In a speech at a Latino Coalition luncheon yesterday, Gov. Chris Christie said the GOP must become more welcoming to Latino and other minority groups.
On that, he’s absolutely right. Right now, there’s no bigger example of how Republicans are slamming the door on Latinos than their bogus lawsuit blocking DAPA and expanded DACA, two programs that would protect millions of immigrants from deportation.
But there’s just one tiny problem with Christie’s argument: He joined that anti-immigrant lawsuit in the Fifth Circuit, despite the fact that New Jersey has over 200,000 potential beneficiaries of executive action.
This is political doublespeak at it’s worst, and Latino voters — who have so much at stake personally in the immigration reform debate — don’t take that sort of talk lightly.
Just ask Marco Rubio, who once championed immigration by cosponsoring the Senate bill that would have put millions on a path to citizenship. But now that he’s running for President, Rubio has pretty much disowned his bill so he can earn the support of GOP primary voters instead.
In return, he’s lost the trust of Latinos, who just last week presented him with a symbolic “most anti-immigrant” trophy at one of his speaking engagements. Now Christie is in danger of crossing into the same territory due to his own anti-immigrant actions.
By comparison to other GOP candidates, Christie has actually had a moderate record on immigration in the past.
He’s received an F grade from anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA, he signed the New Jersey DREAM Act into law (“You’re an inspiration to us because in you we see all that the future of our country can be,” he told DREAMers during the ceremony), and during last year’s child refugee crisis, he promised to “take every request” to house children.
But flash forward to the present, and now Christie is considered a Presidential frontrunner, and he apparently believes that building a base in Iowa requires kissing the ring of Congress’s most notorious immigration hardliner, Steve King.
He’s even attended King’s annual pheasant hunt and once called King his “pal,” saying:
“At first glance, you might not think that me and Steve King are the most natural pals, this guy from New Jersey and this congressman from Iowa. But here’s the thing that we have most in common: We stand up for what we believe in.”
In recent months, as immigration has become the pivotal issue of the 2016 Presidential election, Christie has responded by completely shutting down on the issue.
In 2010, Christie supported a path to citizenship, but by 2013 he was changing his tune, saying that immigration “has to be figured out by those in charge of the national government.” He’s slammed the President for not pursuing immigration earlier in his tenure, even as he refused to offer specific immigration proposals of his own.
And, last November, when questioned by media about border security, “Christie looked the reporter in the eye, turned on his heel, and walked out into an awaiting car without a word.”
As for his involvement in the GOP’s anti-immigrant lawsuit attacking families, Christie explained it was nothing personal at all, but rather a message he was sending to the President:
“The signal I’m sending is that the President shouldn’t do it by executive action and that he should work with the Congress to get something done. It’s the only message that I’m sending on that.”
On that, Christie is also very wrong. This anti-immigrant lawsuit hasn’t been about protecting the Constitution — as many of the Republican Governors and Attorneys General who signed on have claimed — but instead about maximizing deportations and separating families. It’s very personal, and Christie endorses that thinking by signing on in the Fifth Circuit.
Christie may say some nice words about inclusion at Latino dinners, but his actions of late say quite the opposite. If he’s going to pontificate about the very valuable Latino vote, maybe he should take his own advice first.