Washington (CNN)Mike Huckabee says deporting immigrants who were brought into the United States as children is like ticketing a child riding in the back seat of a car when the child's father is pulled over for speeding.
Huckabee seeks to straddle line on immigration
"You don't punish a child for something his parents did," he said during an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
But, straddling a line that has flummoxed Republicans in recent presidential races, Huckabee still took a shot at President Barack Obama, who in 2012 moved to stop the deportation of those undocumented immigrants, saying Obama, "didn't have the authority to do it."
"There's a process. We have a thing called the Constitution, and the Constitution doesn't allow the chief executive just to make up law," he said.
Huckabee's comments came as he defended state policies that allow undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" to qualify for in-state college tuition -- and as he explores a run for president.
The former Arkansas governor, Fox News host and winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses said he won't announce a decision on running for the White House until the spring, but added: "I think it's pretty evident that I'm moving in that direction."
He spent Saturday at a conservative summit hosted by Iowa Rep. Steve King, the anti-immigration firebrand, which was attended by several top GOP 2016 hopefuls.
The issue of immigration could be a key one in the GOP's 2016 nominating process. In the wake of Obama's 2012 defeat of Republican nominee Mitt Romney, party officials had called for a comprehensive immigration overhaul that could help Republicans appeal to Hispanics.
Since then, though, the party has shifted to the right, blasting Obama for his handling of border security and saying his executive actions on immigration have spoiled all chances of moving an immigration reform bill through Congress.