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Huckabee Goes Anti-Immigrant At Agriculture Summit But Forgets Immigrants Keep Agriculture Running

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The topic at the Ag Summit in Iowa was supposed to be about agricultural policy, but pastor and former Governor Mike Huckabee instead used his time to bash the very people who keep that industry running: immigrants.

Kira Lerner and Igor Volsky of ThinkProgress report:

At the Iowa Agriculture Summit on Saturday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said that the U.S. needs to secure its borders to prevent people from entering the country who do not have the right intentions and who may just be crossing the border to exploit the America’s “free” commodities.

During a conversation with mega GOP donor Bruce Rastetter, the former Fox News host suggested that while some immigrants are coming into America because they “embrace our way of life,” others are only here “because they heard there is a bowl of food just across the border” and other goodies like free drivers’ licenses, education, healthcare, and even the right to vote.

The crowd responded with applause.

Classy move from the follower of a man who spent his life feeding the hungry.

Huckabee’s lurch to the Steve King wing is startling, but not entirely unexpected. As Arkansas Governor, he granted DREAMers in-state tuition and has recently supported putting them on a path to citizenship. But now it looks like Governor Huckabee wants to be President, and those kinds of humane positions just don’t fly for Republican primary voters eager for anti-immigrant red meat.

But facts are facts, and they don’t exactly support Huckabee’s incendiary claims. Not only do immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes annually — including $73 million to Arkansas (oops!) — but they keep the very agricultural industry Huckabee was supposed to discuss in Iowa running.

Maribel Hastings reports that more than 75% of agricultural workers laboring in our fields and farms are immigrants (mostly Mexican). More than half are undocumented. Without immigrants, there would be no agricultural industry.

If you need any more proof, just look at Alabama. When immigrants fled the state following the passage of harsh, anti-immigrant legislation, farmers tried hiring native-born Americans in order to make up for the hemorrhaging of immigrant laborers.

Most of them quit and crops rotted in the fields.

Huckabee may call immigrants moochers out for a free meal, but in reality, immigrants are the ones putting the meals on our plates and his. Immigrants are a part of our American community. They’re the parents of U.S. citizen children and DREAMers, and those kids will be part of the future shaping our country after we’re long gone.

Right now we should be hearing loud condemnation from Huckabee’s party, but all we’ve heard are crickets.

AV’s Frank Sharry adds:

“Bowl of food?  Only dogs get left bowls of food.  A gifted orator and a putative presidential candidate trying to attract attention, it is unimaginable that Governor Huckabee misspoke.  He knew what he was doing.  He blew the dog whistle to rile up hard core anti-immigrant voters in Iowa and beyond.  The notorious Steve King was roundly condemned for comparing immigrants to livestock.  Mike Huckabee should be roundly condemned for comparing immigrants to dogs.”