Chris Christie’s Immigration Hedging

May 21, 2015 5:12 am
by David Jakeman

New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie is known for his brash approach in the political arena, not being afraid to shout down anyone who stands in his way. So now that he’s possibly in the hunt for the Republican nomination, it only makes sense that he would make a stand on immigration. However, the fact that he did so quietly is a bit out of character. Perhaps it’s because he’s trying to strike a middle-of-the road approach.

Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey immigration attorneys understand that Christie has taken a more moderate approach to immigration than many of his Republican rivals. This fact alone makes it all the more interesting that he quietly backed Texas’ appeal of President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Christie justified the decision, saying that he believed Obama had overstepped his bounds when he granted amnesty to such a large swath of immigrants. Christie says he believes the country would be much better served by having immigration passed through Congress. 1

For Christie to be so quiet about his approach is quite interesting. Some observers see him as rude, abrasive, bully-like, and downright offensive. His embrace of the media spotlight only further enhances such a perception from many individuals. The only time he seems to have avoided the spotlight was over the recent bridge closure scandal. The fact that he quietly backed Texas and other states that are suing the federal government over Obama’s amnesty authorization shows that he knows that immigration is a delicate issue.

Presidential Election

Any Republican presidential candidate knows, the party needs to do a much better attracting Latino voters in this next election. Part of the reason Romney suffered such a debilitating loss was because Obama beat him soundly by getting significantly more Latino votes. The Republicans actually did much better when George W. Bush ran for president.

You can see this reality in the current Republican field, as people like Jeb Bush refuse to walk away from their record supporting a path to citizenship. Another example is Marco Rubio, who has brought up his past support for immigration reform. Rubio recently made a remark saying he was able to get a bi-partisan immigration reform through the Senate. These approaches show that many Republicans know that if they are going to have a prayer at capturing the White House, they have to do much better in getting minority votes.

But that of course brings up the sticky question of the primaries, which have usually been characterized as a run to the fringe and then a race back to the political middle. Christie himself is not running to the fringe, but he is probably seeking to gain some favor among certain members of the Republican base who support a tougher stance on immigration. The way Christie has couched his opinion, it’s also clear that he is saying he’s in favor of immigration reform. So it appears that Christie is hedging his bets.

1 http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/04/christie_responds_to_latino_ally_who_accused_him_o.html

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