In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that will air on “Anderson Cooper 360” at 8 p.m. ET Monday night, Jenner said that she decided to challenge California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the all-but-certain recall election after watching the crisis that has unfolded at the southern border where the Biden administration has been struggling to halt a surge in immigrants from South and Central America, many of them children.
“I am for legal immigration, okay. What’s been happening on the border was honestly one of the reasons I decided to run for governor,” Jenner said in the interview. “I was watching people dying come across the river, kids in cages — whatever you want to call them.”
“They should have a chance at citizenship?” Bash asked.
“Absolutely, yeah. They should. I mean, there’s a lot of people, but personally I have met some of the most wonderful people who are immigrants, who have come to this country and they are just model citizens. They are just great people and I would fight for them to be US citizens,” Jenner replied.
The former Olympian and reality television personality is facing steep odds by running as a Republican in a state where Democrats outnumber GOP voters by two-to-one. But the immigration views she expressed in the new CNN interview align with those of the majority of California Republicans, who tend to be more progressive on social issues than the Republican voters nationally who flocked to Trump’s candidacy.
A late March survey by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 85% of Californians say there should be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as long as they meet certain requirements, including 68% of the state’s Republicans.
In the likely recall election, which has yet to be officially called or scheduled, all of the state’s voters will be asked two questions. The first will be whether they want to recall Newsom (yes or no); the second will be who they would like to replace him with, followed by a long list of candidates including Jenner.
Despite the anger among many Californians about the restrictions that Newsom put in place to try to control the spread of Covid-19 last year — strict policies that fueled a grassroots movement to gather the more than 1.4 million valid signatures required to qualify the recall for the ballot — the Democratic governor’s political position has remained strong. (The California secretary of state reported in late April that proponents had turned in the requisite number of valid signatures to initiate the recall of Newsom, but in the next step of the process, voters have 30 business days in which they are allowed to withdraw their names from recall petitions.)
Newsom’s approval rating held steady at 53% of likely voters in the March PPIC survey and only 40% of likely voters said they would vote “yes” on removing him, while 56% said they would vote no. In the months before Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in California in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, about seven in ten likely voters disapproved of Davis’ performance and ultimately 55% voted to recall him.
When asked about deportations, Jenner told Bash that “the bad ones have to leave,” defining that group as those with criminal records or those who are affiliated with the street gang MS-13, adding “the list goes on.”
“It’s a lot of bad people that are trying to cross our border illegally. I don’t want those people in our country,” Jenner said.