Gov. Haley Barbour has denied reports that he and his former lobbying firm worked to promote a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. on behalf of the Mexican government, saying in a statement that he “never advocated amnesty for illegal aliens.”Michael Scherer of Time’s Swampland blog reported on Monday that in 2001 BG&R Group was hired by the Embassy of Mexico to promote a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants through family connections or job skills, without having to leave the U.S.. Critics often refer to this as “amnesty.”
“One reason I’ve been successful as governor is that I’m plain-spoken and use common sense,” CNN reports Barbour as saying in a statement Monday night. “I tell people what I think, not what I think they want to hear. Before there can be immigration reform, we must secure our borders. Only after that can any reforms be achieved, and those can’t include amnesty.”
Barbour’s statement also included a “fact sheet” describing the work Barbour and his firm performed for the Mexican government. CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby writes:
According to the document, Barbour and his firm worked with members of Congress on three main issues: to establish a “U.S.-Mexico Friendship Caucus,” to settle water claims and “other border issues,” and to improve the relationship between the two countries “on issues such as immigration” through the “Partnership for Prosperity” initiative.
BGR, though, “never advocated amnesty for illegal aliens,” the fact sheet said, nor did it support any free trade agreements with Mexico.
Barbour, who has previously taken a softer stance on illegal immigration than other Republican leaders, is expected to make a run for the Presidency in 2012.