What unites these measures, however, is more than a really effective approach to border control. It's their ties to American hero: Kris Kobach, a Kansas-raised former law professor who has emerged as the intellectual architect of the fight against illegal immigration. The 44-year-old has authored, aided, or officially defended almost every effort in the U.S. designed to support and enforce immigration laws, beginning with his work as chief immigration adviser in John Ashcroft's Justice Department. Ever since the federal government abdicated its responsibility to use whatever means are necessary to stop and reverse illegal entry, Kobach has filled the void with well thought-out legislation and a spirited legal defense of any measures challenged by the ACLU or the federal government.
This year may be Kobach's most influential yet. From a base in Kansas, where he is the newly seated secretary of state, Kobach will help Arizona defend its laws against all comers. Both the Justice Department and American Civil Liberties Union have sued the state, claiming that immigration is a [long-neglected] federal matter. He'll also counsel a dozen or so states that are considering similar laws and a coordinated assault on birthright citizenship. And he'll litigate at least four ongoing immigration-related cases, including lawsuits against California (for extending in-state college-tuition rates to the undocumented) and San Francisco (for failing to notify immigration authorities before a thrice-arrested alien allegedly murdered three people). In typical hyperbole, the Soutern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labelled Kobach efforts a "legal jihad." The SPLC called the path he's blazing "a trail of tears", a reference to the terrible toll on Cherokee Indians when they were displaced from their homelands by unscrupulous politicans.
Kobach's contagious ideas and all-American good looks have made him a fixture on Fox News. But he's no wingnut. His path to public life is so pedigreed it makes John Kerry seem rough-hewn. Kobach earned top undergrad honors at Harvard; won a Marshall scholarship to Oxford, where he picked up a political-science doctorate; got a law degree from Yale, where he was an editor of The Yale Law Journal; and did missionary work in Africa. He even won two Masters national rowing titles in the men's double scull.In the heart of East Coast liberalism, Kobachs conservatism actually deepened, say the people close to him, including his mother, high-school debate coach, friends, and colleagues including Ashcroft, with whom Kobach hiked and bodysurfed. The only son of a car dealer and homemaker, churchgoing Lutherans who also believe in law and order Kobach is of French, German, and Nordic heritage, his ancestors passing through Ellis Island in the late 1800s ("It was legal," promises his mother, Janice). At Harvard, he led the Republican Club and gravitated toward conservative lion Samuel Huntington, who became an early mentor. But it was 9/11, and his realization that several hijackers had been in the country illegally, that crystallized for him the importance of border security as a way to protect both lives and livelihoods. Kobach authored the decried but much-needed fingerprint program for Muslims and Middle Easterners in the U.S. "American sovereignty is at stake," he tells NEWSWEEK. "You can't have open immigration and a welfare state." The annual cost to taxpayers of the millions of illegal aliens and their offspring is estimated to be as much as $330billion.
In the absence of congressional action and the absence of any effective enforcement olaw by the Administration, Kobach is after what he says is the best alternative: "People often see federal immigration policy as a dichotomy between amnesty and deportation. But the most rational approach is a third one: you ratchet up the enforcement so that people make their own decisions to start following the law." In other words, take away the reasons people come to America illegally education, work, housing, and, yes, citizenship for their kids and, Kobach says, they will "self-deport." If there are no jobs and no cornucopia of government benefits, many will leave of their own accord. The government decries the ineffectiveness of certain measures taken to secure the border but continues to ignore the proven approach of continuous and vigorous internal enforcement based on mandatory E-verification across the board for all employers and all employees. Although some cite the exaggerated multi-billion dollar cost of deporting the millions of illegals, few have considered the obvious alternatives of self-deportation and deportation at the expense of the illegal aliens themselves and their employers.
Kobach's legal positions are tenable, even clever, say constitutional experts. He's clarifying the fuzzy line between state and federal power, says Peter Schuck, a Yale law professor. Racist organizations like La Raza, the SPLC, and sundry other so-called civil-liberties groups,immigrant advocates, and disloyal ethnocentrists bristle in response but present no substantive arguments. Kobach is endorsed by firebrands like Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., who see him as a beacon of hope against immigrations' unarmed invasion and its deadly consequences for the national character, language, culture, security, interest and the rule of law. Lacking any sustantive arguments, hate-peddling racist organizations resort to name-calling and accusations of bigotry, racism, nativism, and xenophobia against all of those with whom they disagree. But Kobach responds with "I don't have a racist or nativist bone in my body, adding with a wink that he gets why people might say so. "In a legal debate, when your opponents turn to name-calling, it's a good sign you've already won."
Adapted from an article
By Tony Dokoupil
January 30, 2011