Category Archives: Immigration

Kobach is ‘go-to’ guy on immigration lawsuits

kobach2Secretary of State Kris Kobach was profiled by Reuters news service as “the most prominent figure among a small group of lawyers working to punch legal holes in (President) Obama’s immigration policies.” The article noted that Kobach is challenging “Obama’s 2012 decision to grant temporary deportation relief and work permits to young people brought to the United States illegally as children by their parents” – though many legal experts don’t expect him to get far. If Obama announces new major immigration policy changes, as expected, Kobach likely will be part of a legal challenge. Meanwhile, Kobach was in Denver Monday arguing before an appeals court that voters who register using a federal form should have to provide proof-of-citizenship documents. His Democratic opponent in the November election, former state Sen. Jean Schodorf, is questioning how much time Kobach spends on immigration issues rather than on his taxpayer-funded job. On Wednesday she plans to release her personal income tax returns dating from 2011 and has called on Kobach to do the same.

New York Times summering in Wichita?

kochindustriesA New York Times article and video chronicles life in what it calls “Kochville,” detailing the vast charitable footprint of Koch Industries and the Koch family in Wichita (Wichita State University’s Charles Koch Arena, the Sedgwick County Zoo’s Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat, etc.) and complicated feelings locally about the Kochs’ even more vast political giving. Elsewhere, and especially on the Senate floor during the anti-Koch rants of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Charles and David Koch “are ready villains,” noted the Times’ Carl Hulse. But as Wichita Festivals CEO Mary Beth Jarvis, formerly of Koch Industries, told the Times, “There is almost no one in town who doesn’t have a friend, a neighbor, a relative who works out at Koch.” Last week the Times visited north Wichita as part of its interactive “The Way North” series about traveling up I-35 to see how immigration is changing the U.S., noting that Wichita’s Hispanic population has increased from 9 to 15 percent since 2000.

Answer racist graffiti with more art

muralgraffitiThe colorful mural at 21st and Park Place was painted by teens to celebrate the message that “immigration is beautiful” – which makes the racist vandalism of it seem all the more ugly. Delano’s Bluebird Arthouse also was targeted, presumably because it hosted a meeting of an artists group connected to the mural. Now, the community should respond to the sickening graffiti by helping Armando Minjarez and the others in ICT Army of Artists enrich north Wichita and other neighborhoods with more bright, enlightening public artworks.

Boehner, GOP to blame for failure on immigration reform

illegalimmigrationHouse Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the reason the House won’t approve immigration reform is because Republicans don’t trust President Obama. No, it’s not. The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan immigration reform bill. The same bill could pass the House if Boehner would allow a vote. But he is being cowed by members of his party who oppose immigration reform. It’s also worth noting that the Obama administration has deported almost 2 million illegal immigrants in the past five years, nearly as many as the George W. Bush administration deported in eight years.

Will House act on immigration reform?

Barack ObamaThere isn’t much cause to hope that the current Congress will work together for the common good. But one significant reform that it could accomplish, if House leadership allows it, is immigration reform. The Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year, but GOP leaders haven’t allowed a vote in the House. “Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted,” Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday. “I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.” By not scolding House lawmakers or mentioning specific provisions that must be in the bill, Obama was extending an olive branch. But as Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote: “Will/can House Republican leaders – many of whom applauded Obama’s line on immigration – grasp it?”

RNC chairman condemns ‘self-deportation’

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach may still think that “self-deportation” is good immigration policy, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney obviously bought into the strategy of using strict enforcement to encourage undocumented residents to leave the country on their own. But Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus condemned the term last week: “Using the word ‘self-deportation’ – it’s a horrific comment to make. I don’t think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it’s racist.” Priebus spoke to reporters at an RNC “Rising Stars” event in Boston.

Kobach wins one, loses one on renters’ ban

When a U.S. Court of Appeals recently upheld an ordinance in Fremont, Neb., banning landlords from renting to anyone who is in the country illegally, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who drafted the ordinance, said that the ruling would boost the legal prospects of a similar law in Farmers Branch, Texas. But on Monday a different U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court decision blocking that ordinance. The court said that multiple parts of the law were unconstitutional. Kobach served as attorney for Farmers Branch, which has spent nearly $6 million in legal bills and expenses related to its immigration laws.

Kobach isn’t backing down on immigration

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach mocked those who think that Republicans need to support comprehensive immigration reform in order to attract more support from Hispanics. “Any politician who thinks, ‘Oh, we just cast one vote, and then all of a sudden this demographic group comes flocking to us,’ they’re being superficial Washington idiots,” Kobach told the New York Times. He also dismissed the conventional wisdom that Mitt Romney’s endorsement of “self-deportation” policies is why he did so poorly among Hispanic voters during the 2012 presidential campaign. “I think his low share of the Hispanic vote probably would have been exactly the same, or very close to the same, regardless of whether he said ‘self-deportation’ or not,” Kobach said. Melinda Lewis of El Centro Inc., a social service organization in the Kansas City area, told the Times that Kobach “seems determined to ignore his growing irrelevance.”

