Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is calling for a reexamination of constitutional policy that grants citizenship to all children born to undocumented immigrants on United States soil.
In a radio appearance on Wednesday, conservative host Laura Ingraham asked Christie for his opinion on birthright citizenship, a topic he does not seem to have specifically addressed before. In response, Christie said he believed the policy may be outdated.
“I think all this stuff needs to be reexamined in light of the current circumstances,” he said. “[Birthright citizenship] may have made sense at some point in our history, but right now, we need to re-look at all that.”
Under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Though Christie does not appear to have spoken expressly on the issue of birthright citizenship before, he is particularly close with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who is known among other things for his repeated efforts to end the practice, which he sees as encouraging “birth tourism.” Vitter has described Christie as a “mentor.”
Christie is not the only presidential candidate to express wariness about the content of the 14th Amendment as it applies to children born of undocumented immigrants. During his Senate campaign, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he thought the practice of granting citizenship to U.S.-born immigrant children “should stop,” and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has called the policy “a mistake.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a contender for the Republican nomination, used to oppose birthright citizenship — however, he recently changed his position, saying he would not include it in his immigration policy if elected president.
A bill to end birthright citizenship is currently making its way through the Senate, but none of the serious Republican presidential contenders in the Senate have gone on record supporting or opposing it, according to National Journal.
Birthright citizenship can be a tricky subject for candidates seeking the Republican nomination. As National Journal’s Lauren Fox explains, Republicans “must appear tough on illegal immigration” — however, a policy that essentially undoes a key part of the Constitution “could undermine a candidate’s ability to make inroads with the Latino community during the general election — a constituency that the party desperately needs to appeal to if it hopes to improve upon the 27 percent of the Latino vote that Mitt Romney won in 2012.”
Christie himself has gotten tougher on illegal immigration as he continues to seek the Republican nomination. Though he used to support a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, he recently recanted that position.
However, on his Wednesday radio appearance, Christie avoided placing blame solely on border security. Instead, he placed partial blame on the business community, which he said has been profiting off cheap, un-taxed labor.
“Some in the Chamber of Commerce don’t want [immigration reform] because they want cheaper labor,” he said. “That’s what’s encouraging the problem as much as a porous border.”