Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Chris Christie In 2008: "Being In This Country Without Proper Documentation Is Not A Crime"

It's a position that could starkly contrast with Mitt Romney's strict stance on illegal immigration.

Posted on May 16, 2012, at 9:27 a.m. ET

View this video on YouTube

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, sometimes mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney, stands notably to his party's left on immigration, an issue that could play either way in considering him for a number two spot he's said he's sick of being asked about.

Christie staked out his position at forum in 2008.

"Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime," Christie said to more than 60 residents and city officials at local chapter of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey. "The whole phrase of 'illegal immigrant' connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime."

Being undocumented may be a civil violation, but it's not technically a crime, Christie continued.

"Don't let people make you believe that that's a crime that the U.S. Attorney's Office should be doing something about. It is not," he said.

Christie's comments caused outrage with some conservatives, and incurred the wrath of former CNN host Lou Dobbs. Those piling on Christie included controversial Romney campaign immigration advisor Kris Kobach. (Kobach was apparently demoted to a "supporter" after his views on immigrations law became an issue.)

"Mere présence, just standing in the country illegally, that in it's self is not a crime. That is correct, but that is kind of a silly statement. Illegal aliens are not just standing here, being present, and doing nothing else," Kobach told CNN in 2008. "There are a multitude of crimes associated with being an illegal alien in the United States. That's just the way are laws are written."