Our VoiceImmigration

Kris Kobach’s Freudian Slip

Jill Garvey • Jun 27, 2012

Kobach with supporters

Kris Kobach, architect of Arizona’s racial profiling law SB-1070, made an uncharacteristic misstep during an interview  and seemed to confirm what we all know: the laws he champions intentionally target people of color.

Kobach is normally unflappably cool under the media spotlight. But yesterday, during an interview with KPCC FM radio, he tripped over his own feet. When Chris Newman of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network made the point that states don’t enforce federal tax law and shouldn’t enforce federal immigration laws either, the segment’s host posed the question to Kobach: what’s the difference between immigration and tax law?

Kobach blurted out, “Federal tax law you can’t look at a person and say ‘okay, I know’ – er, or not look at a person, but look at the scenario around that person and say ‘I, I know that person has evaded taxes’.” Listen to the audio here (1:55:05).

That begs the question: how do you look at a person – oops, I mean the scenario around a person – and determine that they’ve evaded immigration laws?

Kobach and company have repeatedly denied that their laws are designed to racially profile. But what is the public to think when the justification for them is that a person who is breaking civil immigration laws can be identified on sight?

It seems clear that anyone perceived as a foreigner – whether it be by the color of one’s skin, by accent or the company one keeps – is a potential target.

But maybe that’s all just the scenario around them.


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