A proposal to send National Guard troops to the border with Mexico is rooted in recent and not-so-recent history, Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday.
Walker stopped in Tomah Tuesday for an interview with the Tomah Journal to discuss his upcoming re-election campaign. He is running for his third four-year term this fall.
Walker backed President Donald Trump’s plan to deploy National Guard units to secure the border with Mexico and said three recent presidents − George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama − have done the same thing.
“It’s not a new phenomenon, and it’s not a partisan one,” said Walker, a Republican. “It’s similar to when Barack Obama deployed the National Guard in 2010.”
Obama deployed 1,200 troops to help apprehend more than 25,000 immigrants who crossed the border illegally. Walker said using the National Guard for border security dates back to 1916, when 4,000 National Guard troops were called during a time of tension between the United States and Mexico.
Walker offered his support after a member of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation expressed opposition. U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, last week criticized Trump’s plan as “ill-conceived” and “grossly irresponsible” when border crossings are down and said it would “only serve to belittle and politicize the dedicated service of our troops.”
“Our service members in Wisconsin should not be used as pawns while President Trump attempts to rally his base after Congress has repeatedly rejected his demands to build a border wall,” Pocan wrote.
Walker said the federal government has yet to request assistance from Wisconsin units. He said the impact of any deployment wouldn’t fall disproportionately on any one state.
“The deployments are set up so that you don’t have any one unit from any state that’s overwhelmed,” he said. “You wouldn’t send out units that have been recently deployed.”
Walker also addressed recent Republican election setbacks, including a state Senate seat the switched from Republican to Democratic control in northwest Wisconsin and the decisive victory of Rebecca Dallet, the candidate backed by Democrats in the April 3 state Supreme Court race.
The president has lagged in popularity polls since his January 2017 inauguration, but Walker said “it’s hard to tell” if Trump is having any impact on local races. He said there is an “angst” among voters across the political spectrum who “feel a sense of frustration with Washington.”
He urged Wisconsin Republicans to campaign on local issues and the state’s economy.
“We have a very good story to tell, but we can’t assume people will know about it,” Walker said.
Matthew DeFoer of the Wisconsin State Journal contributed to this story.