Demonstrators protest during an immigration reform rally in front of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Jose Luis Magana/Reuters

What consensus on immigration looks like

It was just a few years ago when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) endorsed a “commonsense path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The Republican governor last year evolved a bit, saying he no longer wanted to talk about his position. This week, the reversal was complete – he told Fox News he opposes the position he used to support.
 
But reading msnbc’s Aliyah Frumin’s report, one thing jumped out at me: how, exactly, Christie wants to proceed on the issue.
“I think that, quite frankly, what Hillary Clinton’s doing right now is pandering. That’s pandering. We need to have an intelligent conversation about this and bring the American people along to where we can find consensus.”
I’d love to hear more about how Christie defines the word “pandering.” For example, is it pandering when a Republican presidential hopeful, struggling to make inroads with his party’s right-wing base, inexplicably flip-flops on immigration – bringing himself in line with the conservative knee-jerk litmus test?
 
Because by some measures, it certainly seems as if someone in this story is pandering, and it’s not the former Secretary of State.
 
But even more important is Christie’s goal: finding “consensus.” On this, I’m afraid I have bad news for the GOP governor: you’re too late. Policymakers already found consensus.
 
It was two years ago when a bipartisan group of lawmakers got together to craft a comprehensive immigration-reform bill. Both sides made concessions and a compromise emerged.
 
The bipartisan solution enjoyed the support of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. President Obama was eager to sign in the bill into law. It was endorsed by immigration advocates and law-enforcement groups. The bill earned support from both labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce. It was celebrated by leading groups from the faith community. By most accounts, it even had the votes to pass the House.
 
Polls showed a clear majority of Americans supported the compromise package and wanted to see it signed into law.
 
Can we stop pretending that policymakers need to find a “consensus” and start acknowledging that they already had a “consensus” before the House Republican leadership killed the legislation?
 
If Christie wants to make the case against the bipartisan bill endorsed by practically everyone, fine. That’s his call and I’d love to hear his argument in detail. But in context, the governor seems to be confusing “find consensus” and “making right-wing activists happy.”
 
They are not the same thing.
 

Chris Christie and Immigration Reform

What consensus on immigration looks like