Our VoiceImmigration

The Tanton Network’s Victory on 287g, with Kobach of Kansas


Rev. David L. Ostendorf • Jul 21, 2009

Kris Kobach

This week’s New York Times profile of Kris Kobach, the John Tanton Network lawyer from Kansas, is a reminder that even an outspoken, virulently anti-immigrant, restrictionist, Obama-joke-cracking attorney/professor with Ivy League credentials, not to mention a stint in the Ashcroft Justice Department, can land favorable press, make extremists look mainstream, and erase any party distinctions on 287g and other Homeland Security enforcement tactics.

It was just last week that Kobach — a candidate for Secretary of State in Kansas — publicly repeated the “joke version” of the growing attack line on the President for his alleged lack of a US birth certificate, a mantra picking up steam in otherwise desperate right-wing circles. The line is unsurprising when delivered by Kobach, who has, indeed, taken anti-immigrant law and policy initiatives to new levels, and whose support of hardcore restrictionist policies has earned him exposure on all sides.

Repetition of the cheap birth certificate jibe about the President makes perfect sense for one with no immigration-expertise whatsoever, one who is also seeking to quickly build a political career simply by challenging US citizenship and the rights of US residents.

Kobach is a wakeup call to immigrant, civil, and human rights organizations—a prime example of how the organized, anti-immigrant movement has sunk its roots into mainstream America, tempered its message and lead messengers, reframed its media strategy, and sought to develop case law in order to advance its restrictionist and enforcement agenda far outside the halls of Congress and the margins of the critical drive for immigration reform.

There are many others like him, of course, though perhaps not with a NYT profile. The real problem right now is that it is increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the hardliners driving the floats in the restrictionist/enforcement parade, and those in Congress and the Administration who are leading the parade for supposed immigration reform. Restriction and enforcement prevails, at least for the time being, or at least until comprehensive immigration reform is first  realized and then secured.

Kris Kobach has testified several times before Congressional committees in support of 287g, and in 2005 he “wholeheartedly” urged the Committee to support its expansion—something the Obama Administration is now doing, adding eleven law enforcement jurisdictions to the agreements that enable state or local law officers to enforce federal immigration policy. All of which, it must be noted, will come at significant cost to local taxpayers. Kobach must be elated; his relationship with the Tanton Network’s Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) is paying off for him personally and for the anti-immigrant movement—287g is becoming a cornerstone of immigration enforcement policy.

Check out Kris Kobach at his website for Secretary of State (where he still maintains that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie “played a pivotal role in the heist” of the state’s Senate election “to pacify a leftist mob,” which presumably includes the Minnesota Supreme Court that recently validated the election). Check him out at KrisWatch, any array of Kansas newspapers, or the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well.

You’ll won’t regard the current rage for 287g in quite the same way after, and you’ll get an even better sense of the deepening influence of white nationalists within the ranks of the anti-immigrant movement, from Kansas to Congress.

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