Scott Walker on Immigration
WALKER: I acknowledged that. I said I actually listened to the American people. And I think people across America want a leader who's actually going to listen to them. I talked to border state governors and other elected officials. I look at how this president messed up the immigration system in this country. Most importantly, I listened to the people of America. I believe we need to secure the border. I've been to the border with Governor Abbott in Texas and others, seeing the problems that they have there. There is international criminal organizations penetrating our southern based borders, and we need to do something about it. Secure the border, enforce the law, no amnesty, and go forward with the legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families and wages.
WALKER: No, I'm not talking about amnesty.
Q: But you said you supported it.
WALKER: And my view has changed. I'm flat out saying it. Candidates can say that. Sometimes they don't.
Q: So, you've changed from 2013?
WALKER: Absolutely. I look at the problems we've experienced for the last few years. I've talked to governors on the border and others out there. I've talked to people all across America. And the concerns I have is that we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works. A legal immigration system that works. And part of doing this is put the onus on employers, getting them E-Verify and tools to do that. But I don't think you do it through amnesty.
Regarding DHS funding and funding for the president's executive action on immigration, he said "you have got to tie the two together, and instead of playing on defense you have got to play on offense and put the pressure back on the president and his allies."
In a February interview, Walker reiterated that he is not for "amnesty," but also does not favor mass deportation: "I'm not an advocate of the plans that have been pushed here in Washington," Walker said. "In the end, we need to enforce the laws of the US, and we need to find a way for people to have a legitimate legal immigration system in this country, and that doesn't mean amnesty."
In 2013, however, Walker voiced some support for a pathway to citizenship. Walker was asked if "with the right penalties & waiting periods & meeting the requirements, people could get citizenship?" "Sure," he said at the time.
WALKER: I think for sure, we need to secure the border. I think we need to enforce the legal system. I'm not for amnesty, I'm not an advocate of the plans that have been pushed here in Washington. We've got to have a healthy balance. We're a country both of immigrants and of laws. We can't ignore the laws in this country, can't ignore the people who come in, whether it's from Mexico or Central America.
Q: But is deporting them possible?
WALKER: That's not what I'm advocating. I am saying in the end, we need to enforce the laws in the United States, and we need to find a way for people to have a legitimate legal immigration system in this country, and that does not mean amnesty.
"If people want to come here and work hard and benefit, I don't care whether they come from Mexico or Ireland or Germany or Canada or South Africa or anywhere else," he said. "I want them here."
The Democratic-led U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill last week that features a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Many conservative House Republicans oppose the bill, viewing it as rewarding law-breakers.
He said as a gubernatorial candidate in 2010 that he would sign an Arizona-style bill, which would allow local police to stop suspected illegal immigrants.
"Not only do they need to fix things for people already here, or find some way to do it, there's got to be a larger way to fix the system in the first place," he said. "Because if it wasn't so cumbersome, if there wasn't such a long wait, if it wasn't so difficult to get in, we wouldn't have the other problems that we have (with people living here illegally)," he said. Walker's stance on immigration reform evolved over the years.
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