GOP base supports comprehensive immigration reform

A new survey by the Republican polling firm Basswood Research found that 70 percent of GOP primary voters support immigration reform that increases border security, requires employers to verify the legal status of job seekers, and establishes a pathway to U.S. citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country – key provisions of the Senate-passed immigration reform bill. The support for comprehensive reform existed in every region of the country and among tea party voters and social conservatives. “Contrary to some perceptions,” the survey concluded, “it is clear that Republican members of Congress who support comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship, do not run afoul of the majority opinion of their primary voters.”

Huelskamp slammed two presidents in one tweet

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, startled some politics watchers Wednesday with a tweet that insulted Presidents Obama and Clinton. “Trusting Obama w/ border security is like trusting Bill Clinton w/ your daughter,” he tweeted, also saying that’s the view of most House and Senate Republicans and Americans. Asked about the tweet later by NBC News, Huelskamp called the comment “kind of offhand” but repeated it. He said something similar last month: “The idea of letting this administration define border security is like letting Bill Clinton define sexual relations.” Actually, Huelskamp’s presidential insults have been bipartisan this week. After President Bush urged House Republicans Wednesday to act on immigration reform, Huelskamp told Associated Press: “We care what people back home say, not what some former president says.” It’s hardly news to “people back home” that the 1st District congressman can be unsubtle. One of his 2010 campaign ads promised that he would “stick it to Pelosi and Obama.”

Growth of minorities helping keep U.S. afloat

“Due to immigration, a combination of more deaths and fewer births among whites and an explosion of minority births, the U.S. is poised to be a majority-minority country sooner than predicted,” the Brookings Institution noted. Minorities are already the majority in three states – Texas, New Mexico and California. And minorities are the majority among children younger than 5 in 11 other states. William Frey of Brookings said that the United States is fortunate to have this growth of minorities. Otherwise, it would be like some European countries in which the population is declining. “Younger minorities are helping us stay afloat,” he said.

Farm bill failure a preview of immigration reform?

The U.S. House’s failure last week to pass a new farm bill doesn’t bode well for immigration reform, the New York Times reported. The farm bill is not controversial and should be relatively easy to approve, but some House Republicans – including Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler – wanted even steeper cuts to the food-stamp program than what was included in the bill. Some Republicans also added amendments to allow states to drug-test food-stamp applicants and require food-stamp recipients to meet federal welfare work requirements, which caused Democrats to oppose the bill. “If you think this is hard,” Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told the Times, “try getting 218 (a majority vote) on a path to legal status.”

Doesn’t Pat Roberts want a debate on immigration?

It was disappointing that Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., voted against allowing debate on a bipartisan immigration reform bill – one of only 15 senators (all Republican) to support a filibuster. Doesn’t he think the Senate – supposedly the world’s greatest deliberative body – should debate and vote on the reform? Or is this another case of Roberts moving further to the right in order to ward off a GOP primary challenge next year?

Another legal blow to Kobach

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who used to teach constitutional law, always predicts that the laws he writes for Kansas and other states will stand up in court. Then they run into trouble. In another recent case, a federal judge declared that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had been racially profiling in its local efforts to address illegal immigration, which were conducted in conjunction with $300-an-hour training of deputies by Kobach. Kobach also co-wrote Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, much of which was struck down last year by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kevin Johnson, dean of the law school at the University of California-Davis, told the Arizona Republic: “It seems to me that police departments across the country are on notice that maybe Kris Kobach is not the best person you want to put together a program that is going to withstand legal scrutiny.” Of course, Kobach disagreed: “The judge has written his opinion in a way that doesn’t respect the inherent authority of local law enforcement.”

Norquist on side of immigration reformers

Predictably, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was a star witness at Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill, fearmongering about its potential to lead to more attacks like the Boston Marathon bombings. But another witness, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (in photo), surprised some with his testimony in favor of reform, arguing that “people are an asset, they’re not a liability,” and that those who would make the nation less immigrant-friendly “would also make us less successful, less prosperous and certainly less American.” Afterward, Norquist tweeted: “Anti-immigrant witnesses @ Senate Judiciary hearing were quite weak. The communities of faith, farmers and business guys are all with Reagan.” When Norquist visited Topeka in January with a similar message for conservative legislators, Kobach responded that Norquist “has no legal expertise in immigration law.”

Victors’ comment went viral

State Rep. Ponka-We Victors, D-Wichita, the only American Indian serving in the Legislature, inspired a meme on social media after last week’s House hearing on whether to stop allowing some children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates. Addressing Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who testified in favor of the bill, Victors said: “When you mention illegal immigrants, I think of all of you.” The cheers and applause were hushed by the committee chairman. But they continued online. A Londoner tweeted: “Fabulous. The ultimate people-in-glasshouses putdown. Ponka-We Victors, you’re my kinda gal.” Others variously tweeted: “Oh, snap!” and “bazinga!”

