As he prepares for a possible run for president, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he is now against a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, something he openly supported just a few years ago.
In an interview that aired Monday evening on Fox News, Christie was asked about his position on eventually granting citizenship to people in the country illegally.
“I don’t believe that’s the way to go, and I don’t believe that’s where the American people are,” Christie said.
The Republican governor also argued: “I think that’s an extreme way to go. And I think what Hillary Clinton is doing right now is pandering. That’s pandering.”
During the interview, Kelly pointed out that Christie expressed support for granting citizenship to illegal immigrants during a 2010 television interview. (While appearing on ABC’s This Week at the time, Christie told journalist Jake Tapper that he was for a “commonsense path to citizenship for people.”)
His comments to Kelly are also notable because over the last several years, Christie has repeatedly declined to weigh in on the national debate about immigration, explaining he would only do so if he ran for president. But in recent months, Christie has explained that his views on immigration have shifted.
“In my time as governor, I have met lots of different people in our state who immigrated there,” Christie said during a town hall meeting in Londonderry, N.H. in April. “And many of whom are undocumented immigrants.”
“I will tell you, that not one of them came up to me and said, the reason why I came to America is because I wanted to vote,” Christie added. “Alright? You have this whole argument in the Democratic party to foist upon us about path to citizenship.”
“I will tell you that most folks that I’ve met, in my state who have come here to this country illegally, have come here because the want to work,” he said. “Because they want to support themselves they want to support their families. So let’s stop having this argument about path to citizenship.”
Asked Monday by Kelly about his change in views, Christie replied: “Well I think I learned over time about this issue, and done a lot more work on it.”
“And I think everyone has to do what you need to do to get educated on these issues and learn,” Christie said. “And back in 2010, I was in my first couple months as a governor. I’ve now learned some of the ramifications for some of these things.”
“What I’m saying now is we have to come up with a solution for it,” he said. “But I think that just immediately going to a path to citizenship — as Hillary Clinton is proposing to do — is just pandering, it’s politics, it’s not based upon an educated study of the issue.”
*This story has been updated.