Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has just become the 15th candidate to announce his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. His public statements and policy choices as Governor demonstrate a policymaker lacking a clear and consistent view on immigration, who also used his budget authority as Governor to take higher education out of the reach of undocumented students in Wisconsin.
With respect to his views on a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the Associated Press reports that his view have changed over time:
“As early as 2002, Walker supported creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Now he doesn’t. He attributed the shift to his conversations with border-state governors and voters nationwide. “
His views now seem to closely reflect the failed enforcement-first strategy of past candidates like Mitt Romney. When interviewed by ABC News over the weekend he said: “My position on immigration is simple. Secure the border, enforce the laws.”
When the anchor asked “You were at one point for a path to citizenship, no longer?”
Walker responded “No, and I’ve laid it out. I said I’m clearly stating that. I’m not beating around the bush.”
However last week the New York Times reported that Walker had a recent flip-flop on the issue noting on a call, “I’m not going nativist, I’m pro-immigration” and then later recanting his statement via a campaign staffer.
Despite his words, his actions ring clear. While Governor of Wisconsin, Walker used his budget authority to repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students. This policy was designed to grant Wisconsin high school graduates with access to in-state tuition rates and allows all Wisconsin kids to continue their education and ultimately meet their full potential as better contributors to a state’s economy. Clearly, Walker did not see the wisdom in this program when he brought it to an end.
It’s still early in the race and there is very little information available via his campaign website. However, Governor Walker’s actions, coupled with his latest public statements, show a candidate with an antiquated view of immigration. Walker has done little creative thinking on how to systematically reform and update American’s immigration system to meet the needs of the American economy and strong communities.
Photo by Gage Skidmre.