Legal immigration needs to be easier

U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (in photo), R-Wichita, identified one of the big problems that need to be fixed as part of federal immigration reform: The current legal immigration system is so backlogged and broken that it encourages illegal immigration. “Our immigration policy is completely backward,” Pompeo told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “Today, if you want to come here in a legal way, with proper paperwork, it is very difficult. If you want to come here unlawfully, it’s easier.”

Immigration reform must also fix legal system

Of the major issues that President Obama mentioned in his State of the Union address, comprehension immigration reform might stand the best chance of occurring. Obama outlined reform concepts that have broad support among the public and growing bipartisan support in Congress, including increased border security and a pathway to citizenship. Sulma Arias, executive director of Sunflower Community Action in Wichita, applauded Obama for “creating a sense of urgency around fixing the broken immigration system.” But Arias said that sending immigrants “to the end of the line is not a solution, because it assumes that ‘the line’ is an equitable and a fair process.” She added: “Hundreds of thousands of people have been waiting for 12 years or more to become citizens. The broken immigration system promotes breaking the law because there is no way to play by the rules.”

Immigration action leaving Kobach behind

The flurry of bipartisan action in Washington, D.C., toward comprehensive immigration reform has Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his uncompromising approach to illegal immigration looking like yesterday’s news. “We haven’t tried a strategy of strictly enforcing our laws and encouraging people to comply with the law, which means go home,” Kobach said on PBS’ “Newshour,” arguing that the proposed “amnesty” would cost the country $2.6 trillion over 10 years (because the newly documented immigrants would want food stamps, Medicaid, etc.). Kobach also said that “our legal immigration system is working. And it’s the most generous one on the planet.”

Public, including most Republicans, wants immigration reform

President Obama called for immigration reform in his inaugural address Monday, saying the nation needs “a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.” The public agrees. More than 6 in 10 Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Among Republicans, 53 percent favor a pathway to citizenship. That’s up 22 percent from 2010.

Is GOP moving away from Kobach on immigration?

Secretary of State Kris Kobach said President Obama’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform was out of touch with Congress and the American public. But the plan is strikingly similar to proposals being developed by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., which have been endorsed by former GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Rubio wants to allow illegal immigrants currently living in the United States to gain provisional legal status and eventually citizenship. “Ultimately it’s not good for our country to have people permanently trapped in that status where they can’t become citizens,” Rubio said. Last week anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist told Kansas lawmakers in Topeka that Kobach’s hard-line approach to immigration was bad for the economy and bad politically for Republicans.

Norquist to counter Kobach’s view on immigration

Illegal immigration is sure to be debated by the 2013 Legislature, which includes many new members who share Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s zeal to pass an Arizona-style crackdown. But the Kansas Chamber of Commerce is bringing anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to address legislators Jan. 16 to warn against passing what chamber CEO Mike O’Neal calls “harmful, anti-business legislation.” Kansas lawmakers also should note Arizona’s five-year experience with its mandate that employers check the citizenship status of applicants by using the E-Verify database. Only 43 percent of businesses are doing so, and there is little enforcement. Mitt Romney had called Arizona’s E-Verify law a model for the nation. An attorney for Arizona businesses told the Yuma Sun that E-Verify has “a lot of deficiencies” and invites identity theft, saying about half of undocumented applicants can find ways around it.

Strong public support for immigration reform

The public is way ahead of many politicians on immigration reform. A Politico/George Washington University national poll found that 62 percent of those surveyed support “an immigration reform proposal that allows illegal or undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship over a period of several years.” A whopping 77 percent of those surveyed support allowing “the children of illegal or undocumented immigrants to earn the right to stay here permanently if they complete a college degree or serve in the military” (which is essentially the DREAM Act that GOP lawmakers have blocked).

Kobach: Illegal immigration is ‘ultimate unfunded mandate’

It doesn’t sound like the results of the 2012 presidential election will deter Kris Kobach from his mission to fight illegal immigration at the state and local levels. Characterizing illegal immigration as “the ultimate unfunded mandate,” the Kansas secretary of state told NPR: “If state and local government can add their shoulders to the wheel and help to increase the total amount of enforcement, that will change the cost-benefit analysis of your typical illegal alien who says, ‘You know what, it’s getting harder for me to work illegally in the United States. It’s getting harder for me to get these public benefits, and I’m going to go home.’”

‘Self-deportation’ policy is ‘crazy’

Donald Trump blasted Mitt Romney’s support of the “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants (a policy developed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach) as “crazy” and “maniacal.” “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump said (actually, 71 percent). He said that Democrats don’t have a good policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, “but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it.” He said Republicans need clear proposals that address “people wanting to be wonderful, productive citizens of this country.”