By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm
Police found homemade explosives in this truck outside of the Kansas Statehouse. (Source: AP)
Yesterday, police arrested an unidentified man at the Kansas Capitol after discovering several homemade bombs in his truck close to the Kansas Capitol. The truck had stickers on its back window saying, “Welcome to America. Now speak English” and “Does my American flag offend you? Call 1-800-LEAVE THE USA.’’
This arrest came on the same day that Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), an anti-immigrant official who drafted Arizona’s and Alabama’s harmful immigration laws, urged Kansas lawmakers to pass stricter immigration policies. Hundreds of peaceful protesters also showed up to the capitol to protest Kobach’s arrival.
Unlike far-reaching immigration laws, like the one proposed in Mississippi, Kansas legislators are considering a wide range of immigration measures. Some are designed to both help immigrants find jobs and others would crack down on undocumented immigrants living and working in Kansas.
The protestors argued that the policies are more likely to produce discrimination, worker shortages, and costly lawsuits. “If Mr. Kobach, who is promoting…laws that are separating our families, that are leaving children without their parents, and they’re hurting everyone in our community, we will not stand for that,” Sulma Arias, executive director of Sunflower Community Action, said to the crowd of 300 people who gathered outside of the Kansas Statehouse. They targeted much of their anger at Kobach, but they took their message to Brownback at the end of the day and asked him to distance himself from Kobach.
Although authorities believe that the protests and the explosives are unrelated, it is unfortunate that the man with the bombs did not follow the pro-immigrant protestors’ lead and express himself peacefully.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the anti-immigrant official who drafted Arizona and Alabama’s harmful immigration laws, has claimed his extreme laws have had no damaging effects on state economies where they have been implemented. He is an advisor to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate with the most extreme immigration plan, and Kobach has said he favors an “attrition through enforcement” national immigration plan, also known as self-deportation.
Kobach repeated his support for a self-deportation policy at a CPAC panel about immigration because it would serve as a jobs plan. To back up the claim, he said the immigration measures in Alabama and Arizona have helped the state economies. With 13 million Americans looking for jobs, Kobach said during the panel that deporting undocumented immigrants would open opportunities for those job seekers:
If it becomes our national policy we will accomplish many things, the restoration of the rule of law, and we will also create jobs for Americans all across America. [...] If you really want to create a job and you don’t want to use words like shovel-ready and do it through a gov program, here’s an idea for you: If you want to create a job for a U.S. citizen tomorrow, deport an illegal alien today.
Of course, if Kobach were actually paying attention to the effects of his pet laws, he’d realize this claim simply isn’t true. In Alabama, one report shows that the state could lose as many as 140,000 jobs because of the state’s immigration law. After Latinos fled new, harmful immigration policies in Alabama and Georgia, farmers watched their crops rot in the field because they did not have enough workers to harvest them. Businesses in Arizona eventually turned against SB 1070, the state’s extreme immigration policy, because of the negative impact it had on jobs and the recovering economy.
And economists have reached the consensus that immigrants are good for the economy and help create jobs. And in 2010, the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank released a study that conclusively found that “there is no evidence that these effects take place at the expense of jobs for workers born in the United States.” The study, which did not distinguish between legal and undocumented immigrants, found that immigrants in the workforce have a “significant positive effect in the long run.”
No matter how many times Kobach claims self-deportation will create jobs — or how long Romney embraces extremely anti-immigrant policies — reports have show that his claims are simply wrong.
Yesterday, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney announced the endorsement of former California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) and named Wilson honorary California chair of his campaign. In a statement touting the endorsement, Romney said “I’m honored to have Governor Pete Wilson’s support, because he’s one of California’s most accomplished leaders.”
Mitt Romney seen with former California Gov. Pete Wilson during Meg Whitman's failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
It turns out that Romney’s history with Pete Wilson is longer than some likely realize. Archival news reports accessed on Lexis-Nexis indicate that Mitt Romney attended at least one high-dollar fundraiser to help retire debt from Wilson’s 1994 gubernatorial campaign, one of the most bitterly anti-immigrant campaigns in recent memory. From a March 29, 1995 article in the Boston Herald:
Wilson later arrived in Boston, where an early evening fund-raiser sponsored by Gov. William F. Weld netted about $110,000 to help pay off the California governor’s 1994 re-election debt.[...]
