During the 2001 regular session of the Arkansas Legislature, Mike Huckabee supported giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens.
How did he do that? Here are a few excerpts from 2001 articles about the legislation and Huckabee's support of it, as expressed by a spokesman, his liaison to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
"In other action Tuesday, the House rejected a bill that would allow the issuance of Arkansas driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. The vote on House Bill 2212 by Rep. Tracy Steele, D-North Little Rock, was 46-46, with 51 votes needed to pass the bill. HB2212, which remains available for House consideration, would amend Act 1099 of 1997, which enumerates various conditions under which a driver's license can't be issued by the state Office of Driver Services. HB2212 would delete the act's provision that bans the issuing of a license to someone 'who is making an initial application for an Arkansas driver's license and who is not lawfully within the United States" or to "any person who is not lawfully within the United States.' Steele and other proponents of HB2212 said Hispanics, both legally and illegally in the United States, have been discriminated against when attempting to obtain a driver's license on the basis of their skin color or accent. Because employees of the Office of Driver Services may lack the training or expertise to determine if an applicant is an illegal immigrant, Steele said that status shouldn't be a condition of obtaining a license." (Michael Wickline, "Senate OKs Plan To Raise Teacher Pay," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3/14/01)
Mike Huckabee's Human Services Liaison expressed the governor's position, supporting the measure to repeal the law denying the issuance of drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. In 2001, there was discussion of HB 2212 in the state assembly to repeal a 1997 Arkansas law prohibiting issuance of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Proponents said the bill was necessary because legal immigrants were getting harassed when they went to get drivers licenses. Huckabee's Human Services liaison defended the bill, saying the following:
"People shouldn't be harassed based on who they are or what they look like," said [Robert] Trevino, who also is Gov. Mike Huckabee's human services liaison. "We just don't want to be treated as second class. We don't have a problem with prohibiting illegal aliens from getting driver's licenses. We have a problem with hassling those who are here legitimately." (Michael Rowett, "Bill Aims To Help Immigrants Get Driver's Licenses," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3/18/01)When reached for comment this afternoon, former Arkansas State Representative Jeremy Hutchinson said, "the proponents of this bill kept telling us that their intent wasn't to give illegals driver's licenses but when we asked them to amend the bill to state that, they always refused. Finally after killing the bill on the floor twice, they amended the bill. I asked Bob Trevino if the Governor was for this bill and he said "of course, he was."The result of that, however, would have been to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens since Huckabee supposedly didn't want to offend legal immigrants.
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The final version of this bill removed this crucial portion, but that doesn't erase the fact that Mike Huckabee supported a bill to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens.
Fortunately for Huckabee, his pen ended up being on the right side of that issue, but his apparent ambivalence on the issue is akin to Hillary Clinton's opinion of the matter in the debate. Also, I haven't heard Huck touting his record of signing this bill as an immigration "bona fide" . . . if he was really firm on the issue without this ambivalent past he would be defending himself with it. However, by so doing he knows he would open himself up to a repeat of his dishonest answer to simple questions.