Column: Christie's FedEx remark on immigration can't be taken seriously

Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gestures while speaking at a town hall meeting at Sayde's Neighborhood Bar & Grill in Salem, N.H., Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. (Cheryl Senter/AP)

One of the biggest and most discussed topics in recent political debates is illegal immigration and how to go about combatting it. As we all know, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump wants Mexico to build a wall on its border with the United States and deport all current illegal immigrants. There has been great debate regarding how to go about accomplishing either of these plans, and questions concerning their legality and tactics. Similarly, a less popular candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has suggested another plan to battle the issue that has faced scrutiny. 

According to a recent New York Times article, Christie wants to create a system that would track foreign visitors in the country the same way FedEx tracks its packages. He wants the government to be able to force foreign visitors and immigrants to leave the country when their government-issued visas expire. While this seems like a good idea in theory, there are several concerns surrounding it that would make it highly difficult or even impossible to accomplish.

FedEx is able to give tracking information to the recipients of packages because there are barcodes on each package. By scanning these barcodes at every step of the delivery process, FedEx is able to supply customers with the location of their package. Visas do not contain such barcodes. There is no way to scan a visa.

Even if visas did contain barcodes, there would be no possible way to scan someone’s visa while he or she is in the country. Would government officials travel around the country scanning visas of immigrants to see if they have expired? If so, how would these officials even know who was and was not an immigrant? This seems like some sort of personal violation, if you ask me. Going around the country asking people to show their visas because it looks like he or she could be an immigrant sounds like something that would cause more problems to arise.

It's almost impossible to determine the differences between someone who is an illegal immigrant, an immigrant with an approved visa, or a legal citizen. Race issues are already at an all-time high without this system in place. Trying to track or readily ask people to show their visas could definitely have the potential to make matters worse.

As it is, visa expiration itself is quite confusing. The U.S. Department of State website explains how the expiration date on the visa is different from the amount of time the visa allots the holder in the states. This could make it confusing when attempting to track immigrants or scan visas. The expiration date could have passed, but the holder may still be legally in the United States. Refining the laws and rules regarding visas sounds like something that could be more beneficial to solving problems with the immigration crisis than trying to track foreigners.

In the polls, there is no hiding Christie’s lag in support. This idea of a tracking system may be his way of gaining more attention to have a chance of competing with more publicized and supported candidates, such as Trump. Trump continues to become more known for his ambitious ideas, such as the proposals to combat illegal immigration issues.

Christie may just be trying to follow Trump's lead by throwing out crazy ideas like this one to gain more attention and support in the polls. But this idea seems too far out there to be taken seriously. 


Erin Hurley is a contributor to The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at erin.hurley@uconn.edu.