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By Dave Umhoefer March 6, 2015

Scott Walker disavows support for path to citizenship

On Feb. 4, 2015 we awarded Gov. Scott Walker a Half Flip for inconsistencies in how he framed his views on what to do about millions of illegal immigrants currently in the United States.

Our focus was on Walker’s comments in light of a 2013 Wausau Daily Herald interview in which he clearly agreed "it makes sense" that people could not only stay here but get citizenship with the right mix of penalties and waiting periods and other requirements.

Walker had muddied the waters in a Feb. 1, 2015 interview on ABC’s "This Week" program by declaring he was not for "amnesty" for those residents. Critics opposed to a "pathway" to legal citizenship disagreed, calling his position just that.

In assigning Walker a Half Flip, which is defined by a partial change in position or inconsistent statements on an issue, we noted "the truth is that we don’t really know whether he has a completely new position, because he wasn’t asked to clarify his views in detail."

(Worth noting: Two days after we issued the Half Flip, Walker in a Fox interview accused the Wausau newspaper of misquoting him despite video proving otherwise.)

Walker’s position became a whole lot clearer in a March 1, 2015 interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

Faced with the public perception that he was equivocating on the issue as he weighs a 2016 presidential run, Walker tried to better define his position. That prompted us to return to the Flip-O-Meter.

Our standard disclaimer applies: The Flip-O-Meter is not designed to say whether any change in position is good policy or good politics. Rather, it strictly looks at whether a public official has been consistent in his or her stated views on a topic.

Pressed by Wallace in the interview, Walker at first continued to say he didn’t believe in amnesty, while not disavowing his endorsement of a path to citizenship in the 2013 Wausau interview.

Wallace: The question was, can you envision a world where if these people paid a penalty, that they would have a path to citizenship? And you said, sure, that makes sense.

Walker: I believe there's a way that you can do that...

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But Walker switched course when Wallace persisted:

Wallace: But you said you supported it.

Walker: And my view has changed. I'm flat out saying it. I'm -- candidates can say that. Sometimes they don't. I'm saying my --

Wallace: So, you've changed from 2013?

Walker: Absolutely. I look at the problems we've experienced for the last few years. I've talked to governors on the border and others out there. I've talked to people all across America. And the concerns I have is that we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works. A legal immigration system that works.

And part of doing this is put the onus on employers, getting them E-Verify and tools to do that. But I don't think you do it through amnesty.

So, Walker now says he’s changed his mind since agreeing that some pathway to citizenship makes sense.

There may still be a bit of wiggle room in his position.

But in our view Walker’s declarations now make this a Full Flop, which we define as a complete change in position. Indeed, he agreed he had "absolutely" changed his position.


More on Scott Walker

For profiles and stories on Scott Walker and 2016 presidential politics, go to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Scott Walker page.

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Scott Walker disavows support for path to citizenship

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