Jose Flores, an undocumented immigrant who calls Wisconsin home, was accompanied by his 13-year-old daughter Leslie and 7-year-old son Luis, both of whom were born in the United States and naturalized citizens.
“Why are you trying to break my family apart?” 13-year-old Leslie Flores asked, confronting Walker as he approached the family and addressed Leslie’s father directly.
“The fact is, we’re a nation of laws,” Walker said. “And unfortunately, the president last year, after saying 22 times before last year that he couldn’t make the law himself, he said he wasn’t the emperor, he was the president of the United States and he couldn’t change the law, he decided to change the law even though the courts announced that you can’t do that.”
“Do you want me to come home and come from school and my dad get reported?” Luis asked Walker, presumably meaning to say deported and not reported.
“No that’s not what I’m talking about,” Walker said, looking down at the boy and telling him that his nieces also go to school in Waukesha. “I appreciate kids like you and kids like them so that’s not what my point is. My point is that in America, no one is above the law.”
Flores said both he and his wife would both be eligible for deferred status under the executive actions President Obama took to grant certain undocumented immigrants temporary legal status to live in the United States without fear of deportation. Walker is among a bloc of governors who have signed onto a lawsuit against the Obama administration on the issue.
Flores asked Walker directly if he would consider dropping his support for the lawsuit. But Walker said he would not. “I support the lawsuit because I believe the president can’t be above the law,” he said.
Since launching his campaign, Walker has said that he first wants to secure the border before determining what should be done with the millions of undocumented workers currently in the U.S. without proper documentation but has also said that he does not support a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally.
From the crowd of reporters and onlookers clustered around Walker and the family, a woman shouted out to ask if Walker would deport families who would qualify for deferred action until the law is changed. Despite his opposition to deferred action, Walker said he would not deport those families.
After a several minutes long exchange, Walker excused himself from the confrontation to return to mingling with members of the Plainfield community who had come out with their lawn chairs to welcome him back to the small town, where his father served as the pastor in a Baptist church for seven years. From Plainfield, the family moved to Delavan, Wisconsin when Walker was 10.
The Flores family walked away from the interaction disappointed, the children in tears.
“To see how much he hates immigrant families is too much for me, that's why I came here to just tell him, ‘Why is he separating our family?’” Leslie asked.