Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday elaborated on his comment that American workers need protection from legal as well as illegal immigration, saying that he wants to ensure that rules for legal immigration make sense for the economy.

“I’m just suggesting that the pattern set for the future be based on the economic impact, and that our number one priority be the impact on American workers,” Mr. Walker said Friday night in an address at a dinner held by six county Republican parties.

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Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday took a shot at rival presidential contender Scott Walker for comments the Wisconsin governor has made regarding immigration policy…

“There is considerable bipartisan agreement outside of Washington that we need to improve and streamline legal immigration so that we can remain a nation that welcomes and celebrates legal immigrants,” Cruz said in an interview with the Washington Examiner during a brief campaign swing through Las Vegas.

“I think it is a mistake for any politician to on the one hand embrace amnesty, embrace a pathway to citizenship for those who are here illegally, and on the other hand seek to restrict or punish legal immigrants,” Cruz continued. “I am the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba. [President Ronald] Reagan referred to legal immigrants as Americans by choice and there is no stronger advocate of legal immigration in the U.S. Senate than I am.”

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He repeated that view Friday after a speech in Cedar Rapids, when Eddie Failor, 24, expressed concern “as a young Republican” that the party must make inroads to new voter blocs, including by supporting a comprehensive overhaul of immigration.

Mr. Walker told Mr. Failor that his top priority would be securing the border. He also said he favored “making sure the legal immigration system is based on making our No. 1 priority to protect American workers and their wages.’’

Alexander Staudt, the treasurer of the University of Iowa College Republicans, also told Mr. Walker in the meet-and-greet line that he was concerned that by talking tough on immigration, Republican candidates would turn off Hispanics.

“In terms of how wide or how narrow the door’s open, our No. 1 priority is American workers and American wages,’’ Mr. Walker told him. “I don’t know how anyone can argue against that.’’

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“YES! Fantastic, amazing, just what I’ve been waiting for! Romney, of course, said exactly this and also endorsed E-Verify and a fence on the border,” Coulter said when asked to react to Walker’s statements—and all the political establishment from both sides of the aisle and the media attacking him—on Tuesday…

“Glad to hear Walker is smoking out the cheap labor hacks,” she said. “What on Earth are they saying? He gave them no opening! Walker said, quite properly, that we can’t keep doing this to our poor and working class. Are they saying we shouldn’t care about our poor and working class?”

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Economists Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri take up Borjas’ challenge and assume that capital adjusts in response to immigrant inflows. They find that immigrants have a very small effect on the wages of native-born Americans without a high school degree (-0.1 percent to +0.6 percent) and an average positive effect on all native workers of about +0.6 percent…

How can it be that an increase in the supply of workers also increases wages? Research by Giovanni Peri and Chad Sparber sheds light on that. They find that increases in lower-skilled immigration induce lower-skilled natives to specialize in jobs that require communication in English, a skill they have, while the immigrants specialize in jobs that are more manual-labor intensive.

Communication jobs are more highly compensated than manual-labor jobs. This more efficient division of labor by skill, called complementary task specialization by economists, reduces the downward wage pressure because natives react by adapting and specializing in more highly paid occupations, not by dropping out of the job market. This effect decreases wage competition between lower-skilled natives and immigrants by around 75 percent. Related to those findings, Peter Henry found that low-skilled immigrants to an area induced natives to improve their school performance so that they wouldn’t have to compete with lower skilled immigrants. Instead of forcing Americans out of the labor market, immigrants push Americans up the skills ladder.

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If more people, even people with skills such as those on H-1B visas, are bad for an economy, why is the high-growth state of Texas working overtime to get people from other parts of the country to move there? Under the Walker-Sessions model, shouldn’t that depress wages and take jobs from those already there?

Economists call this the lump of labor fallacy, which holds that the amount of available work is fixed. If one person gets a job, another loses it. But the addition of new workers into a market, especially skilled workers, can increase the productivity of companies in a way that expands the supply of work for everybody.

Republicans used to understand this basic economic principle, but the politics of immigration is turning some of them into economists for the AFL-CIO. The irony is that Mr. Sessions’s view of labor economics requires believing that the most innovative U.S. companies aren’t built on smarts or innovation but on the exploitation of cheap foreign labor.

Mr. Walker is right that the GOP needs to focus on raising the incomes of average Americans, but the way to do that is with policies that increase growth and improve upward mobility. Zero-sum labor economics will do neither.

