In a Monday interview with right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck, Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker suggested that he not only wants to curtail illegal immigration, but that he also wants to find new ways to limit legal immigration as well. Walker told Beck that he has been having conversations with anti-immigrant Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who has warned that the percentage of Americans who are foreign-born is expected to reach record numbers in the next decade.
Walker hinted that in order to “protect” American workers, “adjustments” would need to be made to our legal immigration policy. He stated:
In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying, we will make adjustments. 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.
Because the more I’ve talked to folks — I’ve talked to Senator Sessions and others out there, but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today — is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages, and we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.
Walker’s new anti-immigration position contrasts sharply with his 2013 stance. At that time, he was a Republican supporter of immigration reform and of providing a path to citizenship for undocumented workers and students. Now the Governor, running for President has done an about face and not only opposes a path to citizenship, but is even suggesting imposing further restrictions on legal immigration.
Since entering the presidential race, Walker has pandered to the hardcore GOP base on a number of issues, but few have been as breathtakingly craven as his transformation on immigration policy. Walker has decided to throw his weight behind the “Know Nothing” xenophobic wing of the Republican Party. With the first two major GOP contests being held in predominately white Iowa and New Hampshire, perhaps his strategy will even work for a few weeks. However, in a nation that was built on the contributions of immigrants, Walker’s new position is politically risky in a general election.
More importantly, it is also bad policy. Voters should say no to the parochial prejudices of the Scott Walker wing of the Republican Party, and embrace the continuation of a generous immigration policy that helps America build upon the contributions of immigrants, arriving from a wide variety of foreign nations.