About a dozen big-dollar contributors, including 1994 GOP Senate nominee Mitt Romney, gathered in the Four Seasons apartment of Weld supporter Thomas Shields to dine on a buffet supper and meet the man Weld said “may very well be” the next president.
While Wilson was at the time preparing for what would be an abortive 1996 presidential run, the fundraiser Romney attended was to retire debt from Wilson’s 1994 campaign, one which Wilson waged based on an outright demonization of illegal immigrants in an effort to boost his previously floundering re-election bid and ensure the passage of Proposition 187, an extreme anti-immigrant ballot measure.
Watch a collection of anti-immigrant/pro-Proposition 187 ads, including the infamous “They Keep Coming” ad, from Wilson’s 1994 campaign:
Proposition 187, which ultimately passed by an overwhelming 59 percent to 41 percent margin, was in many ways a precursor to today’s extreme anti-immigrant laws, including those in Alabama and Arizona authored by Romney adviser Kris Kobach. Its major provisions are very similar to or even more extreme than those Republicans have passed in recent years:
Barred undocumented immigrants from the state’s education system: K-12 through higher education. Schools would also be forced to verify the legal status of not only students, but also their parents.
Barred undocumented immigrants from receiving care at any publicly-funded health care facility.
Barred undocumented immigrants from receiving cash assistance and other public social services in the state.
Required all service providers to report suspected undocumented immigrants to the California Attorney General’s office and Immigration and Naturalization Service (now called Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
Required police officers to determine the legal status of all persons who were arrested and report those suspected of being undocumented to federal authorities.
Made the production, distribution and use of false documents felony offenses.
Made reports on an individual’s status to the attorney general available to any other government entity.
Prohibited local governments from limiting or failing to implement its provisions in any way.
After a lengthy court battle, Proposition 187 was ultimately declared unconstitutional in 1997 and finally killed by the administration of Governor Gray Davis (D) in 1999.
It’s unclear if Romney ever took a public position on Proposition 187 in 1994; however, any objections he may have had to the virulently anti-immigrant campaign run by Wilson did not stop him from helping to retire the campaign’s debt in early 1995 or from appointing Wilson to a prominent position in his 2012 campaign.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who drafted Arizona and Alabama’s harmful immigration laws and has ties to a hate group, told ThinkProgress on Tuesday that he has been helping to advise Mitt Romney on immigration policy. He started serving as an unpaid adviser at the beginning of the year before he endorsed the former Massachusetts governor, according to the Associated Press.
And as the Romney campaign swept from South Carolina, where state officials are defending a harmful immigration law, into Florida and onto Nevada, which have larger Latino communities, Kobach insisted in an interview that Romney has not changed his tone on immigration policy:
No, he’s been very clear that he favors attrition through enforcement and is opposed to amnesty. [...] To say that one talks about his position in favor of legal immigration…one can call it a change in tone, but it’s not in any way different with what he said about addressing illegal immigration.
“Enforcement through attrition” has the same result as self-deportation, Kobach said, and is one of the goals of the extreme state laws. And as it turns out, the backbone for Romney’s immigration policy — forcing immigrants to “self-deport” — began as a joke.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm
In an interview with ThinkProgress yesterday, Kris Kobach, the anti-immigrant Kansas secretary of state who drafted Arizona and Alabama’s harmful immigration laws, claimed that his handiwork leads to no harmful effect on state economies. “I don’t think there is any negative impact,” Kobach claimed. “I think the studies have yielded one overwhelming conclusion and is that unemployment drops when states develop some of these laws.”
The facts are not on Kobach’s side, however. Numerous studies and reports have shown the economic harm from HB 56, Alabama’s anti-immigrant law. Farmers are losing their crops or not planting as much because they don’t have workers, and even the state’s own governor has said that the state’s dropping unemployment rate cannot be pegged on the immigration law.
In the fall, preliminary research from the Center for Business and Economic Research showed that, conservatively, HB 56 could cost the state $40 million. Now that the researcher behind that original estimate has had more time to study the law’s full impact, however, he concludes that this initial estimate is far too low. According to a new study, Alabama’s law will cost the state up to 140,000 direct and indirect jobs. And state GDP losses could total $2.3 to $10.8 billion and reduce local sales taxes by $20.0 to $93.1 million.
One key problem is any benefit for businesses from the exodus of immigrants is counteracted by the loss of demand. And the report points out that clearly legal residents are not filling all the jobs left behind:
It is generally accepted that unauthorized immigrants work for low wages. As such, the absence of illegal immigrants is likely to improve competitiveness for businesses that found it extremely difficult to compete because they do not use such labor. This might make the business climate attractive for out-of-state businesses that do not use illegal immigrant labor to consider relocating to the state. Such benefits for some businesses do not translate into a benefit for the aggregate economy because they cannot fully make up for the reduced demand caused by the absence of unauthorized immigrant workers.
It is also argued that illegal immigrants take jobs that should have gone to citizens and other legal residents. If that were true, farmers and businesses that employed these workers and other business interests as well should not have complained about the law especially given the state’s high unemployment rate. There was very little worker substitution and most of the few that considered the jobs previously performed by unauthorized immigrant workers did not have the requisite skills and productivity. With a focus on preparing the workforce for high-skill, high-wage and fast-growing jobs, it is unreasonable to expect people to flock to lower wage jobs that are performed under tough conditions.
Backers of Alabama’s law and similar versions in Arizona, South Carolina, and Georgia will continue to argue that making conditions horrible for undocumented immigrants so that they, in Mitt Romney‘s words, “self-deport,” will be a boon for the economy. But as reports tally the economic damage in Alabama, these supporters are only burying their heads in the sand to avoid the economic ruin that follows in these anti-immigrant laws’ wake.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Jan 16, 2012 at 8:00 am
On a day set aside to honor civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitt Romney plans to tout his extreme immigration positions during a campaign stop in South Carolina today — with Kris Kobach, the author of Arizona’s and Alabama’s immigration laws, at his side. He will attack his competitors Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for their softer immigration stances, which could resonate with South Carolina voters who support that state’s harmful immigration law.
“Mitt Romney stands apart from the others. He’s the only one who’s taken a strong across-the-board position on immigration,” Kobach said, and he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that Romney was much farther to the right on illegal immigration than his fellow presidential candidates. Watch:
Considering Kobach’s own opinions and associations, however, his endorsement may not be one Romney wants to tout.
Before he became Kansas’ secretary of state, Kobach worked for Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal branch of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as a “nativist hate group.” One of FAIR’s main goals is to overturn the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which “ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans.” FAIR’s founder John Tanton has said that he wants the U.S. to remain a majority-white nation through limiting the number of non-whites who enter the U.S.
When Arizona’s SB 1070, Kobach, in emails to then-state Sen. Russell Pierce (R), pushed for the law to be used to cast a wide net against Latinos. He helped write an even more harmful immigration law for Alabama, which effectively made it illegal to live as an undocumented immigrant in the state. And when Kobach ran for Congress in 2004, he lost by an 11-point margin after his opponent accused him of having ties to white supremacists. (While campaigning, he was working on a FAIR lawsuit against Kansas’ law granting in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants; the suit was dismissed.) Kobach even once wrote a book opposing the anti-Apartheid boycott of South Africa.
Romney proudly said he “look[ed] forward” to working with Kobach on stopping illegal immigration, and Kobach has been equally effusive of Romney, saying, “Mitt Romney is the candidate who will finally secure the borders and put a stop to the magnets,” when announcing his support. Again and again, Romney has proven how hardline he is on immigration, and Kobach’s support continues to reinforce it.
Romney’s views on immigration are radical even in a field of candidates who appear to be competing to take the most radical views on this subject. But as extreme as Romney’s immigration stances have been, campaigning with an anti-immigrant official with ties to a hate group on Martin Luther King Day is beyond the pale.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle, Marie Diamond and Ian Millhiser on Jan 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Following his win in the New Hampshire presidential primary, Mitt Romney announced today that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) endorsed his campaign. Kobach is the anti-immigrant official who drafted Arizona and Alabama’s harmful immigration laws, and who once wrote a book opposing the anti-Apartheid boycott of South Africa. “With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem,” Romney said in press release.
“We need a president who will 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,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. “Illegal immigration is a nightmare for America’s economy and America’s national security. Mitt Romney is the candidate who will finally secure the borders and put a stop to the magnets, like in-state tuition, that encourage illegal aliens to remain in our country unlawfully.”
Kobach’s statement that Romney would actually “put a stop” to progressive state immigration laws which provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants is a great deal more radical than Romney’s previous statements. Romney has left no doubt that he thinks state laws providing this opportunity to the undocumented are wrong, but Kobach now appears to be suggesting that Romney would wield the full power of the federal government’s authority to preempt state laws in order to invalidate existing pro-immigrant laws in the states. This doesn’t just fly in the face of the GOP’s supposed love affair with the Tenth Amendment, it would strip many undocumented residents of states like Texas, who already pay in-state tuition to public universities, of a right they presently enjoy.
