Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker acknowledged in a CNN interview that in the past he had expressed support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but said that he wasn't talking about amnesty at the time.
In an interview aboard his campaign trailer that aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Dana Bash pressed Walker about his shift from somebody who once said a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants "made sense" to a presidential candidate talking about restrictions on legal immigration. She asked whether such shifts undermined his pitch to voters that he's somebody who stands up for his principles.
"The only issue where I've clearly said I had a position before — and even on that, as governor, I didn't have a role to play in immigration. I said there should be a path, years ago, when I talked about going forward with legal immigration", he said. "I didn't talk about amnesty. In fact, I said in that specific interview, I opposed the 'Gang of 5,' the measure that Marco Rubio proposed. So I specifically even then said, 'I'm not supporting that.' But I said flat out in the beginning of the year, that's a position I have changed on."
In the 2013 interview with the Wausau Daily Herald editorial board that has gotten a second life during his presidential run, Walker was asked about the millions of individuals who immigrated to the United States illegally, and whether he could see them gaining citizenship with the right mix of penalties and waiting periods. "Sure, yeah," he responded. "I mean, I think it makes sense."
The meaning of the term "amnesty" is itself a hotly debated one in politics, and to many conservatives, any path to citizenship to those who entered the country illegally — even with penalties — would be considered amnesty.
Bash also asked Walker about comments he's made about legal immigration.
"What I've specifically said is I think priority under legal immigration should be given to the impact on American working families on their wages in a way that would improve the American economy," Walker said. "That not only means people like me who were born here, that means people like the woman I just met in Cedar Rapids, for example, who moved here many years ago, was a political refugee of the Congo, and who went through the process to be a legal citizen. She's working here. And I believe for her, and for others who were born here, there needs to be priority given, to say, we're going to need to make sure we put priority [on] American working families and their wages. Doesn't mean there won't ever be legal immigration, it just means that's what our priorities should be."