Before Christmas Governor Scott Walker sent a letter to Donald Trump with a variety of issues highlighted in which he sought help from the federal government. One was a request to give Walker more authority in how many refugees could come from certain countries. The fact the letter was constructed and sent during the Holidays, and following another year of horrific images and news accounts from places like Aleppo, seemed very harsh. No one who has followed world events can not measure the need that refugees face in our world today. Walker who came from a home where his father was a pastor should not need reminding on the meaning of “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
The anti-immigrant theme has been well documented as a major force in both European politics and the election cycle of this nation which turned logic upside down. Playing to a political base which wants to hear about closing borders and even embracing anti-Islamic messages has proven to be effective as a campaign tool. I hate to say it, but facts show what has happened.
Still I have to question the actions of Walker in his letter. In late October 2010 I wrote the following about Walker and his opponent Tom Barrett as they battled for victory.
As we wind this long and far-too-often nasty campaign down to the final days I am reminded we could have done far worse than the final two contenders for governor. We can, and will, argue the politics of the race. But in terms of electing a nice person I suspect we win either way.
I truly felt, politics and policy aside, Walker at his foundation would be a man of character. I have had many things to say about Walker since 2010 but his lack of empathy towards refugees, in light of all we have come to know about these men, women and children from news reports, leaves me more dispirited than ever about his time in office.
If Walker can not see the most human reason to open our arms to the refugees then let us talk about the cold hard bottom line. The needs of the state.
Walker should easily see the rationale for seeking immigrants to this state as over-and-over experts speak about the worker shortage we face. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce reports that since 2010 our state looses 10,000 residents to other states and better paying jobs. As those same reports note our state is also dealing with a lower birth rate. Just compare the number of high school graduates vs. those who start kindergarten to better understand the problem we face. Our economic engine requires able workers and if we fail to provide what business needs there will be even more reason for firms to move away.
If Walker does not desire to have refugees reside in our state and participate in our economy then he has a duty to make sure the policies that create refugees are reconsidered. Therefore, might we also see a letter from the governor to his president about the oligarchs in Central America who deny their people democracy? Might we read of his feelings about repressive violence from despots who the US supports which leads to refugees? Does Walker now realize there are huge international consequences to actions such as the willful invasion of Iraq which created in large measure the recent surge of refugees from the region?
I suspect we hear nothing in this regard.
Compassion and humanity call us to assist these refugees. I truly want to believe that deep down Walker knows that too. But he makes it darn near impossible.