Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach served as the immigration advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and was the mastermind behind the idea of “self-deportation,” which immigrant rights advocates argue cost Romney the Latino vote.
Now that Romney has been defeated and as the Republican Party moves to embrace immigration reform following the elections, Kobach’s hard line stance on immigration is becoming irrelevant.
That is the message dozens of dreamers from around the country personally delivered to Kobach on Tuesday during a rally outside his office in Topeka, Kansas.
Cesar Vargas, a national advocate with Dream Action Coalition and one of the rally organizers, told VOXXI that dreamers want Kobach to “back down from his extremism on immigration” which he said is “terrorizing” undocumented youth and their families.
Who is Kris Kobach?
When states are seeking guidance on ways to reduce illegal immigration or help to defend their tough immigration laws, they usually turn to Kobach for help.
Consequently, he has become the leading author of several state immigration laws, including Arizona’s controversial SB 1070. Many of the states that have adopted those laws have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs to defend them. Oftentimes, the attorney defending those laws in court is Kobach himself.
Kobach has also been hired by others to fight against laws and policies that benefit undocumented immigrants. Most recently, Kobach filed a lawsuit on behalf of several immigration agents against the deferred action program that temporarily allows undocumented youth to stay and work without facing threat of deportation.
Furthermore, he has been an influential voice in the Republican Party. For example, he led efforts in drafting the GOP’s immigration platform days before the Republican National Convention in August. In it, he called for the party to oppose any form of “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants saying it “only rewards and encourages more law breaking.”
“The question isn’t just the obvious ‘what’s the matter with Kansas?’ but the more troubling, ‘what’s the matter with Romney and the Republican Party that they keep giving Kris Kobach an influential seat at the table?’” Frank Sharry, the executive director for America’s Voice, stated last week.
Kris Kobach’s tough stance on immigration becoming irrelevant
There is no doubt that Kobach has been an influential voice in the Republican Party. However, his influence is becoming a thing of the past as Republicans begin to realize their hard line stance on immigration is alienating the Latino vote.
Politically powerful Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and Arizona Sen. John McCain, were among the dozens of Republicans who were quick to backpedal from their tough on immigration approach and call for an immigration reform following the elections.
Gebe Martinez, who works in communications for the Service Employees International Union, wrote in a blog Tuesday that even conservatives who endorsed Romney and opposed an immigration reform “now realize that Republicans dug themselves into a hole too deep to crawl out of with Latino voters and are now turning their backs on Romney and Kobach’s policies.”
Among the conservatives are Fox News talk-show host Sean Hannity and Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer, two vocal opponents of “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. Immediately following the elections, they said the GOP must support a path to legalization for some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants to regain support from Latino voters.
Republicans should ‘reject’ Kris Kobach
But as the Republican Party begins to shift in support of an immigration reform and retract from harsh immigration rhetoric, Vargas said Kobach isn’t showing any signs that he is backing down.
He cautioned, “If Republicans want to remain relevant and gain support from Latino voters, they need to get away from Kris Kobach.”
Adam Luna, political director for America’s Voice, echoed Vargas’ advice. He told VOXXI, “Just as Latino voters rejected the Kobach vision of ‘self-deportation’ in the 2012 election, the Republican Party should reject Kobach and his allies as wrong on policy and toxic for their political future.”