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. That could be a big if, though; Thompson has a pretty good immigration platform too (even deeper cuts in chain migration, but not including the state and local cooperation that Huckabee has endorsed), but Thompson’s not saying much about it.
It’ll be interesting to see what Iowa Rep. Steve King has to say, since, as this Bloomberg piece points out, he’s the kingmaker there and is partly responsible for making immigration a key issue.