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Kobach claims anti-immigration laws are coming to swing states

Kris Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state and an attorney who is a pivotal player in the anti-immigration movement. He personally helped write much of the Alabama immigration law that was signed into law last week by Gov. Robert Bentley, a law recognized by both its proponents and opponents as the strongest immigration enforcement law in the country. The law requires police to verify the legal residence of people pulled over for traffic violations, bans the undocumented from attending public universities and criminalizes landlords who knowingly rent to the undocumented.

Kobach envisions bills similar to Alabama’s spreading across the country, and was profiled in a Politico article Monday saying as much: “It’s likely that Missouri will raise its standard up to the Arizona or Alabama level… and there’s a good shot that something might pass in Pennsylvania. It’s hard to predict too far out in the future, but those are probably the two best bets.”

The headline of the Politico article is “Swing states face immigration fight,” but the author, Reid J. Epstein, offers no corroboration for Kobach’s claims, instead merely quoting national-level opponents and proponents of the “attrition through enforcement” laws already in existence.

Carlos Gomez, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, told TAI that a Missouri version of the immigration law in next year’s legislative session is possible but, “it just depends on the community and how they’re going to react.” He points out that Kobach’s ideas met with strong opposition when they were proposed in Kansas and ultimately failed in this year’s legislative session.

Mike Hethmon, a colleague of Kobach’s at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, mentions Florida and Texas (only one of which is a swing state) as states where “you tend to see fairly high-profile… media efforts but [you] haven’t seen the appearance of a legislator who is both willing to focus on the technical issues and keep pushing the issue through multiple sessions.”

But it’s hard to see how Kobach’s claim that his laws will be spreading to swing states is any more substantial than the unfocused efforts of media-focused politicians that his colleague criticizes.

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