Like every Republican candidate whose name is not Donald Trump, Chris Christie is desperate to prove he can be just as anti-immigrant as Donald Trump is.
During a town hall meeting on Saturday, Christie decided the best way to appeal to nativists is to promise that he will track immigrants as if they are packages. More precisely, he promised that a Christie administration would track immigrants the same way Federal Express tracks packages.
“I’m going to have Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, come work for the government for three months. Just come for three months to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people.”
By “coincidence” Fred Smith’s daughter, Samantha, is a Christie spokesperson.
As Rawstory reports, political correspondents live tweeted Christie’s proposal.
.@GovChristie says he’d hire FedEx founder Fred Smith to track visa holders as immigration fix. Christie spox is Smith’s daughter, Samantha.
— Claude Brodesser (@ClaudeBrodesser) August 29, 2015
Lis Smith, spokesperson for Martin O’Malley’s campaign tweeted an appropriate rebuttle.
Wow. Taking dehumanizing language to new lows. https://t.co/wk0B2hLBb7
— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) August 29, 2015
According to Rawstory, twitter responses to the idea included questions like if immigrants would be barcoded and would someone have to sign for them.
But, I digress. Christie went on to explain why he thinks immigrants should be tracked like packages.
You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. Yet we let people come into this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.”
We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in and then when your time is up. However long your visa is, then we go get you and tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Excuse me, it’s time to go.’
It’s doubtful this will be enough to convince the nativist base that Christie is serious. For one thing, the idea of tracking immigrants like packages is so yesterday. Virginia Rep. Barbara Cornstock proposed tracking immigrants like Fed Ex packages back in 2014. Newt Gingrich was the first to compare immigrants to Fed Ex packages, back in 2007.
Of course, Christie wanted to make very clear that just because he compares immigrants to packages, it doesn’t mean he or the Republican party is anti-Immigrant.
He decided the best way to prove that would be to argue that the whole conversation about “anchor babies” makes the Republican Party look like it’s anti-immigrant.
The entire conversation about ‘anchor babies’ is a distraction that makes us sound like we’re anti-immigrant, and we’re not,” he said. “Our party is not that way. We want people to do it legally. Do it the right way.
Unfortunately for Christie, this is the second reason his pledge to track immigrant like packages is unlikely to revive his campaign.
Republicans are anti-immigrant, proud of it and they want a leader who is just as proud to be anti-immigrant as they are.
Aside from the fact that Republicans advocated tracking immigrants like packages for years, this policy isn’t enough when Donald Trump and Scott Walker already promised to build a wall to keep immigrants out. Moreover, Trump promised it would be a beautiful wall and Mexico would pick up the tab because he says so. The nativists just love that tough talk. It’s so authoritarian. Being pro-immigrant is for wusses like Jeb Bush who even wimped out by clarifying that when he talked about “anchor babies” he meant Asians.
Tracking immigrants like packages just doesn’t cut it when you have candidates pledging mass deportation programs, and shredding the birthright citizenship provision in the constitution. Even trotting out the standard anti-immigrant lines about undocumented immigrants stealing jobs from “real” (white) Americans while simultaneously being a drain on the economy and social programs isn’t enough to satisfy the nativists unless you are willing to back up the rhetoric with mass deportations, turning undocumented immigrants into slaves , or shooting them on sight.
Christie went on to prove how far out of touch he is with the voters he hopes to attract with his comments on “anchor babies.” Perhaps some relatively charitable Republicans will give him points for calling children of undocumented immigrants the politically correct term, “anchor babies.” Even if he indulged in Republican political correctness, Christie discredited himself by arguing the discussion around the children of undocumented immigrants is a distraction and gives the wrong impression that Republicans are “anti-immigrant.”
If Christie was in touch with today’s Republican base, he would know they are as anti-immigrant as they are anti-Black and anti-woman. He would know they want a candidate whose policies are as extreme as their nativism. They want a candidate who goes much further down the dehumanization of immigrants rabbit hole than merely proposing to track immigrants as if being an immigrant is the same as being a Fed ex package.
Even if pro-immigrant Republicans exist, it’s doubtful they will be swayed by Christie’s claim that there is nothing anti-immigrant about treating immigrants like packages or calling the American born children of undocumented immigrants “anchor babies.”