Republicans often rail about undocumented immigrants. But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an expected GOP presidential candidate, took it a step further Monday by sounding some critical notes about the number of those who immigrate to the U.S. legally.Walker's now talking about limiting legal immigration? Never mind how far to the right that is. Never mind how off-putting it would be in a general election campaign in a multi-ethnic America. Let's be cynical: Why is Scott Walker putting Koch support at risk?
"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 [Alabama Sen. Jeff] 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," Walker said in an interview with Glenn Beck, according to Breitbart News.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that the Kochs find this sort of thing appalling:
Scott Walker won plaudits from David Koch at a New York fundraiser this week, but the Wisconsin governor now finds himself at odds with the leader of Mr. Koch’s Hispanic outreach organization....So Walker just blew off the Kochs?
[Walker's immigration] comments drew scorn from Daniel Garza, the executive director of the Libre Initiative, the Koch-backed organization that promotes free-market principles to Hispanic audiences.
“Any call, by anyone, to further restrict legal immigration is not a viable, nor an acceptable policy remedy,” Mr. Garza said Tuesday.
... Mr. Garza ... said Tuesday he is disappointed with Mr. Walker’s latest turn. Mr. Garza said Mr. Walker is in danger of marginalizing himself should he becoming the GOP’s presidential nominee....
“I don’t think that any candidate should really speak on the issue in a way that satisfies only one dimension of the American electorate,” Mr. Garza said. “You can’t just have a narrow slice of Americans and cater to a very narrow slice. We’ll continue to coordinate activities with folks who want to align with us on these kinds of remedies.”
Well, maybe he doesn't believe that's the case. Here's something Walker told Fox's Megyn Kelly about how his immigration position evolved:
“... having talked to border state governors and having talked to other people, seeing how screwed up immigration has become under this president, it was clear to me talking to them and listening on this issue, traveling to the border actually going there with the governor of Texas Gov. Abbott, seeing the problems there, yeah from my standpoint going forward we need to secure the border, we need to enforce the laws that we currently have with an e-verify system,” Walker said.(Emphasis added.)
Abbott is an immigration hard-liner. So, um, that must mean that Abbott never got a dime from the Kochs as he rose through the ranks in Texas politics -- right?
Wrong. This is from 2013, when Abbott was Texas's attorney general:
When Greg Abbott needed a little help flying around as his campaign for Texas governor gets underway, who did he call? The Koch brothers. Abbott’s latest campaign report shows that Koch Industries in Washington provided Abbott with the use of an airplane for $7,500 worth of travel. The report doesn’t offer details. And Abbott’s campaign did not return a call seeking clarification. But one thing’s clear: the Texas Republican attorney general is a favorite of the billionaire Koch brothers, who are big opponents of Obamacare and efforts to curb air and water pollution.And, a year later, when Abbott was running for governor:
Money from Koch interests flows to governor candidate Greg AbbottAhhh, I see. Parts of the Koch network express support for immigration -- but the Kochs have no problem whatsoever backing a hardcore immigration opponent if he does other things the brothers like.
Five months after an ammonium nitrate explosion that killed 15 people in West, Attorney General Greg Abbott received a $25,000 contribution from a first-time donor to his political campaigns -- the head of Koch Industries’ fertilizer division.
The donor, Chase Koch, is the son of one of the billionaire brothers atop Koch Industries’ politically influential business empire.
Abbott, who has since been criticized for allowing Texas chemical facilities to keep secret the contents of their plants, received more than $75,000 from Koch interests after the April 2013 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. storage and distribution facility, campaign finance records filed with the state showed....
So maybe Scott Walker assumes his extreme position on immigration will win him lots of primary votes (he's probably right) while not really alienating the apparent immigration moderates in the Koch family if he serves their interests in other, more bottom-line-oriented ways. We'll see if he's right.