By Richard J. LaRossa
Question: Where is Christie on illegal immigration?

My last column attracted a number of comments from Republican insiders and other Trenton regulars. Glad I was able to get the juices flowing.

Some of you constructively e-mailed me directly with additional questions and information. I also received an interesting link to a CNN report by veteran anchor Lou Dobbs.

It showed Chris Christie answering a question about illegal immigration in April of 2008. He tried to say that is was not a crime to simply be in this country illegally. In his report, Lou Dobbs thoroughly dismantled this assertion. Furthermore, a case review by CNN reported that Mr. Chrisite’s office prosecuted just 13 illegal immigrant cases during the same time span during which the US Attorney in Kansas was prosecuting over 500 cases.

For those of you who doubt this; please visit the following link to Lou Dobbs of CNN.

I looked into this further for the benefit of the people who are affected the most, the citizens and taxpayers of New Jersey.

Illegal immigration is a very serious and emotional issue. Most estimates put the number of illegal immigrants in New Jersey at in excess of 370,000. In 2007, Senator Joseph Vitale placed it at above 400,000. That’s a lot of people who are here illegally and it is costing New Jersey taxpayers a lot of money.

How much money? How does $2.2 billion sound? That’s the best estimate of the cost to taxpayers of illegal immigrants living in New Jersey.

A lot of crime in New Jersey happens because of illegal immigration. Criminologists argue that the presence of young males has a bad effect on crime rates – and many of the young males here illegally come from countries with a much higher violent crime rate than ours. But I’m not just talking about the big crimes that make it into the newspapers, like the murders of those young students in Newark.

I’m talking about the lost jobs for New Jersey taxpayers. I’m talking about abuse of the system. And, I’m talking about the crime that makes victims of the people here illegally.

Slavery exists in the world. The United Nations estimates that over 600,000 people – mostly women and children – are trafficked across national borders each year. These people are slaves – bought and sold with less formality than a used car. Many end up in sweatshops or as servants, with more ending up in the sex industry.

The numbers of these modern day slaves being brought into New Jersey is growing, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimating that over 4,000 are brought into our state illegally each year. They are here among us, largely unseen, and their lives are a living hell.

So I looked at the numbers and what they said about Chris Christie’s determination to combat illegal immigration and the crime, cost, and misery that result from it.

To his credit, Mr. Christie did participate in some initiatives to crack down on human trafficking. I read some newspaper coverage of press conferences in which he talked about the problem.

From 2000 through 2007 (the last year for which figures have been compiled), Chris Christie’s office commenced 267 criminal immigration cases out of a total of 6,925 criminal cases. That’s less than 4 percent. The percentage of criminal immigration cases commenced for the entire 3rd District – of which New Jersey is a part – was almost 10 percent.

In 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware prosecuted 24 criminal immigration cases – over 12 percent of its total. That same year, Mr. Christie’s office managed just 37 criminal immigration cases – less than 4 percent. Delaware has a population of only 850,000 to New Jersey’s more than 8.7 million people.

These numbers are disturbing, so I looked on his campaign website to find out his position on illegal immigration. I couldn’t find one.

So, maybe it’s time to ask Mr. Christie and some of the people behind him if they think illegal immigration is a problem in New Jersey. Here’s his leadership team. It’s time to start getting answers to issues that are confronting New Jersey especially those that are costing the taxpayers, Billions of dollars:

State Chairman:

State Senator Joe Kyrillos

State Co-Chairs:

Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen

Congressman Leonard Lance

Congressman Frank LoBiondo

Congressman Chris Smith

Former Congressman Mike Ferguson

State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr.

State Senator Bill Baroni

State Senator Jen Beck

State Senator Gerry Cardinale

State Senator Andrew Ciesla

Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce

Assemblyman Jay Webber

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson

Bergen County Clerk Kathleen Donovan

Richard J. LaRossa can be reached via email at ... mmigration