Gov. Walker still not commenting on immigration policy: 'I'm elected to lead the state'

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker repeatedly dodged questions Monday about whether he supported President Donald Trump's immigration policy at the Mexican border, calling it a federal issue that is beyond his jurisdiction.

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 President Trump reversed last week. Since June 1, Walker's re-election campaign has been running Facebook ads encouraging people to sign up for his feed "if you support the National Guard defending 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.

Still, Walker continues to refuse to offer an opinion on President Trump's immigration policy.

"I've got my hands full with things here in Wisconsin," Walker told reporters Monday following an event for Wisconsin Cheese Day. "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. A lot of people, for political reasons, are implying that. Some people elsewhere may have bought into that. But the bottom line is members of the Wisconsin National Guard are there in a supportive role for the Arizona National Guard."

Walker last week had encouraged anyone with an opinion on President 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."