- Associated Press - Monday, June 25, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker repeatedly dodged questions Monday about whether he supported President Donald Trump’s immigration policy at the Mexican border, saying it’s outside of his jurisdiction.

But that’s never stopped the Republican governor from weighing in on a host of federal issues before.

Walker has frequently commented on immigration and other federal or international political issues, particularly in 2015 when he was running for president. Just over two months ago, Walker tweeted praise to Trump for “taking on illegal drugs, human trafficking, illegal firearms, and all the problems we see on our southern border.”

His re-election campaign is even paying for digital ads running on Facebook that voice support for sending National Guard troops to defend the southern border. The Democratic Party noted that the ads were running outside of the state, signaling that their intention was to raise money not persuade voters.

Walker’s refusal to comment comes as both Republican and Democratic governors in other states have weighed in against separating families at the border, a policy Trump reversed last week.

“I’ve got my hands full with things here in Wisconsin,” Walker told reporters Monday in declining to given an opinion. “I could comment on every single thing in the federal government. It might be good for the media for stories, but that’s not what I’m elected to do. I’m elected to lead the state of Wisconsin and focus on the things that need to be done here.”

Walker tried to draw a distinction between immigration policy and tariffs, a topic he did address Monday after being asked about Harley-Davidson’s announcement that it was moving some production overseas to avoid paying tariffs.

“Obviously tariffs I just talked about are a federal issue but they directly impact the businesses in the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said.

Walker last week allowed members of the Wisconsin National Guard to be sent to Arizona to assist with administrative duties for Guard members there. Democrats criticized the move, but Walker stressed that the Guard members are playing no role in enforcing immigration policy at the border.

“That was part of our original agreement that continues in place right now,” Walker said. “They have no interaction with illegal immigrants, detainees or people seeking entry into the United States.”

Walker last week had encouraged anyone with an opinion on Trump’s immigration policy to contact their federal representatives. He referenced that Monday when referring to changes made to the policy following a loud, bipartisan backlash.

“I would anticipate there’ll probably be some more changes to that but again it’s out of my jurisdiction,” Walker said.

Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman TJ Helmstetter said it was “quite telling” that Walker refused to talk about the issue even while running Facebook ads about it.

Scott Walker has always been focused more on his national ambition and standing in the national Republican Party instead of working for Wisconsin and doing what’s right,” he said. “That’s why he refuses to take a strong stand against Donald Trump even in the face of horrific cruelty against children.”


Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbauerAP . Sign up for “Politics in Focus,” a weekly newsletter showcasing the AP’s best political reporting from around the country leading up to the midterm elections: http://apne.ws/3Gzcraw

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