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DREAMers From Across the Nation Protest Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Architect of the Failed GOP Anti-Immigrant Strategy

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Sixty DREAMers from Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Arizona joined with local leaders from Sunflower Community Action and a coalition of activists today in Topeka to ask Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to end his lawsuit against President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to resign from office.

As Sulma Arias, Executive Director of Sunflower Community Action said today during a press call following the event, “We asked Kobach to drop the DACA lawsuit that he is filing against the Administration over deferred action, and to stop wasting Kansas taxpayer money on his attacks against immigrant families.  As Kansas taxpayers, we are asking him to step down from his position as Secretary of State, which he has done so ineffectively due to the agenda he follows.”

Inside the Kansas State Capitol, the activists asked for a meeting with Kobach, who refused to come out and address the group even though he was in his office.  According to the group, his assistant said that he was “too busy working” to meet with the students, who then dropped off a letter with Kobach’s office listing their requests.

In addition to the in-person event this afternoon, the Secretary of State’s office was inundated with phone calls all day, from pro-citizenship advocates all over the country.  Leaders of the effort estimate that over 300 phone calls were made, all asking Kobach to drop his lawsuit against deferred action and to resign from office.

As Ernesto de la Rosa, a DREAMer and graduate student at Wichita State University said, “We are here to deliver a message to Kris Kobach: stop spreading hate to other states, and either focus on your job here in Kansas or step down.  There are 11 million Latino voters out there who are making a difference.  I came here to protest in front of the State Capitol today, but my friends at home all called in to make sure Kris Kobach knows what they’re thinking too.  Those who spread discrimination in our communities will be remembered.”

Locally, Kobach has been a divisive figure, who spends time traveling around the nation pushing anti-immigrant laws state-by-state rather than serving as Kansas Secretary of State—the job Kansas taxpayers elected him to do.  And his extremist agenda has not sat well in a state that has over 11,000 DREAMers, who embody Kansas values and seek to give back to their country—if Kobach doesn’t manage to deport them first.  For these reasons—and for his growing notoriety, Kobach’s approval numbers in Kansas are now in the 30s.

As Ernesto De La Rosa said, “The policies of hate and division this man pushes do not represent the values of my teachers and other Kansans I grew up with.”

Kobach’s allies in the anti-immigrant lobby have wielded enormous influence on the GOP at both the national and local levels.  Kobach is the author of anti-immigrant bills in several states–such as Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and Mississippi–which have devastated communities and wrought enormous financial costs.  DREAMers from those states traveled to Kansas today to demand that Kobach account for those damages.

Said Victor Palafox, a DREAMer from Alabama, “Here in Kansas, Secretary of State Kobach ironically said he couldn’t meet with immigrant youth because he was too busy doing his job. The fact that I’m here is a counter to that lie. Last year, my home state of Alabama passed a law, HB 56, that was written by Kris Kobach. Kobach even bragged to Alabama legislature that he wrote it in a coffee shop as he was passing through. When the legislature passed the bill Kobach wrote, it injected fear all over the state. Kids would go to school crying and text their parents all day from school to make sure they were still there. Employers were empowered to take advantage of their workers even more. One domestic worker was told to clean the whole house on her knees, because she was ‘illegal’ and there was nothing she could do about it. The law has also cost my state millions of dollars. If Kris Kobach were really doing his job in Kansas, he wouldn’t have been in my state to begin with.”

On a national level, Kobach served as immigration advisor to Mitt Romney and was instrumental in adding hard-line anti-immigrant language into the 2012 GOP party platform.  The platform, along with the espousal of ideas such as self-deportation,  effectively ended the party’s fledgling efforts to rebuild a relationship with Latino voters.  Since the election, Republican leaders of all stripes have been agreeing that the GOP embrace of Kobach’s anti-immigrant policies was primarily responsible for turning Latino voters away from the Republican ticket. Now, there is broad consensus on the need for the GOP to moderate its positions on immigration and the Latino vote.  In their rally today, the DREAMers made sure to let Kobach know that the time for his extremist policies is over.

Said Erika Andiola, a DREAMer from Arizona and the Government Relations Director of the DRM Capitol Group, “The reason why Mitt Romney lost the election is because of Kris Kobach.  If the GOP wants to win the Latino vote, they need to stop echoing policies like the ones crafted by Kris Kobach and they need to change their rhetoric.  If they keep following the path of Kris Kobach and continue to oppose immigration reform, the Republicans might not have a political future.”

As Sulma Arias concluded, “Kris Kobach is definitely bad news for the Republican party.  People know his name, and know about the anti-immigrant attacks he has wreaked against our families.  His kind of rhetoric will continue to take down anyone who uses it, whether it’s Mitt Romney or Kobach himself.  That kind of extremism will not work.”

Click here to listen to an audio recording of today’s press call.

View pictures from today.

View video from today (courtesy of Topeka Capital-Journal).