- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mike Huckabee wants to amend the Constitution to prevent children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens from automatically becoming American citizens, according to his top immigration surrogate — a radical step no other major presidential candidate has embraced.

Mr. Huckabee, who won last week’s Republican Iowa caucuses, promised Minuteman Project founder James Gilchrist that he would force a test case to the Supreme Court to challenge birthright citizenship, and would push Congress to pass a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to remove any doubt.

The former Arkansas governor thinks the case against U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean was railroaded, Mr. Gilchrist said. Ramos and Compean are serving lengthy prison sentences for shooting a fleeing drug-smuggling suspect in the buttocks.

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    “I would make it my first act as president to pardon agents Ramos and Compean,” Mr. Gilchrist said Mr. Huckabee told him. “I regret that they have spent yet another Christmas locked up in a windowless cell like animals and unable to be free and with their families.”

    Mr. Gilchrist, who campaigned with Mr. Huckabee in Iowa last week, said Mr. Huckabee explained his positions in a half-hour conversation on the campaign trail.

    “I read back my notes to him twice and I told him I did not want to put words in his mouth,” said Mr. Gilchrist, who also issued a press release from the Minuteman Project detailing Mr. Huckabee’s positions. “The guy looked me right in the eye.”

    Campaign spokeswoman Kirsten Fedewa said Mr. Huckabee intends to review the case against Ramos and Compean as one of his first acts as president, but she didn’t otherwise dispute Mr. Gilchrist’s quotes as provided by The Washington Times.

    Miss Fedewa said Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Gilchrest are “united by a mutual desire to end illegal immigration and are political allies toward that end.”

    Mr. Huckabee has defended his policies on illegal aliens while he was Arkansas governor. He pressed for illegal aliens to gain college tuition benefits, complained about federal immigration raids in his state and declined to have state police enforce immigration laws, although the state legislature gave him the authority to do so.

    Mr. Huckabee now has adopted one of the strictest immigration platforms of any campaign. He has proposed a policy requiring all illegal aliens to return home and apply for immigration through legal channels.

    His new position on birthright citizenship also puts him alone among the candidates. Many legal scholars say the 14th Amendment, which says “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States,” grants automatic citizenship to any baby born in the U.S., except in diplomatic cases.

    Members of Congress have never tried to change birthright citizenship by law.

    Mr. Huckabee told Mr. Gilchrist that he supports a Supreme Court test case but also would encourage Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment to exclude from automatic citizenship any children born to illegal aliens.

    Mr. Gilchrist endorsed Mr. Huckabee last month and has campaigned with him ever since. Mr. Gilchrist said Mr. Huckabee is the best candidate on the immigration issue still in the race and who has a chance of being the presidential nominee.

    Others calling for stricter immigration policy have accused Mr. Gilchrist of opportunism and backing a bad candidate.

    Brook Young, who runs ImmigrationWatchdog.com, produced a Web video criticizing Mr. Gilchrist’s endorsement. Mr. Gilchrist fired back last week with an e-mail that appeared to threaten to publicly accuse the man of being a pedophile.

    “I have been hearing on the blogs, over the telephone and through e-mails that you are a pedophile, Brook. Will that accusation also reach the news media soon?” Mr. Gilchrist wrote. “If the blogs and e-mails say so, then aren’t you guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt?”

    Mr. Young posted the e-mail on his Web site and said he had to go public because Mr. Gilchrist has exceeded the bounds of the immigration debate, “to promote and actually lie about Mike Huckabee and his immigration plan and his past record. Now we feel like we have to say something.”

    “It’s crazy,” he said. “You get e-mails from this guy and it’s like this guy is truly out of his mind.”

    Mr. Huckabee has promised to run a clean campaign. William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee, said Mr. Gilchrist’s campaigning reflects badly on Mr. Huckabee.

    “He’s an intrinsic front-row part of the campaign who’s sending out e-mails to people who oppose Huckabee to try to lie about them,” said Mr. Gheen, who has tangled with Mr. Gilchrist and is trying to block Mr. Huckabee from winning the Republican nomination.

    Mr. Huckabee’s campaign said the governor was not available to comment on the e-mail exchange.

    Mr. Gilchrist said he was not accusing Mr. Young of pedophilia, but making a point about making up charges.

    He also said he was not speaking on behalf of Mr. Huckabee when he sent the e-mail, and that the criticism pushed him to the limit.

    “That was a private e-mail and what I was doing was setting up an example: ‘This is what you’ve done to me, I’m not going to do this to you, but how would you like it if I did this to you?’ ” Mr. Gilchrist said.

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