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Scott Walker And Chris Christie Pander To Donald Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Base

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As Steven Taylor noted earlier today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took the immigration debate inside the Republican Party to the next level with his statement that was open to the idea of a border wall at the U.S. border with Mexico:

It’s not just the southern border:Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says it’s “legitimate” to discuss building a wall separating the United States from Canada, as well.

The Republican presidential contender said the idea of a northern border has come up while he has campaigned in New Hampshire.

In an interview for NBC’s “Meet the Press” available online, Walker said his tough talk to securing the borders and enforcing U.S. laws extends to the 5,525-mile Canadian border as well.

It’s a shift from most campaign-trail rhetoric, which has focused on the United States’ border with Mexico, where millions undocumented immigrants have entered the country.

“Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire,” Walker said. “They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at.”

Not surprisingly, Canadians aren’t taking talk like this very lightly:

That kind of chatter — as idle as it might be — can make Canadians jittery given that more than one-third of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product involves trade with the U.S., and that the tightened border after the 9-11 attacks caused a ripple-effect that still hasn’t completely subsided.

Canada’s defence minister weighed in when asked about Walker’s remarks Sunday, although he said he hadn’t yet heard them. In response, Jason Kenney said Canada would protect what he called the largest bilateral trading relationship in economic history.

“Of course we would vigorously oppose any thickening of the border,” he told an Ottawa news conference.

Walker’s proposal isn’t a serious one, of course. Even if he were somehow elected President, which seems increasingly unlikely, the odds that such a proposal would get past Congress and the decades old international agreements that govern the relationship between the United States and Canada are extremely small. Additionally, even if one were to concede Walker’s contention that the Canadian border is some of kind of security threat, his propoal is quite obviously not a practical solution to that problem. For one thing, the border in question runs well over 5,000 miles and includes not only the border between the Continental United States and Canada, but also the border between Canada and Alaska. A good portion of this border region consists of highly inhospitable areas in which it would be entirely impossible to construct any part of the barrier. The border also cuts through Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and I’m not aware of any viable way to construct a water barrier.

Rather than being a serious proposal, what we’re obviously seeing here is Walker pandering to the same audience that has been receptive to Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant/border fence rhetoric and his call for the elimination of birthright citizenship notwithstanding the fact that most of his claims about immigration are based on lies. Walker, in fact, has been something of a flip-flopper when it comes these issues as his desire to curry favor with that wing of the GOP becomes more apparent. Just last week, for example, Walker took four different positions on the issue of birthright citizenship over the course of seven days. Earlier in the year, he was caught changing his position on immigration reform and how to handle the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country, and even making statements critical of legal immigration. The fact that all of this is happening as Walker’s poll numbers decline makes the pandering all the more obvious.

Governor Walker isn’t the only one pandering to the anti-immigrant crowd that Trump has attracted, Chris Christie is now suggesting that the Federal Government track immigrants the way FedEx tracks packages:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Saturday that if he were elected president he would combat illegal immigration by creating a system to track foreign visitors the way FedExtracks packages.

Mr. Christie, who is far back in the pack of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said at a campaign event in New Hampshire that he would ask the chief executive of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, to devise the tracking system.

Immigration has become a top issue in the Republican campaign, with the front-runner, Donald J. Trump, having vowed to deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country and to build a wall along the United States’ southern border.

“At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane,” Mr. Christie told the crowd in Laconia, N.H. “Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.”

He added: “We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in.”

He said 40 percent of illegal immigrants are allowed into the United States legally with a visa and then stay longer than their visa allows.

“However long your visa is, then we go get you,” Mr. Christie said. “We tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Excuse me. Thanks for coming. Time to go.’ ”

(…)

Mr. Christie did not say specifically how a system would track people the same way packages are tracked by FedEx, which scans a bar code on the package at each step of its delivery.

A FedEx spokeswoman declined to comment on Mr. Christie’s remarks.

Christie is correct in pointing out that people overstaying visas is a significant part of the illegal immigration problem. Indeed, the fact that 40% or more of the people who are in the country illegally are people who overstayed their visa makes arguments about “border security” and building a border wall seem largely ridiculous. Even if the border could made completely secure, which is unlikely, there would still be a significant issue with illegal immigration due to overstayed visas. Of course, the fact that many of the people here on overstayed visas come from Asia and Europe rather than Latin America likely means that many of the people in Trump’s coalition don’t consider them to be as big of a “problem.”

Even giving Christie merit for pointing out the issue of visa overstays, though, his largely off the cuff suggestion, for which he provided few actual details, is still problematic. Right off the top, Christie’s idea brings to mind images of the government requiring people to carry a bar code or RFID chip that would allow them to be easily located. That’s hardly the kind of thing that one would want the government of free society to be able to do. We give criminals and people out on bail ankle bracelets so we can be sure that they won’t leave the jurisdiction or go places they aren’t permitted to. The idea of requiring everyone who receives a Visa to get some sort of similar tracking technology is positively Orwellian, and if it were used on them it wouldn’t be long before the government found reasons to require others to use this technology.

