Scott Walker says a US-Canada wall is 'a legitimate issue.' Is he right?

In an interview with NBC, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said the United States should consider building a wall along the Canadian border.

Charlie Neibergall/AP
Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a meet and greet with local residents, Wednesday, in Harlan, Iowa. Governor Walker discussed the idea of building a border fence between the United States and Canada, during an in interview on Sunday with Chuck Todd on 'Meet the Press.'

It’s not just the Mexican border. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says building a fence between the United States and Canada is “a legitimate issue,” as well.

In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Republican presidential hopeful said that when it comes to tough border security, voters’ concerns include the potential for terrorists and other criminals to come into the US through Canada. Political debate among GOP candidates has focused on building a wall along the southern border to keep out undocumented immigrants, but Governor Walker noted the issue was as much about security as immigration.

“I think we need to secure borders in general,” Walker told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire,” he continued. "They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at."

Walker is not the first person to think so. “US land borders historically have been porous, and the boundary with Canada may be even more difficult to defend than the stretch of scrub, desert, and cities to the south,” The Christian Science Monitor's Peter Grier reported back in 2006. At the time, Mr. Grier offered some background on the issue:

In 1997, a Palestinian named Abu Maizar was charged with conspiracy to blow up a New York subway station after being caught trying to cross from Canada. And in a more celebrated recent case, the Algerian national Ahmed Ressam was arrested in Washington state after driving off a ferry from Canada in 1999. Ressam had bomb materials in his car, and had been planning to attack Los Angeles International Airport in the so-called Millennium plot.

In 2011, the US Customs Border and Protection Agency proposed building fences and other barriers along the US-Canada border “to manage trouble spots where passage of cross-border violators is difficult to control,” The Canadian Press reported at the time. The proposal followed a warning from the US Government Accountability Office, which noted that only about 30 miles of the nearly 4,000-mile Canadian boundary was properly secure at the time.

In the last year, concerns over security along the northern border have risen again in the wake of two consecutive terrorist attacks in Quebec and Ottawa.

Border security and immigration issues continue to be central to the Republican debate. Walker in particular has come under scrutiny for his wavering position on birthright citizenship, and has tried to focus his immigration comments on enforcing US laws already in the books.

How his latest remarks will affect his campaign is unclear. After a strong start in the winter, Walker has seen a huge dip in support among Iowa voters, a voting bloc crucial to his early-state strategy, The Washington Post reported.

The newest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg News poll out of Iowa found Walker as the favorite of only 8 percent of Republican caucus goers in the state, putting him in third place behind Donald Trump (23 percent) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (18 percent).

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