Our VoiceImmigration

#NotARandomRacist of the day: Kris Kobach

Imagine 2050 Staff • Sep 25, 2014

Kris Kobach is Kansas’ Secretary of State and is listed as “Of Counsel” at the Immigration Law Reform Institute (ILRI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). He is also a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party.

Kobach has been orchestrating destructive, racist policies for his entire tenure in politics. His political career took off in 2001 when he was awarded a prestigious White House Fellowship on September 1st. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, despite having no background in immigration law or policy, Kobach was appointed as Attorney General John Ashcroft’s chief advisor on immigration and boarder security. He stayed on with the Bush administration after his fellowship expired and helped to craft the controversial National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. This system required tens of thousands of Muslims and visas holders from primarily Muslim-majority countries to register with the government and be fingerprinted. The policy was widely denounced as government sanctioned racial and ethnic profiling.

Kobach has proven himself a pivotal author and spokesperson for racist legislation across numerous states and municipalities. He co-authored Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law SB 1070, which was sponsored by FAIR-ally Russell Pearce, and he helped draft Alabama’s copycat bill, AB56.

He was retained by Maricopa County in 2006 to defend a law that made immigrant-smuggling a state crime, a measure that was spearheaded by that county’s vehemently anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This measure was successful and Kobach himself trained Arpaio’s deputies in immigration enforcement.

In 2004 Kobach became the senior counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute. Once settled at IRLI, he filed a suit against the state of Kansas for granting in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants who had attended and graduated a state high school. That lawsuit was thrown out in 2006, but that didn’t stop Kobach from filing a similar case in 2010 against California, which was eventually rejected by California’s state supreme court.

Kobach was elected as the Kansas Secretary of State in 2010, after campaigning on an anti-immigrant platform. In his campaign he falsely claimed that undocumented immigrants were committing rampant voter fraud. He continues to  unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and has championed voter suppression laws in Kansas.
His aim is to prevent as many Kansans as possible from voting. He made an announcement in 2013 that he was going to create a two-tiered voting system that would bar 17,500 Kansas residents from voting.

During the 2012 presidential elections, Kobach was appointed as an advisor on immigration policy for Mitt Romney’s campaign. The role provided a national audience to Kobach’s long-standing support of the doctrine of “self-deportation,” which Romney publicly claimed he supported. The aim of “self-deportation” is to create an environment that is so hostile to undocumented immigrants that they flee the country. Associating with Kobach proved disastrous for Romney, and though he attempted to distance his campaign from Kobach, election experts asserted that his “self-deportation” position was a major contributor to his failed bid for the White House.

Today, Kobach stands as one of the most important minds behind the anti-immigrant movement’s efforts to pass discriminatory policies targeting immigrants. Kobach pushes the boundaries of constitutionality in order to force hostile environments on immigrants and minorities. Predictably, bills that he helps draft are often ruled unconstitutional by high courts, and the subsequent legal last for years and cost taxpayers millions.

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