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Gov. Mike Huckabee on Wednesday called last week’s federal roundup of 119 illegal aliens in Clark County “terribly planned” and wondered if it was “done for headlines.” “Very little thought was given to what would happen to the children, who are by the way American citizens,” Huckabee said on his monthly radio show. “I hope the next time the feds will operate with a little more common sense.”
After the radio show Huckabee told reporters he would have at least given the illegal aliens a few days to gather belongings and figure out living arrangements for their children.
A spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau in New Or — leans said later that the agency doesn’t know whether the 30 to 35 children left behind after the raid are American citizens. “Our goal was to arrest people who have broken the law,” said the spokesman, Temple Black. “And, in fact, these people had actual U.S. citizens’ documents and U.S. citizens’ birth certificates and U.S. citizens’ Social Security cards. These are folks that were breaking the law and were here illegally, of course. Whether it would be appropriate to give people who were lawbreakers five or six days’ notice I would have to say, ‘ No. ‘”
On his show on the Arkansas Radio Network, Huckabee said that “we have a team of people in Arkadelphia” trying to help the children left behind. He said that includes representatives of his office and of the state Department of Human Services. “There was a total lack of communication between federal authorities and local officials, particularly the sheriff,” Huckabee said. “He has an absolute right to be informed of something like this.”
Black said that federal officials informed the Arkansas State Police of the raid and asked that state police inform the sheriff. But Black said he didn’t know how soon before the raid state police were informed.
Huckabee said the person behind the document scheme should be prosecuted with the “most intense hand of the law” because that person is “making money on the backs of the poorest persons in our labor force.”
He also complained that the federal officials should have given the state more time “to assume the responsibilities” for caring for the children. “I have a lot of sympathy for the kids,” Huckabee said.
He added that the illegal aliens “shouldn’t necessarily be allowed to stay. But do we not have time to sit down and bring them in and say, ‘ Look, you’re illegal, but we’re at least going to let you have six days to gather your belongings and figure out what to do with your kids’? “I resent the implication that people are making that they are illegal and they ought to be dragged out like common thugs and hauled off to sit in jails.
“ We’re now paying money to feed and house them in a jail space that we’re not putting meth [amphetamine] dealers in. “Is a chicken plucker a greater threat than a meth dealer or a terrorist or an armed robber?
“ I don’t think so.”
(Posted on August 4, 2005)