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California GOP gubernatorial candidate Jenner backs path to citizenship for illegal immigrants

Despite support for the estimate 1.75 illegal immigrants work in her state, Jenner says, "The bad ones have to leave."

Updated: May 10, 2021 - 2:06pm

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner is backing a path to citizenship for the estimated 1.75 million illegal immigrants in her state's labor force but says "the bad one have to go."

Jenner, an Olympian and reality star, made the comment to CNN in an interview to air Monday.

"The bad ones have to leave,” Jenner said in a video clip of the interview aired Sunday on the cable TV news network. “Criminal records, MS-13, the list goes on. … There’s a lot of bad people."

Jenner, who last month declared her candidacy, is poised to challenge Democratic Gov. Gavin Newson in an all-but-certain recall election that could be on the state ballot as early as November. 

Newson is largely in jeopardy of losing his job over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jenner’s early campaign platform has so far essentially followed conservative principles including no tax increases and border security – making her position on citizenship a departure. 

Her position is also a sharp departure from the policies of former President Trump, who made the issue of illegal immigration an early and ongoing political concern. 

She favors granting a path to citizenship to the 1.75 million undocumented immigrants in the state's labor force, staking out a position that is more progressive than many voters in the GOP base nationally and at odds with former President Donald Trump, who Jenner supported until 2018.

"What’s been happening on the border was honestly one of the reasons I decided to run for governor," Jenner also tells CNN. "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 U.S. citizens and I think it would be the greatest day of their life."