As long as he remains governor, I am inclined to give Chris Christie a pass on his immigration weakness. You can only pick so many fights; taking on both the public-sector unions and the Trenton big spenders is more than enough to keep any Northeastern pro-life governor’s hands full. Those also happen to be the right fights in his state right now, much like Ronald Reagan was correct to focus on stagflation and the Cold War.
But Christie is bowing to conventional wisdom he would be better off ignoring. Even in blue states far from the border, voters want something serious done about illegal immigration. Consider that Boston Globe poll I linked to earlier this week which shows deep concern about illegal immigration in Massachusetts, of all places. And good luck balancing the budget or taking on the unions when all of those low-income illegal immigrants are suddenly eligible for the full range of means-tested government programs or to vote for Democratic candidates.
Then again, Chris Christie has so far revealed himself to be the opposite of most Republicans who toss red meat during the campaign only to revert Nixonian form in office. Christie sounded cautious and centrist as a candidate only to be a fighter as governor. Immigration hawks would be left hoping he’d do the same as a presidential candidate.