Gov. Scott Walker was forced to again address his position on immigration reform Thursday, disputing a report that said he had muddied his previous reversal on the hot-button issue.
“Governor Walker has been very clear that he does not support amnesty and believes that border security must be established and the rule of law must be followed,” Our American Revival spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. “His position has not changed, he does not support citizenship for illegal immigrants, and this storyline is false.”
Also this week, Walker told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that if President Barack Obama signs an agreement with Iran that allows the country to enrich uranium, he would undo it “on day one” if elected president.
The Wall Street Journal, quoting sources who attended a private dinner in New Hampshire earlier this month, reported that Walker said those who violate immigration laws shouldn’t be deported and that he mocked 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s suggestion that they would “self-deport.”
Kukowski urged reporters to contact state GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn, who hosted the event at the Copper Door restaurant, and Ken Merrifield, mayor of Franklin, New Hampshire, for their accounts. Horn declined an interview request, but told the New York Times that Walker said at the dinner that he supported creating a path to a legal status for those here illegally, but not citizenship.
Neither Merrifield nor one of the restaurant owners, who was quoted by the Wall Street Journal, returned State Journal messages.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Merrifield saying that Walker proposed that those living in the country illegally should “get to the back of the line for citizenship” but not be deported.
Walker, who is in Texas on Friday touring the Mexican border with Gov. Greg Abbott, has already acknowledged reversing his position on immigration, but even in doing so hasn’t been entirely clear on what he supports.
As Milwaukee County executive Walker twice signed resolutions supporting amnesty and as recently as 2013 told the Wausau Daily Herald that a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million immigrants who have entered the country without proper documentation or overstayed their temporary visas “makes sense.”
When confronted with a video of that interview by Fox News host Chris Wallace in late February, Walker acknowledged that his “view has changed” after talking with border governors and “people all across America.”
“Going forward, I think the way you enforce it is not through amnesty,” Walker told Wallace. “I think the better approach is to enforce the laws and to give employers, job creators, the tools like E-Verify and other things, to make sure the law is being upheld going forward.”
But Walker also muddied the waters in that same interview.
Wallace asked if Walker can “envision a world where if these people paid a penalty, that they would have a path to citizenship” to which Walker replied, “I believe there’s a way that you can do that.”
When Wallace pointed out that what Walker was saying was “a little bit slippery” and asked if “the 11 million people already here” can pay a penalty and get citizenship, Walker said, “No, I’m not talking about amnesty.”
Meanwhile, a Suffolk University poll of 500 likely GOP New Hampshire voters released Thursday found former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 19 percent support and Walker at 14 percent support, twice as much as the next potential candidate. The poll’s margin of error was plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.
The poll also found only 15 percent hadn’t heard of Walker, down from 46 percent in a different poll of 348 likely GOP voters from a different group that asked the same question a month earlier. The margin of error of that poll was +/- 5.3 percentage points.
Walked has enlisted former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent to advise him on foreign policy and defense. Talent previously advised Romney’s presidential campaigns.