Scott Walker wants you to know he now opposes “amnesty” — even as he says he supports a policy that amounts to “amnesty.”
Seeking to appease immigration hawks, the Wisconsin governor, who is actively laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential campaign, appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to say his views on immigration have changed and that he no longer supports “amnesty.”
“Well, I don’t believe in amnesty,” he told host Chris Wallace. “Part of the reason why I made that a firm position, is that I look at the way that this president has mishandled that issue.”
“I was one of the first governors that joined the lawsuit that has been successful at least on this initial technicality, and I hope we prevail ultimately throughout the courts,” he continued. “And then going forward, the way to enforce it is not through amnesty. 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.”
This statement had media outlets from left to right to center trumpeting the fact that Walker had reversed his position on “amnesty.” And he repeatedly said as much throughout the Wallace exchange on immigration. The governor really wants you to know that he opposes “amnesty.” But take a look at how Walker answered Wallace’s follow up question:
WALLACE: The question [in 2013] was, ‘Can you envision a world where if these people paid a penalty that they would have a path to citizenship?’ and you said, ‘Sure, that makes sense.’
WALKER: I believe there’s a way you can do that. First and foremost, you have to secure that border, or none of these plans make any sense.
Did you catch the first part of Walker’s response? He said, “I believe there’s a way you can do that,” as in he can envision a scenario in which most of the illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States would be granted a pathway to citizenship in exchange for paying a financial penalty. (RELATED: All Potential 2016 Candidates Support ‘Amnesty’)
What Walker appears to be doing here is playing a game of semantics. He is defining “amnesty” to be something different from what the immigration hawks he is trying to court with his supposed change of heart believe it to be. To immigration hawks like Iowa Rep. Steve King, amnesty is any pathway to normalizing the immigration statuses of America’s illegal population, no matter whether those illegals would be forced to pay a financial penalty or even prevented from gaining citizenship.
So Walker hasn’t changed his position on “amnesty,” at least as defined by the very voters and activists he is apparently changing his position to appease.
Now, Walker may have changed his mind on when he would contemplate such an “amnesty.” He may no longer support it as part of a comprehensive immigration bill. He may now want to see the border secured first. But judging by what he said to Chris Wallace, it seems he still envisions providing a pathway to legalization for the illegal immigrant population residing in the United States, at least at some point.
Which is fine with me. I support a pathway to legalization too, as long as we secure the border and there is some penalty for breaking the law. But for the sake of clarity, it is worth pointing that Walker has not changed his position on “amnesty” in principle, even if he wants some people to believe he has.