Category Archives: Immigration

Romney having trouble getting away from Kobach

President Obama criticized Mitt Romney during Tuesday’s debate for supporting “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants, a policy pushed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (in photo). Obama also tried to link Romney to Kobach and Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law by noting that Romney’s “top adviser on immigration” wrote the law. Romney has tried to distance himself from Kobach since embracing him during the GOP primaries. But Kobach isn’t backing away. He told the Washington Times after the debate that “Obama is completely out of step with the American public on the immigration issue,” and he predicted that Obama’s statements in the debate about immigration “will further alienate independent voters who are concerned about the millions of Americans who have lost jobs to illegal aliens.”

Wondering whether Romney agrees with Kobach

“Does Kobach Speak for Romney?” asked the Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley, noting that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been pretty quiet about immigration lately while his informal adviser on immigration issues, Kris Kobach (in photo), has been anything but. “The Wall Street Journal left multiple phone messages asking the campaign to clarify Mr. Kobach’s role, but no one got back to us,” Riley wrote, also noting the role of Kansas’ peripatetic secretary of state in the GOP platform’s calls for finishing a border fence, mandating E-Verify and ending in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants. Recalling that President Bush won more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, Riley wrote: “Apparently, some Republicans believe that President Obama’s 35-point lead among Latino voters is too narrow.”

Kobach busy working in other states

Secretary of State Kris Kobach seems to be everywhere these days – except in Kansas doing his job. Last week he was in Pennsylvania trying to resurrect a law he wrote barring landlords or employers in Hazleton, Pa., from dealing with illegal immigrants. He then was in Alabama defending that state’s anti-immigration law at a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing. Kobach’s testimony was disrupted by protesters, one of whom shouted, “These laws are made from hate.” This week Kobach was in Tampa, Fla., persuading the Republican Party to include anti-immigration measures in its official platform. “If you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today,” Kobach said. He also filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Dallas over the Obama administration’s plan to stop deporting certain young illegal immigrants and grant them work permits.

Do immigration deferrals make sense?

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano argued that the Obama administration’s new policy on granting deportation deferrals allows DHS to focus its resources more effectively. “Our focus on removing those who pose a threat to our communities can be strengthened even further by preventing low-priority cases from overwhelming our resources,” she wrote. Under the policy that began last week, young people who were brought to the United States as children and who meet other guidelines and requirements can receive temporary work permits. Others contend that the policy rewards illegal immigration and that any policy changes should come from Congress, not the administration.

Kansans at odds with justices on immigration, health care

If it had been up to Kansans, rather than the U.S. Supreme Court, to pass judgment on the Arizona immigration law and “Obamacare,” last week’s decisions would have gone the other way. In a SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, 55 percent of those Kansans surveyed said states should have a right to create immigration laws that pre-empt federal law, and 52 percent disagreed with the high court’s decision that it was unconstitutional for Arizona to make it a state crime for illegal immigrants to work in the state. After the court upheld the health care reform law, 52 percent of Kansans polled by SurveyUSA said they disagreed with the decision, and 59 percent said people should be allowed to choose whether to have health insurance. But 79 percent said insurance companies should be required to cover everyone who wants to buy insurance – an endorsement of the law’s requirement that pre-existing conditions not be a basis for coverage denial (which also necessitates the mandate to buy insurance).

Kobach: GOP primary key to action on immigration

Asked by Time’s Swampland blog what the U.S. Supreme Court’s immigration decision means for Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach predicted efforts to pass laws mandating that businesses use E-Verify and law enforcement check immigration status, a la Arizona. And he didn’t sound much like a neutral state elections official. “But it will all be dependent on what happens in the Aug. 7 primary,” he said. “Each state has its own little game: In Kansas we had a very conservative House and we had a very moderate/liberal Senate, and there was this coalition of Republican moderates who would align themselves with Democrats and had a governing majority and would defeat conservative legislation. In the Aug. 7 primary it will be determined whether it will be a conservative Republican majority or a moderate/liberal Republican majority. If the conservatives take control of the Kansas Senate, then I think you will see legislation like Arizona’s have a good chance of succeeding.”

