Christie: Immigration law enforcement up to feds
MEDFORD — During his appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Gov. Chris Christie said that despite municipalities around the state taking different stands on the immigration ban implemented by President Donald Trump, the ultimate effectiveness of this order will fall on the shoulders of the federal government.
When he was asked by host Jake Tapper about how proposed immigration changes, particularly increased deportation efforts, would affect New Jersey, Christie said even declarations of "sanctuary cities" would not impede the actions taken at the federal level.
"Our position has been the same all along," he said. "The federal government should be enforcing federal law and they have to make clear that federal law will be enforced. If that's the president's desire then he should go ahead and make sure that's done."
As for New Jersey's role, he said, "We're doing the things that we've always done in the state of New Jersey to try to keep our streets safe. That's why our prison population is at an all-time low and crime declined again in New Jersey this year."
The governor also said that "it should be surprising to no one," that places like Princeton University and others "are going to take a very progressive, liberal position towards this and will try to grandstand this during a time of political debate."
As governor of New Jersey, Christie said he serves as a member of the school's board. Princeton and other universities came out against the immigration ban the president signed into law. The schools noted that they derive "immeasurable benefit from the contributions of diverse students, faculty, and scholars from around the world."
Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber and the presidents of 47 other colleges and universities sent a letter to President Trump to "rectify the damage done," by the order banning immigration from the predominantly Muslim countries.
"Throughout its history, America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world," the letter says. "It has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe. This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country's reputation."
Despite the threat of losing federal funding, several cities and municipalities have declared themselves "sanctuary cities" aimed at protecting residents who could be at risk of deportation. Christie said for people who do not agree with the laws as they are now, "they should go to Congress and get it changed."
In a recent appearance on New Jersey 101.5's Ask the Governor, Christie said these cities should expect the president to follow through on this action.
Tapper also asked about recent ICE raids that have resulted in arrests and deportations across the country. While the stated goal of these actions has been to remove violent illegal immigrant criminals, Tapper pointed to the case of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who used someone else's Social Security number to obtain employment but had not committed other crimes.
"This is the problem with the whole failure of the federal government over the last 12 to 16 years in not dealing with trying to reform the immigration system and bring some sense of order to this," Christie said.
The ICE raids and other actions, he said, are an effort to enforce laws already on the books despite potential conflicts in those rules like that of Rayos.
"From having run a government for seven years and been involved for many years as a U.S. attorney, things don't always go perfectly. And so you are going to have some people who also, by the way, have violated the law but don't fit that one category" of violent criminals, he added.
Calling Rayos' case part of the "overwhelming minority in all this," Christie said the focus should be more on the positives Trump's steps are having, "which is to keep a campaign promise on making sure that violent criminals who are here illegally are taken out of the country in order to make America's streets safer."
Tapper had said at the beginning of the show that CNN had reached out to the Trump administration to discuss the ICE raids and other topics, but that "they did not respond to that request."
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com