Scott Walker backs pathway to citizenship at private dinner

3/26/15
 
   < < Go Back
 
from CNN,
3/26/15:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker endorsed a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants during a private dinner with Republican leaders in New Hampshire two weeks ago, backing away from the more hard-line position he has staked out in public and obscuring where he stands on the hot-button issue.

At a March 13 dinner at the Copper Door Restaurant in Bedford organized by New Hampshire GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn, Walker, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, was asked how he would address the problem of roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

After he declared that securing the United States border with Mexico is “our first priority,” Walker said that undocumented immigrants now residing in the country could “secure their citizenship” as long as they “get in the back of line” and wait like anyone else applying for citizenship.

Though Walker once supported a path to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration overhaul, his New Hampshire comments are at odds with more recent assurances that he opposes what he calls “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. Walker admitted in a Fox News interview earlier this month that he changed his position on the issue.

The newly-reported comments are also in conflict with the sentiments of many conservatives who hold sway in Republican primaries and fiercely oppose the idea of granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

But a spokeswoman for Walker’s likely campaign, Kirsten Kukowski, strongly disputed the account, which comes as Walker prepares to inspect the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday alongside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has staked out a hard-line position on immigration issues.

“Gov. Walker has been very clear that he does not support amnesty and believes that border security must be established and the rule of law must be followed,” Kukowski said. “His position has not changed, he does not support citizenship for illegal immigrants, and this story line is false.”

But according to the Republican who spoke to CNN, Walker backed the idea of citizenship, saying that illegal immigrants “need to be moved into a system where they eventually get their citizenship without being given preferential treatment.”

More From CNN: