Who is Kris Kobach?

Meet the man who might control the nation’s immigration and domestic anti-terror policies.

President-elect Donald Trump pauses pose for photographs as he greets Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
President-elect Donald Trump pauses pose for photographs as he greets Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach met with President-Elect Donald Trump over the weekend, and transition insiders say he is under consideration for a yet-to-be-determined “important position.”

Kobach is not shy about revealing which job he wants. In the above photo from the meeting, he is holding a document titled “Department of Homeland Security Kobach Strategic Plan For First 365 Days.” The visible portions of the page indicate that if picked, he will reintroduce a Bush-era Muslim registry, ban all immigration from Syria, deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, and initiate a “rapid build” of a nearly 2,000-mile-long wall on the U.S.–Mexico border.

Kobach, a loyal ally since the early days of the Trump campaign, has spent decades promoting the same conspiracies that helped Trump rise to power. He tried to keep President Obama off Kansas’ ballot in 2012, based on the suggestion the president might not be a U.S. citizen. He used the myth of rampant voter fraud to enact policies that suppress the votes of tens of thousands of eligible Americans in his state. He warned, without evidence, that immigration reform would lead to more acts of terrorism.

Like several of the officials Trump is eying for an administration post, Kobach has a history of working with white supremacist organizations. Last year, he spoke at a workshop organized by The Social Contract Press, a publishing house that employs several prominent white supremacists and is edited by a member of the group that inspired Dylan Roof to murder black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. Kobach has also worked for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group open about its goal to create a “classic environment” for the “nativist-type sentiment” needed to pass harsh immigration laws.


Here are some things you should know about the man who could control the nation’s immigration and domestic terrorism policies:

He created an ineffective ‘Muslim registry’ for the Bush Administration and apparently wants to do it again for Trump.

Before a failed run for Congress in 2004 and a successful bid for Kansas secretary of state in 2010, Kobach worked for George W. Bush’s Justice Department. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he helped craft the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a program that monitored and interrogated young men from 25 Muslim-majority countries. President Obama suspended the program in 2011, and in 2012, an inspector general’s report concluded it was “obsolete and should be terminated.” Investigators found the program, which cost $10 million a year, to have “unreliable” data on the more than 90,000 men who registered. Not a single one was ever charged with terrorism, though it was used to deport more than 13,000 immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

Inspectors determined the program provided “no discernible public benefit.”

This is the program that Kobach wants to revive, according to the paper in his hand, if he becomes Secretary of Homeland Security.

He spent years trying to purge tens of thousands of voters from the rolls.

As Kansas’ top election administrator, Kobach led a multi-year crusade to purge voters who could not produce documents proving their U.S. citizenship. Despite a complete lack of evidence that non-citizens attempt to vote, Kobach pushed for this policy shortly after taking office. When multiple courts found the policy violated federal law, he launched an unsuccessful campaign to force the federal Election Assistance Commission to change the law.


Even studies conducted by Tea Party-affiliated voter integrity groups found the purge list to be riddled with errors, with nearly 60 percent of people improperly suspended. This past election, thousands of eligible citizens were prevented from casting a ballot. After federal judges ordered Kobach to restore the purged voters for the roles ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he dragged his feet, only complying after being threatened with contempt of court.

The bottom of the document Kobach brought to his meeting his Trump — though partially obscured by his arm — suggests that if appointed, he would attempt to rewrite federal law to require proof of citizenship for voting nationwide and purge the federal voter rolls of all who cannot produce it. How he would do that as Secretary of Homeland Security is unclear.

He drafted Trump’s plan to extort money from Mexico to build a border wall.

For many years before Donald Trump won a national campaign by promising a border wall, mass deportations, and racial profiling, Kobach was pushing for such policies on a local level.


While juggling his duties as Secretary of State, Kobach helped draft laws for several states and cities — many of which were later found to violate federal law — that gave police the power to racially profile and demand papers from anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.

Four years ago, he served as an immigration advisor on Mitt Romney’s failed campaign, shaping the candidate’s view that the U.S. should make life so miserable for immigrants that they “self-deport.” In 2013, he unsuccessfully sued the Obama Administration to stop the president’s executive action protecting more than 400,000 young undocumented immigrants raised in the United States— known as DREAMers — from deportation.

After endorsing Trump early this year, Kobach began to draft policies that would accomplish some of the hotel mogul’s most sweeping promises, including forcing Mexico to pay tens of billions of dollars to extend the existing border wall. Though current and former Mexican leaders have said definitively that there is no possibility of their nation footing the bill, Kobach has called for extorting the money by blocking the billions of dollars that people in the U.S. send back to support relatives in Mexico every year. President Obama has called the idea “half-baked,” while economists say it may be illegal, and it would trigger such an economic crisis in Mexico that undocumented immigration to the United States would surge.

He has compared homosexuality to pedophilia, polygamy, and drug addiction.

This year’s Republican National Convention saw the creation of a party platform that endorsed extremely right-wing positions on guns, same-sex marriage, immigration, and many other issues. One of the loudest voices in shaping that platform was Kobach. When a gay Republican delegate on the platform committee proposed including language saying simply that “there are diverse and sincerely held views on marriage” within the party, Kobach lobbied to kill the amendment. Under his influence, the platform defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman, rejected the Obama administration’s legal protections for transgender individuals, and called for parents of LGBT children to be allowed to force their children into conversion therapy.

Kobach has long opposed legal equality for LGBT people. In 2004, during his failed bid for Congress, he accused the Human Rights Campaign of promoting “homosexual pedophilia” after the civil rights group endorsed his opponent. When serving on the RNC’s platform committee in 2012, he compared homosexuality to polygamy and drug use when arguing against a proposal from a delegate to endorse the equal legal treatment of all couples.