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Kris Kobach and the Deep Hole He Has Dug for the GOP on Immigration
Washington, DC – Last weekend, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticized Mitt Romney’s post-election “gift” comments and offered advice to the Republican Party regarding its lurch to the right on immigration policy and its thumping by Latino voters: “When you’re in a hole, stop digging. He [Romney] keeps digging.” Added Senator Graham, “The Hispanic community, 71 percent voted for President Obama, and they’re all disappointed in President Obama…But they voted for him because he’s a lesser of two evils. Self deportation being pushed by Mitt Romney hurt our chances. We’re in a death spiral with Hispanic voters because of rhetoric around immigration. And candidate Romney and the primary dug the hole deeper.”
Who was the advisor to Romney most responsible for the candidate’s embrace of the radical “self-deportation” strategy? Kris Kobach, the architect of the Arizona and Alabama “show me your papers” laws and the leading proponent of the theory that if you make life miserable enough for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, they will pick up and “self-deport.” While Kobach is the elected Secretary of State in Kansas, he seems to spend most of his time outside of the state pushing his unpopular and controversial policies. Just recently, for example, he filed a lawsuit against President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – a program for young immigrants who call themselves DREAMers that is wildly popular with Latino voters and very popular with all voters.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Kobach had a bad day, as his radical immigration stances helped sink Romney’s candidacy. Yesterday, Mr. Kobach had a very bad day. DREAMers from across the country were in Kansas calling on Kobach to drop his lawsuit against DREAMers and to stop using his office to launch attacks on immigrants.
When asked for a reaction to the DREAMer protesters, Kobach described the group’s demands as “insane.” He also said to the Associated Press, “The audacity of these illegal aliens is amazing…Illegal means illegal, and that’s a very simple concept to understand and yet they want me to ignore the fact that the law has meaning in Kansas.”
Increasingly, Kobach, like Romney, finds himself isolated within the GOP. Republican elected officials across the country, Party strategists, and conservative activists are agreeing with Senator Graham and are now calling for a new approach to immigration reform (see this new compilation of post-election quotes from Republicans and conservatives) – one that embraces a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, rather than the nationwide purge championed by Mr. Kobach.
Unfortunately, it seems like Kobach has neither gotten the memo nor recognized that voters, both Latino and the vast majority of all Americans, soundly reject his anti-immigrant vision.
However, according to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “Many in the GOP have made it clear they are ready to jettison the nativist strand of the GOP. But they should know that the Kobach vision on immigration will continue to define the Republican Party unless and until the GOP rejects his influence and actively works to pass the type of sensible immigration reform Americans want and deserve.”
America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.