Last year, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report which showed that the cancellation of events and conventions in Arizona related to the state’s immigration law will result in a loss of $253 million in the state’s economic output and more than $86 million in lost wages over the next two to three years. Today, CAP released a second study which shows that those figures are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the costs associated with passing anti-immigrant legislation at the state and local level. CAP reports:
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the leader of the court fights for local immigration enforcement, is in the tank for at least $2.8 million with some estimates totaling $5 million as it defends its ordinance all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Riverside, New Jersey suffered a local economic downturn before the city rescinded its anti-immigrant ordinance and welcomed the return of immigrants.
Farmers Branch, Texas, has spent nearly $4 million in legal fees and is expected to spend at least $5 million to defend its anti-immigration statute with no end in sight.
Prince William County, Virginia dramatically scaled back a tough immigration statute after realizing the original version would cost millions to enforce and defend in court.
Fremont, Nebraska, increased the city’s property tax to help pay the legal fees for its anti-immigration ordinance which it intends to defend.
The report also specifically highlights one figure who has been profiting off of these cities’ woes: Kris Kobach. The activist lawyer and newly elected Kansas Secretary of State has had his hand in just about every piece of anti-immigrant legislation proposed in the nation over the past several years. In the meantime, he has “run up an estimated $6.6 million in fees for his efforts.”
A second report which was released by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) today describes Kobach as a Harold Hill, the protagonist of the musical The Music Man. “Like Hill…Kobach comes to town with big ideas and a can-do attitude but leaves behind a trail of tears — huge legal bills and unworkable laws coupled with social turmoil,” writes SPLC.
One of Kobach’s colleagues at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — the legal outfit which employed Kobach as chief legal counsel — has explained in the past that all of these local laws are “field tests,” or experiments which are meant to test the legality of various approaches to immigration enforcement. In other words, the laws Kobach and IRLI have written are specifically designed to invite costly litigation which not only aims to challenge standard notions of what is legally acceptable, they have also made Kobach and his organization a lot of money on the taxpayer’s dime.
Meanwhile, SPLC notes that most of these legal efforts have so far been futile. “The towns that passed nativist laws in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas and Nebraska, along with the state of Arizona, have spent millions of dollars to defend them in court, and almost every judicial decision so far has gone against them.”
This past November, lawyer and chief architect of Arizona’s likely unconstitutional immigration law — Kris Kobach (R-KS) — was elected Secretary of State of Kansas. Kobach is already a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City law school, serves as an immigration consultant to several local officials, and fills the role of Counsel at the Immigration Law Reform Institute (IRLI). Kobach has been actively involved in the patchwork of draconian local immigration laws that have popped up across the country. As a growing number of states are considering passing their own versions of the Arizona immigration law, this year promises to be both busy and profitable for Kobach who charges at least $300 an hour for his advice.
However, Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) plans on introducing legislation which would force Kobach to focus solely on fulfilling his duties as Secretary of State. The Wichita Eagle reports:
The Kansas House’s Democratic leader said Wednesday that he’ll push legislation to stop Republican Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach from continuing legal work for city officials and legislators across the country who want to crack down on illegal immigration. [...]
House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that he plans to propose a bill that would prevent statewide elected leaders, Cabinet officials and other department heads from having any outside employment “of significance.”
Davis said the measure probably would apply to the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, insurance commissioner, state treasurer and about a dozen officials appointed by the governor. But he cited Kobach as the reason the state needs such a law.
“When you’re hired to do a job by the people of Kansas they expect you to be doing it on a full-time basis,” Davis said. “I don’t think there is room for people to have second jobs.”
Kobach has promised to work at least 40 hours a week as secretary of state and handle outside legal work in his spare time. In response to Davis’ proposal, he stated “It’s a brazen attempt to stop me from making the progress and reforms I’ve made in the illegal immigration area.”
Yet, it doesn’t appear there are any accountability mechanisms in place to hold Kobach to his word. The Wichita Eagle additionally notes that Kansas law does not require a state official to list an exact amount of compensation, or to provide employment details other than client names and addresses.
Kobach’s Republican rival and Democratic opponent both slammed him during his election campaign for not promising to fully devote himself to the Secretary of State position. Kobach responded, “Some people golf in their spare time, I defend American sovereignty.”