Arizona ruling no victory for either side

It was a big stretch for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to call the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on her state’s immigration law “a victory.” The high court tossed out much of the law, which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach helped write. The state “may not pursue policies that undermine federal law,” the court wrote. For now, the court did let stand the law’s requirement that police officers check the immigration status of those they detain if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal immigrant. But even that provision could face additional legal challenges, said the justices, who want the issue first heard by state courts. The Supreme Court’s ruling isn’t much of a victory for the federal government, either. It was the feds’ failure to enforce immigration law, and Congress’ failure to create a workable and responsive immigration system, that caused some states to take matters into their own hands.

Would Romney reverse Obama’s order on immigration?

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized the timing of President Obama’s order last week to stop deporting some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. But Romney wouldn’t say Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” whether he would reverse the order if he became president. Romney would only say that “there needs to be a long-term solution.” Romney has been trying to soften his stances on immigration since the GOP primaries, when he called for illegal immigrants to “self-deport” and was endorsed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Meanwhile, Obama’s order is playing well among Latinos. Nearly 50 percent of Latino voters in five swing states said the order made them more enthusiastic about Obama, according to a Latino Decisions survey.

Goico successfully defended in-state tuition law

Last week the Kansas House again rejected an attempt to repeal the 2004 law that enables some children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. To their credit, lawmakers opted not to interfere with the efforts of the 500 students who are making use the law and advancing their educational goals. During the lengthy debate, the unflinching advocate for those students was Rep. Mario Goico, R-Wichita, who peppered the repeal sponsor with questions and spoke movingly of having had no choice when he was sent by his parents to the U.S. from Cuba as a 15-year-old. Though he was able to gain refugee status from the State Department and stay legally, the kids helped by the Kansas law have no such option. As he said, “the Department of State has been absent without leave now for 40 years.”

Kobach glossed over divide on immigration

Secretary of State Kris Kobach glossed over the differences he has with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on immigration issues, telling Kansas media that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney could “embrace both of us and go merrily along to win the election in November.” But Kobach has made clear that he doesn’t support a key element of Rubio’s GOP DREAM Act, which would grant visas (not citizenship) to young illegal immigrants who had been brought into the country, provided they are high school graduates and don’t have criminal records. Unless the immigrants go back to their home countries and get in the back of the immigration line, the policy amounts to “amnesty,” Kobach said in the Washington Post, adding that “amnesty allows someone who is illegally in the country to remain but with lawful status – that gives the illegal alien what he has stolen.”

Is Romney ‘Ko-bachtracking’?

Anti-immigration crusader and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been identified as an unpaid adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the source of Romney’s view that “the answer is self-deportation.” But the nature of their relationship got murky last week. When Politico asked the Romney campaign whether Kobach was still an “adviser,” a Romney spokeswoman e-mailed back: “supporter.” Later, Kobach told ThinkProgress: “No, my relationship with the campaign has not changed. Still doing the same thing I was doing before,” which is “providing advice on immigration policy” and communicating “regularly with senior members of Romney’s team.” In response, though, President Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted: “Kobach botches Mitt maneuver. Refuses to be Etch-a-Sketched away!” Slate political reporter Dave Weigel called it a case of “Ko-bachtracking.” The New York Times’ Lawrence Downes observed: “Latino voters. The Kobach crowd. Mr. Romney can try to have one or the other, but probably not both.”

Several Kansas officials backing Arizona law

The Kansas Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback have wisely shown little interest in Arizona-type legislation to combat illegal immigration. But several state officials have signed on in support of the Arizona law, which has been blocked by the courts and will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 25, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. In addition to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped write the Arizona law, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and U.S. Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, are officially defending the law. “In light of the federal government’s refusal or downright ineptitude in protecting American citizens along our southern border, Arizona should have the power to deter illegal immigration in accordance with federal standards,” Jenkins said. Among those formally opposing the Arizona law are former Kansas Attorneys General Steve Six and Robert Stephan.

