Chris Christie on immigration: We need a path to citizenship; Update: Was Christie talking about illegals?

posted at 5:41 pm on June 30, 2010 by Allahpundit

Some righties, Ace among them, are shrugging this off, which I kind of understand. For one thing, conservative rock star though he be, Christie’s still a Republican leading a deep-blue state. We may want to believe he’s Reagan reincarnated but there’s probably a little of Rudy Giuliani in that political DNA. For another thing, he’s wisely chosen not to be too specific about this issue so the quotes end up being ambiguous. What kind of path to citizenship, precisely, does he have in mind? No idea, which is just how he likes it, I’m sure. And of course, he gets the “true conservative” benefit of the doubt that grassroots righties always extend to GOP icons until they say or do something irretrievably RINO-ish. Palin used to be the paradigm example: If she said something sketchy, like, er, about supporting a path to citizenship for illegals, excuses would immediately be offered that she was misquoted or the media was out to get her or (more credibly) that she was only saying that under duress from the McCain campaign, etc. Ever since she endorsed Maverick in Arizona and Fiorina in California, my sense is that people are a bit (but only a bit) stingier towards her in that regard. Christie is still in the full flush of his “the next Reagan?!” buzz, though, he gets the full complement, which means this shouldn’t make too many waves. I think.

On the hot-button topic of immigration reform, he said he has long declined to “demagogue” the issue as a former U.S. Attorney, because “I come from law enforcement and it’s not an easy issue.”

But he did intimate that he thinks stringent state-by-state laws – such as in Arizona – are the wrong approach, and added, “I think President Obama doesn’t do this at his own risk because it’s affecting the economy in the country…to me, I think the president’s really gotta show the leadership on this.”

“This is a federal problem, it’s gotta have a federal fix,” he said. “I’m not really comfortable with state law enforcement having a big role.”

He said that without border security, enforcement of existing laws and a “clear” path to legalization for immigrants, there would never be a fix.

I posted that in Headlines this morning and some readers immediately objected that the description was unclear, that that damned Politico was trying to make trouble, that it was telling how they refused to quote him directly — the “true conservative” benefit of the doubt, in other words. So I asked Ben Smith to provide a direct quote. And voila:

“What I support is making sure that the federal government [plays] each and every one of its roles: Securing the border, enforcing immigration laws, and having an orderly process — whatever that process is — for people to gain citizenship.”

He added: “It’s a very easy issue to demagogue and I’m just not going to participate in that.”

Christie said more resources — specifically, “money” — were needed to support federal law enforcement and border security, along with “having a clear understandable law that people can follow.”

Ace describes that as being “a lot more GOP-friendly” than the description in the first blockquote, but I’m not sure why. The second quote clarifies that he’s talking about full-fledged citizenship for illegals, not mere “legalization” as might be had in a guest-worker program. “Whatever that process is” leaves some wiggle room but I’m sure it’s the standard amnesty caveats: Pay back taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line, blah blah blah. As for the part about securing the border, that’s a universal talking point for Democrats too; I’d bet dollars to donuts that it’s the first policy plank Obama mentions in his big amnesty shpiel tomorrow. The national debate, after all, isn’t between enforcement or amnesty, it’s between enforcement with amnesty or enforcement without. Says Philip Klein, “In practice, his preferred policy on immigration, which involves a path to citizenship, would likely put him to the left of where the primary electorate is.” A tough spot for the Next Reagan to be in — although in fairness, Reagan was a big ol’ amnesty shill too. Maybe that’ll be CC’s campaign slogan: “Amnesty — good enough for the Gipper, good enough for me!”

He’ll be on “Hannity” tonight so maybe we’ll get some further clarification. As for my reaction to his quote, here’s documentary footage of how I responded after reading the Politico piece this morning.

Update: One of the objections below is that Christie never specifies that he’s talking about illegals who are already here when he refers to an “orderly process … for people to gain citizenship.” Could be he simply means that we need a way for people in Mexico and elsewhere to come here legally and become citizens if they want to. Which is fine, except that virtually no one this side of Tom Tancredo disputes that. Of course there should be channels for foreigners to apply for citizenship; to acknowledge that when it’s not seriously being debated would be meaningless, which is why I assume that he was, in fact, talking about illegals who are already here. But like I say, maybe we’ll find out more on “Hannity.”


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Comment pages: 1 2

These illegals aren’t going anywhere unless they choose to do so. Now, if we could actually secure the border and keep movement down there to a trickle, and if the government (including both parties)had the will, millions of these illegals could be identified and deported…over many, many years-but it could be done.

All that’s going to happen is that we who are citizens and those here legally will be made to jump through multiple hoops, inconvenienced, surely will have to pay $ (not sure how, but they’ll think of something), and nothing will come of it except more money for the government and more control for them.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 1, 2010 at 12:02 AM

If they are effectively prevented from gaining employment, by things like tamper-proof ID and employer sanctions, the illegals will self-deport. No need for any “round-ups”.

Spiny Norman on July 1, 2010 at 12:20 AM

What never ceases to amaze me is that Republicans think they can pander to the “Hispanic vote” by pushing for amnesty (which few legal Hispanic residents want anyway). The “voters” who would be swayed by such a thing would never vote GOP anyway, because the Dems offer them a lot more (taxpayer-funded) free stuff.

It’s really that simple.

Spiny Norman on July 1, 2010 at 12:24 AM

Reagan did amnesty…hello!

Narutoboy on June 30, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Reagan did not do amnesty…hello!
It was the lying dems that created amnesty out of his path to citizenship…but thanks for reminding us of one of the darkest events in political history, the dems broken oath that they gave the American people and Reagan.

right2bright on June 30, 2010 at 7:07 PM

And the 1986 “crisis” of 200,000 illegal immigrants has ballooned to 20 million. Golly, it worked so well, some fools want to do it all over again!

Spiny Norman on July 1, 2010 at 12:30 AM

These illegals aren’t going anywhere unless they choose to do so. Now, if we could actually secure the border and keep movement down there to a trickle, and if the government (including both parties)had the will, millions of these illegals could be identified and deported…over many, many years-but it could be done.

All that’s going to happen is that we who are citizens and those here legally will be made to jump through multiple hoops, inconvenienced, surely will have to pay $ (not sure how, but they’ll think of something), and nothing will come of it except more money for the government and more control for them.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 1, 2010 at 12:02 AM

Studies have found that both human and rats react violently to over crowding. I’m willing to bet there is a similar response to competition for resources. If the economic situation gets as bad as I believe it will, then I think your going to see social pressure being applied to illegals coming from the communities themselves.

DFCtomm on July 1, 2010 at 12:52 AM

Like all people, politicians are bound to disappoint, but I don’t get why men like Christie can’t put it all together on things like guns, culture, and border integrity. If ignorance is his problem, then he can educate himself. Take tours with Joe Arpaio and the Border Patrol and witness firsthand the criminal chaos endorsed by the vermin in government. Otherwise, you are supporting murderous drug traffickers, pollution, kidnapping, and terror against American citizens.

The dodgy, Orwellian phrases for amnesty don’t fool anyone. Weasel words against the rule of law are costly for Republicans. Christie need to get religion and support Jan Brewer, who jump-started self-deportation by merely intending to enforce the law.

If Eisenhower could deport millions of illegals in the 1950s, then so can we.

Feedie on July 1, 2010 at 2:17 AM

Comment pages: 1 2