Gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan today announced the endorsement of Minuteman Project Founder Jim Gilchrist.
Gilchrist, a California native whose group opposes illegal immigration and has its members patrol the U.S.-Mexican border as private citizens, said that “Steve Lonegan and I worked together to stop the illegal alien invasion in our country now being facilitated by Barack Obama.”
Gilchrist pointed to a comment Christie made at a church forum in Dover in April, 2008, when he was U.S. Attorney. At the event, Christie said “being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime.”
That caused a bit of an uproar among conservatives and other anti-illegal immigrant activists. CNN firebrand Lou Dobbs even chewed Christie out for it.
Christie moved immediately to mollify them with a statement of clarification by U.S. Attorney Office spokesman Michael Drewniak. It read that “He did not say, nor did he mean, that entering this country through any means other than the appropriate immigration channels is a lawful act.”
“Chris Christie said that being an illegal alien is not a crime and that illustrates his attitude towards this problem,” Gilchrist said in a statement issued by the Lonegan campaign. “And as U.S. Attorney he literally ignored the problem, bringing just 13 cases against illegal aliens in seven years.”
Gilchrist did not mention Lonegan’s hiring in 2007 of two undocumented workers to assemble signs for the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which Lonegan ran at the time. That came up during the gubernatorial debate last night, during which Lonegan said that one of the workers was documented.
This is not Gilchrist’s first foray into New Jersey politics. He endorsed Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly when he was running for the GOP nomination for Congress in the 3rd District.