Immigration is increasingly proving to be a conundrum for Republicans in the 2016 presidential election, with GOP hopefuls fessing up to flip-flops in their policy positions on the controversial topic.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is considering a presidential bid, is the latest to admit he has changed his mind. He explained the shift in a Monday Fox News interview.
Christie told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly that President Barack Obama’s plan to create a pathway to citizenship was “an extreme way to go,” even though Christie himself supported the measure in 2010. He told ABC’s Jake Tapper then that “the president and the Congress have to step up to the plate, they have to secure our borders, and they have to put forward a commonsense path to citizenship for people.”
But Christie now says he has “learned over time about this issue and done a lot more work on it.”
“Back in 2010, I was in my first couple of months as governor, I’ve now learned some of the ramifications of some of these things and what I am saying now is we’ve got to come up with a solution for it,” he added without providing details of his own plan for immigration reform.
Christie’s shift on immigration comes in the wake of an evolving view on immigration by another Republican governor mulling a presidential run, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has been accused of a flip-flop on immigration.
In 2013, Walker told the Wausau Daily Herald editorial board that a pathway to citizenship plan “makes sense” in order to deal with the millions of undocumented individuals already in the US.
But in 2015, Walker said in a March 1 Fox News Sunday interview that he doesn’t support a plan that would allow for amnesty.
“My view has changed. I’m flat out saying it. I’m — candidates can say that.”
Yet Walker seemed to adjust his view once again later in March, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Walker told Republicans at a private dinner in New Hampshire “he backed the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and to eventually become eligible for citizenship.”
Walker’s aides subsequently said the report was erroneous and insisted that the governor doesn’t support amnesty.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who launched his presidential campaign in April, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who is still considering a presidential run, have also faced claims that they have changed their views on immigration in order to appease hardline conservative voters.
Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, was among the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” who championed immigration reform in 2013. The proposed legislation laid out a plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Now that he is running for president, Rubio has mostly ditched the citizenship talk and proposed a new plan that would offer an alternative “non-immigrant, non-permanent work visa” to undocumented immigrants, according to his remarks in May at the National Review Institute Summit.
“You don’t have a right to illegally immigrate here,” he added.
Bush, whose wife Columba is a Mexican immigrant, laid out his immigration views to Charlie Rose in 2012: “either a path to citizenship, which I would support and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives; Or a path to legalization, a path to residency of some kind.”
But when Bush authored a book on immigration in 2013, he favoured “a path to permanent legal resident status” over citizenship, which he called an “undeserving reward” to dole out to someone who entered the country illegally.
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