As promised this morning. There were two ways Krikorian could have gone on this: High-fiving him or appearing from behind a movie poster, a la Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, and telling him “you know nothing of my work.” Result: High-five.
Huckabee has a new immigration plan out, and it’s way, way better than anyone would have expected from him. Full disclosure: though I had nothing to do with preparing it, he acknowledges that it’s partly modeled on a May 23, 2005 NR cover story I wrote. On illegal immigration, the most important elements are: universal verification of the legal status of new hires and cooperation with Social Security and IRS to prevent the use of fake or stolen identity information; systematic cooperation between local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities; full implementation of the check-in/check-out system (US-VISIT) at the borders; and rejection of Mexico’s illegal-alien ID card, known as the matricula consular. But even on legal immigration, it represents progress, calling for the elimination of the egregious visa lottery and the preference category for adult siblings of American citizens. I’d eliminate more categories that that myself, and I’m not sure what the specifics are behind “Increase visas for highly-skilled and highly-educated applicants”, but this is a big deal if Huckabee actually campaigns on this.
In a separate post, Krikorian notices HA commenters’ skepticism about the plan and reminds us that we should always be happy to accept converts. Fair enough — but is he a true convert who can be counted on in office or is this an electoral gambit aimed at the base? Read Rich Lowry’s column about Huck’s conversion to the Fair Tax, another ideological awakening that conveniently gave him loads of political cover with conservatives skeptical of his previous policies (and not a few like-minded activists in Iowa). A guy who supported Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform plan in 2006 on grounds that it wasn’t an amnesty and that it would be “nativist” to do otherwise, and who famously backed tuition breaks for illegal aliens if they resided in Arkansas for three years, is now cribbing from the Center for Immigration Studies?
Note also that of the top 25 or so priorities listed in Huck’s bullet points, which presumably indicate our top priorities nationally on immigration, one of them is to “[f]ully support all law enforcement personnel tasked with enforcing immigration law.” That sounds suspiciously like a nod at the Ramos and Compean saga, an issue that plays magnificently with the GOP base but isn’t some kind of monster policy problem like workplace verification that would otherwise end up in a paper like this. Tellingly, it doesn’t factor in the article by Krikorian that Huck’s plan is based on, either. By contrast, here’s what Fred offered by way of enforcement:
1. Doubling ICE agents handling interior enforcement, increasing the Border Patrol to at least 25,000 agents, and increasing detention space to incarcerate illegal aliens we arrest rather than letting them go with a promise to show up later for legal proceedings against them.
2. Adding resources for the Department of Justice to prosecute alien smugglers, people involved in trafficking in false identification documents, and previously deported felons.
3. Maximizing efforts to prosecute and convict members of criminal alien gangs, such as MS-13 and affiliated gangs. These gangs have brought unusual levels of violence to more than 30 U.S. states and have also become very active in drug-smuggling, gun-smuggling, and alien-smuggling.
4. Implementing fully and making greater use of the expedited removal process already allowed under federal law.
Nothing about “supporting” our border patrol agents, which should go without saying unless they’ve been duly convicted of, say, shooting unarmed smugglers.
Read the plan for yourself if you haven’t yet. The section on enforcement against employers is especially red-meatish. Again, the question is whether Huck is so committed to this idea that he’d be willing to go the mat and veto an immigration plan that would emerge from not only what’s sure to be a Democratic Congress but which may well be even more Democratic than it is now. He’s looking for these votes in the primary, but what about these in the general? Is he going to move back to the center next summer?
Ace has been begging Rudy for months to abandon some of his socially liberal positions and tack right until he can’t tack no more to make himself more viable to the base. Huck’s doing that now on immigration. What do you think, buddy? Comforted?
Exit question: What will MM say?
Update: Wow. I can’t believe I didn’t notice. And I really can’t believe Huck’s people — and Mark Krikorian — didn’t notice either. Like Lonewacko says, “I’m going to guess that whoever drew this up didn’t really know what they’re talking about.”
Update: Yeah, listen, nothing personal. I’m sure he’s a good guy and has only the best intentions. But this is where I get off.
Update: Huck’s research director e-mails to say the “INS” error was his mistake.