Like Walker, Christie’s idea here is less an serious proposal and more an effort to pander to the anti-immigrant sentiment that Trump has tapped into and which he whips up every chance he gets. If nothing else, this should tells us that the Trump phenomenon isn’t as much of an anomaly of Republican politics as the more establishment wing of the party would like to believe. When other candidates start making suggesting like this and endorsing Trump’s idea of ending birthright citizenship, it’s a sign that Trumpism is winning the debate in side the Republican Party, even if Trump himself doesn’t end up winning the nomination.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    It’s sad but in a caucus state like Iowa only the craziest of the wingnuts show up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  2. Mark says:

    Walker is pre-empting accusations that a Mexican border wall is about keeping the American people as white as possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  3. steve says:

    Bar code immigrants? Sheer genius. The guys in the brown trucks can deliver the brown people. Color coordinated even. I can just see it now. Mex-Ex. For when you just have to be deported overnight.

    Steve

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

  4. Moosebreath says:

    “Scott Walker And Chris Christie Pander To Donald TrumpThe Republican Party’s Anti-Immigrant Base”

    FTFY. For example:

    In perhaps the most striking finding, some 63% of Republican voters view immigrants of all stripes as a “burden” who generally compete for jobs, housing, and health care. That’s almost a mirror image of Democrats, 62% of whom agreed with a statement that immigrants “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents,” and independents, 57% of whom agreed immigrants “strengthen” America overall.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    @Moosebreath: It is still a reality that without the Hispanic immigrants, both legal and illegal, we would all starve to death. Americans are simply too fat and lazy to work in the fields. Also good luck in getting a new roof put on your house or getting your lawn mowed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  6. Hal_10000 says:

    Now at last we see Donald Trump’s strategy: make the entire GOP field self-immolate as they try to out-crazy him.

    Walker lost my vote a long time ago. He’s been absolutely shameless in pandering in his pursuit of the White House. He has no business running anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  7. Mikey says:

    Yes, Governor Walker, let’s say some inane things that will offend America’s largest trade partner, which is also an ally so close we share information no other countries share, which also also just happens to border the state you govern. What could possibly go wrong?

    Just as Bernie Sanders is pulling the Democratic campaigns to the left, Trump is pulling the Republican campaigns to the…is “abysmally stupid” a direction?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  8. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve been saying for a while now that it’s not about Trump, it’s about Republican voters. Trump didn’t create a party of bigots, he’s just exploiting it. The problem is not Trump or Walker, it’s Republicans.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 1

  9. Turgid Jacobian says:

    @michael reynolds: guy like trump, he sees a market underserved, he says “I got this”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  10. James Pearce says:

    When other candidates start making suggesting like this and endorsing Trump’s idea of ending birthright citizenship, it’s a sign that Trumpism is winning the debate in side the Republican Party, even if Trump himself doesn’t end up winning the nomination.

    The GOP’s anti-immigrant stuff long predates Trumpism. That side won the debate back in 2007 when they killed a Republican president’s reform plan. Obama thought he could appease these by deporting ever more immigrants, but he got no credit, and look at them now. Their demands are getting even more outrageous, calling for walls and Constitutional amendments.

    If Christie and Walker are indeed pandering, as opposed to having the same block-headed beliefs every other Republican has displayed on this issue, then they should at least acknowledge that the beast will never be sated. Once they’re done with the Hispanics, they won’t slink off to their homes, patting each other on the back for a job well done.

    They’ll ask themselves, “Who’s next?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  11. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    To execute the Fedex-style tracking each person entering with a visa would have to be marked in some sort of fashion that couldn’t be removed.

    How about doping their bodily tissues with a radiologic marker specific to the date of their visa expiration.

    Then we could set up radiologic sensing stations so that the visa holder could be tracked from station to station. Locations for these stations? Walmarts, churches, public bathrooms, set up stations on every road the crosses a state border, drones…. the ideas are limitless

    Then when a person whose visa has expired is detected nearby the VSS (Visa Survellience Station) an VSS attendant (suggest a brown shirt uniform) is dispatched to apprehend the illegal.

    Whadda country!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Now at last we see Donald Trump Bill Clinton’s strategy: make the entire GOP field self-immolate as they try to out-crazy him Trump.

    FTFY.

    Sheer genius.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. FredW says:

    To pick nits, Lake Michigan is entirely within the US. Lake Huron is shared between US and Canada.

    Unless Scott Walker has done something with Wisconsin when I wasn’t looking…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Franklin says:

    I live in Michigan and before 9/11 we could just go over to Windsor and back, no passports and rarely more than a friendly “where ya headed?” at customs. I miss those days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. MarkedMan says:

    Unsaid here is that either Christie has either completely misread how this will play in Jersey or he has all but given up on re-election. Because there are a lot of immigrants in Jersey. And Christie would be very naive to think they a cept the implicit Republican message that they are only beating on “recently arrived brown skinned people that speak Spanish.” My Irish Catholic father who today’s America politicians might assume was ripe for the Republican plucking, pulled that lever for Democrat every possible election without fail. He came off the boat in 1950 and had friends, people he knew personally, that were beaten up in the US South because they dared to bring their heinie roman asses across the Mason Dixon line. He knew exactly what Nixon and Atwater did when they aligned themselves with the thugs and bigots and he never forgot it till the day he died.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  16. PJ says:

