Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dismissed a state official this week for saying unauthorized immigrants reminded him of Satan in a Facebook rant that involved other politicians.
Steven Krieser, a top official at the state’s Department of Transportation, wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post (saved here by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that “a stream of wretched criminals continues to flow unabated to the north” and that illegal immigration is crushing the social safety net system of some Southern states.
“You may see Jesus when you look at them,” Krieser said. “I see Satan.”
Walker fired Krieser within two hours of being informed of the post, according to the Journal Sentinel, saying his views were unacceptable.
"Effective immediately, he has been removed from his position at the Department of Transportation," Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement provided to Yahoo News. "These comments are repugnant, completely unacceptable, and have no place in Governor Walker’s Administration. Governor Walker condemns his views, and they do not represent the governor or his administration in any way."
Krieser told the paper he had used a poor choice of words and would not put up the post if he could do it again. A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said the group had no comment on whether it believes the firing infringes on Krieser's free speech rights.
The debate began when Democratic state Rep. Gordon Hintz posted a photo of a sticker sold at a local gas station that called for an “illegal immigrant hunting permit.” The sticker says “no bag limit — tagging not required,” suggesting that people shoot and kill people who cross the border without permission. Hintz criticized the photo. (Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor; overstaying a visa is a civil offense.)
Former Republican state lawmaker Joe Handrick then weighed in, writing on the post that Jesus would be seen as a dark-skinned foreigner if he came to America today and that people should be angry at the broken immigration system, not immigrants themselves. That’s when Krieser wrote that even though the sticker is “probably over the top,” he believes anger at unauthorized immigrants is warranted because “the illegals themselves have bred the animus that many American citizens feel toward them.”
In July, Walker, a rumored Republican presidential candidate in 2016, said he believes Congress should provide a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants in the country. The Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform last month, but the Republican-led House has yet to take up the bill.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the lawmaker who originally posted the photo.