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The Koch Brothers, who are big fans of Walker, don’t want decreases in legal immigration. The Chamber of Commerce — also a fan of Walker — is with the Koch Brothers.

Alienating elected officials and donors is an enormous no-no in a presidential primary, especially at this stage. The party actors help guide voters in primaries, where ideological differences are less pronounced than in general elections. In the era of the super PAC, you don’t want to upset people who can spend you into the ground

A Pew Research Center survey from May 2013 found 53 percent of self-identified Republicans wanted legal immigration levels either increased (20 percent) or kept constant (33 percent). A CBS News poll from April 2013 found that 60 percent of Republicans wanted legal immigration levels either increased (22 percent) or kept constant (38 percent). And conservative Republicans were about as likely as liberal and moderate Republicans to favor maintaining or increasing legal immigration levels, according to the Pew survey.

If Walker could make legal immigration a binary question (increase or decrease) or tie it to illegal immigration, he might be able to sell a “lower legal immigration” position in a Republican primary. The problem: Party actors, as discussed above, are unlikely to let this happen.

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Walker and his 2016 fellow GOP contenders have now discovered that the middle class is under pressure. But instead of proposing transformative policies — like greater access to education, including adult education, cheap loans for small business start-ups and a fair tax code that rewards work at least as much as it applauds passive investments — GOP candidates have vilified immigrants…

But what is Walker (or Sens. Ted Cruz [R-Texas], Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] et al.) going to do in the general election if he wins the nomination? Faced with a primary process during which Republicans will try to outdo each other in their anti-immigration rhetoric (self-deportation with leeches?), whoever emerges the winner will face repudiation not just from Latino- and Asian-Americans, as Romney did in 2012, but from Americans of all walks of life who remember that this country is a nation of immigrants, made up of people who value fairness and reject prejudice.

An electoral strategy of division and fear, like the one now adopted by Scott Walker, cuts both ways. As Mitt Romney proved, anti-immigrant zealotry is a great get-out-the-vote strategy — for Democrats.

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Bush might be flabby from a long break from politics and Rubio might be a little too young and a little too eager, but both are shrewd men of good political judgment. They’ve distanced themselves from comprehensive immigration reform, even going as far—in Rubio’s case—to disavow their own proposals. But broadly, they’re still interested in trying to integrate unauthorized immigrants into American society, and using that as the basis for shared appeal to Latinos, Asians, and other groups with strong ties to immigrant communities.

Those are strong positions in the Republican primary; restrictionist enough for conservative voters but not too draconian for a general election. That is, if the base doesn’t follow Walker on legal immigration. If it does, then he may raise the cost of that “moderate” position, forcing them to switch gears and move toward him. Not only could Walker win votes, it would fit with his persona as the Republican who doesn’t have to compromise, the candidate who can win without ever budging from conservative principles…

How will nonwhite voters respond to a candidate who doesn’t want any immigration? By voting against him, in droves. Then again, if the economy falters between now and next November, and if Walker is the nominee, then it might not matter. Walker could take this hyper-restrictionist stance on immigration and prevail in a presidential election, vindicating his extremism.

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This comes after Walker backed away from previous support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — what some members of his party like to call “amnesty.” In early March, Walker told Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, that “my view has changed.” Now, he said, a pathway to citizenship shouldn’t be considered until the U.S. secures its borders and toughens enforcement.

Adding to the confusion: A closed-door dinner in New Hampshire, where The Wall Street Journal, citing three sources, said the governor had backed a path to citizenship. Walker’s aides quickly replied that the governor “does not support citizenship for illegal immigrants.” But he has said he doesn’t want to deport those undocumented workers who are already here, which he knows is impossible.

So what about a pathway to legal residency for those already here illegally? On this, the governor is about as clear as an April sky in Milwaukee. Which is to say — not very.

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Walker’s remarks — which also name-checked GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, an outspoken opponent of immigration reform — were a departure from many of his past comments on the issue. By raising questions about legal immigration levels, he appeared to espouse a protectionist approach that positions him to the right of much of the GOP primary field…

Every politician, like every constituent, has a right to change his or her mind. But a windblown approach to policy could shatter the steadfast image Walker earned in the Wisconsin union brawl, and which he hoped to leverage as a cornerstone of his all-but-certain presidential campaign. “It shreds your argument if you say you’re going to be the principled guy,” says the GOP strategist, “but here are all these examples of where he flipped.”

