Walker Squirms on Immigration

by Nick Tell

Scott Walker is decidedly not for amnesty for undocumented immigrants. But what immigration policy is he for?

The Wisconsin governor, fresh off a speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit that earned rave reviews, and currently enjoying a popularity surge — he’s just pulled ahead of the Republican presidential pack in Iowa for the first time — stopped by ABC’s This Week earlier today for an interview with Martha Raddatz.

After grilling Walker on foreign policy and getting him to say he wouldn’t rule out sending ground troops to Syria, Raddatz shifted the conversation to immigration. Stipulating that Walker supported securing the southern border and fixing the nation’s immigration system, Raddatz began this portion of her interview by asking Walker point-blank, “what would you do about the 11 million undocumented who are still here?”

Walker was careful to keep his answer vague, saying we “for sure need to secure the border” and “enforce the legal system,” and stressing that he’s “not for amnesty,” before arguing that a “balance” needs to be struck: “We’re a country both of immigrants and of laws. We can’t ignore the laws in this country. We can’t ignore the people who’ve come in [illegally].”

At this point, Raddatz cut in, and asked him even more directly: “Is deporting them& possible? Can you see deporting 11 million people?”

This appeared to trip Walker up. “That’s not what I’m advocating as well,” he responded.

“You’re not advocating it [deportation]?” Raddatz asked.&

“I’m saying that in the end, we need to enforce the laws of the United States 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,” Walker replied.

While Walker’s message discipline might bode well for a potential presidential run — he pivots the conversation back to safer ground and avoids answering the question like a pro! — one imagines that sooner or later he’ll have to come up with a firm answer to a question sure to be in the forefront of Republican primary voters’ minds.

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