During an interview on Monday, Wisconsin governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said that he would protect American workers from the economic effects of increases in both legal and illegal immigration. Walker joins former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum as the only potential presidential candidates to link high levels of immigration to American workers.
In the interview with Glenn Beck, Gov. Walker noted that working with individuals such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) has helped him learn more about the dynamics of the immigration issue.
Gov. Walker began by discussing how legal immigration affects not only the job prospects, but the wages of American workers.
In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying—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.
Gov. Walker also clarified on how he changed his position on amnesty upon learning more about the issue.
As I said, I think when Chris Wallace a few weeks back, when I was on Fox News Sunday, asked me about this, he said. ‘did you change your position at least from some of these views from a decade ago’ and I said, ‘yeah.’ I think the American people not only want people who stand firm on issues, but people who listen to folks who have got rational thoughts and for me a lot of it was talking not just to citizens all across the country but to governors in border states who face real serious concerns about what’s happening on our border and elsewhere.
During a recent trip to the border, Gov. Walker met with Gov. Abbott to discuss immigration policy, specifically border security. Gov. Walker noted that "nothing you do on immigration fundamentally works if you don’t secure that border."
I knew there were people traveling, coming across the border, but really what you have is much greater than that. What you have is international criminal organizations, the drug cartels aren’t just smuggling drugs—they’re smuggling firearms and smuggling not only humans but trafficking and horrific situations. It’s an issue that’s not just about safety or about national security, it’s about sovereignty. If we had this kind of assault along our water based ports, the federal government would be sending in the navy. And yet there is a very minimal force along our land-based borders, be it New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, or California, and so to me it was clearly far bigger than immigration.
We need to have a much bigger investment from the federal government to secure the border, through not only infrastructure but personnel and certainly technology to do that and to make a major shift. If you don’t do that, there’s much greater issues than just immigration. Folks coming in from potentially ISIS-related elements and others around the world, there’s safety issues from the drugs and drug trafficking and gun trafficking and gun things with regard—but to get to immigration you have got to secure the border, because nothing you do on immigration fundamentally works if you don’t secure that border.
Gov. Walker concluded with the need to increase interior enforcement as well.
Then I think you need to enforce the law and the way you effectively do that is to require every employer in America to use an effective E-Verify system and by effective I mean you need to require particularly small businesses and farmers and ranchers. We got to have a system that works, but then the onus is on the employers and the penalties have to be steep that they’re only hiring people who are here, who are legal to be here. No amnesty, if someone wants to be a citizen, they have to go back to their country of origin and get in line behind everybody else who’s waiting.
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Updated: Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 12:00pm EDT