Who is Kris Kobach? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Who is Kris Kobach?

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing Mississippi in a lawsuit against the Obama administration.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing Mississippi in a lawsuit against the Obama administration. Photo by Courtesy Kris Kobach Campaign

Kris Kobach is a busy man. In addition to serving as the Republican secretary of state of Kansas and an immigration adviser to GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney, and representing several groups fighting the presence of illegal immigrants in the U.S., he's now a lawyer for Mississippi.

Gov. Phil Bryant announced Oct. 10 that Kobach would represent Mississippi in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over President Barack Obama's decision to stop deporting young undocumented immigrants.

In June, Obama issued an executive order halting deportations of individuals who immigrated to the U.S. before age 16, and who are younger than 30, have committed no major crimes, have been in the U.S. for five years and possess a high-school diploma or served in the military. Two months later, Kobach sued on behalf of a group of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who said the administration's policy change could lead to their receiving disciplinary action for just doing their jobs.

Bryant made Mississippi the first state to join the suit, and the governor said he based his action on the significant fiscal costs that illegal immigration imposes on the state. Specifically, Bryant cited a 2006 study he commissioned as then-state auditor concluding those costs to total $25 million based on "significant education, law enforcement and health care costs, as well as substantial lost tax revenues and other 
economic losses."

Bill Chandler, executive director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, in Jackson, called Bryant's report "a vicious attack" on immigrants.

"It's a fallacy to blame the cost of education on undocumented children. They contribute value to our society," Chandler said.

To allay fears about the possible costs of a lawsuit against the White House, Bryant assured taxpayers the state would be represented at no cost to taxpayers by Texas attorney Michael Jung and "immigration law expert" Kobach.

However, Kobach's credentials on immigration issues are more expansive, and controversial, than Bryant acknowledged. Kobach has had a direct role in shaping GOP immigration policy for years as an adviser to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft under President Bush and, later, through his relationship with Romney, which has been muddy.

In a January 2012 speech accepting Kobach's endorsement, Romney said: "Kris has been a true leader on securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into this country." When interviewed by Spanish-language radio network Univision America in September, Romney demurred when asked about his ties to Kobach, saying that he had never met the man, CNN's Peter Hamby reported. Later, the Romney campaign told Hamby that Kobach and the Romney had met at campaign events but that Kobach only "contributes informal advice periodically" and doesn't sit on policy briefings.

Additionally, Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law SB 1070, which Kobach assisted in drafting, served as a model for similar measures in Alabama and Mississippi. Obama hinted at Kobach's connection to Romney and SB 1070 at the Oct. 16 presidential debate against Romney during a testy exchange over immigration policy.

"Governor Romney says he wasn't referring to Arizona as a model for the nation. His top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law, the entirety of it--not E-Verify, the whole thing. That's his policy, and it's a bad policy," Obama said.

This summer, as a member of the Republican National Committee's Platform Committee, Kobach offered amendments to restore language previously in the GOP platform promoting the completion of a U.S.-Mexico border fence, ending in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants and ending "sanctuary cities," which Kobach asserted "has resulted in the death of American citizens." In 2010, the Jackson City Council Johnson passed an ordinance that prohibited police from asking individuals about his or her citizenship status.

Kobach, who did not return a phone message left on his voicemail Tuesday afternoon by press time, has been embroiled in a number of other legal battles against municipalities and other government bodies over immigration policies in Kansas, Missouri, California, Pennsylvania and Texas. Many of the suits Kobach filed were on behalf of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation of American Immigrant Reform, or FAIR, which calls itself as a 250,000-member national "organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed."

The Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center views FAIR as something more nefarious.

Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC's Intelligent Project, characterized FAIR as an "anti-immigrant hate group" with a "racialist agenda." The SPLC, which tracks hate groups, calls FAIR's founder, John Tanton, "the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement." Meanwhile, Tanton's wife, Mary Lou, is president of a political action committee called U.S. Immigration Reform PAC (USIRPAC) that contributed $10,000 to Kobach's failed 2004 congressional campaign, according to federal campaign-finance records from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Beirich, who described Kobach as "the single most important anti-immigration legislator out there," said that Alabama's 2011 immigration law modeled on Kobach's Arizona measure has been disastrous for the state's economy, driving away immigrant workers and casting the state as unwelcoming of diversity.

"You don't want to follow down the path Kris Kobach has led Alabama," Beirch warned Mississippians. "It's been nothing but bad. Kobach just leads you to a bad place."

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donnaladd 9 years ago

He's also a birther whack job who wanted http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo...">to throw Obama off the ballot in Kansas for this election.

Romney sure does have interesting friends and advisers—from Bush's neocons to birthers like Kobach and Trump.


