WISCONSIN — The Republican governor of Wisconsin is set to introduce a bill that would legalize millions of illegal immigrants who are currently living in the state, as the party looks to regain the White House in November.
Republican Governor Scott Walker, who has been widely criticized for his immigration policies, is expected to announce the plan in the coming weeks.
Walker is set on announcing the bill, which would legalize a small group of immigrants living in Wisconsin illegally who would be subject to strict penalties for their illegal status, including deportation, on Thursday.
Walker’s proposal is likely to face stiff opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said in a statement that it would oppose the plan.
The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Scott Olson, would legalize nearly 7 million people, including millions of children, who were born in the U-60 visa program and are not currently eligible for welfare or other public assistance.
The Chamber said in the statement that Walker’s plan is “not only cruel, but will be bad for taxpayers.”
The group called on Walker to stop supporting a plan that will hurt the economy and taxpayers, and said the bill would harm the states economy.
In April, Walker announced his plan to legalize the immigrants.
The proposal would add roughly 1.2 million people to the state’s population of about 3 million, and it would expand the state welfare rolls from 3.1 million to 6.8 million, the Associated Press reported.
The governor said he has no plans to extend existing welfare programs.
While the Chamber opposes Walker’s bill, it does not oppose the bill in its entirety.
“We strongly support Governor Walker’s efforts to provide a pathway to citizenship for people in the United States illegally,” the Chamber said.
“It is unfortunate that some Republican lawmakers are making this an issue that distracts from efforts to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and poverty-related illness in our state.”
Governor Walker has been a leader in the fight against immigration reform, and we look forward to his leadership in this important debate,” the group added.
“We urge Governor Walker to focus on supporting the welfare and job-creating benefits of this bill while still ensuring that those immigrants who have committed crimes are not harmed.”