Wis. senators split on immigration action

Executive order could come as early as this week
Wis. senators split on immigration action
Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin

Wisconsin’s senators are split on whether the president should take executive action on immigration.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is set to take a committee chairmanship that could give him more input in the matter, as the assumed incoming chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“My top priority will be to finally secure the border,” Johnson said in an interview with News 3 Tuesday.

Johnson is concerned about President Barack Obama potentially taking executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, as he has recently signaled he might. Johnson said he plans to move forward on his own border security measure either way.

“It will be particularly important to do that if President Obama very unwisely and very unfortunately unilaterally acts,” Johnson said.

But Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin said she supports the president taking executive action, calling the immigration system broken.

“Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush all took executive actions when the moment called for it,” Baldwin said. “I think the current moment calls for this right now.”

Johnson said action by the president would “poison the well,” but said he has ideas he’ll pursue on his committee that would affect some 55,000 working undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin.

“The No. 1 incentive for people coming here illegally is they’re coming here to find work,” Johnson said. “So why don’t we make this a legal process with a functioning guest worker program with a great deal of input from the states, so they can set the codes and set prevailing wages.”

Baldwin said she hadn’t yet heard of Johnson’s proposal, but felt at this point unless the House of Representatives was willing to move forward on current legislation, the president should act.

“It is well over a year that they’ve had to take that up, to modify it and to help fix our broken immigration system and they’ve simply refused,” Baldwin said. “I think it’s high time there is the type of executive action our president is talking about.”

It’s unclear at this point when the president will make a decision on executive action, although CBS News is reporting an executive order could come as early as this week.