Republicans know they need to broaden their party’s appeal to Hispanic voters to have a realistic shot at winning the 2016 presidential election. But on the key issue of immigration, they can’t seem to help but follow far-right leaders over a cliff of extremism.
Writing for Reuters on Monday, Mica Rosenberg and Jeff Mason explain how as President Obama prepares to announce a new round of executive actions on immigration reform, Kansas Republican Kris Kobach has become GOP’s “go-to guy” on the issue:
Kobach, the Republican secretary of state of Kansas, is an architect of laws in several states to combat illegal immigration. He is also the most prominent figure among a small group of lawyers working to punch legal holes in Obama’s immigration policies.
Obama has pledged to act alone in the face of congressional inaction on immigration reform, and an announcement could come in early September. Immigration advocates close to the White House are pressing for work permits and relief from deportation for up to 5 million people.
While opponents can’t craft a legal strategy until Obama lays out the specifics of his plan, Kobach is likely to be at the forefront of any battle.
“I think anybody inclined to challenge [Obama’s action] would either already know, or would ask around and find out, that Kobach is one of the main go-to guys,” said Michael Jung, a private lawyer in Dallas who has worked with Kobach.
The report goes on to detail how Kobach, who has masterminded some of the most restrictive anti-immigrant laws in America — including Arizona’s controversial “Show Me Your Papers” law — has already sued to overturn the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and will almost certainly play a pivotal role in the fight against any future initiatives from the White House.
This could become a major problem for the Republican Party. Rosenberg and Mason both nod to the fact that Kobach is a “polarizing figure,” but that doesn’t really do it justice. In reality, Kobach is just about as extreme as you’d expect Ted Nugent’s “ass kickin BloodBrother” [sic] to be.
Among many other incidents, Kobach has:
- Accused immigration reform advocates who protested his policies of being domestic terrorists, telling Glenn Beck, “They’re just not wearing white cloaks, but this is exactly KKK type of intimidation.”
- Threatened to shoot those protesters, accusing them of being “illegal aliens” and warning, “There’s a reason we have the Second Amendment.”
- Participated in panels with white supremacists, and served as counsel for an anti-immigrant hate group.
- Crafted Mitt Romney’s widely-derided “self-deportation” plan (although, in an appeal to moderates, he allowed that he did not want “to do it at gunpoint”).
And, for good measure, he’s also a birther who recently questioned President Obama’s patriotism by insisting “we’ve never known who this guy is,” and suggested that the president may be a secret Muslim.
Hispanic-Americans are the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group, and they have grown increasingly disgusted with the GOP — in no small part due to the policies that Kobach has championed. Republicans are well aware of this, yet they still can’t help themselves from moving further and further to the right on immigration reform. Meanwhile, Hispanic voters are moving further and further away from the Republican Party.
At present, Republicans don’t seem particularly interested in reversing this trend. But if they ever decide that they’d like to start winning national elections again, finding a new go-to guy on immigration would be a solid first step.
Screnshot: RWW Blog/YouTube
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