Scott Walker Flips to the Protectionist Right

Scott Walker has opened up a whole new issue that’s been sitting just to the right of illegal immigration and may become as big an issue as illegal immigration itself. That would be legal immigration and voters’ anger over American companies supposed abuse of worker visa programs, like a few notorious cases in the tech world. In a recent interview Walker positioned himself clearly to the right of what seems to be the rest of the GOP field of candidates on the issue of legal immigration. He’s changed his stance from the guy who stood up to organized labor in Wisconsin. He now feels that legal immigration is far too high and is being used by corporations to hire cheap labor and replace skilled and experienced American workers. While it is clear that he is casting his pandering net far and wide in order to haul in as many conservative delegates as he can, the question remains: is he right?

The USA and other top destinations for immigrants, legal and illegal, have seen a surge in immigration in the last few decades. While the relative size is less than in earlier periods like the late 1800's or the early 1900's, it is still at a high level and comes at a time of unprecedented globalization. But to untangle the matter of worker visa abuse - a more company-specific problem that can be dealt with with sanctions - from levels of legal immigration seems essential. In other words, what level of legal immigration is best for America? Scott Walker has asked that question loud and clear, and the rest of the GOP candidates will have to have an answer on hand, whether they like it or not. The issue of illegal immigration will still flood over everything and anything to do with immigration of course. But legal immigration is hurt by illegal immigration and the amnesty Obama has put in place by executive order will be hard, but perhaps not impossible, to unwind. So fixing illegal immigration is still the top issue. But right next to it, the issue of legal immigration, especially skilled worker visas in areas where shortages are claimed, will be a hot topic as well. Any comprehensive policy on immigration will need to talk about worker visas and legal levels of immigration to convince voters the candidate has a grip on the issue. Whether Scott Walker is that candidate still remains to be seen. But he's done a flip and staked out his position. It's up to the rest to respond now.

Posted by Keeley at April 22, 2015 3:54 PM
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