Governor Scott Walker: Make legal immigration easier

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by Chris Patterson

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that the key to fixing the country's immigration system is by making it easier for qualified immigrants to come to the United States legally, not by solely focusing on what to do with the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
 
"From an immigration standpoint, it is simple," Walker, a Republican, said. "If you want to come into America today legally, it is very, very difficult, from my point of view, to do so on a timely basis... We should be finding a way for that to be easier to do in the United States."
 
Walker, who made his comments during a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast in Washington, D.C., said that too often politicians in Washington are missing the point on immigration.
 
"So often in this city, people look at the symptoms, not at the larger problem," he said. "The symptom is whatever the number of people who are currently in this country illegally. The larger problem is there is not an effective way to come in the front door."
 
He continued: "For me, I would open the door to making sure people can come legally to this country. People who want to live the American dream are exactly the kind of people this country was based on."
 
After President Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, his administration looked to live up to a first-term promise and pass immigration reform. With the backing of religious and business groups, the Senate passed immigration reform in June - with some GOP support - that includes an eventual pathway to citizenship.
 
Since that passage, however, the House has done little to move on the issue. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner insisted that immigration reform was "absolutely not" dead, but last week he said he had "no intention" of negotiating with the Democratic led Senate over its comprehensive immigration proposal.
 
Instead, many Republicans in Congress want to deal with immigration reform through a number of smaller bills - not one larger piece of legislation. Some House Democrats have said they won't agree to that approach.
 
Walker admitted during the hour-long question and answer sessions that he didn't "have a perfect plan," but said "the plans being discussed right now in Washington are far insignificant to the larger problem."
 
Walker, who is up for reelection in Wisconsin in 2014, is traveling around the country promoting his new book, "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge," a chronicle of his time as governor and his ideas on leadership.
 
The Wisconsin Republican, who survived a contentious recall election in 2012 after he curbed collective bargaining rights of union in his state, has not been shy about subtly stoking the fire of a possible 2016 presidential run.
 
In an interview with ABC over the weekend, Walker's description of the type of nominee Republicans need in 2016 sounded awfully like himself.
 
"I think it's got to be an outsider. I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor - people who have done successful things in their states, who have taken on big reforms," he told ABC's Jonathan Karl in an interview that aired Sunday on "This Week."
 
In the same interview, Walker refused to commit to serving out a second term if he is reelected in 2014.
 
On Friday, Walker made similar statements, telling the assembled journalists that the ideal candidate in 2016 would be a "reformer governor" and someone with executive experience.
 
He also tipped his hand to a possible message he would use if he were to run in 2016.
 
"We cannot be viewed as the party of no," Walker said about the GOP. "In the states where we are successful... we are not the party of no. We are optimistic."
 

CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Ashley Killough contributed to this report. 

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