With a meager slate of Republican candidates less than 11 months before the Iowa Caucuses, Sen. Jim DeMint fueled speculation on Saturday when he told reporters "I'm not going to mention any more names but I think there are a number of names bubbling around, particularly governors who have realized that doing basic common sense things tends to inspire Americans today."
DeMint had previously named governors Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Chris Christie of New Jersey in particular as the "governors who are inspiring now." [Late entrants into the 2012 field?, by Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, March 29, 2011] Walker and Scott both have reasonably strong records on immigration, but are not widely considered to be serious candidates for president. That's causing even more to suspect that Christie well be persuaded to run, despite his protestations.
This speculation was heightened by a Zogby Poll last week that showed Republican viewers saw him as the candidate most likely defeat Obama.
This is cause for extreme alarm for immigration patriots. Whatever his other strengths, Chris Christie's record on immigration is absolutely horrendous. It is no accident that Christie supported the disastrous George W. Bush in 2000.. He is an unmistakable, unreconstructed Bushbot. Of nine potential GOP candidates graded by NumbersUSA, Christie is in dead last with an F grade.
Of course, Chris Christie's conservative support comes because of his budget cutting rather than his immigration stance. He inherited over ten billion dollars and debt and then cut 2.2 billion dollars of projected spending off the annual budget his first year in office. In doing so, he had to fight the much-feared public sector unions. He stood his ground.
This is all well and good. But according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, New Jersey's state and local governments spend many hundreds of millions on illegals, who pay, when they pay at all, half of one percent of all the taxes in the state. FAIR estimates the shortfall at 1.6 billion, which is close to the amount of money Christie saved by fighting the budget deficit.
In other words, the fiscal conservatism shown in Christie's much heralded budget cuts is cancelled out by his tolerance of illegal immigration to the state.
The same would be true of a "fiscally conservative" President Christie—if he achieved an amnesty, he might eventually cost the country more than President Bush did, and no one ever called him a fiscal conservative.
New Jersey has long been one of the states most impacted by legal and illegal immigration. Back in 1997, the National Research Council's New Americans report concluded the total immigrant presence was costing New Jersey taxpayers some $232 per family a year—and that was without counting transfer payments. (The cost in California was over $1,100 a year).
The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Control Act both outlawed sanctuary cities and enabled states and localities to enter into 287(g) agreements to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Accordingly, in 2007, the Democratic Mayor of Morristown, NJ Don Cresitello appealed to then US Attorney Chris Christie for the town to enter into a 287(g) program. Morristown had been overrun with illegal aliens including gang members. One of these illegal aliens killed a ten year old boy after being twice arrested for crimes involving knives and released without being reported to immigration authorities.
Far from taking the hardcore Joe Arpaio stance, Cresitello told NJ Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine that "We're not going to go after jay walkers," but that he wanted to be able to deal with the MS 13 led drug and prostitution rings. [Morristown's mayor was right on immigration, by Paul Mulshine, August 14, 2007]
In 2008, Christie told a church group "Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime…The whole phrase of 'illegal immigrant' connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime…Don't let people make you believe that that's a crime that the U.S. Attorney's Office should be doing something about. It is not." [Christie at church forum: Illegal immigrants aren't criminals, by Julie O'Connor, Star-Ledger, April 28, 2010]
Bunk. While illegal presence in itself is technically not a criminal violation, the vast majority of illegal aliens here are guilty of committing the criminal violation of illegal entry.
Additionally, none of this precludes the US attorney from working with ICE to ensure that criminal illegal aliens are deported. (In 2009, the ICE entered into a 287(g) agreement with Morristown—putting Christie firmly to the left of the Obama administration on immigration enforcement.)
As governor Christie has done nothing to promote E-Verify, end sanctuary cities, or enter in 287(g) agreements.
Given this atrocious record, it is no surprise that he came out against Arizona's SB 1070, stating "This is a federal problem, it's gotta have a federal fix. I'm not really comfortable with state law enforcement having a big role." [Gov. Chris Christie calls for Republican Party rebranding, by Maggie Haberman and Ben Smith, Politico, June 30, 2010]
So guess what Christie's "federal fix" is?
Amnesty, of course! He's a Bushbot!
Christie told ABC News that we "have to secure our borders, and they have to put forward a commonsense path to citizenship for people." [Christie: Take my bipartisan example to pass immigration reform, by Jordy Yager, The Hill, July 25, 2010]
VDARE.com contributor Jim Antle has argued:
"As long as he remains governor, I am inclined to give Chris Christie a pass on his immigration weakness. You can only pick so many fights; taking on both the public-sector unions and the Trenton big spenders is more than enough to keep any Northeastern pro-life governor's hands full."
[Chris Christie's Blue State Republican Blues, American Spectator, June 30, 2010]
But the problem with this calculation is that Christie has not merely avoided "picking an immigration fight"—he picked one and chose the wrong side, in a belligerent and bigoted way not seen since George W. Bush's career came to its catastrophic close.
When other states have been taking the lead on immigration enforcement, having a pro-amnesty anti-Arizona governor hailed as the greatest conservative in the country is absurd to say the least
If Christie does want to run for national office, he will be at odds with virtually all Republican voters on the issue. A February Rasmussen Poll asked, "If State Believes Feds Are Not Enforcing Immigration Laws Should They Have Right To Enforce on Their Own?" Republican voters answered yes by a margin of over 17 to 1.
All the budget cutting in the world will not make up for this disconnect.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.