Immigration: The Hottest Issue

No, it's not Iraq. Candidates in both parties are surprised by the public's anger over illegal immigrants

Robert Nickelsberg / Getty

A view along the western U.S.-Mexican border shows the rudimentary metal fence put up by the U.S. to keep people from crossing the Tijuana, Mexico border, left, to Chula Vista, California March 7, 2006.

A few days after thanksgiving, I asked Mike Huckabee what had surprised him about voters over the past six months of campaigning. "The intensity of the immigration issue," he said immediately, and then added, "I honestly don't know why it's gotten so hot." Huckabee gets points for candor: most of the presidential candidates I've spoken with in recent months feel the same way but aren't about to say so. It is difficult to spend a day on the trail and not see the anger explode.

This is especially true in the Republican Party. John McCain,...

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