Chris Christie Says Immigrants Should Be Tracked Like FedEx Packages
If you're look for striking reversals of political fate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's presidential campaign makes for a pretty vivid example. Just four years ago, Christie was still considered a genuine contender for the Republicans, a powerful presence with a sky-high ceiling. Now, having sat out the campaign cycle he appeared best positioned for in 2012, he's struggling to find footing and trailing badly in the polls. It's a fall from grace that's also landed him in a rightward sprint on immigration — Chris Christie wants immigrants tracked like FedEx packages, and if he got the chance, he'd like the CEO of the shipping company to show ICE how to get it done.
This is what he said, at the very least. In a stump speech in New Hampshire on Saturday, Christie was discussing immigrants who enter the United States on visas, and then remain after they expire. The way he framed the conversation was inflammatory in the extreme, however; basically, he argued that the government should be able to track immigrants and kick them out when their visas expire with the same precision that FedEx can tell you where a package is on every leg of its trip. He explained that his daughter had just left for college, and he was sure that she'd need something overnighted to her soon.
We'll package it up, we'll drop that package at FedEx, and you go online, and at any moment FedEx can tell you where that package is. It's on the truck, it's at the station, it's on the airplane, it's back at another station, it's back on the truck, it's at her doorstep, she just signs for it.
Yet, we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in we lose track of them. So here's what I'm gonna do as president, I'm gonna ask Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, just come for three months to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people.
... We need to have a system that tracks people from the moment they come in, and then when your time is up, whether its three months, or six months, or nine months, or twelve months, however long your visa is, then we go get you and tap you on the shoulder and say "excuse me, thanks for coming, time to go."
As the Washington Post noted, it's easy to see why Christie has been veering right on immigration, and why this kind of language might appeal to him right now — namely, he has to get some kind of attention, and carve out some unique policy ideas that separate him from his other GOP rivals.
However, Christie's strength as a political brand (back when he was still considered a bona fide contender, as opposed to the also-ran status he's now occupying) had always included his ostensible crossover appeal, his ability to win elections and govern within a traditionally Democratic state. Suffice to say, there isn't much moderate appeal in suggesting human beings be tracked like packages — which, for the record, is achieved by scanning the items at every step of the transportation process. Not exactly a humane image, when you actually think about it.
In any event, it seems unlikely that Christie could get far enough right on immigration to draw a contrast with the GOP field's top dog. At present, front-runner Donald Trump is running on the harshest immigration platform in the primary field, and his aggressive rhetoric on the issue has been unparalleled.