OK, let’s review.
In 2013, when he was trying to position himself as a thinking-man’s Republican, Gov. Scott Walker said he wanted to develop a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Yes, yes, some right-wing, anti-immigration zealots might call that “amnesty.” But the governor of Wisconsin told Politico’s State Solutions Conference in Washington that “if somebody wants to come in and live the American dream and work hard … we should have a system that works and lets people in.”
Walker did not stop there.
“The vast majority of people want to come here for the right reasons,” he explained. “They want to live the American dream.”
True enough. And good for Walker for saying it.
The governor stuck to that immigration-friendly line in an interview with the Wausau Daily Herald. Asked if he could “envision a world where, with the right penalties and waiting periods and (meeting of) the requirements, where those people can get citizenship?” Walker replied, “Sure, yes. I mean, I think it makes sense.”
But that was 2013, when Walker was preaching a sunny politics of optimism and practical problem-solving. “I think it’s not enough just to hold a referendum on the opposition. You got to hold a viable alternative,” he said in Washington. “It’s good to be realistic about our challenges but we’ve got to be eternally optimistic about our solutions.”
This is 2015, and presidential candidate Scott Walker is not so optimistic.
In March, he flatly declared on Fox News, “I don’t believe in amnesty.” Asked if he had changed his position, Walker replied, “Absolutely.”
But later that same month, The Washington Post reported, “Likely GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker told a private gathering of New Hampshire business leaders earlier this month that he supports providing some illegal immigrants with a pathway to citizenship, according to a person familiar with the discussion.” The Wall Street Journal quoted New Hampshire restaurateur Bill Greiner, who was at the meeting, confirming that: “He said no to citizenship now, but later they could get it.”
That stirred an outcry, with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin writing of Walker: “He has been on the same side as the progressive left and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce right: pro-amnesty, pro-massive legal immigration expansionist. … He’s been left, right, center, and all over the map.”
That wouldn’t do. So, in mid-April, Walker told conservative commentator Glenn Beck that he was not just against amnesty but ill at ease with legal immigration.
Walker said that “the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages … we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.”
Walker specifically suggested that he was sympathetic with a harsh proposal by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that would restrict legal immigration.
Relax. Walker says he knows that the American people want candidates “who stand firm on issues.” But he doesn’t say that the American people want candidates who stick to the same firm stand from year to year, or month to month, or day to day.
For the record, Walker was right when he observed that “the vast majority of people want to come here for the right reasons. They want to live the American dream.”
And he was right when he said that “it makes sense” to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.
He’s wrong now.
But who knows? He may be right again on May 1, when immigrants in Wisconsin and across the United States will be marching to ask for “a system that works” and a chance to “live the American dream.”
La lucha continua.￼
Scott Walker was right when he said that “it makes sense” to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. He’s wrong now.