Time for Romney to separate himself from Kobach

As Mitt Romney tightens his grasp on the Republican Party’s nomination, political observers are counseling him to moderate his stance on illegal immigration. He has called Arizona’s tough law a “model” and said “the answer is self-deportation.” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped write the Arizona and Alabama laws, has been an unpaid adviser to Romney. But Romney recently won the endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has said the Arizona law “is not a model for our country” and is working on a GOP version of the DREAM Act to help high-achieving high school students who are illegal immigrants. And if Romney wants Latino votes in the fall, he should separate himself from Kobach, advised Bob Quasius, the founder of Cafe Con Leche Republicans. “Avoid all associations with extremists,” Quasius told ABC News. “Obama will hang Kris Kobach around his neck in the general election.”

E-Verify project can’t overcome immigration politics

An attempt Tuesday by Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, to create a one-year pilot project of the federal electronic employment verification program was derailed by the usual immigration politics, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Brunk wanted to test the E-Verify system, which checks citizenship status, on applicants for state government jobs before requiring the private sector or local units of government to use it. He warned his Federal and State Affairs Committee that if lawmakers loaded up the bill with other requirements – such as that law enforcement officers check the immigration status of people they encounter – he would stop debate. But other lawmakers couldn’t resist trying to broaden the bill, and the measure quickly stalled.

Offensive chant fit a pattern in Mississippi

A blogger for the Nation thought the Southern Mississippi band’s chanting of “Where’s your green card?” at Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez last week had “about as much in common with normal rowdy fan behavior as a glee club has with a lynch mob.” Dave Zirin continued: “The chant, first and foremost, was both racist and stupid, given that Rodriguez is actually from Puerto Rico, and therefore has citizenship. But given that the state of Mississippi’s Republican electorate just voted for Rick Santorum, who recently said that Puerto Rico could only be a state if everyone learned and spoke English, their actions should anger but not surprise.” He also noted that the game was played on the same day the Mississippi House passed a “deeply punitive, racial-profiling anti-immigration” bill championed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

Ending birthright citizenship would be a tax increase

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., supports ending birthright citizenship. So does Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of the nation’s toughest anti-immigration state laws. But to eliminate the 14th Amendment’s automatic citizenship for anyone born on U.S. soil, they’d need to get past Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “This is a tax on every child being born,” Norquist said last week. “It solves no problems and instead creates all sorts of problems and costs in terms of Americans.” His comments came as the National Foundation for American Policy released a study showing that to establish citizenship for each child, parents would have to spend $600 to $1,000 on legal fees.

Who’s that cover guy?

Secretary of State Kris Kobach is on the cover of this month’s Governing Magazine. The profile chronicles how he became a leading figure in the national immigration debate. “I did not anticipate when I first started working on this issue,” Kobach said, “that someday I would be seen as a hero by some and a horrible villain by others on a national scale.” Several people in the article complained that Kobach is using the immigration issue and his public office for his own political and financial gain. “He is using a state-held position to further a larger agenda that is not benefiting the voters he is supposed to be protecting,” said state Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, D-Wichita.

Local lawmaker hassled, detained in Arizona

State Rep. Ponka-We Victors, D-Wichita, shared with lawmakers last week her personal experiences with Arizona’s anti-immigration laws, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Victors, who is of American Indian and Latino heritage, said she was hassled and detained by border control agents while visiting her family in Arizona. “Every time I left Arizona, it was like a sigh of relief when I came back to Kansas. But now, with these laws, I don’t know about that anymore,” Victors said, referring to several anti-immigration bills before the Legislature. Victors, who wants stronger enforcement on both the Mexican and Canadian borders, also joked that Native Americans have a different perspective on this debate. “Personally, my people have been fighting immigration since 1492,” she said. “It doesn’t get any better.”

