By Greg Janetka
TOPEKA, Kansas: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) has been called an “American hero,” as well as “America’s Deporter-in-Chief,” an “anti-immigration hawk,” and a “nativist” lawyer for his ubiquitous role in the nation-sweeping campaign for immigration reform. This included an on-again, off-again advisory role with Mitt Romney‘s campaign, which has been credited by some with killing the presidential hopeful’s chances to win over Latino voters.Despite criticism from both sides of the aisle, including an ongoing recall attempt, Kobach shows no signs of backing down on his hardline stance.
Recently, strict immigration measures stalled in the Kansas Legislature as it drew little interest from neither President of the Senate Steve Morris (R) orSpeaker of the House Mike O’Neal (R). Next year, however, looks to be different as Morris was defeated in his primary this year and O’Neal is retiring from the House. With the GOP solidly holding both chambers of the legislature, the party’s goal in the 2012 elections was not simply to elect Republicans, but to elect the most conservative of Republicans. Kobach now believes he has the votes to push through some of the measures he has advocated for in the past.
Not all Republicans have stood with Kobach, however. For his part, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has said the legislature should leave it to the federal government, calling illegal immigration “primarily a federal issue.” Meanwhile, in a practicality-over-politics move, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman applied for a wavier from the federal government this year that would allow an arrangement where illegal immigrants could work for willing employers. The request was in response to a shortage of hired hands to work ranches and farms.
While Rodman was backed by both conservative farm advocates and liberal social groups, Kobach stood in direct opposition, stating, “I hate to answer with the old adage about comparing apples and oranges, but to a certain extent, the crops rotting in the field argument is comparing – maybe not apples to oranges, but oranges to soybeans.”