Kobach talks GOP into stricter immigration platform
The architect of Arizona-style immigration laws got his way at the GOP convention.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — perhaps the most ardent immigration hardliner among Republican officials — succeeded in convincing his party to get tougher on illegal immigration.
“We recognize that if you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today,” Kobach, an early endorser of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, told the platform committee, Politico reported. “That is the way to open up jobs very quickly for U.S. citizen workers and lawfully admitted alien workers.”
Party members adopted Kobach’s amendment to the Republican Party platform (its list of official policy positions) that would:
- Endorses Arizona-style immigration laws. The Hill reports: “The official party position now reads that ‘State efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked,’ and says the Department of Justice should immediately drop its lawsuits against controversial state immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah.”
- Withholds federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities” that shield undocumented immigrants from authorities and universities that offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.
- Complete the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico.
- Increase implementation of the E-Verify program.
A draft of the immigration plank reportedly did not contain the language and Kobach’s amendment restored elements of the GOP’s 2008 platform, which contained support for E-Verify, completing the border fence, and crackdowns on sanctuary cities.
The language, while likely to please immigration hardliners in the GOP, but it also plays into the party’s difficulties with Latino voters, most of whom favor more accommodating immigration policies.
Romney has attempted to tone down his rhetoric on immigration since wrapping up the GOP primary, but the party’s platform thrusts his endorsement of “self-deportation” (attrition through enforcement), the underpinning of the Arizona-style laws back into the forefront.
Kobach, who helped author crackdown laws in states like Arizona and Alabama, said he believes that Romney hasn’t wavered in his support for a national crackdown on illegal immigration.
“Other issues have just come to the fore and dominated his remarks more than immigration and that’s fine — I don’t think he’s changed his stance,” Kobach told The Hill. “If we start with the premise that illegal means illegal we need to address that specific things can be done to make that become a reality.”
Kobach reminded committee members that “one of the primary reasons that Gov. Romney rose past Gov. [Rick] Perry when Mr. Perry was achieving first place in the polls was because of his opposition to in-state tuition for illegal aliens,” according to Politico.
Kobach has become a controversial figure on the campaign trail. He joined Romney’s team back in January and has served as an unpaid adviser on immigration issues. But the Romney campaign distanced itself from him beginning in April as it pivoted to the general election. But Kobach’s success Tuesday proves he’s still an influential figure within the GOP.
Not everything that Kobach favors made it on to the platform. A plank pushed by a group of Texas Republicans that included a national guest-worker program apparently made it onto the platform:
Just learned the RNC platform will include support for a guest-worker program modeled on the one in the TX GOP platform. That’s excellent.— Joshua Treviño (@jstrevino) August 22, 2012
But not everyone was happy with the result. The E-Verify language also received push back from small-business owners, according to the Huffington Post.
While the GOP has officially staked out a tough position on immigration, almost half of self-identified Republicans say they support allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status in the U.S., according to a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
The Republican platform also gives Democrats more material to use to make Romney even more unpalatable to Latinos. Democrats are seriously considering adopting support for the DREAM Act into their party platform.
(Photo: Facebook, Kris Kobach)