The 2016 presidential race just got interesting. For the last few weeks, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has been making allusions to the impact of legal—not just illegal—immigration on American workers—the essence of Jeff Sessions-style National Conservatism.And now Walker has even dared invoke Sessions’ dread name.
Mentioning Jeff Sessions seems to have been the last straw. The Left and the cheap labor and neoconservative Right reacted with predictable outrage. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin called the mention of Sessions a “red flag”. Walker’s spokesman responded:
“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.”
Governor Walker supports American workers’ wages and the U.S. economy and thinks both should be considered when crafting a policy for legal immigration. He strongly supports legal immigration, and like many Americans, believes that our economic situation should be considered instead of arbitrary caps on the amount of immigrants that can enter.Of course, as VDARE’s James Kirkpatrick has noted, there are reasons to question Walker’s sincerity on the issue. He has never before indicated support for cutting back on legal immigration, and just two years ago he supported amnesty and increased legal immigration, arguing “We just have a broken system. And to me, 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.”[ Scott Walker supports path to citizenship, By Kevin Cirilli, Politico, Feb 22, 2013]
And while Walker has renounced his past support for amnesty, if you look at his words carefully, he never explicitly calls for immigration cuts. He could cite a spurious Cato Study that says mass immigration creates jobs and raises wages, increase the “arbitrary caps” on immigration and technically not contradict his recent statements.
But although Walker has left himself room to flip-flop in the future, the plain fact is that he would not have made these noises to begin with if he did not think that advocating legal immigration reductions could help his campaign.
It’s certainly in line with the voters. According to Gallup, Republican voters want to decrease, rather than increase, legal immigration by over a 3-1 margin, and all voters support the same by a 2-1 margin.
Yet this understates the case. Most Americans have no clue that we let in over a million legal immigrants and almost as many temporary workers each year. Other than Jeff Sessions, virtually no-one in public life talks about these issues. If a major presidential candidate highlighted the true levels of immigration we fare, I’m sure support for reducing immigration would skyrocket.
While patriotic immigration reform is smart politics for all GOP candidates, it is especially useful for Scott Walker. The Establishment supports Jeb Bush and much of the conservative base prefers Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. Immigration presents Walker with a perfect wedge issue for him and enables him to outflank Cruz and Paul.
Rand Paul has said that rather than “a 100-foot-tall fence,” the “one thing that protects us from illegal immigration, legal immigration.”[HANNITY:Exclusive: One-on-one with presidential candidate Rand Paul, FoxNews.com, April 08, 2015] Instead of voicing Walker’s concern for workers, Paul’s heart bleeds for employers: “I know many farmers in Kentucky, and they come up to me and they say ‘well, I have 30 workers,’…they never had one American in 30 years apply for a job.”
While Walker is turning to Sessions for Immigration policy, Ted Cruz voted against a Sessions Amendment to say to merely limit green cards to 30 million over a decade! Cruz has said he opposes Obama’s Executive Amnesty because it prevents “inviting more people to enter legally.”
If Walker got the nomination, the immigration issue could be especially useful against Hillary Clinton. One of Walker’s top selling points is his ability to win in hostile territory. He’s won two statewide elections and survived a recall in a state that has not voted for a Republican president since 1984. He is the only Republican to serve as a Milwaukee County Executive since the position was created in 1960.
To defeat Hillary Clinton, Republicans are going to need to win northern states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa—what Steve Sailer has called “the Slippery Six.” As I’ve noted the rising Hispanic population is going to make formerly Red states like Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Florida harder for Republicans to win.
Romney and McCain fared notoriously poorly among non-Southern working class whites. Many did not bother to vote at all. These “missing white voters,” as RealClearPolitics Sean Trende called them, were not Tea Partiers upset that Romney did not want to cut corporate taxes enough. Rather, “the drop-off in voting was concentrated mostly among those living in Northern, blue-collar counties (the type of places that voted for Perot in 1992).” [Yes, the Missing Whites Matter, By Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics, July 12, 2013]
Scott Walker is best known for taking on organized labor in his state. This made him a darling to many conservatives, but you can be sure that if he gets the nomination, this struggle will be the Democrats’ first target. They will also portray Walker as a slave to the Koch brothers and other plutocrats. Walker is especially vulnerable to this charge after a Leftist blogger got him on the phone and tricked him into thinking he was David Koch.
Hillary Clinton is already making income inequality her signature campaign issue. What better way for Walker to rebut the charge by taking the anti-plutocrat, pro-worker position?
The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis has called Walker’s new stand a “populist immigration pander.” Yet how does he expect any candidate to win without “pandering” to the working class of America in some way?
As GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway astutely noted: “The left will try to caricature him as union-busting, as anti-worker. This gives him the opportunity to say ‘if you’re for amnesty, you’re anti-worker.”[ GOP Pollster: Scott Walker’s Bold New Pro-American Immigration Position ‘Winning Hand’ ,by Matthew Boyle, Breitbart, April 21, 2015]
Regardless of Walker’s motives or true feelings on the issue, his recent statements are a great step forward for the patriotic immigration reform movement.
Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway