Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday vetoed legislation that, if enacted, would have barred the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from using agency resources to enforce President Trump’s executive order limiting travel from six majority-Muslim countries.
The legislation (S3006) cleared the New Jersey Legislature on a largely party-line vote in May as part of a pushback effort from lawmakers. While the immigration order is not currently in place, the Supreme Court has allowed some travel restrictions until a final decision on the legality of the ban is reached. Trump’s order aims to limit U.S. entry from Iran, Lybia, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Sudan– a move the president has said would make America safer in the wake of the global uptick in terrorism. Those who oppose the ban say it is unconstitutional and discriminates against refugees and others for their nation of origin.
In Christie’s veto message, the governor wrote that advancing the bill could force Port Authority officials to make an “untenable decision of whether or not to abide by the provisions of this bill and obstruct legitimate federal law enforcement actions.”
“Such an approach would quickly turn the uniform federal immigration laws into a patchwork of individual state preferences,” Christie wrote.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle (D-Bergen) was on of the Assembly co-sponsors of the legislation. She said that Christie’s veto decision was “disappointing but not altogether surprising.” The governor has close ties to Trump and has supported the president since ending his own presidential bid last February.
“This governor continually defends Trump’s devices and constitutionally questionable policies,” Huttle said. “I think that some of the world’s most desperate people are fleeing their home countries to seek safety here and President Trump’s ban is founded upon falsehoods and the suggestion that refugees haven’t already been thoroughly vetted and the idea that they want to cause Americans harm.”
With the Legislature currently in recess, Huttle said she is unaware what recourse there will be to bar the travel ban from taking hold in New Jersey if it becomes federal law after a Supreme Court decision.
The New York Legislature has also put forward identical legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens). But, because legislation impacting the bi-state agency needs approval from both states, New York’s effort will not become Port Authority policy even if it passes the Legislature and is signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
If the legislation had become law, it would have impacted Newark, JFK and LaGuardia airports, three major air transit hubs in the region.