"Why are you trying to break my family apart?": Scott Walker gets confronted by undocumented immigrant and his children

Wisconsin governor called out for stance on immigration

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published July 20, 2015 7:22PM (EDT)

Scott Walker                               (AP/Jim Cole)
Scott Walker (AP/Jim Cole)

Scott Walker returned to his hometown of Plainfield, Iowa over the weekend and was confronted by an undocumented immigrant and his two children about his opposition to deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants.

“Why are you trying to break my family apart?” 13-year-old Leslie Flores asked, confronting Walker as he walked towards the family, offering to spend a few minutes answering their questions.

Walker defended his decision to sign onto a lawsuit against President Obama's executive order granting temporary relief from deportation for the parents of undocumented children who were previously granted deportation relief under another executive order.

"No man or woman is above the law in this country," Walker explained. "That's the beauty of America." Walker argued that Obama overstepped his legal authority when he granted deportation relief, "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.”

"OK, let me answer that. So, now it is my turn. You are one of the Governors behind blocking DAPA," father Jose Flores, an activist with the Wisconsin branch of Voices de la Frontera, shot back, asking, "Do you know what DAPA means ... so why do you say you are not blocking?"

“I support the lawsuit because I believe the president can’t be above the law,” Walker explained again.

"I completely sympathize with the situation you're all in and others are in," Walker then offered. The conservative Wisconsin governor remained steadfast in his defense of suing the federal government to continue deportations even as his tone softened. But Flores, unimpressed, continued to press Walker, "When are you guys going to fix the immigration system ... When are you guys going to take the time to fix immigration reform? So we've got to be deported?"

Then 7-year-old Luis Flores jumped in: "Do you want me, like, to come home … come from school and my dad get deported?"

“No that’s not what I’m talking about,” Walker explained to the young boy. “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.”

But according to ABC News, the Flores family "walked away from the interaction disappointed, the children in tears":

“He lied to us,” Flores said. “He lied to us because he say he support immigration reform and he support DAPA, OK, so if he support DAPA, why he blocking it?”

Leslie explained that her little brother’s greatest fear is to come home from school and find that one of their parents has been deported. And for her, Leslie said her passion stems from the experience of a close friend whose father was deported back to Mexico. “That really affected her and by her telling me her story of how her dad was deported, it was really heartbreaking for me,” she said.

“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.

Watch the entire exchange:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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