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Kris Kobach for VP Would Make Official What Already Has Happened: Trump’s Mainstreaming of the Anti-Immigrant and White Nationalist Fringe

 

White nationalists and anti-immigrant activists are promoting Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as a potential vice presidential choice for Republican Donald Trump, MSBNC reports.

Kobach is the architect of Arizona’s SB1070, the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant “show me your papers” law, as well as other state laws anchored in the concept of “self-deportation.”  In addition, Kobach is the elected official behind one of the most egregious examples of voter suppression disproportionately harmful to people of color, as well as a former employee and ongoing ally of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) – an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Earlier this year, Kobach announced his endorsement of Trump and later bragged of his role in shaping the Trump immigration position, including the campaign’s announced “plan” to force Mexico to pay for a border wall by ending remittances.

While serving as an advisor to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Kobach also dreamt up the notorious “special registration” program that was a massive exercise in government-sponsored racial profiling.

Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “It’s easy to see why Kris Kobach might be the ‘perfect’ vice presidential choice for a Trump campaign.  He shares so many of the candidate’s positions and ideologies.  But as an American, I reject the further normalization and mainstreaming of racism that his selection would involve.  We already have one anti-immigrant demagogue that is embraced by the white nationalist movement running for president. We certainly don’t need one at the vice presidential level too.”

As MSNBC’s Zachary Roth reported:

“Far-right Donald Trump supporters are eyeing Kris Kobach, an immigration hardliner and a leading figure in the Republican assault on voting rights, as a potential running mate for the presumptive GOP nominee.

…The nativist website VDARE.com has promoted Kobach as a veep selection for Trump. Peter Brimelow, the site’s founder, called Kobach’s endorsement of Trump ‘a very brave move,’ adding: ‘Kobach for veep.’ The Southern Poverty Law Center describes VDARE, which has regularly published writing by white nationalists and anti-Semites, as a hate group. It’s named for Virginia Dare, said to be the first English child born in the New World.

In March, Kobach served as a de facto surrogate for Trump in an interview with PBS, in which he appeared alongside Marco Rubio supporter Henry Barbour. Kobach praised Trump for ‘taking the strongest position that we’ve ever heard a presidential candidate take on illegal immigration’ and attacked Rubio as a supporter of ‘amnesty.’

The performance drew raves from VDARE. ‘In a GOP party that was living up to its professed principles, people like Kobach, and not Barbour, would be running things,’ a writer for the site enthused, describing Kobach as ‘a stalwart warrior against the illegal immigrant invasion.’ The post also appeared at the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, whose founder has endorsed Trump.

Last week, the vice presidential speculation went more mainstream with a tweet from Mickey Kaus, a former writer for The New Republic and Slate who has adopted an increasingly hard line on immigration.

Kobach, a former aide to then-Attorney-General John Ashcroft, was the lead author of immigration laws passed by Arizona and Alabama in recent years, which are seen as the strictest immigration measures in the nation. The laws require law enforcement to try to determine a person’s legal status during any legal stop if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is undocumented.

As Kansas’ top elections official, Kobach has been equally well-known for making it harder to vote. He championed a 2011 state law that requires people to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote. In November 2014, Kobach kept around 24,000 voter registration applications in limbo because they didn’t include documentary proof of citizenship. Last week, a federal judge ordered Kobach’s office to begin processing suspended applications submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles, significantly weakening the law. Kobach’s office is appealing the ruling. And in January he convinced the director of the federal agency that helps states oversee elections to make a highly controversial change to the federal voter registration form that allows his state, as well as Georgia and Alabama, to ask for proof of citizenship. Both of those states have passed similar laws to Kansas’. That move, too, has drawn a lawsuit. Kobach claims non-citizen voting threatens the integrity of elections but has been able to point to only a tiny number of cases.”

A more official platform for Kobach would cement the disturbing ties already evident between Trump and the anti-immigrant and white nationalist movements – which have adopted Trump wholeheartedly. As Peter Montgomery of the People for the American Way recently told the Wall Street Journal, “White supremacists and white nationalists have been marginalized in our political discourse, but Trump’s campaign is bringing them out of the woodwork and making it easier for them say certain things.”

And Talking Points Memo recently reported that “the white nationalist movement sees coverage of Trump’s anti-immigration policies as key to spreading their ideals.” The TPM piece quoted former Trump campaign delegate William Johnson’s belief that Trump should “do what Andrew Jackson did when he defied the U.S. Supreme Court and had the Trail of Tears,” referring to the implementation of Trump’s mass deportation vision. Johnson continued, “It might be violating the procedures we’ve used for 100-some years but it’s not unconstitutional … I think we need to have some strong executive decisions because America has disintegrated so much that something dramatic needs to be done.”