In his pursuit of new voting restrictions during the last session of the Kansas Legislature, Secretary of State Kris Kobach contended that voter fraud was a big problem in Kansas. Only a handful of voting fraud cases had been reported and investigated in the state, but Kobach was convinced that many cases were going undetected and new laws were needed to deal with them.
Kobach now seems to be applying the same logic to his other area of interest: immigration laws. He recently told the Journal-World that, even though the Legislature would be busy with many important issues in 2012, it shouldn’t overlook new legislation aimed at stopping illegal immigration in Kansas. In support of that conclusion, he said, “I think one of the reasons is that there is just so much demand for it from constituents.”
How has Kobach determined that demand? Has some sort of scientific poll been conducted, or is it more a matter of anecdotal contacts from Kobach’s supporters? The only organized position statement made recently on the subject came from some Kansas church leaders earlier this month asking the state to leave immigration reform to the federal government.
Kobach’s interest and national involvement with immigration issues significantly increases the chances that some kind of legislation will indeed find its way onto the state’s agenda. He helped author an anti-illegal immigration law passed in Arizona this year and continues to work in an “of counsel” position with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which is part of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Kobach says he is a full-time secretary of state for Kansas and only pursues his interest in immigration laws on his own time, but some would question where his attention is focused. The home page of the www.kriskobach.org website, maintained by Kansans for Kobach, lists two occupations for Kobach: Kansas secretary of state and “defender of cities and states that fight illegal immigration.” His moonlighting as an attorney dealing with immigration issues may not violate any state laws, but it raises questions about his commitment to the job he was elected to do.
Kobach said last week that he doesn’t see anti-illegal immigration legislation getting crowded out by other issues in the upcoming session. Given his interest in this issue, Kobach probably is right. The question is whether his pursuit of immigration legislation is driven by constituent interests or even the best interest of the state or by some other personal or political agenda.