Chris Christie said on Friday that his Republican opponent Marco Rubio is wrong to be proposing a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants at this point in time, citing the American people's lack of trust.
"We have a lot of work to do to earn the trust of the American people before I would be proposing anything like that," Christie told radio host Michael Medved of a path to earned legal status. "I think Marco's wrong to be proposing it now. We have to get our house in order first."
Rubio's opponents, particularly Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have criticized him in recent weeks for his support of a 2013 Senate immigration bill that would have granted a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. After distancing himself from that legislation, Rubio has said this year that he is open to granting undocumented immigrants legal status, but only after measures are taken to bring illegal immigration "under control" and immigrants learn English and pay a fine.
Christie, who also supported a pathway to citizenship in the past, told Medved that he didn't think those who had broken the law to enter the country should receive American citizenship, which he called "the greatest reward any human being on this earth can get."
"I'm not for path to citizenship, Michael," Christie said. "I don't believe that anyone who has knowingly come here illegally should be rewarded with the greatest reward any human being on this earth can get, which is an American passport saying you're an American citizen. As far as legalization goes, the fact is that we're so far away from that, that I can't even picture pitching that idea to the American people. We have to get our house in order first. "
Asked whether he would be in favor of a path to legalization once levels of illegal immigration were reduced, Christie said, "I cannot even visualize the American people supporting it. And if the American people don't support it, you can't do it, Michael. I mean, you know, the fact is that the government has let them down so much on this score that they're not gonna be supportive of anything that we try to do in that area."
Earlier in the interview, Christie also argued that he felt the deportation of all the undocumented immigrants currently in the country, as Donald Trump has proposed, was not "feasible or affordable."
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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