28, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. amy lynn

    Fox News, terrified at the growing support of Congressman Ron Paul's Presidential Campaign, has excluded him from their Jan. 6th Roundtable discussion which includes Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson

    December 28, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  17. Stacey, Durham, NC

    K Wilkinson Texas, your last sentence there is the funniest thing I've heard all day, thanks for a great laugh. In all sincerity I think Huckabee is a decent fellow. If only that were enough to lead the most powerful nation in the world, then he could be presidential material – unfortunately, he's not! Period.

    December 28, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  18. Ajay Jain, Dallas, USA

    On being asked about the Bhutto assasination, Hucabee commented thet there are a lot of "illegal Pakistani Immigrants" coming from Pakistan.

    He does not know there are more Chinese illegals in America than Pakistanis. On Bhutto's assasination he comments on illegal immigration! Can he not just keep quiet if he has no comment to make?

    GOP is still looking for some Godly inspiration regards to its nominee. Hucabee is well ahead in this game. If Hucabee is the GOP answer to their prayers then Hillary will have the Presidency sealed in 2009.

    Last night Anderson interviewed Clinton, Edwards and their comments on the Benazir Bhutto assasination were in stark contrast to her understanding of the politics of Pakistan and Edwards simple diplomatic dealing with Musharaf.

    Go Hillary44 08!

    December 29, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Mani

    Is this guy for real?? He even does not have slightest clue about world georaphy.
    God bless America if such a moron lead us into 21st century.....

    December 30, 2007 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
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