ZOT 9 years ago

To: Donnaladd & others -

Kobach is neither a "birther" nor did he want to "throw Obama off the ballot in Kansas". Your post is another uninformed "whack job" attempt to misinform. Kansas law requires the Lt.Gov., the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to meet and hear all objections to candidate filings. A Kansas citizen from Manhattan, Ks., filed an objection to the candidacy of Obama. In compliance with the Kansas statute - the three government officials met to determine the matter. The person objecting to Obama then withdrew the objection and the matter was closed. It may also interest you to know that Mr. Kobach is a graduate of Harvard (his undergraduate degree) Yale (his law degree) and Oxford (a doctorate in political studies). Hardly, a "whack job". Kobach simply believes that illegal aliens are illegal. They are to be treated with respect and to do so in an orderly manner - the rule of law must prevail. So much for your ill-informed post. My suggestion is to first read - understand - then comment.


DaveFrancis 9 years ago

In a report issued by the Conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation in June 2007, which under those conditions to pass an Immigration Reform package will cost over $2.6 Trillion dollars to taxpayers. As an addition the 50 states must follow the rulings of the court to pay for any illegal aliens medical care treatment, the education for their children to k-12, welfare payments for every child, low income housing if they have 3 or 4 extra babies, cash payments and receive without paying into the system over $2.4 Billion dollars annually for child tax credits, even if the child doesn’t reside in the U.S. This is an abomination for every hard working citizen and legal resident and now Obama has admitted a Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will devastate our ailing economy. A conservative amount paid out by just states is somewhere around $113 billion dollars, but this was the projection some years back. Every year it strains the treasuries of each state, so citizens and legal residents must ask themselves what is being taken from their pocket books for taxes to pay for this indignation.

Accentuated enforcement: In 1986, the U.S. approved amnesty to some three million illegal immigrants as a quid pro quo for an exclusion on the future hiring of illegal immigrants. The amnesty was granted, but the prohibition on the future hiring of illegal immigrants was never enforced as it is seemingly today. This would repeat the same mistake; mass amnesty if it should be permitted, however the border and employment enforcement provisions of the act would be as likely hollow and will probably never be enforced. In fact funding was cut off to enforce these laws, so that businesses were not held accountable for hiring unauthorized labor. To avoid repeating the mistakes of 1986, enforcement must come first.


donnaladd 9 years ago

Um, ZOT. Did you read the piece I linked and follow the link in it to the Topeka news report? Kobach and two other Republicans said that it wasn't frivolous for that dude to sue to keep Obama off this fall's ballot there because they didn't trust the authenticity of his birth certificate? Do you know what "birtherism" is??? The question isn't whether they met; it's what they decided. And, yes, he withdrew it -- after Kobach said he had a valid concern about the birth certificate, and Kobach wouldn't even say if he believed Obama's birth certificate is real. Hell, most Republicans aren't that cray-cray anti-Obama.

I don't give a damn where he went to school, he's still clearly a whack-job. Why in hell is Phil Bryant hauling somebody with his track record into Mississippi to once again make us look stuck in the 1960s? To appease his Tea Party base that he spent so much time pandering to during the election?

As for your apologist take on his anti-immigrant efforts: Who are you kidding? Again, even most Republicans know these efforts are about profiling and being so mean to immigrants that they "self-deport" (a word that Romney and his adviser Kobach love).

And your contention that "illegal alients are illegal" isn't actually true if you do some homework on who actually makes up the undocumented immigrant population in America. "Treated with respect"? Please. Profiling people is never respectful.

My suggestion to you is to actual read what's linked before commenting and looking like you have no idea what actually happened or was reported.

This man has no business in MIssissippi, further tarnishing our reputation and our economic-development efforts. Phil Bryant should withdraw from this lawsuit, send him packing and apologize to the people of Mississippi for trying to make us look like we still live in Citizen Council times.


DaveFrancis 9 years ago

Do not grant amnesty: Amnesty is unjust and would be very expensive. Obama Proponents will dispute that there is no feasible alternative to giving citizenship to all the illegal immigrants in the U.S. But serious, phased enforcement of a ban on hiring illegal immigrants would cause many, if not most, illegal immigrants to voluntarily leave the U.S. and return to their native countries. This would definitely be the “Cause and Effect” of the “LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT” nationally known to the public as mandatory E-Verify to minimize economic interference. It could be possible to give some current illegal immigrants temporary work visas, especially in the field of farming, but carefully regulated and with the unequivocal stipulation that they must return home when these visas run out. Such temporary visas would not grant access to welfare, Social Security, Medicare, or citizenship. The farmers should be wholly responsible and not the U.S. taxpayer? If necessary, the exiting illegal workers could be replaced by legitimate temporary workers or by permanent immigrants who have never violated U.S. laws and have been inspected by agents of the government. For the record an estimate of a million legal immigrants are admitted each year, but we should recognize in this global market we should allow a steady stream of the paramount top list of Scientists, Technology, Engineering and mathematicians (STEM WORKERS) who would be highly beneficial to Americas future. What we don’t need are more people with no qualification, no education and adding to our own poverty.