    @Moosebreath:

    In perhaps the most striking finding, some 63% of Republican voters view immigrants of all stripes as a “burden” who generally compete for jobs, housing, and health care. That’s almost a mirror image of Democrats, 62% of whom agreed with a statement that immigrants “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents

    63% is almost the same as 62%, so clearly both sides do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  17. Mikey says:

    @Franklin: Man, I have so many stories of going over to Windsor. Like the Canadian border officer would ask “where ya headed?” and we’d say “Dinner” and he’d say “Yeah, OK” with a look that told us “I know you’re going to Danny’s.” Or the jerk in our car who when asked his citizenship, and the rest of us said “U. S.” but he said “You Ass” and we were there an hour while they went through the contents of the car. And a couple times I wondered how they even let us through because we’d had a few too many…one time I wondered how we didn’t just fall off the Ambassador Bridge.

    This is what happens when the drinking age in your country is 21 but you live 20 minutes from a country where it’s 19…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. lankyloo says:

    @steve: I’m so glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read this. Nailed it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I’m not aware of any viable way to construct a water barrier.

    Mines. As an added bonus, the Coast Guard could make money either licensing or providing lake pilot service, similar to the river pilots on the lower Columbia River.

    it’s a sign that Trumpism is winning the debate in side the Republican Party, even if Trump himself doesn’t end up winning the nomination

    I’m not going to call you out on this one as James Pierce and others have already done a creditable job, but Dude, what have you been smoking? We need some of that shirt in Washington State (probably Colorado, too!).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Slugger says:

    Someone has to ask Walker about reservations like the Mohawk nation lands that straddle New York state and Ontario. I believe that both the US and Canada have signed treaties, i.e. international law superseding national laws, that give a degree of sovereignty to the the native peoples. On the other hand, perhaps Walker shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    The border also cuts through Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and I’m not aware of any viable way to construct a water barrier.

    Sharks with frickin’ lasers mounted on their heads, my friend. Try gettin’ through THAT.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Franklin: In my boyhood in ND we went to a Boy Scout camp on the border, near the Peace Gardens. Walking in the woods I came on a barbed wire fence. Wondered why anyone was fencing cows way deep in the woods. Walked down it a ways and found a rusted, barely legible sign identifying it as the US/Canada border. Usual kind of farm fence one could climb over in two seconds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. JohnMcC says:

    @gVOR08: Hah! Went on a fishing trip with my Dad and Brother-in-law in the Boundary Waters many years ago. Got caught by darkness on our way out and spent the night in an unplanned Canadian side campsite. My two companions were both life members of NRA and, being bear-phobic, were packing very serious heat (at least one was a bull-dog-.45). If found by the RCMP we’d have ended up in a jail or as POWs if it appeared like an organized invasion.

    Good times!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Joe says:

    @michael reynolds: “[Scott]’s a hybrid candidate who can appeal to both base conservatives and not scare the establishment,” Tim Pawlenty was quoted in a WSJ article about the troubles with Scott Walker’s campaign. That’s an interesting observation from a Republican that boils down to a statement that the Republican establishment is scared of its own base.

    I have said before that Trump appeals to the “why don’t they just . . . ” crowd. Although that crowd has adherents across the political spectrum, they seem to have congregated disproportionately toward the Republican base.

    It is also interesting to me that the MSM and some of the more mainstream candidates are trying to undermine Trump’s popularity by showing the Republican base that Trump is incapable of holding a serious debate on real issues. To me, that is like trying to prove to the Democratic base that Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. In both cases, the respective bases respond, we know that – that’s WHY we love him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Pete S says:

    A good portion of this border region consists of highly inhospitable areas in which it would be entirely impossible to construct any part of the barrier. The border also cuts through Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and I’m not aware of any viable way to construct a water barrier.

    I live in Niagara Falls and pass the falls every day on the way to work. I look forward to seeing a wall built in the rapids above and below the falls, that will be quite an engineering feat!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Grewgills says:

    @Ron Beasley:
    My brothers and I all did farm labor and landscaping when we were younger, one of them still does landscaping when not working as a fireman. I am to old, fat, and lazy to do it now, but there are a lot of people I know that aren’t and they are almost all American. Americans being unable to do the work is a bs argument. Americans are unwilling to do the work for the wage that American farms are willing to pay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Andre Kenji says:

    This idea of “securing the Border” is a complete nonsense. It´s very easy to overstay a visitor visa, and people like Walker have no idea about the bureaucracy related to work contracts that would be needed to keep undocumented workers out(I know about that because I live in a country that does exactly that).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Pete S says:

    The border also cuts through Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and I’m not aware of any viable way to construct a water barrier.

    I live in Niagara Falls and drive to work past the falls every day. I particularly look forward to watching the engineering marvel of constructing a wall through the two sets of rapids above and below the falls.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Grewgills says:

    @Pete S:
    No wall across the rapids, just guard towers with machine gun turrets on either side to take out the barrel riders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0