The examples are mounting. There was Walker’s reversal on ethanol subsides, another Iowa hot-button which he backed this spring after formerly opposing. There was his push to repeal Common Core when it became politically toxic in 2014, after previously supporting the standards. There was his decision to sign a right-to-work law after years of disavowing interest in pursuing such a policy…

“You do not want to be in a position where you build up a track record of moving around on issues,” says another veteran Republican consultant. “It’s absolutely fatal.”

***

In an interview with the Quad City Times in Iowa, Walker tripled down on the sentiment that American workers must come first when it comes to immigration levels—after doing so earlier this week in interviews with both Glenn Beck and Megyn Kelly.

“A couple years ago, when the unemployment rate was at incredibly high levels and labor participation was low, why would we want to flood the market with more workers? So that would be a time when you would have arguably less. As the unemployment rate goes down and labor participation rates go up, the two have to go hand in hand. Then it could be conceivably more than we have today. So it’s not a set number,” Walker said.

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First, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that current legal-immigration levels — approximately 1 million new immigrants a year — are not an automatic economic boon. Despite the much-touted link between current immigration levels and increases in income for native-born Americans, it is not at all obvious that those increases could not be achieved by other means, and those gains are partially offset by wage decreases among foreign-born workers, who, predictably, are forced to compete with new immigrants for scarce job opportunities…

Walker, more than any Republican candidate, is in step with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which in 2010 reported, “Illegal immigration to the United States in recent decades has tended to depress both wages and employment rates for low-skilled American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are black men.” “Competition from immigration accounts for approximately 40 percent of the 18 percentage point decline in black employment in recent years,” commissioner Peter Kirsanow wrote at National Review last fall. “That’s nearly a million jobs lost by blacks to immigrants.” Republicans have long lamented their dismal electoral performance in minority communities. Walker’s position is far more likely to sway these voters — and, more important, help these communities — than the platitude-filled “minority outreach” of Republican campaigns past.

But there is, finally, a question of principle at stake. Is the Republican party a party of ideas, of free and open debate in which the best ideas can win the day? Or is it a party of censorship that requires toeing predetermined lines? Because it is the Left that is notorious for demanding ideological uniformity; it is the Left that ostracizes and excommunicates. Democrats’ marketplace of ideas has always been a command economy — which is why Hillary Clinton’s ideas are from the 1990s, and Barack Obama’s were from the 1930s. But the reaction to Walker’s call for an open debate on legal-immigration policy has been indistinguishable from what one sees on the left. A Republican party that shouts down anyone who calls for a closer examination of the evidence is thoroughly illiberal — or thoroughly liberal, as the case may be.

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That doesn’t mean immigration it bad, it’s just a little like water. It’s a necessity a glass at a time, but when it comes at you in a tidal wave the size of the Empire State Building, it can do a lot of damage. What’s wrong with acknowledging that obvious fact?

Yes, immigration has helped America overall. Yes, we should continue to allow immigration. In fact, there might even be certain professions where we want to INCREASE legal immigration. For example, unless we get a Republican in the White House who agrees to repeal and replace Obamacare (Helpful hint: Don’t vote for a candidate who won’t pledge to do this), then we’re going to need a lot more foreign born doctors to replace all the American docs leaving the profession. Moreover, I’d like to see us make the process quicker, easier & cheaper for LEGAL immigrants who we allow into our country. They want to obey our laws and try to do the right thing, so why are we making it so hard on them when we’re bending over backwards to reward lawbreaking illegals? However, when so many Americans are out of work, what’s wrong with cutting back on legal immigration for a while to allow more of our current American citizens to get back in the work force? Just as it would make sense to INCREASE the number of legal immigrants coming into the country if we had a shortage of workers, it makes sense to DECREASE the number of legal immigrants coming into our country when almost 93 million Americans are out of the labor force. That’s not “anti-immigrant” in any way, shape or form, it’s putting Americans first; something that far too many politicians & plutocrats who’ve put greed above the good our country have ceased to do.

As Mark Levin said, “We are not a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of citizens.” It’s time that our immigration policy took that into account and put Americans first.

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Walker said that we are a country of immigrants, but we are also a country of laws. He asserted that we should be looking out for the American worker in everything we do.

“From immigration to tax policy to welfare reform and everything, I’m going to stand with the American worker.”