Close the "BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP " loophole: Under current law, when U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants turn 21, they can petition the government to grant their illegal immigrant parents legal permanent residence, thereby conferring an automatic path to welfare entitlements and citizenship upon the parents (hence the term "anchor baby"). The popular concept of "birthright citizenship"-that anyone born in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen-is historically and legally imprecise and ought to be corrected by Congress. Despite the consequences, this backdoor path to citizenship for illegal immigrant parents should be closed as this original law was protect slaves after the Civil War. Pregnant mothers, who smuggle their own children into the United States, are the instigators of what has become President Obama’s “Dream Act.” Then again, it’s not the children’s fault, the blame falls like a ton of bricks on the parents as they have caused the massive monetary problems for decades. Learn everything you want to know about the outrageous costs to Taxpayers, the cycle of illegal immigration that never ends and what you the taxpayer voter can restrain this silent invasion at NumbersUSA, Tea Party.org, American Patrol and Judicial Watch.org.


donnaladd 9 years ago

More links about Kris Kobach:

http://www.americanprogress.org/issue...">Top 5 Things You Need to Know about Kris Kobach

http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/02...">His Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch entry

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2...">Kobach and Romney

From that last link:

During the early stages of the primaries he decided to go ultra-hard-core on immigration — so hard-core, in fact, that he locked himself in an embrace with the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, who wrote Arizona’s and Alabama’s noxious racial-profiling immigration laws. Now as Mr. Romney tries to move towards the center for the general election, he will have to win the votes of people—including many Latinos— who don’t necessarily view immigrants as an invading army of criminals.

Latino voters. The Kobach crowd. Mr. Romney can try to have one or the other, but probably not both.

In January, Mr. Romney gleefully accepted Mr. Kobach’s endorsement and said he was “so proud” to have “Kris on the team.” Mr. Kobach hailed Mr. Romney as a “true conservative.” Four months later, the relationship is not so clear. Is Mr. Kobach still on the team? This week the Romney campaign told Politico no — he was not an adviser, just a “supporter.”

Mr. Kobach begged to differ. He’s still an adviser. “Nothing’s changed,” he told Think Progress and The National Review.


ZOT 9 years ago

The Kansas State Objection Board directed the staff of Secretary of State Kobach to gather available evidence from other states (including Mississippi) that earlier determined to place President Obama's name on their respective state ballots. This action by the board was done (and comments made by board members to the objectors were made) out of respect for all parties appearing before the board. Incidentially, this board heard other objections against other candidates during this same session of the board. This board is "quasi-judical" in nature. As a result, the board members first gather facts before reaching their conclusions. Much like a judge hearing a civil or criminal manner - the judge may agree with one of the parties on a point-of-law but ultimately rule against them.

The board concluded that the objection was to be dismissed because it was withdrawn by the objector. However, Mr. Kobach obeyed the earlier order of the board that his staff gather evidence from Hawaii, Mississippi and other jurisdictions concerning President Obama's candidacy. After reviewing this evidence Mr. Kobach publically concluded that there was no evidence that President Obama shouldn't be placed on Kansas' state ballot. Were Mr. Kobach's actions unreasonable? No, his actions followed a logic dictated by law.

Next, it is obvious from your missive that you do not speak for what Republicans "believe".

Profiling isn't at the heart of enforcing immigration laws. Neither Mr. Kobach nor Republicans generally condone violating the law in an attempt to enforce the law. However, Republicans do generally believe that the security of our nation requires removal of illegal aliens by legal means.

May I respectfully suggest that in the future that YOU do your homework before basing your opinion on "news reports". News reports don't always accurately reflect what actually happens at public meetings. Fact is - not only did I read your referenced news account (and others) but I was physically present at this board meeting. It is obvious that you were not.

Finally, your manner of conveying your perspective is disrespectful. Your tactics show the weakness of your arguments.


donnaladd 9 years ago

Here's more on Kobach: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/categor...">Right Wing Watch.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07...">Kris Kobach Criticized Over Voter ID Push By Kansas Secretary Of State's Office

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bast...">(Arizona Sheriff) Joe Arpaio's New Counsel Kris Kobach, and His Disingenuous Statements to Fox 10

http://www.kansas.com/2012/05/31/2355...">Kobach faces hostile questioning at Wichita meeting


donnaladd 9 years ago

Here is a story about Romney campaigning with Kobach with lots of links to follow:

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012...">On MLK Day, Romney Campaigning With Anti-Immigrant Official Tied To Hate Groups

And here's a video of Kobach saying that Romney is "far to the right" of other Republican candidates for presidents, not to mention President Obama:

http://www.youtube.com/v/hHybQb7XuKM?...">http://www.youtube.com/v/hHybQb7XuKM?..." type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true">


ingridcruz 8 years, 12 months ago

  1. This piece is much appreciated and needed.
  2. It's insulting that no undocumented youth or families were interviewed to voice their opinions on this since it affects them directly.

donnaladd 8 years, 11 months ago

Obviously, it wasn't meant to be "insulting." This was a piece about Kobach's background. Please invite the undocumented youth to post here about it or send responses to [email protected] for publication.

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