New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday drew a sharp distinction between himself and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on immigration.
Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” Christie referred to his experience as a former federal prosecutor in pledging not to let illegal immigrants escape the consequences of their actions.
“What I’m for is to have our country enforce the laws,” he said. “I’m a law enforcer.”
Christie declined to respond to Rubio’s comments Thursday that other Republicans have called for granting legal status to illegal immigrants. Rubio has been backpedaling from his 2013 support of a comprehensive reform bill that would grant a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
“I’ll let Marco Rubio and his record speak for himself and let me speak for mine,” Christie said. “He can speak for himself; I’ll speak for myself.”
Christie pointed to his proposal to use FedEx-like technology to track foreigners who come to the United States on visas. Under the system, the government would be alerted anytime a visitor with an expired visa tries to access a government benefit.
“If people are here on visas illegally, they need to go home,” he said. “They absolutely need to go home.”
Christie said he also would push for a mandatory requirement that businesses use the E-Verify system to ensure they do not hire illegal immigrants. Any business caught cheating should have to pay a fine equal to double the money it saved by using illegal labor, he said.
Such a system would prevent the need for rounding up millions of people living in the country, he said.
“If you take away the work incentive, they’re not coming and they’re not staying,” Christie said.
“They’re not going to be able to do that anymore when we’re using a vigorous E-Verify system that demands that employers use it,” he said. “If you take away the work incentive, they’re not coming and they’re not staying.”
Christie has vowed to aggressively enforce all existing immigration laws, but he also opposes building a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. In the past he has supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. As governor, he signed a bill giving in-state tuition at state colleges to illegal immigrants who came to the country as children.
Christie sounded populist themes, including his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal because he would not let President Obama “negotiate buying a car from me.”
He said he would take on a tax system that is “rigged for the rich,” adding that he has a better tax plan that Rubio. The Florida senator, Christie said, proposes a system that is far too complicated. Christie said his plan would create a simpler system that taxes less with just two deductions — home mortgage interest deductions and charitable contributions.
Asked about New Jersey becoming the first state in the country to offer medical marijuana to students, Christie said he opposed the law, but inherited it when he become governor.
“This is part of law enforcement, Laura,” he said. “I’ve gotta enforce all the laws, even the ones I don’t like.”