New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said on Tuesday the idea of granting undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship — one he supported in 2010 — “is garbage.”
Instead, the 2016 candidate said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, cracking down on businesses that hire immigrants who are here illegally is the best way to solve the problem.
“I met lots of undocumented folks in my state over the course of my time as governor, I can tell you not one of them has ever said to me that they had come here to vote. This path to citizenship stuff is garbage,” Christie said. “That’s not why they’re coming. They’re coming to work and support their family.”
He went on to outline his plan to use E-Verify and fines to discourage businesses from hiring undocumented immigrants.
“The fines are going to be large enough that it will wipe out any profit margin they get hiring cheaper, illegal labor — believe me, business reacts to the bottomline,” Christie said.
It is unclear whether Christie believes all efforts to overhaul the immigration system to bring the estimated 12 million immigrants here illegally out of the shadows are “garbage,” or if he thinks the idea that undocumented immigrants are seeking citizenship rights is “garbage.” The Christie campaign did not respond to TPM’s request for clarification.
He used a similar line in a town hall last week, calling the path to citizenship “nonsense.”
Already, however, the New Jersey governor was wavering from his 2010 stance supporting a so called “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants. In May, appearing on Fox News, he called the approach “an extreme way to go” and “just pandering politics.” However in July, Christie suggested to CNN he would open to Congress overhauling the system.
“We have to have Congress come together and deal with this. They haven’t done that yet. The President has done it by executive order, he hasn’t brought people together on it yet,” Christie said.