Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the right-wing creator of Arizona’s and Alabama’s stringent anti-immigration laws, has endorsed Donald Trump for president, citing the GOP frontrunner’s “aggressive approach” to building a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
“I am pleased to announce my support for Mr. Trump,” Kobach said in a press release on Monday, adding that he’s pleased Trump will prioritize immigration enforcement and will reject “giving amnesty to illegal aliens living in the United States.”
Kobach’s “amnesty” reference was likely regarding President Obama’s 2012 executive action known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which granted temporary work authorization and deportation relief for certain qualified immigrants. He was previously engaged in a lawsuit with the Obama administration in an effort to stop this initiative.
“Now, more than ever, America needs Mr. Trump’s aggressive approach to the problem of illegal immigration,” Kobach continued. “Our porous borders constitute a huge national security threat, and our refugee system has been abused by terrorists in the past and is likely to be abused by ISIS terrorists today. Moreover, there are too many Americans who are out of work because of illegal immigration.”
Kobach added he’s “discussed with Mr. Trump” a provision of the PATRIOT Act that he claims could be used “as leverage with the Government of Mexico” to force them to pay between $5 and $10 billion to finance a border wall. (Mexico’s former president recently said there’s no way the country will foot the bill for that construction.)
Trump has run his campaign on anti-immigrant, xenophobic policy positions, releasing a package of immigration proposals last year that promised mass deportation and an end to birthright citizenship, which guarantees citizenship to almost all people born within the U.S. borders. In addition to his plan to force Mexico to build and pay for a border wall, he’s also called for a total ban on Muslim immigration into the country.
There’s some evidence that this hateful rhetoric has inspired some of Trump’s supporters to act out their hatred against Latinos and immigrants. At some of Trump’s rallies, attendees have shoved and spit on immigrant advocates, telling them to “go home.”
Kobach, who has long supported restrictive laws that would take rights away from immigrants, has a history of making similarly colorful statements about immigrants. He once told a ThinkProgress reporter that he supports “attrition through enforcement,” which likely involves ensuring that federal officials arrest and put immigrants into deportation proceedings. In 2013, he said that a peaceful immigration rally outside his house was “a reason we have the Second Amendment.” He’s also worked for a racist hate group whose stated purpose is to reduce the number of people of color in the country.
But Kobach is perhaps best known as the architect of the anti-immigrant state laws in Arizona and Alabama aimed at making life as difficult as possible for undocumented immigrants who would feel compelled to leave the country.
Some of the key provisions in Alabama’s H.B. 56, for instance, required schools to check and report the immigration status of children, barred undocumented students from post-secondary education, and allowed police to demand proof of immigration status from anyone they suspected of being in the country without legal documents. The undocumented workforce fled en masse, and the state lost an estimated $10.8 billion — including 140,000 jobs in the state, $264.5 million in state tax revenue, and $93 million in local tax revenue. Just seven months after the law went into effect, the state legislature passed a round of revisions, weakening requirements for residents to show proof of immigration status.
Arizona’s S.B. 1070 underwent a similar kind of failure, with the U.S. Supreme Court eventually striking down key provisions of the law. A joint study by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center found that Arizona’s economy lost $141 million.
Kobach is simply the latest xenophobic politician to endorse Trump. His statement comes just hours after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), another anti-immigrant lawmaker, voiced his support for Trump’s candidacy. And just last week, David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, endorsed the real estate mogul. In response, Trump feigned ignorance, declining to unequivocally condemn the racism of Duke or disavow the support of white supremacists.