Kobach argues other side on immigration bill

Secretary of State Kris Kobach usually argues that states and cities have the authority to pass immigration-related laws. But Tuesday he contended that a bill to help qualifying illegal immigrants gain work privileges in Kansas would pre-empt the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration. “A state cannot deport someone, and similarly a state cannot confer status upon an illegal person,” Kobach said at a House hearing. Others who testified, including former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Allie Devine, said that federal law allows states to sponsor workers.

Alabama newspaper doesn’t share Kobach’s view of law

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said that the anti-immigration law he crafted has increased Alabama’s reputation around the country. “There are many legislators in other states that are saying, you know, ‘They’ve really done something great,’” he told the public radio show “This American Life.” But an editorial by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register complained that “such comments could only come from someone who has no real ties to Alabama but who wants to use the state as a guinea pig for his own personal gain.” The editorial said that the law “has embarrassed the governor, discouraged industry, scared legal immigrants and, according to a recent report, been a drag on the state economy it was supposed to help.”

Kobach backing Romney for president

Secretary of State Kris Kobach (in photo) endorsed Mitt Romney for president, saying Romney would “finally put a stop to a problem that has plagued our country for a generation: millions of illegal aliens coming into the country and taking jobs from United States citizens and legal aliens, while consuming hundreds of billions of dollars in public benefits at taxpayer expense.” Romney said he was proud to receive Kobach’s support, adding that “we need more conservative leaders like Kris willing to stand up for the rule of law.” But others don’t see it that way. Frank Sharry of the advocacy group America’s Voice said the endorsement showed that Romney’s “descent into the dark clutches of radical nativism is complete.”

Making life difficult for illegal immigrants

Because state laws requiring local law enforcement to verify citizenship are now tied up in the courts, some state lawmakers may focus instead on making daily life difficult for illegal immigrants, USA Today reported. Of particular interest is a provision in Alabama’s law that invalidates all contracts entered into with illegal immigrants. “That is one that has a much greater effect than some people might expect at first glance,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped write the law. But Karen Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center complained the provision “has led to nothing short of chaos” in Alabama, as it has been “applied to a striking range of activities, from getting tags on your cars to getting public utilities to changing title on your cars.” Still, that seems to be the objective for Kobach and some others: Create enough fear and uncertainty, and illegal immigrants will leave a state on their own.

Immigration not on Brownback’s agenda

Gov. Sam Brownback has a full agenda set for the coming legislative session, with reforms to school funding, Medicaid, taxes and water policy, as well as a major governmental reorganization. What’s not on his list is immigration. Brownback has spoken eloquently in the past about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and to avoid demonizing immigrants. But he has since backed away from the issue. He told The Eagle editorial board last week that he doesn’t see much point in bringing up immigration, because it is too “electrified.”

Humane immigration policy needed

Good for Newt Gingrich for calling for a “humane” immigration policy during Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate. Gingrich supports deportation of illegal immigrants who’ve recently arrived, but he doesn’t think the U.S. should deport people who have been here a long time and whose children and grandchildren live here. “I can’t imagine any serious person here in the country who believes we’re going to tear families apart that have been here 20, 25 years,” Gingrich said after the debate.

Kobach a godsend or community wrecker?

Secretary of State Kris Kobach is taking pride in the fallout from Alabama’s immigration law, which he helped write and calls “air-tight” despite the ongoing legal war over it. “I’m proud to have been a part of it, and the untold story is how successful it has already been in opening jobs for Alabama citizens,” Kobach said in a Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register profile. “There haven’t been mass arrests. There aren’t a bunch of court proceedings. People are simply removing themselves. It’s self-deportation at no cost to the taxpayer. I’d say that’s a win.” Farmers disagree, complaining that they can’t find workers to harvest their crops. Opinions also diverge about Kobach. Southern Poverty Law Center spokesman Mark Potok said: “Wherever he’s gone, you find communities torn apart culturally, economically and racially.” But Alabama state Rep. Micky Hammon said, “As far as I’m concerned, he is a godsend.”