Latino groups urge Christie to change stance on Obama immigration order

 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie chats with Martin Perez, president of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, and agrees to a meeting. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie chats with Martin Perez, president of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, and agrees to a meeting. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Some are urging Gov. Chris Christie to reconsider joining the legal fight against President Obama’s plan to spare millions of undocumented immigrants – including thousands in New Jersey — from deportation.

At a rally Wednesday on the steps of the Statehouse in Trenton, Martin Perez, president of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, said he’s disappointed with Christie’s decision to endorse a legal brief against implementation of Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Christie may intend to send a message to the extreme right of the Republican Party, Perez said. In doing so, however, he’s sending a damaging message to the Latino community that helped the governor win re-election.

“The time in which you can ignore, take for granted, or be elected governor of New Jersey or president of the United States with the support of us is long gone, is over,” Perez said to cheers and applause.

Maria Teresa Montilla, with the Dominican American National Roundtable, called on Christie to honor his promise to work to fix the immigration system.

“We need to know that we can still count on him, that he won’t ignore us,” she said. “That we can still trust him to help us bring together relief to more than 204,000 immigrants that can come out of the shadows in the state of New Jersey alone.”

On his way into the Statehouse before the rally, Christie chatted briefly with Perez and agreed to meet soon to discuss the group’s concerns.

“We have been friends for many years, but friends have to speak very clearly to each other and that’s what makes a friendship stronger,” Perez said. “We have differences. We have to air those differences and see if we can solve our differences and move forward.”

Perez noted that the governor previously “stepped up to the plate to secure the in-state tuition for New Jersey’s undocumented graduates” to fulfill a promise to the Latino community.

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