Washington— As the immigration crisis along the U.S. southern border continues, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers agree that the border needs to be secured, including Florida Rep. Charlie Crist (D).
Shortly before the last votes of the week were taken in the U.S. House of Representatives were taken, The Floridian caught up to Rep. Crist to discuss the border crisis and the overall immigration system.=
“Well, I feel strongly about immigration too. It needs to be legal, done right. That’s how my grandfather did it,” said Crist as he went to tell the story of his grandfather arriving in the U.S. legally.
According to Crist, his grandfather came over from Cyprus at 14-years-old, and besides not speaking a word of English, he worked shining shoes for $5 a month in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Crist says he supports “legal immigration” not illegal immigration, adding that the U.S. needed to first “secure the border” to prevent illegal border crossings.
“Legal immigration needs to be protected, I don’t disagree. We have to secure the border so that illegal doesn’t happen. All these things can be addressed,” said Crist. What we need at the end of the day is comprehensive immigration reform.”
When asked if he supported the Biden Administration’s decision to continue construction of the Trump border security wall to fill in the gaps the existing fence had, Crist said that an “intelligent” wall needed to be built, and not an actual wall.
Crist said, “Not a literal wall, a more intelligent type of device that protects and secures the border.”
Crist’s position on immigration reform has been consistent even as Republicans and Democrats believe that like many other of his positions, the former Governor of Florida has flip-flopped.
Is Crist’s position on immigration in constant flux?
In August 2021, Crist took part in a round table discussion with “undocumented” or illegal immigrants and was asked if he would support a “pathway to citizenship to millions of people” through the budgetary process in the House.
Crist responded, “absolutely!”
We asked @CharlieCrist at a roundtable with undocumented folks if he supports not voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill until we pass the budget resolution through reconciliation that would grant a path to citizenship to millions of people.
— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) August 13, 2021
Back in 2010 when he was running for the U.S. Senate, Crist reiterated his support for legal immigration and said he supported sealing the border, not just securing it.
In addition, then-Republican Governor Crist took a stronger position regarding a pathway to citizenship via the legislative budgetary process, saying that illegal immigrants “shouldn’t feel advantaged by the fact that they got here illegally” and “should go to the back of the line, go through the regular process, what the law requires, in order to attain their citizenship.”
In other words, Crist only supported legal requirements for citizenship and not the budgetary avenue he now supports.
Crist is currently running in a hotly contested Democratic gubernatorial primary race against Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and State Senator Annette Taddeo.
The winner of the primary race will then face off against Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who has taken a hardline position against any form of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
DeSantis has even sent Florida law enforcement officers to Texas to help that state address the crisis along its border with Mexico.