TOPEKA — Can Mitt Romney endorse an immigration reform plan that provides a path to legal status for some illegal immigrants while also taking advice from one of the nation’s most outspoken opponents of amnesty for illegal immigrants?
Yes, says that outspoken opponent, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
“I think he can embrace both of us and go merrily along to win the election in November,” he said Monday.
Kobach’s response comes as a few political observers have begun to question whether Romney will have to choose between accepting advice from Kobach, whose strong stance on immigration became nationally known when he helped craft controversial immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama, and that of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida.
Rubio, who some believe could be among Romney’s potential running mates, has begun pushing for immigration reform that would provide non-immigrant visas to young immigrants who have no criminal record and have graduated high school. Kobach has said repeatedly that he believes such immigrants should have to return to their home country before being granted any legal status.
Kobach said he hasn’t seen all the details of Rubio’s plan, making it difficult to analyze.
Kobach has been advising Romney’s campaign on immigration issues for months. In January, the Romney campaign announced its support of Kobach and vice-versa.
“With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem,” Romney said in a news release.
But Kobach’s role is in question. A list of advisers obtained by The Boston Globe doesn’t mention Kobach.
Today, Kobach said his role with Romney is best described as “informal adviser.”
Kobach said that he sends Romney’s close inner-circle information about developments in immigration law and offers his opinion of what to do.
“He can either take my advice or reject it,” Kobach said.