If Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour decides to run for President in 2012, he may have to answer for his record on immigration.
Michael Scherer of Time’s Swampland blog reports that Barbour’s former lobbying firm, Griffith & Rogers, lobbied on behalf of the Embassy of Mexico in 2001 to promote a bill related to Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This provision would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the United States, through family connections or job skills, without a requirement that they return to their home country for the requisite 3-10 years. This is what’s often referred to as “amnesty.”
Scherer reports that in the State Department filing, dated August, 2001, Lanny Griffith, a BG&R partner, wrote that he and Barbour would “lead the BG&R team” in support of the provision:
According to subsequent filings, Barbour’s work included “building support in the legislative branch for passage of a bill related to Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” As part of that work, Barbour’s firm arranged meetings and briefings with “Senators, members of Congress and their staffs, as well as Executive Branch Officials in the White House, National Security Council, State Department, and Immigration & Naturalization Service.” Barbour’s firm charged Mexico $35,000 a month, plus expenses.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday this weekend, Barbour spun his lobbying career as an asset for a potential presidential candidate: “The guy or lady who gets elected as President of the United States will immediately be lobbying. They’ll be advocating to the Congress, they’ll be lobbying our allies an our adversaries overseas.”
When host Chris Wallace followed-up about the negative connotation of being a lobbyist, Barbour described how he represented foreign countries like Switzerland, and Macedonia on behalf of the Clinton Administration. “But I am perfectly glad to look at the clients that I worked with when I was there,” Barbour added. “But let me just make this very plain. I’m a lobbyist, a politician, and a lawyer. You know, that’s the trifecta. And I am willing to have my record in front of everybody.”
Here’s the video. The lobbyist comments come in at the beginning and again at the around 7 minutes in:
Though Barbour is currently considering whether to sign an Arizona-style immigration bill that passed in the Mississippi House in January, he took a softer stance last September on what to do about immigrants illegally in the country. Barbour told Human Events that though the United States must secure its border: “Common sense tells us we’re not gonna take ten or twelve or fourteen million people and put them in jail and deport them. We’re not gonna do it, and we need to quit—some of the people need to quit acting like we are, and let’s talk about real solutions.”
Barbour also praised “the Spanish speakers that came in to help rebuild” the state after Hurricane Katrina. “There’s no doubt in my mind some of them weren’t here legally. Some of them were, some of them weren’t. But they came in, they looked for the work—if they hadn’t been there, if they hadn’t come and stayed for a few months or a couple of years, we would be way, way, way behind where we are now.”