- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A former official in George W. Bush’s administration said Tuesday that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s stance on birthright citizenship has dented his image in the eyes of Hispanic voters.

Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, said on CSPAN’s “Washington Journal” that Mr. Walker blew an opportunity to distance himself from the “toxic environment” that Donald Trump is creating around the immigration debate — including his recent calls to end the policy of granting automatic citizenship to almost every person born in the U.S., including those of illegal immigrant mothers.

“We have seen Gov. Walker, for example, who has been seen as a top-tier candidate, aligning himself with Trump, saying that, you know, he supports ending birthright citizenship,” Mr. Aguilar said Tuesday.

“All of a sudden now he is saying, ‘No, I didn’t say that, I am actually not going to change birthright citizenship, it is a constitutional right,’ ” Mr. Aguilar said. “I think in terms of Walker the damage is done. I think Latinos see him as someone who is really not favorable on immigration.”

The issue of immigration has caused some headaches for Mr. Walker, who announced earlier this year he no longer supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Mr. Walker has since espoused familiar GOP talking points about the need to secure the nation’s border first and foremost.

He also has gone a step further than most of his rivals by arguing that American workers and American wages should be a factor in determining levels of legal immigration - putting him in the same camp as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who wants to cut legal immigration by 25 percent, and Mr. Trump, who more recently thrust the issue of birthright citizenship to the forefront of the campaign.

Asked point blank at the Iowa state fair last week whether the nation should end birthright citizenship, Mr. Walker told MSNBC, “Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country.”

Mr. Walker pointed out that current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, supported restricting birthright citizenship in 1993.

But a few days later, Mr. Walker told CNBC he is “not taking a position one way or the other” on birthright citizenship.

“We need to secure the border and enforce the laws,” he said. “Any discussions about anything else is really looking past the very things we have to do.”

Mr. Walker was asked again over the weekend whether he is seeking to repeal or alter the 14th Amendment during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

“No,” he said. “My point is any discussion that goes beyond securing the border and enforcing the laws are things that should be a red flag to voters out there, who for years have heard lip service from politicians and are understandably angry because those politicians haven’t been committed to following through on those promises.”

The response raised additional questions since the jury is out on whether the 14th Amendment would have to be changed to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.

Mr. Aguilar worked in the Citizenship and Immigration Services office during the Bush administration.

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